INDIANS OF MICHIGAN-THEIR LANDS CEDED BY TREATIES

 

THE TREATY OF FORT STANWIX, 1784

 The first Indian treaty made by our government on the subject of land was made at Fort Stanwix in the State of New York with the Six Nations, or Iroquois, in October, 1784.  This treaty defines the west limits of the lands of the Iroquois by a line nearly coincident with the east line of Ohio and they yield to the United States all claim to the land west of it.

 

TREATY OF FORT McINTOSH, 1785

 The next treaty negotiated and the first making a cession of land in Michigan was made at Fort McIntosh, January 21, 1785, with the Wyandot, Delaware, Chippewa and Ottawa nations.

  By the seventh article of this treaty there is reserved to the sole use of the United States, the following: The post of Detroit with a district beginning at the mouth of the Rosine (Raisin) on the west end of Lake Erie and running west six miles up the southern bank of said river, thence northerly and always six miles west of the strait until it strikes the Lake St. Clair.  And by the eight article the post of Michili-mackinac with its dependencies and twelve miles square about the same are reserved in like manor.

 

TREATY OF FORT HARMER, 1789

 By treaty negotiated by General St. Clair at Fort Harmer on the 9th day of January, 1789, with the Wyandot, Delaware, Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatamie and Sac nations, the above described concessions at Detroit and Michilimackinac are confirmed, and it is stated that the Wyandota having represented that they had two villages within their reservation along the Detroit river from which they could not conveniently remove, it is agreed that they shall not be disturbed in the possession of the same.

  From the date of the above treaties the public archives (American State Papers, Vol. V) are full of official reports of depredations, outrages and murders committed by the Indians in the northwest.  The British forts, in violation of the treaty stipulations, had not yet been given up.  It was manifest that the Indians were excited and urged on in their desperate acts by British officials who still remained in the country.  The result was massacres without number and a hostile combination of different tribes which compelled Washington to call out the militia and to meet force with force.

  In March, 1793, Benjamin Lincoln, Beverly Randolph and Timothy Pickering, three of the most eminent men of their time, were appointed commissioners for negotiating a treaty with the Indians of the northwest.  The council was to be held at Sandusky.  The confederate tribes were holding a private council at the Rapids of the Maumee.  Several delegations were sent by them to talk with the commissioners and discussions were had about restoring friendly relations and about the lands claimed by the several tribes.  The commissioners urged the meeting of the council for negotiating a treaty, but the Indians continually procrastinated.  The commissioners finally went to the mouth of the Detroit river and were there met by a delegation from the confederates, who delivered a speech and listened to the reply and arguments of the commissioners.  They remained four weeks in communication with individual members of the confederation urging the meeting of the council for negotiating the promised treaty, but without avail.  Finally, on the 16th day of August, 1793, the received an absolute refusal to treat at all and they departed for their homes.

  Then followed the sad conflict which constitutes so exciting a chapter in the early history of the northwest and especially of Ohio.  The repulse of the Indians at Fort Recovery, the gallant conduct which signalized the campaign of General Wayne and the splendid victory at the Maumee Rapids alone opened the way for ending the contest and restoring peace.

 

TREATY OF GREENVILLE, 1795

 The treaty of Greenville followed.  It was negotiated by General Wayne as United States Commissioner with the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanese, Ottawas, Chippewas, Potawatamies, Miamis, E$el Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos, Piankishaws and Kaskaskias, and was concluded on the third day of March, 1795.  These were the confederate tribes which had allied themselves together in deadly hostility to the Americans and sought to expel them from the western country.

  By this treaty all hostilities were to cease and peace was to be perpetual.  All prisoners were to be surrendered and ten Indian chiefs were to remain with the white as hostages until this was done.  Anew line of boundary between the lands of the Indians and the United States in Ohio was established, enlarging the possessions of the latter; and several other tracts elsewhere within the territory claimed by different tribes were ceded.  In the cessions thus made are included lands in Michigan described as follows: The post of Detroit and all the lands to the north, the west and the south of it of which the Indian title has been extinguished by gifts or grants to the French or English governments, and so much more land, to be annexed to the district of Detroit as shall be comprehended between the River Rosine (Raisin) on the south, Lake St. Clair on the north, and a line the general course whereof shall be six miles distant from the west end of Lake Erie and Detroit river.  Also the post of Michilimackinac and all the land on the island on which the post stands and the main land adjacent of which the Indian title has been extinguished by gifts or grants to the French or English governments and a piece of land on the main to the north of the island to measure six miles on Lake Huron or the strait between Lakes Huron and Michigan, and to extend three miles back from the water of the lake or strait; also the island DeBois Blanc, being an extra and voluntary gift of the Chippewa nation.

