People

OTTISSIPPI: Ch. 9 #1 — Biographies of Indian Chiefs

Although it may seem like Ottissippi is jumping out of order, rest assured it is for a good purpose. Cheryl carefully organized the order of the previous chapters of Ottissippi so that readers were able to learn the history before exploring further chapters. To read her previous excerpts, click here.

A big THANK YOU to Cheryl for her dedication and in-depth research into our local Native history.

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By Cheryl Morgan

OTTISSIPPI is written by local author – Cheryl Morgan. It is the New Native History and culture of Southeast Michigan and beyond that has been untold. It was inaccessible due to the complexity of the many tribes, governments, states, and boundaries. The history was hidden and scattered everywhere due to time and the many changes of names of waterways, peoples and places. It is the result of 4 years of intense groundbreaking research that clarifies and reveals what happened here and in the Northwest Territory. Now available in one volume! Non-fiction 643 pages.

BWHL will be sharing excerpts from OTTISSIPPI with the readers every other week. The book is available on Amazon.com/ottissippi.

It is available as an eBook with a searchable Table of Contents and in Print – paperback.

The spellings of names are difficult to determine exactly; most chiefs used their totem mark to sign documents, and their names were added by clerks or secretaries. The spelling depended upon how the name sounded to them. Because of this, you will find many variations in spellings of names.

The following chiefs represent mainly the area of Aamjiwnaang – Southern Ontario and Lower Michigan. This list is not all inclusive, but it does record early prominent chiefs who were connected to the area and who signed treaties and appear in other early writings.

AAMJIWNAANG

This is the name of the territory of the Ojibwe which stretched from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Georgian Bay Ontario to the Saginaw watershed, west of Lansing, Michigan, to Detroit and Alpena, Michigan.

ANIMIKANCE

Variations on names were Animikeence, Animikance, and also Nimekance and Animmikans, meaning “Lightning”. A Great Chief, at Lapointe, Wisconsin and then at Boweting (Sault St. Marie), he fought in the Iroquois Wars and later moved his people to the foot of Lake Huron. He was killed at Finley (Findley Ohio) in 1824.

Other names were Nimekans, Annemekins, and Animikans. Animikance was the son of Kioscance, a great chief and warrior of the Oak clan totem. Animikance went with his father as a young man to fight in the Iroquois Wars. He served with the British under Sinclair, on garrison duty in the old Fort St. Clair at the mouth of Pine River at now St. Clair. He helped build the Fort in 1763 to 1764. He fought with Montcalm in the French and Indian War at Oswego, New York in 1756 and in the Pontiac War. Animikance was a signer on the Treaty of Detroit in 1807, in which one-fourth of southeast Lower Michigan was sold to the U.S.A.

Judge Z.W. Bunce said that when he came to the County of St. Clair, Nimikance was 105 years old, five-and-a-half feet tall, energetic, and capable of tending to his corn field four miles south of Black River and the chase as well.

Every New Year’s Day, he was accustomed to sail down the river in his large birchen canoe on the bow of which he would fling the American colors to the breeze. On such an occasion, he would don his gold-laced coat, beaded moccasins, and leggings, and all the ornaments in his possession. Nimekance reached the age of 112. He died in about 1820 and was buried in the Great Mound on Water Street in now Port Huron, Michigan, with his father on Black River. His bones were then moved to the south in Port Huron, Burial Ground at the east side of Military St. near Division. The bodies were finally moved to Sarnia, Ontario across the River. D. Mitts, Adapted from, “As the Wild Goose Flies, Column, The Times Herald, SCC Library, MI Room

As a young man while hunting on the Western Plains for buffalo, Animikance was surprised by viscous bears. He fired his gun at the closest bear’s head. The gun misfired. As he re-cocked it and readied to fire again, the bear, with lightning quick movement, struck him down and began pounding and tearing him with her claws, causing great wounds. The cubs followed, throwing themselves against him. Nimikance managed to get his knife and struck out at the Bear wounding her. One of the cubs struck the knife from his hand. The wounded mother bear with added fury pounded him with blows, tearing his abdomen open, tearing flesh from his thighs, chest, and face until the flesh hung in ribbons over his body. He fell back, conquered, and before he lost consciousness, heard them lumber away. Being conquered, the bears ceased to molest him.

When he regained consciousness he was able to stand and bind up his wounds with long grass, weeds, and strips of bark. He finally succeeded in getting back to camp. A surgeon from a nearby fort was brought to attend his wounds. The wounds took two years to heal and left Nimikance disfigured for life (Henry Schoolcraft).

Dr. Zina Pilcher, surgeon at Fort Gratiot and other posts, examined Animikance. He found portions of the cheekbone were gone and cicatricesscars – of fearful extent upon the face and other parts of his body, wondering how Animikance had even survived.

Nimikance went on to serve as a soldier who helped Patrick Sinclair build Fort Sinclair. He was a friend and frequent visitor of Judge Bunce, Peter Brakeman, the storekeeper and trader, and other early St. Clair County settlers. Nimikance lived between Sarnia and Port Huron.

AU MI CHO AN EWS

The “village was at Port Huron, named for the Ojibwe’s chief” (Hindsdale, 1926).

BLACK DUCK

Black Duck – Akockis – was a friend of Americans and lived at Black River. Who at the Great Sundance on the banks near the mouth of Black River near the St. Clair County Community College, near the mouth of Black River murdered a boasting Canadian who had killed his American friends with his hatchet. John Riley intervened to protect him from revenge, he was held in Fort Gratiot for safety, and the family was compensated by Governor Cass with 40 quarts of whiskey drawn from Aura Stewart’s store, along with gifts to cover the dead. 

The Indians were gathered by the thousands from all over Michigan and Canada. Canoes lined the banks of the Black River and St. Clair River. There were days of speeches, ceremonies, dancing, and feasting at the Sun Dance.

Black Duck, later changed allegiance to the British. Black Duck in an attempt to murder David Macomb near Detroit, was shot by Corporal John B. Jones and later died at Maldon – Amherstburg.

BLACK SNAKE

Black Snake, a chief who lived at Black River Village. He had numerous family and was related to John Riley.

INDIAN DAVE – ISH DON QUIT

Ish Don Quit– “Crossing Cloud”, Indian Dave, David Stocker, David Tuscola, Tuscola Dave Davis – was witness of the Treaty of Saginaw in 1819, where 6 million acres of Ojibwe land was ceded to the U.S. Government. He traveled and knew many in the thumb of Michigan, stopping often to share a meal. Black smallpox wiped out his first family. A direct descendent of Chief Pontiac, Dave was the Nitamop – clan leader. Dave lived to 106 years old, and touring his old friends and places in a two-year journey, died in 1909. Dave was born in 1803.

