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Indian Treaties Affecting Lands in the Present 
State of Illinois. 

By Frank E. Grover. 

The romance and interest that ever surFounds ** Indian 
Days *^ in America seems never to wane. As the years go 
by the younger generation of Americans turn from the Indian 
tales of their ancestors — ^the relations of the actors them- 
selves, in the days of the Pioneer, to the countless books and 
writings that are ever painting vivid word pictures of the 
North American Indian in the days of his glory— before he 
became the victim of a white man^s civilization. His tradi- 
tions, myths and legends, his character, his eloquence, his 
manners and customs, the wrongs he has done and those he 
has suffered, have all in their turn supplied endless themes 
for the historian, the poet, the ethnologist and the writer of 
fiction. Longfellow's Hiawatha, as well as Schoolcraft's 
Tales and Legends, gathered 

**From the forest and the prairies, 
From the Great Lakes of the Northland, 
From the land of the Ojibways,'' 

have not only permanently fastened their charm upon their 
first readers, but will forever interest their descendants yet 

A subject that has heretofore been given frequent but only 
incidental attention is the Indian treaties, which have gen- 
erally been considered only as the title papers, by which the 
white man acquired a white man's title to the Indian's land. 
It is my purpose to tell you regarding some of the Indian 
treaties affecting lands now constituting the State of Illinois. 

To follow and describe all of these treaties in detail and 
their historical importance would not only extend this paper 
and discussion beyond reasonable limits, but would require 


in effect the writing of the history of the Ohio and Missis- 
sippi valleys during those eventful years in American history 
that have intervened since the beginning of the American 
Eevolution. It will therefore be my plan and purpose to 
consider these treaties more in their general aspect and sig- 
nificance than to follow all of them in the detail that would 
require unprofitable repetition respecting transactions and 
negotiations much alike in plan, purpose and results. 

A very instructive summary of the plan and purpose of 
these Indian treaties is set forth by Mr. J. Seymour Currey 
in his recent history of Chicago (vol. 1, page 202), in the 
following concise words: 

**From the time of the signing of the Treaty of Greenville 
in 1795, there was a series of Indian Treaties extending over 
thirty-eight years, particularly affecting the region of Illinois. 
Some of these treaties were merely declarations of friendship, 
others provided for territorial cessions, while some renewed 
the conditions of former treaties and included as participants 
additional tribes. The provisions of these treaties were often 
not clear to the ignorant chiefs, who, after the agreement 
was made and ratified, would raise objections and demand 
another council. The Government would then frame up a new 
treaty, including the former provisions as well as added 
ones, and again the chiefs were gathered to sign away, usually 
unwittingly, still more of what remained to them. The odds 
were all against them, with their unstable conditions of land 
tenure, their ignorance and barbarity on the one side, and 
the keen, often unscrupulous wits of the government agents 
on the other side. Finally came the great Treaty of Chicago 
in 1833 which provided for their removal to the west. It was 
long before the significance of this agreement came home to 
them, and they realized but slowly the seriousness of the 
Great Father's intention to send them away from their dwell- 
ings to new lands.'* 

It is undoubtedly true that so long as there are historians 
to write, there will be most divergent views expressed re- 
garding the rights of the Bed Man, and how those rights have 
been violated and infringed, both in the methods of negotiat- 


ing treaties, their fraudulent provisions, and inadequate 
compensation for lands, and in the matter of subsequent per- 
formance. It is very easy to espouse the cause of the Indian 
as the proprietor of the soil, the child of the forest and of 
the plains cheated by dishonest and unscrupulous govern- 
ment agents, with the use of whiskey and the gaudy and 
attractive wares and merchandise that resulted in the United 
States securing title to an Empire for a few cents an acre. 

And, on the other hand, to remember the Indian as the 
vices of the white man's civilization had made him, and to 
then conclude that, after all, the requirements of civilization 
and progress — ^the survival of the fittest — ^made it a foregone 
conclusion that he must pass away. 

To espouse either view is not within the scope or purpose 
of this paper. The facts speak for themselves. Probably 
neither view is the correct one. That in concluding many 
treaties, and in the performance of them, both the Indians 
and the government agents were fair is undoubtedly true. 
That later, in concluding some of the treaties here under con- 
sideration, the land-lust of the white man and the necessities 
of progress and the pioneer on the one hand, and the great 
reluctance of the Indian tribes on the other, to be ever 
crowded out of their native lands and pushed farther and 
farther to the west, led to methods on the part of govern- 
ment agents that were both questionable and an indelible 
disgrace to both the responsible agents themselves and a gov- 
ernment that would countenance such action by later ratifica- 
tion, seems only too true. 

One writer says: **No Government ever entertained 
more enlightened and benevolent intentions toward a weaker 
people than did that of the United States towards the Indian, 
but never in history, probably, has a more striking divergence 
between intention and performance been witnessed.'^ 

An Indian's view is also quoted by the same author in the 
following words : ' ' When the United States want a particular 
piece of land, all our natives are assembled; a large sum of 
money is offered ; the land is occupied probably by one nation 
only; nine-tenths have no actual interest in the land wanted; 


if the particular nation interested refuses to sell, they are 
generally threatened by the others, who want the money or 
goods offered, to buy whiskey. Fathers, that is the way in 
which this small spot, which we so much value, has been so 
often torn from us.*' (Quaife, in Chicago and the Old North 
West, p. 179.) 

Over and over again have the Indian orators presented sim- 
ilar complaints, both in councils among themselves and in 
conference with government agents when treaties were 
under consideration. And here it will not be out of place 
to briefly consider what the Indians on such occasions have 
had to say for themselves, of their relations to the white man 
and their rights as original proprietors of the soil. 

Historians of reputation and standing have often treated 
the Indian Councils with Government Commissioners, when 
treaties were under consideration, very lightly, and with 
scant regard for the feelings of the Bed Man, who quite gen- 
erally was then and there not only requested but required to 
leave his home and native land and to depart to some remote 
country that he knew not of. One of these writers says : **An 
Indian Council, on solemn occasions, was always opened with 
preliminary forms, sufificiently wearisome and tedious. * * * 
An Indian orator was provided with a stock of metaphors, 
which he always made use of. * * * The orator seldom 
spoke without careful premeditation, and his memory was 
refreshed by belts of wampum, which he delivered after every 
clause in his harangue.*' 

It is no doubt true that on some of these occasions the cere- 
monies were tedious and prolonged, and that some of the 
Chiefs delivered harangues burdened with useless and oft 
repeated metaphor. But it is no less true that we are in- 
debted to the Indian treaties for the careful preservation of 
Indian oratory hardly equalled or excelled by the white man 
with all his books, his culture, and his learning. We are told 
by good authority that many of these great speeches, however 
carefully translated, necessarily lose the charm of the Indian 
tongue, that by intuition deals with nature in all its poetic 


That it is not useless flattery to so designate the words of 
the Indian orator on such occasions, is plain and apparent 
when it is considered what he had at stake, that nature in the 
first instance made him an orator, which often accounted for 
his being the spokesman of his clan or tribe, that perhaps for 
months he and his tribesmen had given close heed and thought 
to the coming council and the importance of its decision ; and 
at last, when called upon to speak and when he arose in the 
presence of the great men of the Indian Nations, the assem- 
bled Indian multitude and the attentive government agents, 
the orator — ^if orator he really was — ^met the climax of his 
career as the representative of his people and poured out his 
heart and soul with his best and final words as an earnest 
advocate of their righteous cause. 