  The treaty of Greenville is one of the most important ever made with the Indian nations and the council at which it was made was one of the most imposing.  The Sachems and chiefs who were in attendance discussed very fully the subjects of the treaty.  In the American State papers, published under the authority of congress, will be found a report of the many speeches made by the chiefs, and few reports of discussions in deliberative assemblies or of debates in congress can be found that are more interesting.

 

INCIDENTS OF THE COUNCIL AT GREENVILLE, 1795

 In this council the four great Indian nations of Michigan, the Wyandots, the Chippewas, the Ottawas, and the Potawatamies, were present by their several chiefs and vailient warriors and they constituted a prominent feature of the assemblage.

  New-corn, an aged Potawatamie chief, come with forty followers and was introduced to the council.  I Come, he said, on the good work of peace.  I come from Lake Michigan.  Had you seen me in former days you would have beheld a great and brave chief, but now I am old and burdened with the weight of years.  My nation consists of one thousand men who live at Detroit and between Detroit and Lake Michigan.  Twenty three chiefs of that nation are inferior to me in command.  He asks to surrender the old medals won by his warriors and given by the British and to be furnished with General Washingtions.  My young men will no longer listen to the former.  They have thrown off the British and henceforth will view the Americans as their only friends.

  Nash-i-pi-nash-i-wish, a Chippewa chief, speaking for the Chippewas, Ottawas and Potawtamies, exclaims: Look at your warriors around you and view ours.  Does it not give you pleasure to see us all met together in brotherly love?  I was not disposed to take up the hatchet against you; it was forced into my hands by the white people.  I throw it into the middle of the deepest lake from whence no mortal can bring it back.  Brother, I have thrown my hatchet into the bottomless lake from whence it will never return.  I hope you will also throw yours so far that it may never again be found.

  A-goosh-a-way, came with a following of twenty-three Ottawas from the vicinity of Detroit, and Masass, a Chippewa chief, with twenty of his tribe.

 A question arose in the council as to the validity of the treaty ceding lands which was made at Fort Harmer on the Muskingum in 1789, and some of the Ottawas, Chippewas and Potawatamies denied any knowledge of it.  But Masass arose and said that he was present at the making of the treaty and had it now here in his hand to show them-that he had come for the sole purpose of exhibiting it.  He presented a belt with nine white squares wrought in beads, and said: This great calumet comes not from the little lake near us but from the great Lake Superior to the norht, from whence our great chiefs and warriors come.  When I returned from the treaty of Muskingum I repeated the substance of its proceedings to my nation.  You therefore see that your words have gone a great ways, even to Lake Superior.  Brother, I live at a great distance from you, but when you call a council I hear your voice immediately and I come without delay.  You now see all your brothers around you.  We are well acquainted with what we are now doing and what we have done heretofore.  The white beads in this belt denote the number of large villages from the north who have heard your word.

  The commissioner settled the question as to the validity of the cession of lands by former treaties by saying that they had been twice paid for by the treaty of Fort McIntosh and that of Muskingum, but nevertheless, such was the justice and liberality of the government that they would again make compensation for them.

  No further cession of land in Michigan was made during the twelve years which succeeded the treaty of Greenville in 1795.  In the Meantime the territory of Michigan was established and organized; a strong tide of immigration was setting in and the purchase of the Indian title became more and more a matter of national importance.

 

TREATY OF DETROIT, 1807

 In 1807 President Jefferson thought it desirable that the entire eastern half of Michigan should be released from the Indian title, and he comissioned General Hull, then governor of the territory, to negotiate a treaty for that purpose.  A council was accordingly held by him at Detroit with the sachems, chiefs and warriors of the Chippewas, Ottawas, Wyandots and Potawatamies, which resulted in a treaty concluded on the 17th day of November, 1807.

  By this treaty the United States acquired the Indian title to that portion of Michigan which lies east of a line drawn north from the mouth of the AuGlaize river in Ohio to a point due west of the outlet of Lake Huron and thence northerly to White Rock on Lake Huron.  This line follows the dividing line between the counties of Lenhawee and Hillsdale, and thence through Jackson and Ingham, along the line between Shiawassee and Clinton counties to near the middle of the same, and thence by direct course to

White Rock near the southeast corner of Huron county.  The territory covered by this cession embraces the present counties of Monroe, Lenawee, Wayne, Washtenaw, Macomb, Oakland, Livingston, St. Clair, Lapeer and Genesee, and a portion of Jackson, Ingham, Shiawassee, Tuscola and Sanilac.

  It will be observed that the boundaries of this cession embrace the entire tract lying along the Detroit river and the west end of Lake Erie, which was ceded by the several treaties of Fort McIntosh, Fort Harmer or Muskingum and Greenville, thus making the fourth purchase of the Indian title thereto.  Within its limits are also embraced the settlements of the Wyandots along the borders of the river and lake, a people who had made further advances than any of the other tribes towards the sedentary and industrial habits of civilized life.

