The Life History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847

Chapter XVII


As the Ojebwa Nation are within the bounds of the two Governments-the American and the British I will give a separate account of each. The number of our nation, according to Drake, in 1842, was thirty thousand; and this is not far from the truth. The best work upon the Indians, however, is that deservedly popular book, by Col. McKinney, of New York; the undoubted friend of the red man.

I will now speak of that part of the nation who occupy places within the bounds of the United States. They inhabit all the northern part of Michigan, or the south shore of Lake Huron; the whole northern part of Wisconsin Territory; all the south shore of Lake Superior, for eight hundred miles; the upper part of the Mississippi, and Sandy, Leach, and Red Lakes.

That part of our nation who live in the British possessions, occupy from Gononaque, below Kingston, throughout all western Canada; the north of Lake Huron; the north of Lake Superior; the north of Lake Winepig; the north of Red River Lake, about one hundred miles. The whole extent, therefore, occupied is over one thousand nine hundred miles east and west, and from two to three hundred miles north and south.

There are over five thousand living under the British Government, and less than twenty-five thousand under the American Government. There are about five thousand of these who receive religious instructions; missionaries of different denominations being sent from Canada and the United States. The Methodists were the first who preached to the Ojebwas, or Massissaugas (as they are frequently called.) They commenced at Credit River, in Canada West, in 1824, and at Grape Island, in 1827. The conversion of some of the Ojebwas commenced during those years. Native teachers were then sent to their brethren in the West, where the influence of Christianity is still felt. There are twenty-three Methodist Missionary Stations: six of which are in the States, and the remainder in Canada. There are four Presbyterian Missions, all of which are in the States; viz. La Pointe, Bad River, Leach Lake, and Red Lake. There are seven Episcopalian Mission Stations; all of which are in Canada, except one, which is at Green Bay. There are two Baptist Mission Stations, one at Sault St. Marie, and the other at Green Bay. The Roman Catholics have their missionaries in nearly all the principal places in the west.

Those who are not under religious instruction, although accessible, are wandering without the gospel. There is a field in the Territory of Wisconsin where missionaries should be sent. There are Indians all around the shores of Lake Superior who have, from time to time, called for missionaries, and have not yet been supplied. The Hudson’s Pay Company have, of late, adopted a plan which in my opinion does them much credit; they employ Missionaries to give instruction to the Indians and their children in the principles of Christianity. There are persons who once belonged to other nations, who now live in the territory of the Ojebwas.

The present state of the christianized Ojebwas is such, that they are fully ripe for greater advancement in religion, literature, and the arts and sciences. Multitudes have left their wigwams, their woods, and the chase, and are now endeavoring to tread in the footsteps of worthy white men. The reasons for all this, are the following:

1. Their chiefs have seen the necessity of making a “smooth, strait path for their children,” by appropriating as much of their means as they could spare.

2. The rising generation are beginning to thirst for learning, and are cultivating a taste for improvement more than ever.

3. Native teachers are now being trained to go to their brethren, and preach to them in their own language, Christ, and him crucified. By this means the nation must be elevated.

Our prospects as a nation, are becoming brighter through missionary efforts. There are many in Wisconsin, and at Lake du Flambeau, who have requested that missionaries be sent along the south shore of Lake Superior. The same may be said of those residing about Winepeg and Red Lakes. Much of the western part of Red Lake, is full of “the habitations of cruelty;” for the Chippewas and Sioux are habitually destroying each other.

I will here give extracts from the Report of the Commissioners, in 1842, to the Provincial Parliament, relative to the Mission Stations; also subjoin the names of the villages with their condition, and the chiefs of each village, as far as I could ascertain them, which will show their progress, and their present state; and also those who have abandoned the wigwam and the chase, and resort to farming for a living.


The Chippewas and Munsees occupy a tract of land containing about 9000 acres, in the Township of Caradoc, within the London District, a distance of about twenty-five miles from the Moravian village. It is only within ten years that the Chippewas have been reclaimed from a wandering life, and settled in their present location. The Munsees have been settled since the year 1800, on land belonging to the Chippewas, with the consent of that tribe. The present number of Chippewas is 378, and of Munsees 242.

The Chippewas and Munsees are not collected in a village, but live on small farms scattered over their tract. Some of the Chippewas are settled on surveyed lots of twenty acres each. This tribe occupies 76 log houses, and six wigwams; they possess 25 barns. They have 450 acres under cultivation. Their stock consists of 30 oxen, 27 cows, 44 heifers, 82 horses and colts, and 400 swine Their agricultural implements include 9 ploughs, 9 harrows, 23 scythes and sickles, 19 ox chains, a fanning mill, 4 wagons and carts, 7 spades, &c.; they have a blacksmith’s forge, and two and a half setts of carpenter’s tools.