Indian Dave is said to be the man who greeted the first White settlers in the thumb. His father was Chief Nip Mup. He was a man who knew herbs and roots. He knew of coal mines and a copper piece found on the Cass River. Vassar was his home base, but he was around North Branch, Millington, and Tuscola. He had many friends and traveled extensively, visiting all the Indian camps. He never attended schools. He was a Christian in the Methodist Church. He remembered the fires of 1871 and 1881. 

John David Davis, son of Indian Dave, traveled with his father throughout the Thumb of Michigan and rarely spoke. He would follow behind his father in the ancient custom. Dave told of his people coming to the petroglyphs area for special meetings, weddings, ceremonies, etc. Ginseng was found near the petroglyphs in the fall. The burial site, of 18 Indians were found in one group here. A man, woman, and child were found in sitting position in a row together. He said Bay City is literally built upon Indian mounds and sites. 

He fascinated youngsters and men alike with his tales of Native customs and hunting stories around a campfire. He was an expert bow and arrow maker and canoe builder, which he often sold for his livelihood. He was also a River Guide in Northern Michigan. 

Dave would make bows and arrows for the kids and teach them how to bake fish covered in clay in a mud oven and snare trapping. The boys loved to follow Dave, who would teach them and their parents how to use herbs and roots for medicinal purposes. He would often drop off a turkey or fish at their homes. Some were presented with handmade moccasins, bows, or whittled toys. Sometimes they were charged 10 cents for the well-made items.

Nitamop (Netmop), James, and his family, along with Indian Dave were known as the “Tuscola Gathering”. This group included Indian Dave’s sons, John David – Nesh Kee Zhick, John Davis, and William David Davis, as well as his daughter Nancy Davis, the son’s wives, and Frank James and his wife, all relatives. Other family members were Indian Joe, Indian Mary, and Long Tom. The Tuscola Gathering would often paddle into town with hides, baskets, hampers, whittled toys, ginseng, fish, and game to sell. With delight, the local boys would help the aged bent over Dave carry his goods.

JOHN RILEY – BLACK CLOUD

John Riley was the chief of the Black River bands and also the Riley band of the Ojibwe. John built his home beside the Great Burial Mound on Water Street near Military Street in now Port Huron, Michigan, where the Federal Customs House building now sits. This was the gathering, or rendezvous, place for important council meetings with important chiefs, held on the banks of Black River.

The Allies also stayed at John’s home and on his lands while traveling through the area, the place where one of four reservations was established after the 1807 Treaty of Detroit, in which the Ojibwe, Pottawatomie, Ottawa, and Wyandot ceded 5 million acres in southeast Michigan to the U.S. Government. The John Riley Black River band was 200 members.

John was a leading spirit – Holy Man. John was born in 1761 in the Mohawk Valley of New York where his father originated. His mother was a Saginaw Princess, “Menaweamegogua” or “Menawcumegogua”, an important Chippewa woman who was daughter of an Indian chief.

John’s father was General James Van Slyke Riley, a well-respected Indian trader who served in the Revolutionary War. He was also a federal Indian commissioner, Indian agent, soldier, adventurer, and trader with the Saginaw Indians for 15 years. James Riley served in the Revolutionary War as an Indian commander and interpreter. He held many important occupations in his lifetime. He was Sheriff of Schnechtedy County, New York; interpreter for the U.S. Army; and judge, alderman, and postmaster at Schnechtedy.

James Sr. Riley received commissions negotiating treaties with the Indians. He divorced Mena in 1792 and married again to Janet Swits, having three daughters in New York who loved their brothers. No man was more honored and respected than James Van Slyke Riley, a fearless man of great strength and resolution.

His sons were all well-educated, good looking, well-spoken, and intelligent. The brothers fought with General Cass in 1812 for the American cause. They led raids killing British Indian Allies.

John and his brothers, James and Peter, were employed by the U.S. Government as interpreters, as scouts, and for special assignments. John was a great Indian leader, a Great Spirit. He was indispensable in treaties with the Indians, a faithful and a staunch American. He was sent to secure captives taken in raids and convey information to the Indians and the U.S. Government. John served under General Hull and General Cass. He was away from home much of the time, traveling as a scout and ranger. He was an interpreter, a diplomatic statesman, a peace negotiator for the U.S., and an invaluable aid among the various Indian tribes when securing agreements with them. He received land at the Treaty of Chicago, Maple Groves, Treaty of Saginaw, and many others. John was a liaison and special mission’s agent. 

John married an Indian woman and had children. He accidently killed Jacob Harson in 1810 or 1811, near Bear Creek in Ontario.

Peter Riley was bribed to be quiet at the Treaty of Saginaw in 1819. Peter lived at Belle River and married a French woman named Delno.

James Sr. at 75 years old returned to Michigan for the Treaty of Saginaw in 1819, held near Caro, Michigan. He was to collect money owed him for 10 years of trading with the Indians. He advised his boys on land deals at St. Clair County and Saginaw. His sons also received land of 640 acres at the mouth of the Saginaw River, John’s land being where the present Bay City is now located. The sons were natural leaders and doubly respected as sons of the old Indian trader (Schnechtedy Union Star Newspaper article).

James Jr. was a guide and interpreter for General and Governor Cass on his expedition to the Upper Peninsula in 1820. James worked for Cass until he died in 1829. He served as interpreter to find the source of the Mississippi and the natural resources of the Northwest. Houghton, Schoolcraft, and Douglas were among the entourage.

John and his brothers were scouts for the Americans during the Indian Wars and other wars fought against the British near Detroit and elsewhere. They were honest and faithful, aiding everywhere with loyal fidelity.

A sister, Jane Helen, and Miss Jannet Ryley were gracious and kind to the half-brothers, receiving them as brothers. Jane had accompanied two of the impressive, tall, good looking Ryley boys to the best tailor in town for a complete outfitting. In later years when one of the boys died, he willed his entire estate to his Schnechtedy sister, Jane, who had been so kind to him. She used part of the money to purchase a lot on lower Union Street and build the house where Judge Ryley later died on January 8, 1848.

Graciously entertained by Mrs. Ryley and Jane Helen, the brothers were gentlemanly, handsome, high-toned, and half Ojibwe-Chippewa. They were honorable fellows with the White people, and when with the Indians in the forest, the brothers were perfect Indians in dress, language, hunting, trapping, and mode of living. The boys grew to manhood respected by the Indians as leaders and as sons of James Van Slyke Ryley, who continued to exercise great influence among the Chippewa, even after he returned to the Dorp. 

John preferred to live at Black River in now Port Huron, Michigan, where he had a general store and trading post downtown. His fence and gardens reached to 6th Street and south to Pine Street.