 

THE EXODUS OF THE WYANDOTS

 the Wyandots, although they had joined in the above mentioned treaties ceding their lands unconditionally, were evidently unwilling to relinquish the possession of them.  By the treaty of Fort Harmer in 1789 they had obtained leave to continue in the occupancy of their two villages, Brownstown and Monguagon, and in 1809 they obtained on the petition of Walk-in-the-Water and other chiefs, an act of congress giving them the possession for fifty years, * and again by treaty made with General Cass as commissioner at St. Marys, September 20, 1818, they ceded all rights to this reservation, receiving instead a tract of 4,996 acres of land on the Huron river designated by sections, to be held by them as long as they and their descendants should continue to occupy the same.  It does not definitely appear how long or to what extent they occupied these lands, but they finally removed from them and from Michigan, and joined their brother Wyandots in Ohio; and by treaty of March 17, 1842, the tribe relinquished to the United States their claim to these and all other lands in Michigan.

 

TREATY OF SAGINAW, 1819

 The next important cession of lands in this State was by treaty made with the Chippewas at Saginaw by General Cass as commissioner on the 24th day of September, 1819.

  The land ceded is described as beginning at a point in the present Indian boundary line which runs due north from the mouth of the Great AuGlaize river, six miles south of the place where the base line (so called) intersects the same; thence west sixty miles; thence in a direct line to the head of Thunder Bay river; thence down the same to the mouth and thence to the line established by the treaty of Detroit of 1807 at White Rock on Lake Huron, and thence by that line to the place of beginning.

 

TREATY OF SAULT DE STE. MARIE, 1820

 A treaty was made by General Cass with the Chippewa tribe at Sault de Ste. Marie, June 16, 1820.  This treaty cedes a tract of land fronting on the St. Marys river and extending from the Big Rock to the Little Rapids and running back far enough to include sixteen square miles of land.  This land is also included in the cession made by the Chippewas and Ottawas by the treaty of March 28, 1836, made at Washington.

 

TREATY OF CHICAGO, 1821

 The next important treaty of cession was negotiated by General Cass and Solomon Sibley at Chicago with the Ottawas, Chippewas and Potawatamies and was concluded August 29, 1821.

  This cession covers that portion of the State which is bounded on the south by the south line therof, on the north by Grand river, on the east by the west line of former cessions and on the west by Lake Michigan, excepting a small triangular parcel of land lying in the southwest corner of the State south of the St. Joseph river; and this tract was afterwards ceded by the Potawatamies by treaty made at the Carey Mission, which was on the same, September 20, 1828, and then again by them in conjunction with the Chippewas and Ottawas by treaty made at Chicago, September 27, 1833.  These treaties cover the southwestern portion of the State and embrace the counties of Derrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Branch, Hillsdale, Van Buren and Allegan, and also a part of Ottawa, Kent, Barry, Kalamazoo, Calhoun and Jackson.

 

TREATY OF WASHINGTON, 1836

 This treaty was negotiated by Henry R. Schoolcraft as commissioner, with the Ottawa and Chippewa nations at Washington, March 28, 1836.

  This cession covers all the land in the lower peninsula which lies north of a line beginning at the mouth of the Grand river and following up that stream until it strikes the line of the land ceded by the treaty of Chicago of August 29, 1821, and thence by that line to Thunder Bay in Lake Huron, and also all of the upper peninsula as far west as Chocolate river, and thence by way of the Escanaba river, Green Bay and Lake Michigan to the place of beginning at the mouth of Grand river, together with all the islands in the waters surrounding the same not before ceded.

  This cession of March 28, 1836, covers an immense tract of country including all that portion of the southern peninsula which lies north of the Grand river on the west and Thunder Bay on the east and all of the upper peninsula east of Chocolate river near Marquette and the Escanaba river, which flows into Green Bay.

 

TREATY OF LA POINTE, 1812

 The last of the more important of the original cessions of land in Michigan ws made by treaty with the Chippewa Indians of the Mississippi and Lake Superior negotiated by Robert Stuart at la Pointe, October 4, 1842.

  The land covered by this cession is situated in the upper peninsula and includes all that portion of the State of Michigan which lies west of the Chocolate and Escanaba rivers, being the western boundary of land ceded by the treaty of Washington of March 38, 1836, and extending to the line of Wisconsin.

  The above descriptions of the ceded lands follow the cessions as described in the several treaties, and, it is believed that together they embrace the entire area of the State of Michigan. But from four of the larger of these tracts certain specified portions of the land are reserved by express words in favor of the Indians and were held by them as by their original title.  These reservations covered large tracts of most valuable lands.  They became subsequently the subject of negotiation between the United States and the Indians and were ceded by treaty as in former cases.