They all profess christianity, and several of them are examples of true piety. The majority are Wesleyan Methodists, and the others Roman Catholics. They have no place of worship of their own. They can command the means. The Method ist minister, however, who is stationed in the town of Amherstburg, visits those of his persuasion every Sunday, and with the aid of an Interpreter, preaches, reads, and expounds the Scriptures to them. They also have a general Prayer Meeting among themselves, once a fortnight, and they meet occasionally more privately for social prayer; some of them maintain family worship. The Roman Catholics attend chapel at Amherstburg, which is about three miles from their settlement.

There is at present no school among them, but they have expressed their desire to establish one, and would gladly avail themselves of instruction for their children. When there was one, the attendance of the scholars was very irregular, but their ability in acquiring knowledge was in no way inferior to that of the white children.


These Indians are among the first whom Sir John Colborne endeavored to settle and civilize. Previously to 1830, they were wandering heathen like their brethren elsewhere, scattered over the western part of the Upper Province; they were drunken and dissipated in their habits, and without either religious or moral restraint. In 1830 and 31, a number of them were collected on a reserve in the Township of Sarnia, near the head of the River St. Clair, and containing 10,280 acres. A number of houses were built for them, and an officer was appointed for their superintendence. Their conversion to Christianity and their progress in religious knowledge, and in the acquisition of sober, orderly, and industrious habits, have been, under the care of missionaries of the Wesleyan Methodist Society, both rapid and uniform. From the formation of the mission 221 adults and 239 children have been baptized and admitted into the Methodist community. The total number up to the year 1839–40 does not appear to have exceeded 350. Since then their number has increased greatly by immigration, chiefly from the Saginaw Bay, in the State of Michigan, and · by the settlement of wandering Indians; and in 1842, as many as 741 received presents.

The Indians of the River aux Sables have about sixty acres under improvement, and one log house. Those at Kettle Point have twenty acres of improved land and two log houses. The land on the Upper Reserve was regularly surveyed and laid out into farms. The chief, with the approval of the Superintendent, placed most of the present occupants on these lanıls, but ut is not indispensable that he should be consulted, as the members of the tribe may choose any unoccupied spot; when once in possession they are secure from intrusion, but repeated ill conduct or drunkenness would subject them to be expelled from the reserve of the chief.

WA-WA-NOSH, Chief.
SALT, Chief.


These Indians are also known under the name of Chippewas of Chenaille Ecarte. The Chippewas who have long hunted over the waste lands about the Chenaille Ecarte and Bear Creek, are a branch of the same nation which is settled in Sarnia, and share in the same annuity.

The Pottawatamies are recent immigrants from the United States.

The settlement at Walpole Island was commenced at the close of the American war, when Col. M’Kie, called by the Indians “White Elk,” collected and placed upon the island which lies at the junction of the River and Lake St. Clair, the scattered remains of some tribes of Chippewas who had been engaged on the British side. Being left for many years without any interference or assistance on the part of the Government, they became a prey to the profligate whites settled on the frontier, who, by various frauds and in moments of intoxication, obtained leases and took possession of the most fertile and valuable part of the island.


These Indians are the remnant of a tribe which formerly possessed a considerable portion of the Home and Gore Districts, of which in 1818, they surrendered the greater part, for an annuity of £532.10, reserving only certain small tracts at the River Credit, and at Sixteen and Twelve Mile Creeks. They were the first tribe converted to Christianity in Upper Canada.

Previous to the year 1823, they were wandering pagans. In that year, Messrs. Peter and John Jones, the sons of a white surveyor and a Mississaga woman, having been converted to Christianity, and admitted members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, became anxious to redeem their countrymen from their degraded state of heathenism and destitution. They, accordingly, collected a considerable number together, and by rote and frequent repetitions, taught the first principles of Christianity to the adults, who were too far advanced in years to learn to read and write. In this manner the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Commandments, were committed to memory. As soon as the tribes were converted, they perceived the evils attendant on their former state of ignorance and vagrancy. They began to work, which they never had done before; they recognized the advantage of cultivating the soil; they totally gave up drinking, to which they had been greatly addicted, and became sober, industrious, and consistent Christians.