John was instrumental in keeping Black Duck safe after he killed a boasting Canadian Indian who talked of killing Americans, who were Black Ducks’ friends. John was granted permission from the Fort Gratiot officers to give him protective custody and from Governor Cass to negotiate safe trade of the exchange with the dead man’s family, which was liquor and goods to secure his safety.

After the Treaty of Washington ceded the reservations in St. Clair County, Michigan in 1836, John’s father bought land on the Belle River northeast of Memphis, Michigan for the band to live on in Riley Center. This land was named Riley Township in 1841, in honor of John Riley. The land was used for hunting and gathering cranberries and maple sugar. John spent his winters there.

The settlement at Riley was called “Knawkechagame”. John opened a fine store in Riley Township. John’s sister lived at Belle River with him. She gathered cranberries, maple syrup, and candy to trade at Port Huron and the St. Clair River and to stock the store. John built a trading post store there and, because he was trusting and free with credit, in time had extended credit and lost all his goods and money. He was a kind man but went broke, forced out of business and to move to Canada at Bear – Sydenham and Aux Sauble – River.

He was Chief of the Chippewa and Munsees, 25 miles from the Moravian Village in the London District, Ontario, on a 9,000, acre reservation, then at Muncietown on the Thames River. He then lived a White life. John died at Muncietown in 1842. H.P. Chase gave his burial eulogy. One source cites Courtland N.Y. as his burial place.

KIOSKANCE – YOUNG GULL

Son of Animacance, Kioscance was the Principal Chief of the Ojibwe at La Pointe, Wisconsin. At the west end of Lake Superior was the area of the Great Rice Lakes and the main headquarters of the North Western Ojibwe. He was the Great War Chief and Grand Chief of the Ojibwe at Boweting or Sault Ste. Marie. He was a legendary warrior with great Medicine, whose Spirit Guides protected him in battle. He was a war chief over one of the four divisions that went to fight the Iroquois Wars. He came down the east side of Lake Michigan and crossed at St. Joseph River with 400 canoes of eight men each. His flotilla filled the Otissippi River (St Clair River) from the mouth of Lake Huron to Walpole Island in the south. His division represented about 16,000 people.

Kioscance was Chief of the Otchipewas in their wars against the Huron – Wyandotte – and Six Nations Iroquois. He had many dreams of a place with a beautiful river with all manner of good provisions.

On his return to the Upper Peninsula, his men camped on the shore of now Fort Gratiot. The area was beautiful. The beach and rivers were a great fishery. There was plenty of food and game, a perfect place with creeks and rivers, a sheltered place for winter and sugar trees.

In 1690, he moved his people back to the foot of Lake Huron in Southern Ontario and Michigan. It was their favored hunting ground. Kioscance’s home was near the old Fort St. Joseph, a strategic position to protect the people. He was Chief over the Ojibwe Rapids tribe at the foot of Lake Huron, called the Kioscanee, also called Saulteurs, the Rapids tribe, and the Detroit Indians, “Detroit” meaning the Strait between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

Kioscance was born in 1693 and died in 1800; he lived for 107 years.

His Celebration of Life lasted many days as the spirit journey began. It was one of the largest celebrations of life ever seen. He was buried in the Great Burial Mound on the Thames – Horn – River, sight of his great victory over the Seneca 12 miles up-stream (Plain, 1300 Moons).

KISHKOUKAU

Kishkoukau, or Kishkawko, a war chief of the Ojibwe, lived in Saginaw. He was bold and terrible. Kishkoukau was a well-known man in Michigan. Daring and cruel, he was a fierce defender of Ojibwe lands. He was bribed to sign the Treaty of Saginaw, which ceded 6 million acres of land to the U. S. Government. He was a spokesman for the Head Chiefs. He told all gathered near Caro, Michigan for the Treaty, “we didn’t ask you to come here. We received our hunting grounds from the Great Spirit and want to keep them for our children’s future”. Kishkaukau reserved a large parcel of land for his own from the Treaty. 

Kishkaukau passed through the St. Clair County area at least twice a year to receive gifts at Sarnia and Walpole island and an annuity at Malden – Ammherstburg, Ontario. He made it a habit to stop at settlers’ homes and take whatever he wanted. At Sally Wards home, he and his braves entered the house demanding whiskey. Sally told him there was none. Kiskkaukau, in a rage, turned the faucet of the vinegar barrel on, letting it run out onto the floor. He ordered the braves to take what they could find in bread and foodstuffs. He then pulled the rod from a rifle and whipped Sally Ward with it.

Kishkaukou and his son Chemick terrorized American settlers. They were allies of the British in the War of 1812.

He acted as judge and executioner in an incident with a Delaware Indian who married an Ojibwe woman. The Delaware was on trial for killing a Chippewa in a fight. The offender had made restitution to the relatives of the dead man. By custom, a tribal council would make the arrangements. The Delaware entered the circle of the meeting and, if unmolested by any of the dead man’s relatives, the matter was settled, never to be reopened, and he would be restored. He passed all the relatives, but as he passed Kiskaukau, he was struck by one swift stroke of the tomahawk killing him. The whole council was awestruck by this act. When the hereditary Chief Minnoneguotem declared to him that the killing was contrary to Indian law, Kishkaukau replied, “The law is altered”.

Kiskaukau was later arrested by White men for breaking their law murdering a Detroit man, and sentenced to hang. While he was in jail awaiting his execution, one of his wives smuggled some poisonous concoction, which he consumed and died in the jail.

MACHONCE

Machonce, Chief Francis, was Chief of the tribes of the Pottawatomies at Lake St. Clair, “The Swan Creek Band”, and was bribed into moving with 51 of his people to Kansas in 1837, and became the Osage. He kept a hotel at Swan Creek or Salt River, and he spoke English well. He was civic-minded and helped out, at work Bees and other activities of the community. He often spoke at schools about Native life. His family was an aristocratic Indian family. He became Chief after his Father died from drowning after drinking whiskey.

Tall and well-built, he wore a black frock coat tied around the waist with wampum belt, fringed calico shirt, broadcloth leggings decorated with porcupine quills, and silver ornaments which jingled as he walked. He wore buckskin moccasins and a plug hat ornamented with a broad silver band. He wore a silver ring through his nose and in each ear five or six silver earbobs. He was a Freemason.

Machonce or Macounce – “Small Bear” – or Macoonce, Macaunse, Makonce, Mac Sunse, Machonee, Mascoonse, Cumekumanow. Macompte went to England and shot an apple on the head of a volunteer. He was a Great Brave and a fine specimen of a Native. His family was of the aristocratic Indian. He was much loved by his own people and the pioneers. He was Chief of the tribes on the Reservation at Swan Creek Territory.