  We look now to these reservations with a view to the inquiry whether the Indian title to these has also been acquired by our government.

 

RESERVATIONS

 I.  The earliest of these reservations is found in the treaty of Detroit of November 17, 1807.  They cover three miles square of land on the River Raisin at the mouth of the Macon, four sections on and near the River rouge, three on Lake St. Clair and six sections which were to be afterwards located by the Indians with the approval of the president.

  Three of the sections reserved at the mouth of the Macon and three of the sections not located were subsequently, by treaty made at the foot of the Maumee Rapids, September 29, 1817, given to the rector of the Catholic church of St. Anne of Detroit and the corporation of the college of Detroit, to each one-half, and by the treaty of St. Joseph of September 19, 1827, a cession was made of the four sections on and near the rover Rouge and of the remainder of the reservation at the mouth of the Macon, except half a section which was given to the Potawatamie chief, Moran.  The residue of these reservations is covered by the general terms of the cession made by the Potawatimies by treaty of the Tippecanoe river, October 27, 1832, and that made at Chicago, September 27, 1833.

  II.  In the treaty negotiated by General Cass with the Chippewas at Saginaw, September 24, 1819, sixteen separate tracts of land in choice locations and amounting in the aggregate to more than one hundred thousand acres were reserved to the Chippewas, but all of these tracts were subsequently ceded by the Indians to the United States by treaty mad with Henry R. Schoolcraft as commissioner at Detroit, January 14, 1837.  By the terms of this treaty said lands were to be surveyed and sold by the United States in the same manner as other public lands, the proceeds to be applied for certain specific purposes defined in said treaty and the balance to be invested in public stocks for the benefit of said Indians.

  III.  By the treaty of Chicago with the Potawatamies, Ottawas and Chippewas, made August 29, 1821, there are reserved for the use of the Indians five tracts of land differing in quantity from three to six miles square each.

  In 1827 (September 19) these lands, with the exception of a tract four miles square at the village of Not-a-wa-sepe, were ceded by the treaty to the United States by the Potawatamies and they received in exchange for the same ninety-nine sections of land lying in a body in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties.  These lands were designated by sections and were to be held by the tribe upon the same terms on which Indian reservations are usually held.  The object of this exchange is declared to be to consolidate some of the dispersed bands of the Potawatamie tribe in the territory of Michigan and to remove them from the settlements of the white people.

  By a treaty made at the Tippeconoe river, October 27, 1832, the Potawatamies cede all their lands in Michigan south of Grand river excepting the reservation at Pocagons village and that at Not-awa-sepe; and again by treaty made with the Chippewas, Ottawas and Potawatamies at Chicago, September 27, 1833, all their interests in the lands in Michigan south of Grand river are ceded.  In this cession are included by express terms the above named, and also the tract of land in the southwest corner of the State south of the St. Joseph river.

  The territory claimed and occupied by the Potawatamie nation originally embraced all that portion of the State lying south of Grand river and extending from Lake Michigan to the waters which bound it on the east; and by the several treaties above mentioned their claim to the entire tract is surrendered.

  IV.  By the treaty of Washington of March 28, 1836, with the Ottawa and Chippewa nations they reserve to themselves five separate tracts of land, containing a total of one hundred and fourty-two thousand acres, to be held by the two tribes in common.  There are also reserved for the separate use of the Chippewas living north of the Straits of Mackinac a large number of tracts including the islands in the lakes.

  After the making of this treaty the condition and the views of the Indians gradually changed; their tribal relations became relaxed; they were divided into small bands and were anxious to become the possessors of the lands by individual ownership rather than to share them in common with other members of their tribe.  To accomplish this a new feature was introduced into the metod of disposing of Indian reservations.  With a view of acceding to this desire in a treaty made at La Pointe, September 30, 1854, the United States stipulated to set apart and with hold from sale certain tracts of land designated by townships and sections for the use of the Chippewas of Lake Superior.  Six bands of the Indians are named as the beneficiaries and to each is assigned the portion of land set aside for its special benefit.  From these lands every head of a family or single person over twenty-one years of age at that time of the mixed bloods belonging to the Chippewas of Lake Superior was entitled to select from the portion assigned to his band eight acres of land and to receive a title thereto by patent in the usual form.  And by the third article of the treaty the president is authorized in his discretion to assign to any head of a family or single person over twenty-one years of age eighty acres of land for his or their separate use, and may, when he thinks proper so to do, issue patents therefore with such restrictions of the power of alienation as he may see fit to impose.  And in consideration of these provisions and of many payments amounting to little less than half a million of dollars the cession is made to the United States of an extensive territory embracing the land above set aside and withheld from sale.