Indian metaphor so frequently used on such occasions had 
not only the poetic tinge, but added force as well as orna- 
ment to the speech, whether it be designated as oration or 
harangue. Its merit may be best judged by the fact that the 
sayings of these *' Indian children'* in addressing the council 
have not only been carefully preserved as part of our litera- 
ture, but borrowed repeatedly and used over and over again, 
by the white orators of our own day, until they have perma- 
nently become figures of speech of our language. (See illus- 
trations of such metaphorical sayings and expressions, 
Haines' American Indian, chap. XL, 111.) 

Caleb Atwater, in writing a history of the Treaty of Prairie 
du Chien, that will receive later mention, thus speaks of the 
Indian orator at treaty making councils: ** Before him sit 
the United States Commissioners, attended by a great number 
of military officers in full dress, the Indian agents, interpret- 
ers, and an army of soldiers under arms; the cannons with 
lighted matches, and indeed all the proud array of military 
life so fascinating to men in all ages of the world, are pre- 
sented to his view.'' 

*^0n each side of him sit all the chiefs and warriors of his 
nation, while behind him sit, in the full hearing of his voice, 
all the women and children of his people. His subject is one, 
then, of the highest conceivable importance to himself and 


his whole nation. In breathless silence do they listen to every 
word he utters and with watchful eye mark every gesture he 
makes. *' 

'* Placed in such a situation, the character of his eloquence 
is easily conceived. It abounds with figures drawn from every 
object which nature presents to his eye. He thanks the Great 
Spirit that He has granted them a day for holding their 
council, with or without clouds, as the case may be. * * * 
He recalls to the minds of his audience the situation and cir- 
cumstances of his ancestors when they inhabited the whole 
continent; when they, and they only, climbed every hill and 
mountain, cultivated in peace the most fertile spots of earth, 
angled in every stream, and hunted over every plain in quest 
of game, skimming the surface of every lake and stream in 
their birch bark canoes, with lodges in coolest shades in sum- 
mer beside pure fountains, and where abundance of food was 
always at hand and easily obtained, and that all the labor they 
had to perform was only what the white man calls sport and 
pastime; that in winter they dwelt in the thickest forests, 
where they were protected from every piercing wind. * * * 
The white man came across the great water. * * * Indian 
pity was excited by the simple tale of the white man^s wants 
and his request was granted. * * * Step by step he drove 
the Red Man before him, from river to river, from mountain 
to mountain, until the Red Man seated himself on a small 
territory as a final resting place, and now the white man 
wants even that small spot. * * * Thus is his whole soul, in 
every word, in every look, in every gesture, as he presents the 
rights of his people and the wrongs they have endured.'' 

We are not only indebted to the negotiations and councils 
incident to the Indian Treaties for the preservation of the 
best efforts of the Indian orators, but the writers who were 
present and have described what occurred on such occasions 
have given us an interesting account and view of Indian pomy 
and ceremony at its best and most interesting stage; anc 
also reliable information respecting the condition of the vari- 
ous tribes at the time the Treaties were concluded, and again, 
interesting accounts and descriptions of individual chiefs 


whose names will not only ever live in American history, but 
which are stamped indelibly upon the maps of all our States. 

The accounts of one or two eye witnesses of the transac- 
tions incident to the later treaties held at Chicago and Prairie 
du Chien, that will here receive consideration, are of interest 
and importance in all of these particulars. It is to be regret- 
ted that much of the romance that so generally attaches to 
the history of the primeval Red Man is greatly dimmed and 
marred, when he is seen as he actually appeared on these later 
occasions at the treaty making councils of Chicago and 
Prairie du Chien, a victim of the White Man's whiskey, and 
a sorry representative of his former greatness. 

While each and all of the very many treaties with the 
Indians, directly and indirectly affecting lands now constitut- 
ing the State of Illinois are of interest, extended considera- 
tion need only be given a very few of them, not exceeding 
seven in number. These seven treaties were not only the 
most important ones in the development and settlement of 
the State, and in shaping events that make the history of 
Illinois, but they present three distinct types of the treaties 
in respect to the end sought by the government agents. First, 
to end Indian wars against the settlers, and to secure peace 
with the Indians ; second, to secure peace between hostile and 
warring tribes, and to establish boundaries between them; 
and third, to secure cessions of land for the use of the settlers. 
The seven treaties that will be so considered were concluded, 
respectively, in the years 1795, 1804, 1816, 1821, 1825, 1829 
and 1833. 

The Treaty of Greenville. 

There is probably no Indian treaty, with the exception of 
the memorable and historic treaty negotiated by William 
Penn, that is more frequently referred to by historians than 
the Treaty of Greenville, concluded August 3, 1795. While 
this treaty ceded very little land within the present boun- 
daries of Illinois, it was of far reaching importance in the 
history and development of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys 
and in shaping the destiny of the coming empire. 


To write a complete history of this treaty in all the essen- 
tial details that accuracy would require, would be to repro- 
duce the history of the nation during the days of the Bevo- 
lution and the years of trial, concern and uncertainty that 
succeeded the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain of Sep- 
tember 3, 1783. 

Great Britain retained possession of the principal Lake 
posts, contrary to the express provisions of the Treaty of 
Paris. It seems also to have been the plan of the Mother 
Country to keep possession of the territory north of the Ohio 
and west of the AUeghanies as long as possible, indulging 
the hope, if not the belief, that the experiment of the Ameri- 
can Confederacy might prove such a failure that possession 
would never be required or enforced. 

The surrender of possession carried with it also relinquish- 
ing the benefit there derived from the fur trade, to say nothing 
of the vast territory held and controlled by these forts and 
trading posts. 

If the action of Great Britain had been confined alone to 
holding these forts and the territory thereby controlled, and 
to the flimsy excuses for so doing, the ground for complaint 
would not have been so great. But year after year, through 
British and Canadian agents, the Indians were, by continued 
intrigues and encouragement, led to war upon the settlers 
of the Ohio Valley and against the military forces of the 
United States. 

It is not within the scope of this paper to deal in detail with 
all those bloody times and years that have been so graphically 
described by some of the participants and their later his- 
torians. The Indian Confederacy, led by Little Turtle, the 
great Chief of the Miamis; the hewing of military roads 
through the forests to reach and burn the Indian villages; 
the building of all the forts in the wilderness ; the bravery of 
General Arthur Saint Clair, Governor of the North West 
Territory, who could not stay the utter rout of his army that 
fled before the mighty onslaught of the red men, are all mat- 
ters of history. But at last, under the direction of the great 
Washington, came ''the man of the hour'* — ''Mad Anthony 


Wayne,'' a general whom Washington had watched through 
many battles of the Eevolution; the man that led his soldiers 
in a bayonet charge to victory over the walls of the British 
fort at Stony Point, and who, with all his rashness, had as 
cool a head as his heart was stout — ^the new Governor of the 
North West Territory. Then came the bloody Indian * * Battle 
of the Fallen Timbers'' under his leadership, and at last, 
after forty years of Indian warfare, the Great Indian Treaty 
of Greenidlle, that one historian at least has designated ^^The 
Peace of Mad Anthony." 