He once had Gagette Tremble cook him a bag of venison, and she found it to be the leg of an American Soldier killed at the River Raisen. His nod was the will for the tribes. He was father of Francis Maconce. Francis and his wife kept a hotel and traded at Swan Creek or Salt River. He was a drinker of the White Man’s whiskey. One night he drowned after drinking in 1816, and Frances became Chief (MPHC vol. 17, Early History of SCC, Mrs. B.C. Farrand).

MASHEASH

Masheash or Musquash was a prominent chief along the St. Clair River. He was a nephew of Nemekas or Animicance.

Musquesash was a Chippewa chief, who lived in the vicinity of Port Huron. Msqueash died soon after the War of 1812 and was buried on the Indian Reservation north of Mt. Clemons (Askin, vol. 1, 180/Jenks, vol. 1 148, 1912, History of St. Clair County MI).

MINAVAVORA

Minavavora was a Grand Chief, Principal Chief, and War Chief of the Chippewa – Ojibwa. At Michilimackinac, and Mackinac Island, to avenge the murder of Pontiac, he killed two servants of a trading company. He was knifed in his tent in 1770 by a British War Party at Michilimackinac.

MINWEWEH

Minweweh was Principle Ojibwe War Chief.

MITCHIGAMI

Mitchigami was a fortified village on Black River.

NANGE, Ojibwe Chief

NAYKEEZHIG

Naykeezhig, grandson of Mesgish, signed the Treaty of 1836, selling the area reservations to the U.S. Government. He was an honored British Army Scout, and one of Bunce’s Indians employed by Judge Bunce.

NEGIG

Negig, an Ottawa chief, lived on the River Gervais on Black River. (He was) Chief at St. Clair River (Askin 1) and also a signer of the Treaty at Chenail Escarte.

NEOME

Neome was the Great Chief of the Ojibwe – Chippewa, who lived at the Flint River. He was called a “Lion in the Path” of the Grand Traverse of the Flint, the main trail over the Flint River near Montrose and Lapeer. He was also called Reaume and Nibegon. Neome was the Great Chief of the Ojibwe over the Saginaw Treaty of 1819.

Neome’s geographical location and his powerful band stood on the very threshold of the trail leading to the Northwest. The old chief was honest, simple minded, sincere, firm in friendship, and easy to be persuaded by a benefactor who appeased to his sense of gratitude, harmless and kindhearted. He was short and heavy-molded. With his people, he was a Chief of Patriarchal Goodness. His name was never mentioned except with a certain veneration and, after his passing, with a great sorrow (Western Historical Co).

Neome’s children began using the surname “Jacobs” after the great friend of Neome, Jacob Smith, Indian Agent at Saginaw.

NICHOLAS PLAIN

Nicholas Plain, Osarskodawa, a descendant of Animikance and Chief of Sarnia Reserve Chippewa, was a Native minister who wrote The History of the Chippewa of Sarnia in 1950, and whose descendants were Chiefs at Aamjiwnaang.

O CHIPICAN

O Chipican lived in Ontario and was a signer of many treaties.

OGEMA KEGATOO

Ogema Kegatoo was Head Chief and Orator of the Saginaw Ojibwe during the Treaty Era. At 25 years old, he was Head Chief of the Chippewa Nation and central figure at the Council for the Saginaw Treaty of 1817.

He was over six feet tall, graceful, and handsome with undaunted courage. He lived at the forks of the Tittabawasee River. He wore a superb government medal, five inches long and a quarter inch thick, of pure silver. On one side of the medal was the image of an Indian Chief in full dress; on the other, a representation of the President of the United States with the inscription: ”Presented to Ogema Kegato by Thomas Jefferson”. Ogema Kegato was reelected Head Chief for 30 consecutive years, ruling the people until 1839 or 1840. Many astounding stories are told regarding his bravery and fortitude, some of which surpass belief. After receiving a knife wound while stopping a fight, his liver protruded; while recovering, he cut a piece of his own liver off and threw the piece on the coals and ate it, saying to those present, “if there is a braver man in the Chippewa Nation than I am, I should like to see him.” Many attested to this act (Western Historical Co). 

OKEMOS

Chief Okemos, or John Okemos or Ogimaans – “Little Chief”, was of the Bear totem of the Ojibwe (Chippewa). Okemos was a well-known traveler and well-respected man, admired and beloved to both the White and Red man. He was a revered warrior and chief of the Grand River band of the Saginaw Chippewa and leader of many Ojibwe bands.

He always played the flute in the morning, and one always knew when he was around. He smoked a pipe that was three feet long. He was five foot, four inches.

He led the French war against the British in 1760, and he was a nephew of Pontiac. He was in the Revolutionary War in 1782. He was a scout against the Americans, taking American scalps. He was second in command to Tecumseh, a bold, daring, skilled warrior. 

In the Battle of Sandusky near Cedar Point, Ohio in 1782, Okemos with 16 other warriors were surrounded and severely wounded. Saber scars slashed his body, his skull was cloven, he had dozens of wounds and bullets, and he was left for dead. He remembered a searing pain in his head when everything went black. He and his cousin, Manitocorbway, were found several days later when the women went to the battle site looking for survivors. They found signs of life in Okemos and his cousin. He woke many moons later in the wigwam of a friend. He was nursed for two years and recovered. Manitocorbway was also there and was a crippled man for life.

Okemos fought at the battle in 1790 on the Miami River, defeating the Americans led by General Arthur St. Clair. He fought against General Wayne in 1794 at the Battle on the Maumee River, where the Indians suffered a great defeat, and at Tippecanoe in 1811 (Chaput, MI Archives).

Okemos also fought in some bloody Indian Wars around 1800, of which little is recorded. One against the Shawnees and one against the Chippewa, in both wars the Ottawas and Pottawatomies defeated the invaders.

In 1812, Okemos fought for the British under a colonel’s commission. In 1813, Okemos commanded a war party sent to join General Proctor on the Sandusky River at Fort Stephenson, held by Captain Croghan. They met up with American Captain Ball with a strong detachment of dragoons. Okemos saw that they were too strong for his braves to attack and hastily concealed themselves in the brush and would have been secure. But a young warrior fired on the dragoons after they had passed the Indian’s hiding spot. A desperate battle took place, and every Indian fell. Okemos with reckless courage was one of the last to fall, with a sabre cut across his skull, his shoulder blade cut through, and gunshot wounds in his side. He later woke and found his brother, “Standing Up Devil”. 

He fought in the Battle of the Thames in the Fall of 1813 and was severely wounded. He vowed never to fight the Americans again and was ever after a friend. In 1814, he traveled to Detroit and pledged his loyalty to General Cass and the Americans and never fought again. With Governor Cass and the Americans, Okemos signed the Treaty of Saginaw, in which 6 million acres of land were ceded in Lower Michigan.