  Still further progress was made in the same direction by treaty with the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan made on the 31st day of July, 1855.  By this treaty the United States withdraws from sale certain townships of the State of Michigan and assigns to each one of some twenty bands into which the Indians are divided, the particular townships in which its members may select land.  The United States agree to give to each Ottawa and Chippewa Indian, being the head of a family, eighty acres of land, to each single person over twenty-one years of age forty acres, to each family of orphan children under twenty-one years of age containing tow or more persons, eight acres and to each single orphan child under twenty-one years of age forty acres; and each beneficiary is to select his land in the tract reserved for the band to which he belonged.  On such selection being made each was at liberty to go into possession of the land selected by him and was to receive a certificate therefore, but he could not assign his interest secured thereby.  At the end of ten years he was entitled to receive a patent therefore in the usual form, but still the president might, in his discretion, order the patent to be issued at an earlier date or to be longer withheld when it was proved that the welfare of the holder of the certificate would be promoted thereby.  The treaty also provides that the portion of the land so described and set apart which shall not be selected by the Indians within five years shall remain the property of the United States and may be sold like other public lands, except that the exclusive right to become purchasers within the next five years was reserved to the Indians.

  In consideration of these provisions of the treaty and the payment of $538,400 in manner therein specified, the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians release the United States from all liability on account of former treaty stipulations and receive them in lieu and satisfaction of all claims legal and equitable on the part of said Indians, jointly and severally, for land, money or other thing guaranteed to them or either of them by previous treaties.  And by the fifth article of the treaty the tribal organization of said Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is dissolved, except so far as is necessary to carry out the provisions of said treaty; and all future matters of business are to be transacted not with the entire tribe, but with those only who are interested in the subject matter, and the payments which are to be in money by the terms of the treaty are to be paid not to the tribe as such, but to the individual Indians of these several bands per capita.

  Two days after the making of this treaty another was made by the same commissioners with the Chippewa Indians of Saginaw and the bands of the Chippewas of Swan creek and Black river.  These were bands of the Chippewa Indians, who appear to have occupied separate tracts in the reservations defined in the treaty of March 28, 1836, and are not among the bands named in the treaty of September 30, 1854, or that of July 31, 1855.  By this treaty the government agrees to withhold from sale six townships of land in Isabella county and two townships near Saginaw bay and it gives to the individuals of these bands the right to locate within these defined limits substantially the same quantity of land, and under like terms and conditions as provided in the last mentioned treaty and with the same final result of a title in fee.  In consideration of these provisions and of $220,000 agreed to be paid to them, the Indians cede to the United States all lands in Michigan theretofore owned by them as reservations and whether held in trust by the United States or otherwise; and they release and discharge the United States from all liability assumed in previous treaties.

  In 1859 a cession was made by treaty by a portion of the tribe residing in Kansas of all claim to the Chippewa reservations in Michigan, and by treaty made at Isabella, October 18, 1864, a similar cession was made by the Chippewas of Saginaw, Swan creek and Black river, they securing thereby the right of individuals to select lands in the unsold portion of the six townships withheld from sale in Isabella county and to receive patents therefore.

 

THE EFFECT OF THESE TREATY PROVISIONS

 The peculiar provisions of these several treaties with the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes mark an epoch in our negotiations with the aborigines.  As in other cases these tribes cede their original title to all the lands in the immense region which was their home, but they do not divest themselves of all interest in the soil.  Individual ownership is to take the place of the vague right of the wandering savage.  The United States receives and holds the title, but in certain portions of the premises it is held in trust for the benefit of the Indians under conditions, which must be fulfilled.  The title of the tribes is given up; the tribes themselves by the terms of the treaty, yield up their own tribal existence.  A total change from savage to civilized life was in contemplation.  It was a great change and the Indian could scarcely have realized how great it was.  He could not by a single step pass from one condition to the other.  The progress if successful, must be slow and often discouraging.  In no prior Indian treaty is a similar provision found-no similar experiment had then been tried.  Favored individuals had sometimes been made owners of land by treaty, but here the broader provision was for the benefit of all, and every individual of the tribes was invited to become a landowner.  In most other cases the aborigines who ceded their lands, were to find a new home in a region often unknown to them in the west; here they were to become proprietors of the soil where their whole lives had been spent.  And this is the most noticable as it is evident from previous treaties that a similar emigration by these Indians was contemplated by all parties prior to the making of the treaties of 1854 and 1855.

  By some of the treaties referred to an unconditional title was given at once to the beneficiary; in others the power of alienation was withheld for a time until he could learn the value of his treasure and know how to guard it.   In the former case the wily speculator too often managed to obtain the prize for a song and leave his victim a beggar; in the latter he has most frequently retained it as a home and a source of comfortable livelihood.  The number of Indians in Michigan as reported in the census returns of 1890, is 6, 991.  They are widely scattered over the northern portion of the State, though the largest collections of them are found in Isabella county and at LAnse and Baraga in Baraga county.  The land withheld from sale by the United States for their benefit seems not yet all taken up, and the commissioners report of 1891 shows 27,319 acres at that time subject to be located by the Indians agreeably to the treaty stipulations.  Many of these Indians are industrious and efficient laborers and good citizens; most of them wear citizens dress and speak the English language, and are making fair progress in their new sphere of life.