J. SAWYER, Chief.
P. JONES, Chief.
J. JONES, War Chief.


These Indians were converted to Christianity in the years 1826–7. They were then pagans, wandering in the neighborhood of Bellville, Kingston, and Gananoque, and were known under the name of the Mississagas of the Bay of Quinte; in those years, between 200 and 300 were received into the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and settled on Grape Island, in the Bay of Quinte, six miles from Bellville, where they commenced planting, and where schools were established by the missionary for their instruction. On this island they resided eleven years, subsisting by agriculture and hunting. Their houses were erected partly by their own labor, and partly at the expense of the Methodist Missionary Society. The number, at length, amounted to twenty-three; besides which, they had a commodious building for religious service and school, another room for an infant school, a hospital, smithery, a shoemaker’s shop, and a building for joiners’ and cabinet work.

SUNDAY, Chief.
G. COMEGO, Ch. & M. Inter.


These Indians belong to the same tribe, the Mississagas, or Chippewas of Rice Lake, who, in 1818, surrendered the greater part of the tract now forming the Newcastle District, for an annuity of £740. They have all been reclaimed from their primitive wandering life, and settled in their present locations within the last ten or twelve years.

The Rice Lake settlement is on the northern side of the lake, and at about twelve miles from Peterborough. The number of Indians is 114. They possess about 1550 acres of land, which are subdivided into 50 acre lots; of this, 1120 acres were granted in April, 1834, to trustees, “in trust, to hold the same for the benefit of the Indian tribes in the Province, and with a view to their conversion and civilization;” and the remaining 430 have been since purchased with their own funds. They have rather more land cleared than the Indians of Alnwick, about 400 acres; but the cultivation is not so good. The village contains thirty houses, three barns, a school-house, and a chapel with a bell. The head chief of the tribe resides here. For some time these Indians were under the charge of an officer appointed by the Indian Department, who assisted in their settlement; but at present they have no special Superintendent.

COPWAY, Chief.
Crow, Chief.


The Mud Lake Indians are settled on a point of land on the Mud or Chemong Lake, sixteen miles north-west of Peterborough. They are ninety-four in number, and possess twenty dwelling houses, with three stables. They occupy a grant of 1600 acres in the township of Smith, made to the New Eng. land Company for their benefit, in April, 1837, of which about 200 acres are in cultivation. These Indians were for some time under the management of the late Mr. Scott, agent for the New England Company, and belong to the Wesleyan Methodist Church. A chapel is in the course of erection at the village, where there is already a mission house and a school.

NOGEE, Chief.
IRON, Chief.
McKUE, Chief.


The Balsam Lake Indians, ninety in number, are at present settled within the Township of Bexley, on a point of land jutting out into Lake Balsam, which is the most northerly of the chain of lakes, running northwest across the back Townships of the district of New Castle. The reserve which was granted to them by the Crown, is 1206 acres in extent. Of this they have about 200 acres in cultivation. Their village contains twelve houses, a barn, and a commodious school-house, in which divine service is performed by a resident Methodist missionary. But within the present year, (1843,) these Indians having become dissatisfied with the climate and the quality of the land at the Balsam Lake, have purchased six hundred acres on the banks of Lake Scugog, to be paid out of their share of their annuity, and are making preparations for removing from their former settlement. Their improvements will be sold for their benefit. Their reason for removing evinces their desire to advance in the pursuit of agriculture.

CRANE, Chief.


These Indians formerly occupied the lands about Lake Simcoe, Holland River, and the unsettled country in the rear of the Home District. General Darling reported of them in 1828, that they had expressed a strong desire to be admitted to Christian. iiy, and to adopt the habits of civilized life; and that in these respects they might be classed with the Mississagas of the Bay of Quinte and Rice Lake, but were then in a more savage state. In 1830, Lieutenant-Governor Sir J. Colborne, collected them on a tract of land on the northwest shore of Lake Simcoe, of 9800 acres in extent, where they cleared a road between that lake and Lake Huron. They consisted of three tribes of Chippewas, under chiefs Yellowhead, Aisance, and Snake, and a band of Pottawatamies from Drummond Island; their number was about 500, under the care of Mr. Anderson, now the Superintendent at Manitoulin, who was appointed to take charge of their settlement and civilization; they made a rapid progress. The tribe under the chief Yellowhead, now settled at Rama, were located at the Narrows on Lake Simcoe; Aisance’s tribe, at present residing at Beausoleil, Matchadash Bay, was settled at Coldwater at the other extremity of the reserve, the distance between them being fourteen miles.



This band, under the chief “Aisance,” is the same which was settled by Sir John Colborne, at Coldwater. Their present village, which is not very distant from the former settlement, was only commenced last year. It contains fourteen houses, and a barn; the number of the band is 232. They have about 100 acres under cultivation.