This treaty does not derive its importance from either the 
value or extent of the land ceded to the United States by the 
Indians. The first words of the preamble, unlike similar 
recitals in many other treaties, were significant not only in 
statement, but in later observance, viz.: **To put an end to 
a destructive war, to settle all controversies, and to restore 
harmony and a friendly intercourse between the United States 
and the Indian Tribes." 

The pledge of peace and security thus given by the 
powerfid tribes who were parties to this treaty— the Wyan- 
dots (Hurons), Delawares, Shawanoes, Ottawas, Chippewas 
(Ojibways), Pottawattomies, Miamis, Eel Eiver Weeas, Kick- 
apoos, Piankashaws and Kaskaskians — ^meant much for the 
cause of settlement and progress in the Ohio Valley, as the 
Indian Boundary fixed by this treaty gave about 25,000 square 
miles of land, constituting most of the present State of Ohio 
and a small part of Indiana, to the white men. Almost imme- 
diately over the Allegheny Mountains and down the Ohio 
Eiver, and into all the fertile valleys of this domain, swarmed 
the hardy pioneers, that formed the ever rising and resistless 
tide that during the succeeding years swept westward through 
the forests and across the broad prairies, ever driving the 
Indians before it in the many successive stages of its west- 
ward journey. 

William Henry Harrison, then a young man, was aide-de- 
camp to General Wayne, and his signature as such officer, with 
others, was appended to the treaty. 


There are many interesting stipulations in this treaty that 
will be briefly quoted and referred to: * * * ** Henceforth 
all hostilities shall cease, peace is hereby established and shall 
be perpetual." * * **A11 prisoners shall on both sides be 
restored.'' * * * **Ten chiefs of said tribes shall remain at 
Greenville as hostages until the delivery of the prisoners shall 
be effected.'' * * * 

Some sixteen tracts of land, comprising all the principal 
trading posts and portages in the territory now comprising 
the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois, were ceded 
to the Government, including Mackinac Island and **one piece 
of land six miles square at the mouth of Chikago Eiver, 
emptying into the South West end of Lake Michigan where a 
fort formerly stood." While these cessions were not large in 
area, still, including, as they did, all the western forts and 
trading posts of importance, with small parcels of land ad- 
joining, with the further provisions of the treaty, that ^'the 
said Indian Tribes will allow * * * a free passage by land 
and water as one and the other shall be found convenient 
through their country along the chain of posts hereinbefore 
mentioned, * * * and the free use of the harbours and rivers 
along the lakes," practically gave the Government control of 
the country for trade, which the treaty further provided for, 
and opened the way for speedy settlement. 

Of the details of the Council and the extended negotiations 
respecting this Treaty which proceeded daily from July 15 
until August 3, 1795, little will h^re be said. After the calumet 
had been passed from chief to chief , General Wayne opened 
the Council with a speech. Then followed, day after day, the 
negotiations, other speeches and the usual Indian oratory, 
including the great speech of Little Turtle, showing that he 
was in fact a great leader and orator and a foeman worthy 
of the steel of even so great a man as Mad Anthony Wayne. 

Thus ended not only this Indian war, but from one view- 
point the American Eevolution itself. It has been said that 
no Indian chief or warrior who gave General Wayne the hand 
at Greenville ever after lifted the hatchet against the United 
States. Whether that be true or otherwise, this treaty marks 


one of the great epochs in American history and was remem- 
bered and referred to by many an Indian orator at later simi- 
lar councils, when other treaties were under consideration 
and during the next succeeding fifty years. 

(Regarding Treaty of Greenville, see Wilson's Peace of 
Mad Anthony; Roosevelt's Winning of the West, vol. 5, Chap. 
5; Western Annals; Blanchard's North West; Indian Treaties 
(1873 ed. p. 184.) 

Treaty of 1804 with the Sacs and Foxes. 

After the Treaty of Greenville the settlers not only came 
rapidly and in great numbers, but the ending of the Indian 
occupation moved rapidly forward; hence, during the first 
third of the nineteenth century Indian treaties of importance 
were concluded with unusual frequency. 

In 1801 General William Henry Harrison was appointed 
governor of the then new Indiana Territory. It immediately 
became his policy to secure, as speedily as possible and when- 
ever the occasion presented itself, cessions of land by the 
Indians to the United States. In 1804 he was at Saint Louis 
seeking satisfaction of the Sac Indians for the murder of 
three settlers, and, taking advantage of the situation, jsecured 
execution of a treaty by five of the chiefs of the Sacs and 
Foxes, ceding to the Government over fifty million acres of 
land in Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin, including the land 
between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, for $2,234..50 ji^ 
goods and a promised annuity of $1,000.00. Black Hawk and 
his associates repudiated this treaty, claiming it was executed 
by the chiefs who signed it without authority or knowledge 
of their people. The subsequent disputes growing out of this 
treaty furnished the principal cause for the Black Hawk wan 

The general policy of Governor Harrison and the United; 
States, just noted, to progress treaty negotiations with the 
Indians, and the history of what was done in pursuance of 
that policy would not be complete without at least passing 
reference to the great Shawanee Chief, Tecumseh, who, with 
his brother. The Prophet (EUskwatawa), undertook the; 
gigantic and impossible task of forming an Indian Confed- 


eracy to stay the tide of the advancing pioneers, and to pro- 
hibit further cession and conveyance of lands by the Indians, 
except by the unanimous consent of all the tribes, contending 
that the land belonged to all the Indian tribes in common, but 
for the use of each. This policy he boldly and forcibly pre- 
sented to Governor Harrison in person at Vincennes in 
August, 1810. 

Tecumseh's speeches on these and other occasions announc- 
ing his policy and presenting the rights of his people, not only 
show his great strength of character and purpose, but are 
quoted quite frequently as examples of the best Indian ora- 
tory. His efforts to arouse all the tribes of the North West 
by personal visits and appeals; the battle of Tippecanoe; his 
later appearance in the war of 1812 as a brigadier general 
in the British army, hoping thereby to further his plans and 
cause, and his final fighting to the death, at the head of the 
British and his Indian warriors in the lost battle of the 
Thames, are all of interest in our history, but not directly 
connected with the subject here considered. 

The various Indian treaties bearing directly or indirectly 
upon the Black Hawk war, in all their aspects and from widely 
divergent viewpoints, have been fully and ably considered by 
Armstrong,* Stevens,t and many other writers of Illinois his- 
tory. Extended comment, or further consideration, that 
would again extend this paper beyond reasonable limits, will 
therefore be omitted. 

Treaty op August 24, 1816, at Saint Loins. 