  I have spoken of the provisions of these treaties giving land to the individual Indians to hold in severalty as an experiment.  That the experiment did not prove a failure is manifest not only from its effect here but also from the subsequent sanction given to the principle involved by the government.  By act of congress of February 8, 1887, the president is authorized to allot lands in severality to the Indians on any reservation for their use made by treaty, or act of congress, or executive order, and this authority has been liberally exercised.  It is recognized among the most efficient means of improving the condition of the Indian and leading him on to a life of civilization and in its influence it is second only to that of the schools for the education of Indian youths supported by the government in many portions of the country, one of which has recently been established at Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

 

COST OF THE TREATY CESSIONS

 the theory of purchase and sale of the Indian title to the lands is apparent from first to last in the treaties of cession.  The consideration paid by the United States, at first small and inconsiderable, was gradually increased as cession followed cession and both buyer and seller better understood the value of the subject matter of the negotiation.  A valuable consideration is specified in every such treaty, sometimes it is to be paid in installments; sometimes in coin, sometimes in goods; sometimes in provisions; sometimes in annual payments, running through many years; sometimes it is to go to their favorite chiefs; sometimes to their creditors in payment of their debts; sometimes to their half-breed relatives.  The precise amount of money consideration given under the treaties above mentioned for the Indian title to the land within the boundaries of Michigan cannot readily be ascertained, but I am satisfied that it cannot be less than from two and a half to three millions of dollars, a princely sum for a priceless domain.

  But there are other provisions in these Indian treaties which are really of greater value than can be reckoned in dollars and cents.  The Indians are to be furnished at the expense of the government with interpreters, mechanics, farmers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, cattle and agricultural implements.  It furnishes the means for the support of missions and schools and sometimes for the physicians services.  These are strong, practical and helpful aids, urging the savage on to a higher and better life and offering a vigorous arm to help him on the way.

  Apart from these cessions of the lands in Michigan to the United States, but incidental to the several negotiations on the subject, there are some other matters of too much interest to be passed without notice.

 

I.  THE CESSION OF LANDS TO INDIVIDUALS

 The first of these cessions of lands in Michigan is found in the treaty negotiated by General Cass at Saginaw in 1819.  Sixteen sections of land are given by this treaty to as many individuals, each to have one section.  They are declared to be Indians by descent.  By the treaty of Chicago of 1821 a grant is made to each of twenty-eight persons who are named and who are Indians by descent, amounting in the aggregate to twenty-three sections or 16,640 acres of land.  By the treaty of 1932 made at the Tippecanoe river there is granted to each of seventy-six persons named a specified quantity of load amounting in all to eighty-four and a half sections or 54, 080 acres, and patents are to be issued for the same.  The treaty of Fond du Lac, made August 5, 1826, grants to each of a large number of half-breeds one section of land, and they are to hold the title subject only to the restriction that they cannot convey the land without permission of the president.  Fourty-six persons are named as grantees, wand the children of many of them, and in one instance the grandchildren who are not named are to receive one section each.

  But the most noteworthy of these grants to individuals is that to each of fifty-eight persons, Indians by birth, who were then, or had been scholars in the Carey mission school near the present site of Niles which was in charge of the Rev. Isaac McCoy.  This grant was made by the treaty concluded on the Wabash, October 16, 1826, and gave to each of these scholars a quarter section of land, a little more than nine thousand acres in all.  This mission was one of the most successful and flourishing of Indian missions.  Mr. McCoy afterwards published an interesting history of it in which he gives an account of his efforts in obtaining this concession to his Indian pupils.  He attended the council which resulted in the grant and he and his assistant selected and located the lands.  The selections were judicious and the lands valuable, but he regrets to be compelled to add that before the contemplated emigration to the west took place, they sold their lands to white immigrants and, in many cases spent the proceeds for food and raiment, doing nothing.