In the 1830s, he was the leader of many bands. Okemos possessed indomitable courage and was a born fighter, a natural commander and leader, a strategist in battle, and a real military genius. In every way, he was a remarkable man and a typical Indian.  

He was born on the Shiawasee River and, when a child, went to live on the Grand River at Shiminicon, twenty-four miles from Lansing on the great trail from Lansing to Grand Rapids. Okemos claims he was born on an island in a lake near Pontiac, Michigan. Okemos became a chief at 20 years old.

The village of Okemos, east of Lansing on the Cedar River, was his home, and many of his tribesmen are buried there. He died December 5, 1858 in a favorite camp on the Looking Glass River, five miles northeast of Dewitt, Clinton County near Lansing. He was buried at Shiminicon on the Grand River in Ionia County the next day. At the time of his death, he was over 100 years old (Chaput).

OLD MOTHER RODD – “WINDY WOMAN” – NAK MAH PUC YHC ZOGMA

Old Mother Rodd was a much-loved Indian woman who was well-known throughout the St. Clair River region. Short and squat of figure, she had a square bronze face with narrow black eyes glittering between the half-closed lids, high cheek bones, long coarse black hair plaited in a thick braid which hung down her back, and great brass hoop rings in her ears. Her broad, flat feet were encased with buckskin moccasins decorated with colored porcupine quills and beads. Above these she wore wide bead-embroidered broadcloth leggings which reached to her ankles and flapped back and forth with a regular movement as she walked. Her narrow skirt was of the same material, elaborately trimmed and fringed with beads, reaching just below the knee. Overlapping this for a short distance below the waist line was a blouse, or short gown as the residents called it, made of gaudy, large-patterned calico. Around her neck were many strings of beads of all colors and sizes, hanging low down the front of her blouse. And outside of all this was a heavy woolen blanket, spread out to its full size over her head and shoulders, drawn tightly across the back and held together in front with her large copper-colored hands. A great bundle of baskets, or corn husk and rush mats, was held in place by a band of bark across her forehead. 

Happy were the little children when they were allowed to swap a loaf of quash – e-gun (bread) – a piece of Co Coosh (pork) or a pan of Ni Po Nin (flour) for a bright colored basket. And happier yet when they saw the old dame pitch her camp on the edge of the apple orchard near the beach. Then it was “Hurrah!” for the succotash feast which they knew awaited them.

In front of the camp on the clean, white sand, she built her fire. From a pole resting on two crotched sticks driven into the ground hung the polished brass kettle, containing the savory mess. Old Mother Rodd was scrupulously clean, and when the luscious succotash was dished up with the wooden spoon into bright tin cups, the most fastidious guest could not resist her hospitality.

Hanging from the limb of a nearby apple tree was the bark hammock in which the little papoose, wrapped like a mummy in blankets, was fastened with strips of tanned deerskin. Back from the river, a short distance under one of the largest apple trees, was a little mound which marked the resting place of another papoose who had roamed over the Happy Hunting Grounds for many moons.

With the opening of the apple blossoms each year, Old Mother Rodd made her appearance and celebrated the anniversary over that little mound with the customary Pow Wow, chanting songs, and free indulgence in Santawaba. Two or three days were spent in this manner, until her voice became weak and the firewater gave out. Then she would cover the grave with Indian food and leave it until the apple blossoms came again (The Detroit News Tribune 1896, Dixon).

She carried a long stick with her, a rod or staff; it is said that she used it to pole vault over the streams and sand bars of the St. Clair River at an early date when the river was much shallower. Also, a few boys were corrected with it.

Her father was “Pe Tauch Ne Nouk” or “Touch Ne Nouck”, also “Nimence”, her grandfather “May Zhe Ke Osh”. Her husband was Alexander Rodd, a Metis, part French. His Indian name was “She She Pe Anee” or “Little Duck”. They had a nice farm with cattle, horses, and more and a fine log home. She did not drink in her younger days. They were friends with the Americans, and it was for this reason that Alexander was killed by a Saginaw (Nancy Brakeman Papers, SCC Library, MI Room).

Several Indian families were encamped about five miles up the Hauviere Deludes or Black River, for the purpose of making maple sugar. One day, Alexander went out from the camp for a hunt and shot a deer, breaking its leg. The next day, he went out to search for it to bring it to camp, taking with him a cousin of Mother Rodd, named Mass E Nee Ke Zhick or “Mixed Clouds”, a son of her uncle, Serpent. Wapoose, Wawanosh, and two other Indians had talked the matter over and decided to kill Rodd and so were on the lookout for him. One shot him in the side, one in the back, and one in the head, the last killing him. A Sarnia said not long ago that it was a Saginaw Indian named Sha Ne Schaw Pe Nace or “Greenbird” who was the murderer. They buried him where he fell, on the old Black River Trail near Wadhams. His coat, with a bullet hole in the back, and gun were brought to Mother Rodd. From that time, the poor woman despised the whole tribe of Saginaw Indians.

After this she was twice married but was always known by the name Rodd. Her totem was the Turtle. Upon the corner of her white blanket, which she wrapped about her in cold weather, could often be seen the figure of a small turtle worked with red yarn.

She was strictly honest in all of her dealings. She was also industrious and her work was well done; her brooms, baskets, mats, and more were exchanged for goods with Americans who appreciated the good quality. She would often scold lazy Indians, telling them it was their own fault if they were poor and hungry. 

“Granny Rodd” was a friend of the Americans, though she visited her Ontario relatives and her children across the river. She preferred to live on the American side of the river. She stayed near the river in the summer and went to the woods for the winter. She would gather berries and exchange them for provisions, having a full supply for herself and her youngest daughter who remained with her. When she peddled her goods, she always dressed in her best and had her berries in a bright tin pail, saying she made a ready sale for them by doing so. She made good maple sugar and would mold it into cakes to give to the children of her friends, always expecting some present in return. She was a good doctress, using herbs and roots and barks. She even cured the babe Charles Brown of cholera infantium.

She paddled her canoe, traveling to visit friends on Walpole Island. She would receive large presents of corn, always of the white flint variety, which is much the best for hulling purposes, and she hulled it both for soup and for hominy, pounding it in a mortar made by hollowing out a tree trunk of hardwood about three feet long and using a wooden pestle.

She regularly received an annuity from the British Government.

In her later years, she was often under the influence of whiskey and roamed around visiting at her friend’s homes, who never refused her their hospitality.

Twenty-two years before her death, she had her grave clothes made and placed them in care of Mrs. Brakeman. The leggings were of bright red cloth, as the British Government furnished the Indians at that time, and were trimmed with ribbons and beads and were very gaudy. 