On that date Ninian Edwards, William Clark and Augusta 
Ohouteau negotiated a Treaty at Saint Louis with the Otta- 
was, Chippeways, and Pottawattomies, by which they ceded 
a strip of land twenty miles wide on the eastern boundary 
at Lake Michigan (being ten miles north and ten miles south 
of the Chicago River in width), and extending generally south 
west so as to include the Chicago Portage and a strip of land 

*The Sauks and the Black Hawk War» by Peny A. Armstrong. 
tPrank E. Stevens, Black Hawk War. 


extending to the mouth of the Fox Eiver. This strip of land 
was secured for the purpose of facilitating the building of the 
proposed canal. The boundaries of this cession appear upon 
many maps and records as ** Indian Boundary Line,*' causing 
confusion and irregularity in land descriptions, as govern- 
ment surveys were made at different times on each side of 
these diagonal boundary lines; hence, the section lines did 
not meet each other, causing triangular fractional sections 
and confusion as to proper range and township. 

The northern boundary of this cession is in Cook County, 
the center line of a highway known for over half a century 
as ** Indian Boundary Eoad,*' extending to Lake Michigan, 
at the former boundary line between the City of Evanston 
and Chicago. Later the Chicago City Council changed the 
name of this highway to * * Rogers Avenue. * * Repeated efforts 
of both the Chicago and Evanston Historical Societies to in- 
duce the Chicago City Council **to change back to its original 
form the name of this highway, thus restoring to it its former 
proper and historic name of * Indian Boundary Boad,' ** have, 
it is to be greatly regretted, proved unavailing. (See resolution 
at joint meeting of these two Societies, held November 27, 

This treaty, like many others, contained a reservation to 
the Indians of the right to hunt and fish within the tract of 
land ceded **so long as it may continue to be the property of 
the United States.*' 

Treaty of August 29, 1821, at Chicago. 

While this treaty, negotiated by Governor Lewis Cass of 
Michigan and Solomon Sibley, did not cede any Illinois lands, 
it was a part of the general plan and scheme of the Govern- 
ment to extinguish the Indian title, and in this instance par- 
ticularly to secure the Indian lands in Michigan south of 
Grand River and east of the Lake. On this occasion the 
Pottawattomie chief, Metea, made his eloquent and historic 
speech so often quoted by Indian historians. 

Mr. Schoolcraft, in his book. Travels In The Central Part 
Of The Mississippi Valley (pp. 335, 371), gives an extended 


account of what he saw and heard on this occasion, both as 
he approached Chicago by the Portage and after his arrival. 
He says : 

**0n crossing the Des Plaines we found the opposite shore 
thronged with Indians/* * * * <<From this point we were 
scarcely ever out of sight of straggling parties, all proceed- 
ing to the same place. Most commonly they were mounted 
on horses and apparelled in their best manner and decorated 
with medals, silver bands and feathers. The gaudy and 
showy dresses of these troops of Indians, with jingling caused 
by the striking of their ornaments, and their spirited manner 
of riding created a scene as novel as it was interesting. Pro- 
ceeding from all parts of a very extensive circle of country, 
like rays converging to a focus, the nearer we approached the 
more compact and concentrated the body became.'* * * # 
**The dust, confusion and noise increased at every bypath 
that intersected our way.'* * * **We found on reaching the 
post that between two and three thousand Indians were assem- 
bled, chiefly Pottawattomies, Ottawas and Chippewas. Many 
arrived on the following day s. " * * * 

**To accommodate the large assemblage * * * an open 
bower, provided with seats for the principals, chiefs and head 
men, had been put up on the green, extending along the north 
bank of Chicago Creek, * * * directly under the guns of 
the fort, ensured both safety and order for the occasion. 
The formalities which custom has prescribed in negotiations 
of this kind occupied the first two or three days after our 
arrival, during which time the number of Indians was con- 
jstantly augmented. It was not until the 17th that th^y were 
formally met in council, when Governor Cass addressed 

Schoolcraft then gives the Governor's speech in full, sub- 
stantially to the effect that *^Your Father" has observed that 
the Indians possess an extensive country, with little game, 
and which they do not cultivate nor appear to want, and that 
the commissioners have come to purchase it at* a liberal price 
to be agreed upon, and that the goods had been brought to 
Chicago ready for the purchase; that the Indians should 


counsel among themselves, refrain from whiskey, and make 
answer '*by the day after to-morrow/^ 

**Each sentence being distinctly translated was received 
with the usual response of *Hoah !^ a term that on these public 
occasions is merely indicative of attention. A short pause 
ensued, during which some customary presents were issued, 
when Me-te-a, the Pottawattomie Chief from the Wabash, 
made the following laconic reply: 

^*My father, we have listened to what you have said. We 
shall now retire to our camps and consult upon it. You will 
hear nothing from us at present." 

Mr. Schoolcraft gives an extended, detailed and interesting 
account of much that subsequently occurred, including many 
of the speeches, both by the Indians and by Governor Cass, 
also one by John Kinzie, which Mr. Schoolcraft says was 
received by the Indians **with conclusive effect." 

This last statement, considered in connection with the spe- 
cial reservations" given to particular individuals, and a 
letter of January 1, 1821, written by Wolcott, the Chicago 
Indian agent, to Governor Cass, suggesting that ** before the 
period of treating arrives" * * * ^*it will be necessary to 
bribe their chief men by very considerable presents and prom- 

pt: # :«: 


with which Cass expressed approval (see Indian 
Department, Cass correspondence, Wolcott to Cass, January 
1, 1821; also Quaife, p. 346), would tend to indicate quite con- 
clusively that Mr. Schoolcraft has omitted much of the inside 
history of this treaty. 

His observations respecting the purchase on this occasion 
of over five million acres of land for the paltry consideration 
stipulated in the treaty, and his resenting criticism of it, (see 
pp. 369-373) would further indicate that such omissions were 
more than probable. 

Whether Mr. Schoolcraft was, or was not, a party to the 
intrigues that seem to have carried the treaty through, he 
has rendered a great service as an historian in describing 
much that occurred, of which he was an eye witness. 

To him we are indebted for an accurate description of the 
personal appearance of Metea, the leading orator of his 


nation, who, as Schoolcraft says, stood tall, erect and firm, 
wearing gracefully a red military plume, and with a ready 
command of language, a pleasant voice and forceful gestures, 
bold, fearless and original in expression, thus answered 
Governor Cass, in the speech which Schoolcraft wrote down 
at the time word for word, as given by the interpreters : 

**My Father — ^We meet you here to-day, because we had 
promised it, to tell you our minds, and what we have agreed 
upon among ourselves. You will listen to us with a good 
mind, and believe what we say. 

**My Father — ^You know that we first came to this country 
a long time ago, and when we sat ourselves down upon it we 
met with a great many hardships and difficulties. Our country 
was then very large, but it has dwindled away to a small spot ; 
and you wish to purchase that ! This has caused us to reflect 
much upon what you have told us, and we have, therefore, 
brought along all the chiefs and warriors, and the young men 
and women and children of our tribe, that one part may not 
do what the others object to, and that all may be witnesses 
of what is going forward. 