The majority of these Indians are Roman Catholics. They have not as yet any place of worship, or school. In the former settlement they were occasionally visited by the Roman Catholic priest, resident at Penetanguishene.



This body of Indians was one of the three bands established at Cold water and the Narrows, and separated from them on the abandonment of those settlements. They now occupy one of the three Islands on Lake Simcoe, which was set apart for this tribe many years ago. They are 109 in number, and occupy twelve dwelling houses. They have also two barns and a school house, in which their children are instructed by a respectable teacher, and Divine Service is performed by a resident Missionary of the Methodist persuasion, to which these Indians belong. They have about 150 acres in cultivation, and are improving in habits of industry and agricultural skill. Their missionary, who has been acquainted with them since July, 1839, states that the majority of them are strictly moral in their character, that most of the adults are decidedly pious, and that many of them for consistency of character, would not suffer by a comparison with white Christians of any denomination.

J. SNAKE, Chief.


It was from these Indians, and their brethren, since settled at Owen’s sound, that Sir Francis Head, in 1836, obtained a surrender of the vast tract of land lying north of the London and Gore Districts, and between the Home District and Lake Huron, containing 1,600,000 acres. He reserved, at the same time, for the Indians, the extensive peninsula, lying between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, north of Owen’s Sound, and supposed to contain about 450,000 acres.



These Indians were formerly either wanderers in the Saugeen tract, surrendered to Sir F. Head, or lived in scattered wigwams, on the shores of Big Bay. According to the agreement then made with them, it was proposed that they should either repair to Manitoulin or to that part of their former territory which lies north of Owen’s sound; upon which it was promised “that houses should be built for them, and proper assistance given, to enable them to become civilized, and to cultivate land.”

PETER, Chief.


Within a few years past, some stragglers from the Rice Lake tribe have settled in the township of Bedford, about twenty-five miles north of the town of Kingston; and recently, they have been joined by a band of eighty-one Indians from Lower Canada; belonging to the post of the Lake of Two Mountains. As the settlement is of recent formation, and the claim of these Indians upon the attention of the Department of Upper Canada has only been brought forward last year, they have not yet been visited by any officer of the Department, and no account can be given of the settlement. By Instructions issued in 1843, they were transferred from the Roll of Lower Canada to that of the Upper Province, and, accordingly, received their presents for the first time in that Province.

My beloved Reader—I am now about closing my narrative, and in doing this there are but a few things to say. Throughout the work, I have confined my remarks chiefly to my own nation. But it must not be supposed, on this account, that I am forgetful of my brethren of the other Indian nations. The prayers and benevolent efforts of all Christendom should be directed towards all men every where. The gospel should be preached to every creature; and the field is the wide WORLD.

The Menomenees in Wisconsin, the Winebagoes and Potawatamies in Iowa, the warlike nations of the Sacs and Foxes, the Osages, Pawnees, Mandans, Kansas, Creeks, Omahas, Otoes, Delawares, Iowas, and a number of others elsewhere, must perish as did their brethren in the Eastern States, unless the white man send them the Gospel, and the blessings of education. There is field enough for all denominations to labor in, without interfering with each other. It is too late in the day to assert that the Indians cannot be raised up out of their degraded state, and educated for God and heaven. None need be discouraged since the Ojebwas in Western Canada have been converted. No language is adequate to portray the misery, wretchedness, and degradation in which we were, when the word of God was first brought and preached to us.

It is not necessary to detail each and every wrong, that my poor people have suffered at the hands of the white man. Enough has already been said in various parts of the work, to prove that they have been most grossly abused, peeled, and wronged. Nor shall I notice the personal wrongs that I myself have received; and from those, too, of whom I had good reason to hope better things. I once thought, that there were some things that I could never forgive; but the religion of Jesus, and the law of love, have taught me differently. I do forgive them; and may God forgive them and me too.

I have sometimes heard it said, that our forefathers were cruel to the forefathers of the whites. But was not this done through ignorance, or in self defense? Had your fathers adopted the plan of the great philanthropist, William Penn, neither fields, nor clubs, nor waters, would have been crimsoned with each other’s blood. The white men have been like the greedy lion, pouncing upon and devouring its prey. They have driven us from our nation, our homes, and possessions; compelled us to seek a refuge in Missouri, among strangers, and wild beasts; and will, perhaps, soon compel us to scale the Rocky Mountains; and, for aught I can tell, we may yet be driven to the Pacific Ocean, there to find our graves. My only trust is, that there is a just God. Was it to perpetrate such acts that you have been exalted above all other nations? Providence intended you for a blessing and not a curse to us. You have sent your missionaries to Burmah, China, the Sandwich Islands, and to almost every part of the world; and shall the Indians perish at your own door?