During her last sickness, she wished to be baptized, and Reverend Allen Salt, an Indian preacher, administered to her the Ordinance of Christian Baptism. She lies buried in the Indian cemetery at Sarnia. Her grave is marked by a head board painted white on which in letters of black paint is inscribed her name. Her death occurred in 1870 in Port Huron at 115 years of age.

Two of her children lived with the Moran family at Detroit and spoke the French language. Their names were Mrs. Charlotte Dupre and Antoine Rodd. 

A cousin, Andrew Yates, was an interpreter for the British Government. Mrs. Obedig was also a cousin. Both Mother Rodd and Mrs. Obedig retained the use of the Indian blanket and moccasins, as long as they lived.

A portrait of Granny Rodd hung in the State Library at Lansing, a gift from the Honorary D.B. Harrington, former Vice President of the State Pioneer Society (MPHC 1890 Annual Mtg). 

PONTIAC

Pontiac – Boon I wuk, Bwon Diac (Boondiac), or Obwandiyag – means “Thunderbirds Landing Upon the Earth”. Pontiac was an Ottawa, his mother an Ojibwe. His totem was the Nigig – Otter clan. He was the Ojibwe Chief of the St. Clair region. He was leader of the Mitai or Mide (Grand Medicine Society), he wanted to protect his people from the White men who were taking over all their great lands in the region. He was known everywhere. He had much energy, intelligence, and great oratory skill.

Pontiac was born in the mid 1720’s at an Ottawa village along the Maumee River, where the city of Toledo, Ohio now stands. He had a wife named Kantuckegun and two sons, Skegenabe and Hebahkehum, along with other children.

He lived on Peche Island at the mouth of the Detroit River above the fort at the south end of Lake St. Clair. Gouin, a trader, acted as a mediator between the Indians and the English. Pontiac often came to him for advice.

He was the Ottawa War Chief, and he rallied support to evacuate the White men. His plan was to destroy all the British forts west of the Alleghenies in one day. The Allies destroyed 9 of 12 British forts in one day. Detroit, Niagara, and Pittsburgh were the only three that survived. He has been called the greatest Indian military tactician.

George Crogan, British Indian agent, remarked that Pontiac commanded more respect among other nations than most chiefs do among their own tribe. Pontiac was a great hero of the Ottawa and Ojibwe people. Parkman and Peckham, have written outstanding biographies of Pontiac and his times (Chaput).

When Pontiac was killed in Illinois country at Cahokia, the Great Castle, in 1769 when Williamson, an English trader, bribed an Illinois Indian to murder Pontiac. On hearing of his death, the Ojibwe Chief Minavavana, and many others, set out for Cahokia to extract the necessary revenge. The Illinois suffered greatly. Pontiac was buried in Michigan. The Saginaw Ojibwe are his most direct descendants, with many in Canada also. Ottuson, a son of Pontiac, lived on the Upper Huron River (Black River) in Sanilac County, Michigan.

PUTAQUASAMINE

Putaquasamine was born in 1729 and lived until he was well over 100 years old. He lived at Saginaw on an island. Peter Grewitt, a well-known trader, interviewed him in 1834 and he told of the Saginaw history and the Great Sauk War. Who in 1519 and ‘20,  possessed the district from Kawkawlin at Saginaw Bay to the Huron – Clinton River – in Michigan (Indian and Pioneer History of Saginaw County, www).

SANILLAC

Sanillac, famous Wyandotte Chief who was prominent in the Iroquois Wars and was cited for his bravery, Sanilac County was named for him, memorialized in a poem by Colonel Whiting, 1831 (Cass/Col. Whiting/Chaput)

SHABONNA

Shabonna, or Charbonneau, a great Pottawatomi warrior, was born at the KanKaKee River. He joined Tecumseh and became known from Niles to Detroit and Black River. Aid to Tecumseh and, he stood by his side when he fell at the Battle of the Thames. A peace negotiator with the Indians, Black Hawk, the Sac, and Fox, and Big Foot, he was friend of the White man, saving many lives. His land was sold when he was away, and he was broken in spirit and sad. The Ottawa citizens bought him a tract of land, a house and a living.

SHAWANO

Shawano was Aide De Camp for Tecumseh. Shawano, who later was named John Nahdoo, was a hereditary chief who traveled with Tecumseh as his second in command. When Tecumseh fell on the battle field, Shawano secured his body, on the Battle field, and hid it away throughout his life. He daily raised and lowered a flag over his secret grave. The bones were passed to his grandson and other trustworthy men to keep them safe.

In 1846, Shawano came from the Anderdon-Amherstburg Reserve in Essex County, Ontario, Canada, to live on Walpole Island Reserve. He died here in 1861. Shawano received two medals from the British Government: one was a King George VII, the other a Victoria medal, presented by King Edward VII when he came to Canada in 1860. Shawano is commemorated on the Wallaceburg Centennial Coin in 1975.

TECUMSEH

Tecumseh, Tecumtha, or Tekoomse – “Shooting Star” or “Celestial Panther Lying in Wait” – was a great Shawnee chief he was the greatest leader of the Indian Nations and the National President of the Indians, East of the Mississippi (Little Turtle Canada History. www).

He saw the Indian lands being stolen from them and the great degradation of the White man’s ways to his peoples. He gathered allies, from all of the Nations East of the Mississippi, even to the Gulf of Mexico. He wanted a great Confederation of the Indians. He did not want war but wanted to resist the White man’s ways. He envisioned triumph through passive resistance. He fought with the British to keep the covetous Americans out of the Northwest Territory Indian lands and to keep his people good and healthy.

The Eye of the Panther. He was named “Shooting Star” or Celestial Panther lying in wait. (The Panther Crossing the Sky, Thom). He was named for this phenomenon.

His eyes were the color of the panther. His father, Hard Striker-Pucsinwah, was War Chief of the Kispoko-Panther, Shawnee; his mother was a Creek, Methmtasa-Turtle Mother.

He never signed a treaty as his father before him. (Thom)

Tecumseh was well-respected, by both friend and enemy. A great statesman and leader, who could inspire and motivate his people, he understood early that the White man would not rest until all Native Americans were driven out or eliminated completely.

Tecumseh was born in 1768 in an old village on the Scioto River in Ohio. When he was born, that night a great meteor lit up the sky and burned its way across the heavens. For this phenomenon, he was named “Shooting Star” or “Celestial Panther Lying in Wait”.

As a boy, he saw his tribe fighting the Americans as allies of the British. When he was six, his father was killed in battle. His family fled after being burned out by Americans. He was adopted by the Shawnee Chief Blackfish, and among his foster White brothers was Danial Boone, who had been captured in Kentucky but escaped in a short time.

As a young man, Tecumseh was a great buffalo hunter, killing 16 buffalo with 19 arrows near Piqua, Ohio. It was on a buffalo hunt, using only a knife, when he fell from his horse and the buffalo he had killed rolled over on him. This broke his hip, and he vowed never to drink liquor again. He then walked with a limp the rest of his life.