**My Father — ^You know your children. Since you first 
came among them, they have listened to your words with an 
attentive ear; and have always hearkened to your counsels. 
Whenever you have had a proposal to make to us — ^whenever 
you have had a favour to ask of us, we have always lent a 
favourable ear, and our invariable answer has been *Yes.^ 
This you know ! 

**My Father — A long time has passed since we first came 
upon our lands; and our old people have all sunk into their 
graves. They had sense. We are all young and foolish, and 
do not wish to do anything that they would not approve, were 
they living. We are fearful we shall offend their spirits if 
we sell our lands ; and we are fearful we shall offend you if 
we do not sell them. This has caused us great perplexity of 
thought, because we have counselled among ourselves, and do 
not know how we can part with the land. 

**My Father — Our country was given to us by the Great 
Spirit, who gave it to us to hunt upon, to make our 


corn fields upon, to live upon, and to make down 
our beds upon, when we die. And He would never 
forgive us should we now bargain it away. When you first 
spoke to us for lands at St. Mary's, we said we had a little, 
and agreed to sell you a piece of it ; but we told you we could 
spare no more. Now, you ask us again. You are never 

**My Father— We have sold you a great tract of land 
already; but it is not enough! We sold it td you for the 
benefit of your children, to farm and to live upon. We have 
now but little left. We shall want it all for ourselves. We 
know not how long we may live, and we wish to leave some 
lands for our children to hunt upon. You are gradually tak- 
ing away our hunting grounds. Your children are driving 
us before them. We are growing uneasy. What lands you 
have, you may retain forever; but we shall sell no more. 

**My Father— You think, perhaps, that I speak in passion; 
but my heart is good towards you. I speak like one of your 
own children. I am an Indian, a red-skin, and live by hunting 
and fishing, but my country is already too small; and I do 
not know how to bring up my children, if I give it all away. 
We sold you a fine tract of land at St. Mary's. We said to 
you then, it was enough to satisfy your children, and the last 
we should sell; and we thought it would be the last you would 
ask for. 

*'My Father — ^We have now told you what we had to say. 
It is what was determined on in a council among ourselves ; 
and what I have spoken is the voice of my nation. On this 
account, all our people have come here to listen to me; but 
do not think we have a bad opinion of you. Where should 
we get a bad opinion of you? We speak to you with a good 
heart, and the feelings of a friend. 

^*My Father — ^You are acquainted with this piece of land, 
the country we live in. Shall we give it up? Take notice, it 
is a small piece of land, and if we give it away, what will be- 
come of us? The Great Spirit, who has provided it for our 
use, allows us to keep it, to bring up our young men and sup- 
port our families. We should incur His anger if we bar- 


tered it away. If we had more land, you should get more, but 
our land has been wasting away ever since the white people 
became our neighbors, and we have now hardly enough left 
to cover the bones of our tribe. 

<<My Father — ^You are in the midst of your red children. 
What is due to us, in money, we wish and will receive at this 
place ; and we want nothing more. 

**My Father — ^We all shake hands with you. Behold our 
warriors, our women and children. Take pity on us, and on 
our words.*' 

The dignity and friendship of this speech and the firm 
determination not to part with the land, is not only apparent, 
but indicates that pressure, and methods to some extent un- 
disclosed, must have been later applied in the extended nego- 
tiations which followed day after day, and that ultimately 
moved the Indians to do what Metea and the other chiefs in 
the first instance firmly declined, and for which final action 
they were later both criticised and persecuted by their own 

Treaty of Prairie du Chien, Concluded August 19, 1825, 

WITH THE Sioux, Chippewas, Sacs and Foxes, Menom- 

iNiES, lowAS, Winnebagoes, Ottawas and 


The purpose of this Treaty was not the usual one to secure 
cessions of land from the Indians, but is thus stated in the 
preamble to the Treaty: **The United States of America 
have seen with much regret that wars have for many years 
been carried on between the Sioux and the Chippewas, and 
more recently between the Sacs and Foxes and the Sioux; 
which if not terminated may extend to the other tribes and 
involve the Indians upon the Missouri, the Mississippi and 
the Lakes in general hostilities. In order, therefore, to pro- 
mote peace among these tribes, and to establish boundaries 
among them and the other tribes who live in their vicinity, 
and thereby to remove all causes of future difficulty, have in- 
vited * * * the tribes * * * to assemble together, and in a 


spirit of mutual conciliation to accomplish these objects ; and 
to aid therein, have appointed William Clark and Lewis Cass 
Commissioners.'' The fifteen articles of the treaty deal ex- 
clusively with the subject matter of the preamble in fixing 
boundaries and respective rights of hunting, providing for 
future and enduring peace between the tribes, and acknowl- 
edging **the general controlling power of the United States '* 
to take such measures as ^Hhey may deem proper," in case 
** difficulty hereafter should unhappily arise.'' 

Mr. Schoolcraft, who was Indian Agent at that time at the 
Sault, came all the way to Prairie du Chien in a canoe to 
assist in the negotiations. He wrote an account of this treaty 
that is interesting in many particulars, especially so as the 
Indians of the many tribes and clans then at Prairie du Chien 
came from far and near, from the great forests of the North, 
and from the far away western plains, hence representing 
interesting types living remote from white men and resem- 
bling more the primeval Red Man of former days, than his 
later descendants, so much in evidence at that period, in the 
Council house at the invitation of Treaty framing Commis- 
sioners. Mr. Schoolcraft, (Thirty Years with the Indian 
Tribes, chap. XXIII) thus describes his journey, the Indians 
he saw, and what occurred at Prairie du Chien : 

*'We finally left Mackinack for our destination on the Mis- 
sissippi on the 1st of July. The convocation to which we 
were now proceeding was for the purpose of settling internal 
disputes between the tribes, by fixing the boundaries to their 
respective territories, and thus laying the foundation of a 
lasting peace on the frontiers. And it marks an era in the 
policy of our negotiations with the Indians which is mem- 
orable. No such gathering of the tribes had ever before 
occurred, and its results have taken away the necessity of 
any in future, so far as relates to the lines on the Mississippi. 

*'We encountered head winds, and met with some delay in 
passing through the straits into Lake Michigan, and after 
escaping an imminent hazard of being blown off into the 
open lake, in a fog, reached Green Bay on the 4th. The jour- 
ney up the Fox River, and its numerous portages, was re- 


sumed on the 14th, and after having ascended the river to 
its head, we crossed over the Fox and Wisconsin portage^ 
and descending the latter with safety, reached Prairie du 
Chien on the 21st, making the whole journey from Mackinack 
in twenty-one days. 

**We found a very large number of the various tribes as- 
sembled. Not only the village, but the entire banks of the 
river for miles above and below the town, and the island in 
the river, was covered with their tents. The Dakotahs, with 
their high pointed buffalo skin tents, above the town, and 
their decorations and implements of flags, feathers, skins 
and personal ** braveries,'^ presented the scene of a Bedouin 
encampment. Some of the chiefs had the skins of skunks tied 
to their heels, to symbolize that they never ran, as that animal 
is noted for its slow and self-possessed movements. 