Is it not well known that the Indians have a generous and magnanimous heart? I feel proud to mention in this connection, the names of a Pocahontas, Massasoit, Skenandoah, Logan, Kusie, Pushmataha, Philip, Tecumseh, Osceola, Petalesharro, and thousands of others. Such names are an honor to the world! Let a late Governor of Massachusetts[1] speak for our fathers, when they first beheld the trembling white man:—

“Brothers! when our fathers came over the great waters, they were a small band. The red man stood upon the rock by the seaside, and saw our fathers. He might have pushed them into the water and drowned them. But he stretched out his arms to our fathers and said, Welcome, white men!’ Our fathers were hungry, and the red man gave them corn and venison. Our fathers were cold, and the red man wrapped them up in his blanket. We are now numerous and powerful, but we remember the kindness of the red man to our fathers.”

And what have we received since, in return? Is it for the deeds of a Pocahontas, a Massasoit, and a host of others, that we have been plundered and oppressed, and expelled from the hallowed graves of our ancestors? If help cannot be obtained from England and America, where else can we look? Will you then, lend us a helping hand; and make some amends for past injuries?

It is often said, that the Indians are revengeful, cruel and ungovernable. But go to them with nothing but the BIBLE in your hands, and LOVE in your hearts, and you may live with them in perfect safety, share their morsel with them, and, like the celebrated Bartram, return to your homes UNHARMED. They very soon learn to venerate the Bible; as a proof of this, I will give an instance, that came under my own eye: —While at the Rabbit River Mission, a chief from the west, visited me. After reading to him several chapters from the Bible, he said, with much surprise, “Is this the book, that I hear so much about in my country?” I replied, yes; and these are the words of Ke-sha-mon-e-doo (the Great Spirit.) “Will you not,” said he, give me one? I wish to show it to my people.” I told him, not without you first promise that you will take care of it. He promised me that he would. I handed it to him; he took it, and turned it over and over, and then exclaimed, “Wonderful, wonderful! this is the book of the Great Spirit!” He then wrapped it up in a silk handkerchief, and the handkerchief in three or four folds of cloth. I heard, afterwards, from the trader, that the book was still kept sacred. O, if my poor brother could but read and understand that blessed volume, how soon would his dumb idols be “cast down to the moles and to the bats!” Will no one go and tell him and his nation, of the boundless, beseeching, bleeding, dying love of a Saviour; and urge upon them the importance of such a preparation of heart, as will enable them “to give up their account with joy?” The Great Spirit is no respecter of persons; He has made of one blood all the nations of the earth; He loves all his children alike; and his highest attributes are love, mercy and justice. If this be so,—and who dare doubt it?—will He not stretch out his hand and help them, and avenge their wrongs? “If offences must come,” let it be recollected, that woe is denounced against them “from whom they come.”

I again propose that the territories of the Indians, in the British dominions, be annexed to that Government, and those in the American dominions to the Federal Union. And, finally, in the language of that excellent, magnanimous, and benevolent friend of the poor children of the forest, Col. Thomas McKenney, I would say,

“I have already referred, in the commencement of this proposal to annex the Indian territory to our Union, to those good men, who, in the character of missionaries, have kept side by side with the Indians in so many of their afflictions and migrations. I will again refer to them, and implore them by all the lost labor of the past, and by the hopes of the future; by the critical condition of the pacific relations that exist between the Indians and us; and by the sacredness of the cause in which they are engaged, to look well and earnestly into this subject, and learn from the past what must attend upon their labors in the future, if the change I propose, or some other change equivalent to it, be not brought about. And, seeing, as they must see, that the plan I propose, or some other, is indispensable to the success they seek to command, I implore them to take up the subject in all its bearings, and by the instrumentalities which they have at command, manufacture, collect, and embody public opinion, in regard to what may be determined to be done; and by memorial, and personal agencies, bring this opinion to bear upon Congress, with whom alone the power is vested, to redeem, disenthrall, and save, and bless, the remnants of this aboriginal race. And I make the same appeal to all the good, of all religious persuasions, both in the Church and out of it, and politicians of all parties, to second this attempt, feeble as I know it to be, to save the Indians, and consolidate, and perpetuate peace between them and us, and, by so doing, ward off the terrible retribution which must sooner or later, unless it be averted, fall upon this nation.”

  1. Edward Everett, Esq.


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