His eyes were hazel, gentle and understanding or could burn like balls of fire. He was sensitive, thoughtful, and far seeing, proud and brave, a great statesman who understood the greater problems of a whole race and speaks with one tongue. A man of simple dignity, he won the admiration of everyone who conversed with him. He was of light figure, finely proportioned, five foot, nine or ten inches. With light copper skin and an oval face, his eyes were full of cheerfulness, energy, and decision. His face reminded men of Napoleon (Wm. E. Wilson, Shooting Star, 1942).

In Lossing’s Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 (1869), he writes,

Tecumseh was born near Springfield, Ohio. He was Shawnoese. His name, Tecumtha, meant a Flying Tiger or a wildcat springing on its prey.

Tecumseh had three small silver crosses suspended from his lower cartilage on his aquiline nose and a large silver medallion of George III from his ancestor who received it from Lord Dorchester, Governor General of Canada. He wore blue breech cloth, red leggings fringed with buckskin, and buckskin moccasins. He was sagacious (wise) and gallant; he was the admiration of all who conversed with him.

The story of Pontiac’s dream, the American victory over the British, the death and suffering of his people, all moved him to action.

He lived on Peche Island about eight miles north of Detroit on the south end of Lake St. Clair, overlooking Lake St. Clair.

Tecumseh denounced the duplicity of the English, telling General Harrison that he was a liar, upon this statement Harrison said he would speak with him no more.

His plan was to assemble an alliance of all remaining Indian people to unite into a single movement, to defend their culture, lives, and homeland.

The Great Comet of 1811 appeared, and Tecumseh – Tekoomse, told the tribes that the comet signaled his coming. The shooting star across the sky proved that the Great Spirit sent him by a sign. There was also a major earthquake about this time.

While he was away rallying support, Tecumseh’s brother, The Prophet, was the Chief of the village at Tippacanoe, Indiana. William Henry Harrison came and burned the village out.

William Henry Harrison, his American enemy, said of him: “If it were not for the vicinity of the United States, Tecumseh would perhaps be the founder of an Empire that would rival in glory Mexico or Peru. No difficulties deter him. For four years, he had been in constant motion. You see him today in the Wabash and in a short time, hear of him on the shores of Lake Erie, or Michigan, or on the banks of the Mississippi, and wherever he goes, he makes an impression favorable to his purpose”.

In early 1813, a great meeting was held on Walpole Island to rally the troops for the British defense of Canada. Allies came from near and far to protect the land from the Americans. The Indians hoped to receive justice they had sought in vain from the Americans.

Walpole Island was the Great Council place and rallying point for the Indian Allies before wars, and the celebrations place after victories.

Tecumseh and his warriors were great strategists and brave men. He was not a violent, vengeful man. Tecumseh pledged never to torture weak and helpless prisoners all of his life and his braves were always against any kind of cruel treatment. Tecumseh was a man of honor, kept his word, and could lead his tribesmen. He did not drink Fire Water (liquor) after he was injured in the buffalo hunt.

Tecumseh was a brigadier general in the War of 1812. He led the Ojibways from this area. He was the only North American Indian to hold the position in the British forces during the War of 1812. He was strongly against American Expansion. He came to Canada to help the British. Some of his Allies in the States did not want to be involved in the war as they were on peaceful terms with the Americans.

With the capture of Detroit, Tecumseh held the 4th regiment, the same men who had burned his village at Tippecanoe. Tecumseh would not allow the warriors to scalp and murder prisoners, saying it was cowardly. The braves were in awe of him, and scores of prisoners were saved. Tecumseh invariably showed a humane and merciful attitude toward prisoners. He had a great sense of justice.

Chief Roundhead lived at Fort Malden with Tecumseh.

Tecumseh was at the Raisen, Brownstown, and Magauga – “Walk in the Waters” – Village. Tecumseh was a brigadier general in his Majesty’s armed forces (Wilson).

Tecumseh fought many battles in Ohio with his warriors to stop American aggression.

When his men and allies were gathered, the nearby inhabitants were stripped of nearly every means of subsistence. In Ohio, north of Fort Meigs, a lame man had hidden his oxen, whom the son eked out a meager living for the family. The boy met Tecumseh one day on his return from the field, he was plowing with the oxen. Tecumseh walked up to him and said I do not make war on a family, explaining that he had need of his oxen, for his men had nothing to eat and were very hungry. The boy spoke up saying he and his family would go hungry if he took the oxen. Tecumseh reminded the boy that, as British Conquerors, the land was theirs. He insisted on having the oxen so his men would not starve. He told the boy he would pay him $100 for the oxen, which was more than they were worth.

Tecumseh had an order written for the boy’s payment by the Indian agent Elliott. The colonel refused to pay it. The troubled boy went to Tecumseh, and he had the boy stay the night with him the warriors enjoyed their feast. In the morning, Tecumseh and the boy went to Elliott. Tecumseh said to him “Do you refuse to pay for the oxen I bought?” The colonel said that he did. Tecumseh remonstrated, saying he had promised the boy to pay for the oxen and insisted that he be paid. The colonel yet refused.

Tecumseh shrugged his shoulders and said that he could do as he pleased, but that before he and his warriors had come “to fight the battles of the Great King”, they had food to eat for which they had to thank only the Master of Life and their good rifles. Their hunting grounds supplied them with plenty to eat. And he insinuated that they could return to them.

This answer caused a great change of attitude in the colonel, for if the Indian Allies were to follow the great chief and leave, the British would be very vulnerable on the Frontier. The colonel grudgingly paid, counting out some army bills that the Indians called “Rag Money”. Tecumseh said, “give me hard money.” The colonel went to his chest and counted out one hundred dollars in coins, which the chief gave to the boy. “Now give me, one more, hard dollar”, Tecumseh demanded. He hands this also to the boy, telling him that this was for his trouble in getting his money. “Now come boy, I have young men who will ride you home safe.

The war turned on the British; they were back in Canada in retreat at Moraviantown, near now Chatham, Ontario. On October 5, 1813, when the American troops came and the British troops fled, while Tecumseh and his braves held their ground, he had told British General Proctor to “Go put on a petticoat”.

Tecumseh, in the lead of the warriors, was mortally wounded and fell while encouraging his braves. He died at the Thames as in his previous vision. His son and others fought on, but eventually seeing Tecumseh, they sought out the forest. He died on October 5, 1813. 

The defeat at the Battle of Moraviantown on the Thames was the last blow to the Indians who returned home defeated. Within 35 years, all American Indians were driven off their land and either killed or placed on reservations.