**Wanita, the Yankton chief, had a most magnificent robe 
of the buffalo, curiously worked with dyed porcupine's quills 
and sweet grass. A Mnd of war flag, made of eagles' and 
vultures' large feathers, presented quite a martial air* 
War clubs and lances presented almost every imaginable de- 
vice of paint; but by far the most elaborate thing was their 
pipes of red stone, curiously carved, and having flat wooden 
handles of some four feet in length, ornamented with the 
scalps of the red-headed woodpecker and male duck, and tail 
feathers of birds artificially attached by strings and quill 
work, so as to hang in the figure of a quadrant. But the most 
elaborately wrought part of the devices consisted of dyed 
porcupines' quills, arranged as a kind of aboriginal mosaic. 

**The Winnebagoes, who speak a cognate dialect of the 
Dacotah, were encamped near; and resembled them in their 
style of lodges, arts, and general decorations. 

**The Chippewas presented the more usually known traits, 
manners and customs of the great Algonquin family— of 
whom they are, indeed, the best representatives. The tall 
and war-like bands from the sources of the Mississippi — 
from La Point, in Lake Superior — ^from the valleys of the 
Chippewa and St. Croix Rivers and the Rice Lake region of 


Lac du Flambeau, and of Sault Ste. Marie, were well repre- 

'^The cognate tribe of the Menomonies, and of the Potta- 
wattomies and Ottowas from Lake Michigan, assimilated and 
mingled with the Chippewas. Some of the Iroquois of Green 
Bay were present. * 

'*But no tribes attracted as intense a degree of interest as 
the lowas, and the Sacs and Foxes — ^tribes of radically 
diverse languages, yet united in a league against the Sioux. 
These tribes were encamped on the island, or opposite coast. 
They came to the treaty ground, armed and dressed as a war 
party. They were all armed with spears, clubs, guns and 
toiives. Many of the warriors had a long tuft of red horse 
liair tied at their elbows, and wore a necklace of grizzly bears' 
-claws. Their head dress consisted of red dyed horse hair, tied 
in such manner to the scalp lock as to present the shape of 
ihe decoration of a Roman helmet. The rest of the head was 
<5ompletely shaved and painted. A long iron shod lance was 
carried in the hand. A species of baldric supported part of 
their arms. The azian, moccason and leggins constituted a 
part of their dress. They were, indeed, nearly nude, and 
painted. Often the print of a hand, in white clay, marked 
the back or shoulders. They bore flags of feathers. They 
beat drums. They uttered yells at definite points. They 
landed in compact ranks. They looked the very spirit of de- 
:fiance. Their leader stood as a prince, majestic and frown- 
ing. The wild, native pride of man, in the savage state, 
flushed by success in war, and confident in the strength of his 
arm, was never so fully depicted to my eyes. And the forest 
tribes of the continent may be challenged to have ever pre- 
sented a spectacle of bold daring, and martial prowess, equal 
io their landing. 

** Their martial bearing, and their high tone, and whole 
behavior during their stay, in and out of council, was im- 
pressive and demonstrated, in an eminent degree, to what a 
high pitch of physical and moral courage, bravery and suc- 
<5ess in war may lead a savage people. Keokuk, who led them, 
«tood with his war lance, high crest of feathers and daring 


eye, like another Coriolanus, and when he spoke in council, 
and at the same time shook his lance at his enemies, the 
Sioux, it was evident that he wanted but an opportunity to 
make their blood flow like water. Wapelo and other chiefs 
backed him, and the whole array, with their shaved heads and 
high crests of red horse hair, told the spectator plainly that 
each of these men held his life in his hand, and was ready to 
spring to the work of slaughter at the cry of their chief. 

''General William Clark, from St. Louis, was associated 
with General Cass in this negotiation. The great object was 
to lay the foundation of a permanent peace by establishing 
boundaries. Day after day was assigned to this, the agents 
laboring with the chiefs, and making themselves familiar with 
Indian bark maps and drawings. The thing pleased the 
Indians. They clearly saw that it was a benevolent effort for 
their good, and showed a hearty mind to work in the attain- 
ment of the object. The United States asked for no cession. 
Many glowing harangues were made by the chiefs, which gave 
scope to their peculiar oratory, which is well worth the pre- 
serving. Mongazid, of Fond du Lac, Lake Superior, said: 

'When I heard the voice of my Great Father, coming up the 
Mississippi Valley calling me to this treaty, it seemed as a 
murmuring wind. I got up from my mat, where I sat musing, 
and hastened to obey it. My pathway has been clear and 
bright. Truly, it is a pleasant sky above our heads this day. 
There is not a cloud to darken it. I hear nothing but pleasant 
words. The raven is not waiting for his prey. I hear no 
eagle cry, 'Come let us go. The feast is ready; the Indian 
has killed his brother.' 

"When nearly a whole month had been consumed in these 
negotiations, a treaty of limits was signed, which will long be 
remembered in the Indian reminiscences. This was on the 
19th of August (1825), vide Indian Treaties, p. 371. It was 
a pleasing sight to see the explorer of the Columbia in 1806, 
and the writer of the proclamation of the army that invaded 
Canada in 1812, uniting in a task boding so much good to the 
tribes whose passions and trespasses on each other's lands 
keep them perpetually at war. 


**At the close of the treaty an experiment was made on 
the moral sense of the Indians, with regard to intoxicating 
liquors, which was evidently of too refined a character for 
their just appreciation. It had been said by the tribes that 
the true reason for the Commissioners of the United States 
Government speaking against the use of ardent spirits by 
the Indians, and refusing to give them, was not a sense of 
its bad effects, so much as the fear of the expense. To show 
them that the government was above such a petty principle, 
the Commissioners had a long row of tin camp kettles, hold- 
ing several gallons each, placed on the grass, from one end 
of the council house to the other, and then, after some suitable 
remarks, each kettle was spilled out in their presence. The 
thing was evidently ill relighed by the Indians. They loved 
the whiskey better than the joke.'^ 

Tbeaty op Pbaibie du Chien op July 29, 1829, with the 


By this Treaty these three tribes ceded a large territory 
in Illinois and Wisconsin, lying between Rock River and the 
Mississippi, and a further large tract of land between Rock 
River and Lake Michigan, to the West and North of the ces- 
sion of 1816. On Lake Michigan it included in width the land 
now constituting the city of Evanston and most of the adjoin- 
ing village of Wilmette. 