  The sufficiency of these cessions by treaty to convey a title in fee to the individual named was for some time doubted.  In the cases whereby the treaty patents were required to be issued by the United States, I am not aware that any objection has ever been made to issuing them or to their validity when issued.  But by the treaty of Saginaw of 1819, no direct words of grant are used.  The words are there shall be reserved for the use of the person named, and his heirs, the designated tract of land.  The title to one of these tracts, a very valuable section on Flint river, which was thus reserved to Mokitchenoqua, a Chippewa half-breed girl, became the subject of much litigation, but it was finally decided by the supreme court of Michigan that the words were sufficient to convey the title and that the treaty being declared by the constitution to be the supreme law of the land no patent was necessary and the supreme court of the United States has held the same doctrine.*

 

II.  THE GRANT OF MONEY TO INDIVIDUALS

 We have seen that by the earlier Indian treaties cessions of land to individuals were not unfrequent, but gifts of money to individuals were almost entirely unknow until a later period of time.  But the grant of such large and valuable tracts and the pertinacious urging, both by the Indians and the white people connected with them for still larger and more numerous cessions to individuals, finally became irksome, and the president directed that no more should be made.  When the council met at Washington to negotiate the treaty of 1836 the Indian chiefs presented a list of persons to whom they desired such grants to be made with a designation of the land solicited for each.  When Mr. Schoolcraft, the commissioner, announced to them that no such grants would be made they were greatly exasperated and could be pacified only by a substitute of money instead of land.  The ninth article of the treaty therefore gives the names of the individuals and the quantity of land which the Indians solicit for each.  An appraised value is finally put upon each parcel, and the sum the United States agrees to pay.  The total amount so to be paid to these individuals was $48,148.  Among the tracts of land in this list was a section on the Grand river rapids which was solicited for the Indian family of Rix Robinson and which covered that portion of the present city of Grand Rapids which lies on the north side of Grand river.  In the treaty it is stated that this land was estimated by good judges to be worth half a million of dollars, but the government agrees to pay for it instead, at the rate of thirty-six dollars an acre, or $23,040.

  This treaty also gives to the half-breeds the sum of $150,000, which is to be divided among them in a specified manner, and by the treaty of Detroit of January 14, 1837, $5,000 is to be paid to each of the principal chiefs named in an annexed schedule, and by a subsequent treaty of October 4, 1842, $15,000 is given to the half-breeds for distribution among them.

  In these and other instances which might readily be cited, the liberal and kindly spirit of the Indians in providing for their relatives and friends and the ready acquiescence of the government in acceding to their wishes are apparent.

 

SINCE THE TREATY OF GREENVILLE, 1795

 A full century, lacking a single year, has passed since the treaty of Greenville was made.  In that council the tribes of the great northwest, twelve in number, were represented and sanctioned the treaty.  They claimed as theirs the great region of country now comprised in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.  Where now are the people of these once powerful tribes?  Most of them joined the great exodus to the west, and in their hunting grounds of olden time they are known no more.  The census of 1890 shows their number reduced in Indiana to seventy-six persons, in Illinois to a single individual, and in Ohio not one remains.  The four Michigan tribes were present and shared in the debates of that council and ceded a portion of their lands.  Of these four tribes the subsequent history is very brief.  The Wyandots left the State prior to 1842 to join their brother Wyandots in Ohio and have never returned.  In 1840 the exodus of the Potawatamie tribe to their new home in the west was completed, leaving only a little remnant, less than one hundred in number, who although they still remain in the State, have put away the habits and the life of the Indian.  The associated tribes of Chippewas and Ottawas are still here, but although in 1855 they solemnly abandoned their tribal organization and became our fellow citizens, the care of the government over them has never ceased, and the Indian agent, its permanent official representative, is always here to look after their interests and to administer the bounties due them from the public treasury.

 

THEIR NUMBER HERE COMPARED WITH OTHER STATES

 The number of Indians now remaining in Michigan as compared with their number in other States cannot fail to attract attention.  Of the forty-four organized states now constituting the union seven only have a larger number each within their borders and four of the seven are the new states in the west, which with a sparse population of whites, have lately been admitted into the union.  Of the remaining thirty-seven states, not only has no other one as many of the aborigines remaining as Michigan, but fourteen of them have not an Indian within their borders.

 

HARMONY AND GOOD FEELINGS

 The State of Michigan may well congratulate itself upon the uniformly friendly relations which have long existed between its citizens and its aboriginal inhabitants.  None of the bloody battles of the Indian wars with the American forces was fought with her borders.  The cruel massacres once so common in the frontier settlements were not experienced here.  No Indian outbreak has disturbed our peace.  No war cry has been heard and no threatened danger from them has called for the presence of American soldiers.  Not a drop of blood shed in unseemly conflict has fallen on our soil within the memory of our oldest citizen.  The few remnants of the native tribes who remain with us are encouraged and aided in their progress to a higher and better condition of civilization and prosperity.  Under our constitution they are neither foreigners nor aliens, but our fellow citizens.  They go to the polls as voters and are eligible to official positions.  The law gives no benefit to the white man that it does not give to the red man.  The same broad shield of protection is over both.  The same causes which will secure success and prosperity and elevation of character to the one will secure them to the other

 

WHO NEGOTIATED THE TREATIES

 We cannot close this sketch without a brief word of reference to some of the worthy men who were prominent in the negotiation of these treaties and in shaping the Indian policy.