The words of Tecumseh: “So, live your life that fear of death can never enter your heart. Seek to make your life long, and its purpose in the service of your people. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the joy of living.”

Tecumseh’s body was hidden and guarded to keep it safe, and moved many times by his faithful friend Shawano. He alone prepared the final rites and kept the secret of his bones. The bones of Tecumseh were passed on to his family, who kept them secret and safe.

On August 23, 1941, after 138 years, the bones of the Great Chief and Commander Tecumseh were placed in a monument in his honor on Walpole Island. Hundreds of Canadians and Americans came from near and far to pay homage. The bones of Tecumseh were sealed in a mahogany box and lowered into the cairn erected in his memory. The Soldiers Club were instrumental in this honor of the greatest chief who ever lived East of the Mississippi.

In June 2003, the Chippewa of Kettle Point and Stoney Point, First Nation Reserve near the foot of Lake Huron, placed a monument with four life-sized bronzed statues honoring First Nation veterans of war, one of which was the Great Chief Tecumseh. The others are a servicewoman, a Canadian soldier, and an American. They are set upon a giant turtle representing the Earth and long life of the Native people.

Tecumseh’s dream was a sovereign and free Anishinabe Nation. His message was unity and resistance to alcohol, dependence on trade goods, and abandonment of their own traditions and practices.

Before the Battle at Chatham, he sang, “Do not give up, should I fall.” The warriors lost their reason to fight for their land and culture. The Ojibwe never again went to war against Americans (Ziibiwing).

His last words after having his leg shot off were “Leave me one or two guns. I am going to have a last shot. Be quick and go.”

Many volumes have been written about Tecumseh, whole shelves in libraries. For Indians, he would be compared to President George Washington. Thom is a respected historian. His book, Panther in the Sky, is a detailed history of Tecumseh’s life and battles.

TIPSECO

Chief Jacob Tipseco, Tuipseco, Tisigo, and Tipsikaw – was from the Shiawasee River Basin, Little Long Lake. Tipsikaw was a super athlete of the band near Romeo. He lived at Tipseco Lake. He was a powerful, well-built man, said to be capable, of running down wolves, bears, and deer, his principal feat being to run to a stake, ten rods away and return before a horse and rider could make a like trip. After leaving the country in 1837 or 1838, he returned in 1874 and was found weeping opposite his former village (Western Historical Co.).

Tonedokane

 Tonedokane or Tonadogonow made visits to St. Clair County, and he was known for his debating powers, acute understanding, and great prowess in the hunt. He was the successor to Chief Neome, the great Chief of the Ojibwe of Southeast Michigan.

WASSO

Wasso was Ojibwe Chief of the Shiawassee area. The city of Owosso is named after him.

WAUBOJEED

Waubojeed – Waubojeeg or “White Fisher” – of Lapointe, Wisconsin was a chief of the Addick or Reindeer totem. He was the father-in-law of John Johnston, Indian Agent, at Sault Ste. Marie and his wife, Jane.

WAWANOSH

Wawanosh – Trach Bin Mindjl – means “one who sails carefully”. Also means Egg Bad. The Great Chief of the Ojibwe of Ontario was born in the District of Michipicoten and had to flee pursuit for some offense. Friendly Indians at the Straits of Mackinaw helped him cross as he was pursued to the Indian village at Black River in Port Huron. These Indians took him across to the Chippewa of Sarnia, who took pity on him. They hid him in a swamp at a small lake and supplied him with food. The pursuers were told that he went on to Walpole Island and left without a trace. The lake was then called Lake Wawanosh.

He possessed knowledge of the English Language, the people adopted him into their tribe, and he made friends with the settlers.

Oketitchick and Kwaind were chiefs at that time, but Wawanosh was told by his French fisherman friend that when the government representative came to distribute presents to the Indians, and the first question asked was who was the Chief, and if Wawanosh told them that he was, his name would be in the records as the Chief Wawanosh. This is how Wawanosh became Chief of the Chippewa of Sarnia. The generous Chippewas graciously accepted him as Chief, and he became a counsellor and director in their affairs.

Wawanosh was the hereditary Chief of the Saugeen, Lake Simcoe, Coldwater, Credit River, and Munceytown on the Thames, which lands were illegally sold to the Crown Government. 

Wawanosh married Elizabeth “Eliza” MacConce, “The Queen”, sister of Cheebekun, who came from an aristocratic Indian family. Her brother Francis lived in Michigan and was Chief of the Pottawatomis. They had four sons and one daughter. Wawanosh’s son, David Wawanosh, succeeded his father, and in 1860, received a medal awarded to Head Chiefs by Prince Albert of Wales when he visited Sarnia on September 13, 1860.

Wawanosh’s Christian name was “Joshua”; his totem was the Caribou. The father of Wawanosh was Chief Pukinans. Joshua Wawanosh was chief for 17 years up until 1827.

Back in the 1860s, Chief Joshua attended the Mission Church on the river front. He had a small black pony and a small democrat wagon, but he never sat on the seat; he always squatted in the bottom of the wagon on some straw while his wife and young grandson, Joshua, sat on the seat with Joshua driving.

The old Chief always wore blue-black broadcloth leggings with wide side flaps all the way down. These flaps were beautifully worked in different colors. He generally wore beaded moccasins and a long blouse or shirt reaching almost to his knees. “Many times, when I was a small boy, his wife would call me in and give me a piece of maple sugar. She was a good old soul” (Frank Thomas, Sarnia/Elford).

Chief Wawanosh died May 26, 1871. The name Wawanosh was anglicized to “Wells”.

WENEJEUNS

Wenejeuns was a Huron chief (MPHC 11, 1887, Wm. L. Bancroft).

WEMEKEUNS

Wemekeuns was a Huron chief on the St. Clair when the early French settlers made their locations. He was a prophet of the tribe. He had a trio of noses, one small on each side of the large central nose. Before the Revolutionary War, he was asked to urge his band to join the British Allies; he refused saying, “The new Americans would drive their enemies across the ocean and drive their enemies, friends from their hunting grounds.”

Next week we will continue with Other Chiefs’ Biographies.

Bibliography

Bibliography

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Armstrong, Virginia Irving. I Have Spoken: Indian Oratory. Swallow Press, 1971. ISBN – 10: 0804005303, 13: 978-0804005302

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This book came about after a visit to the library where I could not find local Indian History. I grew up in the St. Clair and Black River area of Michigan, fishing on all the area waters with my father and brothers. I loved books, libraries, horses and puzzles; I was not a tech person. I love to cook, garden, travel, and camp. I was determined to find and share the truth. This has been a difficult journey in every way. I give you, the reader, the truth and blessings I also reaped. Cheryl Morgan

Cheryl Morgan lives near Port Huron, Michigan with her husband Tom and dog Fred.

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