The description of the northern boundary of this latter 
tract is : ** Beginning on the Western shore of Lake Michigan, 
at the North East corner of the field of Antoine Ouilmette, 
who lives at Gross Pointe, about twelve miles north of 
Chicago, thence running due west to the Rock River.*' 

Antoine Ouilmette, a Frenchman thus referred to, is much 
in evidence, not only in the early history of Chicago, Evans- 
ton and Wilmette, but in the negotiations respecting this 
treaty, as well as the later Chicago Treaty of 1833. He came 
to Chicago in 1790, married a Pottawatamie wife ( Arch- 
ange); located at Gross Pointe (now Evanston and Wil- 
mette) prior to 1828, was an employee of the American Fur 
Company and of John Kinzie. The name of Wilmette village 


originates from the phonetic spelling of his French name, 
0-u-i-l-m-e-t-t-e. He was a man of wide acquaintance, both 
among the whites and the Indians in this region for half a 
century. Elijah M. Haines (The American Indian, pp. 550- 
560) claims that through the connivance of Dr. Wolcott, 
Chicago Indian Agent, and Ouilmette, two chiefs — ^Alexander 
Bobinson and Billy Caldwell — ^were elected to that office in 
the Pottawattamie tribe at Prairie du Chien for the express 
purpose of signing this treaty. Haines bases his statement 
upon a personal interview he had with Bobinson to that effect, 
from which the following is quoted : 
**Mr. Bobinson, when and how did you become a chief?'* 
**Me made chief at the treaty of Prairie du Chien.** 
**How did you happen to be made chief?** 
**01d Wilmette, he come to me one day and he say: *Dr. 
Wolcott want me and Billy Caldwell to be chief. He ask me 
if I will. Me say yes, if Dr. Wolcott want me to be.* ** 

** After the Indians had met together at Prairie du Chien 
for the Treaty, what was the first thing done?** 

**The first thing they do, they make me and Billy Caldwell 
chiefs; then we be chiefs; * * * then we all go and make 
the treaty.** 

Consistent with the custom that seems at that period to 
have been gaining in popularity, in order to '^put through'^ 
an Indian treaty, over fifteen thousand acres of land were 
parceled out to sixteen favored individuals, some of them 
Frenchmen, some of them Indian wives of white men, and 
many of them actual signers of the Treaty as Indian chiefs 
and head men. Among such ** special reservations** were two 
sections of land to Archange Ouilmette and her children, later 
known as The Ouilmette Beservation, and constituting most 
of the present Village of Wilmette and a part of Evanston. 
Mr. Haines claims that this was a bribe for Ouilmette *s in- 
fluence in securing the execution of the Treaty, with which, 
however, there is good ground for disagreement, considering 
Ouilmette *s prior friendship for the whites in the war of 
1812 and the later Black Hawk war, and considering, also, his 
prior occupancy of the land. Chiefs Bobinson and Caldwell 


were handsomely taken care of, both in this treaty and sub- 
sequent ones, in the way of annuities, cash and lands, as were 
also their friends. And **Shab-eh-nay** (Shabbona) received 
a well deserved reservation for his own use. 

(For detailed history of Ouilmette and his family, see 
Evanston Hist. So., Colls., and Grover^s Ouilmette.) 

Mr. iSaines* account of this treaty is of interest in many 
particulars. While he says that the Indians were imposed 
upon by the conspiracy of Dr. Wolcott to put it through as a 
part of the Government policy to extinguish the Indian title. 
He gives Wolcott not only credit for his fidelity to Govern- 
ment interests, but says that he was the ** master spirit in 
planning and executing the general Indian policy of the time 
so frequently credited to Governor Cass. While some of Mr. 
Haines' statements are subject to question, his observations 
on this subject and regarding this treaty are entitled to 

Concurrent with the negotiation of this treaty at Prairie 
du Chien, several other treaties were also there concluded 
with other tribes. One of the Government Commissioners 
was Caleb Atwater, a politician from Ohio, who later in a 
book of travels (Western Antiquities and Bemarks on a Tour 
to Prairie du Chien in 1829) gives a very entertaining and 
instructive account of the proceedings and of what was said 
and done to impress the Indians and to secure their signa- 
tures to the treaty. When one considers all the settings that 
made the occasion, as Atwater says, a ** spectacle grand and 
morally sublime in the highest degree to the nations of Bed 
Men who were present; that for the comparatively insignifi- 
cant compensation stipulated in the treaties the Indians 
parted with their title to eight million acres of land, and that 
after the concluding of the Treaties, forty-two of the chiefs 
and head men sat for two hours on raised benches, admiring 
the gaudy wares and merchandise for which they had sold 
their birth-right, wearing in the month of August, fur hats 
**with three beautiful ostrich plumes in each haf , gowned 
in ruffled calico shirts and adorned with cheap jewelry and 
the Government medals, given them by the Commissioners, 


as supposed tokens of merit and of esteem — ^when the picture 
thus painted by Mr. Atwater is considered from any view- 
point — there must be but one conclusion — ^that the Indian 
after all was not only in this aspect a mere child, but that the 
spectator could truly say with Pope : 

'* Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law. 
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw/' 

While Mr. Atwater 's account and description of these 
transactions will interest the reader, there will ever be scant 
sympathy with his apparent pride in the bargain he assisted 
in driving. And there will also ever be sympathy for the 
poor Indian, who, with tears of joy in his eyes, and with 
thankful kindness toward the man that helped drive such a 
bargain, shook his hand, and departed from the Fort at 
Prairie du Chien, at the sound of the signal gun, fired for the 
express purpose of accelerating his departure. Mr. Atwater 

^'The officers at the fort erected a council shade near the 
fort and in about three days we were ready to hold a public 
council." * * * 

^'When everything was in readiness for the opening of the 
council, the Indians of all the tribes and nations, on the treaty 
ground, attended and requested to have translated to them 
severally, what we said to each tribe; which being assented 
to on our part, the Winnebagoes, the Chippewas, Ottowas, 
Pottawattomies, Sioux, Sauks, Foxes and Menominees, half- 
breeds, the officers of the fort, the Indian Agents, sub-agents, 
interpreters, and a great concourse of strangers from every 
city of the Union, and even from Liverpool, London, and 
Paris were in attendance.'' 

**The commissioners sat on a raised bench; on each side 
of them stood the officers of the army in full dress, while the 
soldiers, in their best attire, appeared in bright array, on 
the sides of the council shade. The ladies belonging to the 
officers' families and the best families in the Prairie, were 
seated directly behind the commissioners, where they could 
see all that passed and hear all that was said. Behind the 


principal Indian Chiefs sat the common people — first, the 
men, then the women and children, to the number of thou- 
sands, who listened in breathless and death-like silence to 
every word that was uttered. The spectacle was grand and 
morally sublime in the highest degree to the nations of red 
men who were present; and when our proposition to sell all 
their country to their Great Father had been delivered to 
them, they requested an exact copy of it in writing. The 
request was instantly complied with, and the council broke 
up. Next day we addressed the Winnebagoes, as we had the 
Chippewas, etc., the day before, and at their request gave 
them a copy of our speech.^' 

** After counseling among themselves, the Chippewas, etc., 
answered favorably as to a sale, though they would do noth- 
ing yet until they had fixed on their terms.'* 

**The Winnebagoes appeared in council and delivered 
many speeches to us. They demanded the twenty thousand 
dollars worth of goods. ^Wipe out your debt,' was their 
reply, * before you run in debt again to us.' " 

**Our goods, owing to the low stage of water, had not 
arrived yet, and the Indians feared we did not intend to ful- 
fill Governor Cass' agreement of the year before. When our 
goods did arrive and they saw them, they then changed their 
tone a little; but in the meantime great uneasiness existed. 
* * * We were told by the Winnebagoes that they 'would 
use a little switch upon us.' In plain English, they would 
assassinate the whole of us out of the Fort. Two hundred 
warriors, under Keeokuk and Morgan, of Sauks and Foxes 
arrived and began their war dance for the United States, and 
they brought word that thirty steamboats with cannon and 
United States troops, and four hundred warriors of their 
own were near at hand. The Winnebagoes were silenced by 
this intelligence, and by demonstrations not misunderstood 
by them." 