  From the organization of the territory in 1805 the governor was ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs within its limits and thus was brought into close relations with the several tribes and was frequently appointed commissioner to negotiate treaties with them.  Thus General Hull in this capacity negotiated the important treaty of 1807.

  Prominent among the negotiators of these treaties was Lewis Cass.  General Cass was a distinguished statesman who, in his long public life did noble work for his state and the nation, but in the entire record of his services there is not a brighter chapter than that which relates to his connection with Indian affairs.  During the whole time while governor of the territory, from 1813 to 1831, his duties as superintendent were most arduous, and it is said that he acted as commissioner in negotiating more treaties than any other individual.  In 1814 we find him associated with General Harrison at the council of Greenville in the effort to pacify the Indians of the northwest whose aid was given to the British in the war of 1812, and his mane is attached as commissioner to more than twenty important Indian treaties.  These treaties secured the cession of the Indian title to an immense region of country in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.  But they did far more than to secure title to lands.  They were the adjustment of many a troublesome question between our nation and the powerful aborigines of the country, and secured peace and harmony where war and cruel slaughter seemed imminent.

  In his long intercourse with the Indians General Cass secured their fullest confidence and they regarded him as a friend to be trusted.  His firmness and courage commanded their admiration; his sense of justice was always manifest, and his courtesy and forbearance in their intercourse with him bound them to him in the bonds of brotherhood.  In 1820 an expedition to explore the vast region of country around the head waters of the upper lakes and the sources of the Mississippi was ordered by the government, at General Cass suggestion, and was put in his charge.  A journey of more than five thousand miles, chiefly in bark canoes, through a region hitherto almost entirely unknown to civilized man, gave a knowledge of the region and of its Indian inhabitants of much geographical importance and of great value to the government.

  The name of Henry R. Schoolcraft is intimately connected with the negotiations and treaties above referred to.  The treaty negotiated by him at Washington in 1836 secured to the government an immense territory in northern Michigan.  Mr. Schoolcraft accompanied General Cass in his excursion above mentioned, and indeed it may be truthfully said that his entire subsequent life was devoted to a study of the Indian character and history, and the promotion of the welfare of the red man.  No man was more familiar with their habits or better understood their wishes or their aspirations or their peculiar condition, and no one more truly sympathized with them.  In 1822 he was appointed Indian agent for their tribes in the region of the lakes and for many years resided in their midst, first at Sault Ste. Marie and afterwards at Mackinac, and in 1823 he married an educated half-breed girl of the Chippewa tribe.  Mr. Schoolcraft wrtoe and published many books all of which related to Indian affairs.  His work on the history, condition and prospect of the Indian tribes, in five large quarto volumes, was prepared by him under the patronage of the government and published at public expense.  Whatever criticism may have been made on these works by more philosophical or more concise writers, they contain a large amount of valuable information, and their author has proved himself to our nation and to the Indians a judicious and efficient friend of both and an intelligent and valuable negotiator between them.  He died at Washington in 1864.

  Robert Stuart, by whose negotiation the western portion of the Lake Superior country was obtained by the treaty of 1842, was a native of Scotland and came to America at the age of 22 years.  Ion 1810 he connected himself with John Jacob Astor in the project of an immense fur trade with the Indians of North America and went out in the famous expedition which founded Astoria on the Pacific coast.  In 1812 it became necessary to communicate with Mr. Astor in New York and Mr Stuart, as the leader of the party of five, volunteered for the journey overland across the continent.  They started in June, 1812, and arrived at St. Louis in May, 1813.  In this journey, with its many incidents and hazardous adventures they pass through a country where the only inhabitants were Indians and wild beasts.  The many adventures of this long and perilous journey are graphically depicted by the pen of Washington Irving in his Astoria.

The intercourse of this little band was confined for nearly a full year, to the wild Indian tribes of the wilderness, and they experienced sometimes their kind but rude hospitality, and often their less agreeable traits of treachery and savage hostility.  But Mr. Stuart, under all circumstances, displayed the qualities of a bold, judicious and successful hero and leader.

  Not withstanding the failure of the business project at Astoria Mr. Stuart never ceased to look to the fur trade as one which invited enterprise and promised rich remuneration.  He then became connected with the American Fur Company and in 1819 took charge of its business as the manager at Mackinac, and there he resided, acting in that capacity for fifteen years.  He also received from President Harrison the appointment of Indian commissioner for all the tribes of the northwest.  He removed to Detroit in 1834 and subsequently became treasurer of the State of Michigan.  His association with the Indians of northern Michigan had been long continued and their intercourse familiar, and they never ceased to speak of him as their best friend.  He died at Chicago, October 28, 1848.

 

*Stockton vs. Williams, 1 Doug. Rep., 506

U.S. vs. Clark, 9 Peters Rep. 168

 

 

 

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