*'It was a season of great joy with me, who placed more 
reliance on Keeokuk and his friendly warriors than all our 
other forces. Good as our officers were, our soldiers of the 


army irere too dissipated and worthless to be relied on one 

** Taking Keeokuk aside, and alone, I told hini in plain Eng- 
lish all I wanted of him, and what I would do for him, and 
^hat I expected from him and his good offices. He replied 
in good English : *I understand you, sir, perfectly, and it shall 
all be done. ' It was all done faithfully, and he turned the tide 
in our favor." 

**0n the 29th day of July, 1829, we concluded our treaties 
with the Chippewas, Ottowas and Pottawattomies." 

**0n the 1st of August a treaty was concluded with the 

*'So the treaties were executed at last, and about eight 
million acres of land added to our domain, purchased from 
the TEndians. Taking the three tracts ceded, and forming one 
Whole, :it extends from the upper end of Eock Island to the 
mouth of the Wisconsin." * * * ** South of the Wisconsin 
the Indians now own only reservations where they live, which, 
as soon as the white people settle on all the ceded lands, will 
be sold to -us, and the Indians will retire above the Wisconsin 
and across the Mississippi, where the bear, the beaver, the 
deer and the bison now invite them. The United States now 
own all the country on the east side of the Mississippi from 
the Gulf of Mexico to the mouth of the Wisconsin." * * * 

The conclusion of the treaty and the departure of the 
Indians from Prairie du Chien is further told in the following 
words: ** Seated upon rising ground, on benches; clad in 
blankets, either green or red, covered with handsome fur, 
hats, with three beautiful ostrich plumes in each hat; dressed 
in ruffled calico shirts, leggings and moccasins — all new, and 
faces painted to suit the fancy of each individual, who held 
in his hand a new rifle — adorned, too, with silver brooches, 
silver clasps on each arm, and a large medal suspended on 
each breast — ^the Winnebagoe chiefs, principal warriors and 
head men to the number of forty-two, sat during two hours 
after all the goods had been delivered to the nation." 

*^ Every individual of both sexes in the nation had lying 
directly before his person, on the ground, the share of goods 


belonging to the individual. Great pains had been taken to 
give each, such and just so many clothes as would be suitable 
to wear during the year to come. The pile of clothes for each 
person was nearly two feet in thickness, the sight of which 
entirely overcame with joy our red friends, as they sat during 
two hours, in the most profound silence, not taking off their 
eyes one moment from the goods now their own. Their minds 
were entirely overcome with joy. The Indians were then told 
to depart at the sound of the signal gun — the great cannon 
at the fort to be fired in their honor." 

Of their departure, Atwater further says: **With one ac- 
cord they all arose, and, shaking me heartily by the hand, 
many of them shedding tears, they one and all invited me to 
visit them at their respective places of abode." * * * **In a 
few minutes they were off, covering a considerable surface 
with their canoes, each one of which carried a flag, floating 
in the gentle breeze which ruffled the surface of the Missis- 

**The Chippewas, Ottowas and Pottawattomies had re- 
ceived their goods in the same manner as the Winnebagoes, 
had been treated precisely in the same way, and three guns, 
one for each nation, had given them a signal to depart, and 
they had parted with me in the same kind and affectionate 
manner." * * * 

Final Tbeaty of Chicago with the Pottawattamies, Chip- 
pewas AND OiiowAS, Concluded September 26, 1833. 

This final cession extinguished the Indian title in Illinois, 
ceded a vast territory *^ supposed to contain,'* the treaty says, 
** about five million acres,'* and provided for and resulted in 
the final removal of the Indians west of the Mississippi. 

Whatever may be the view of the writer or the reader of 
Illinois history respecting the status and rights of the Indian; 
whether the land he has occupied be considered as the inevit- 
able and just spoil of advancing civilization, or otherwise; 
what was seen and heard on this occasion at Chicago must 
ever arouse the sympathy of all thinking men. The Potta- 


wattomies, that former proud and powerful nation, there ex- 
hibited in all their degradation and decline, were compelled by 
circumstances to which they had made no contribution, to 
forever desert the land of their fathers and terminate a resi- 
dence of more than a century and a half at the demand of 
their more powerful masters. 

Chicago, in 1833, was but an insignificant frontier village, 
but it was then the scene of a great historic drama, both pic- 
turesque and pathetic. Latrobe's account, so often quoted 
by the writers, cannot be improved upon, either for accuracy 
nor entertaining description, and much of it will be here set 
out in his own words. Before doing so, however, let us see 
the viewpoint from which he wrote. 

Charles J. Latrobe was an Englishman of learning, a trav- 
eler of note, both in America and elsewhere ; on some of his 
journeys with Washington Irving as his traveling companion. 
He was also a writer of marked ability, served his country as 
Governor of New South Wales and another English colony, 
and, above all, he was a close observer of men and events. 
His favorable views of America and Americans are in strik- 
ing contrast with many other English writers of his time, so 
that he cannot be charged with prejudice ; and as he made a 
long and hard journey to Chicago for the express purpose 
of witnessing the tribes and incidents having to do with this 
treaty, his account under such circumstances is of more 
than ordinary interest. He says (**The Rambler in North 
America,'' dedicated to Washington Irving, vol. 2, chap. 

*^ Hearing, therefore, that a treaty with the Indian tribes 
of the Pottawattomies was expected to take place at Chicago, 
towards the lower extremity of Lake Michigan, and that 
means might be found to cross the State of Illinois to the 
valley of the Mississippi, we resolved upon proceeding to 

^*A public vehicle conveyed us across the peninsula of 
Michigan, over a tract of country which five or six years ago 
had been traversed by nothing but Indian trails, but which 
now was rapidly filling with a settled population from the 


eastward, and all the concomitants of ploughed land, girdled 
trees, log huts — ^towns, villages and farms/' * * * 

**When within five miles of Chicago we came to the first 
Indian encampment. Five thousand Indians were said to be 
collected round this little upstart village, for the prosecution 
of the Treaty, by which they were to cede their lands in 
Michigan and Illinois.'* # # * 

*^I have been in many odd assemblages of my species, but 
in few, if any, of an equally singular character as with that 
in the midst of which we spent a week at Chicago.'' 

*^This little mushroom town is situated upon the verge of a 
perfectly level tract of country, for the greater part consist- 
ing of open prairie lands, at a point where a small river — 
whose sources interlock in the wet season with those of the 
Illinois — enters Lake Michigan." * * * 

**We found the village on our arrival crowded to excess, 
and we procured with great difficulty a small apartment ; com- 
fortless, and noisy from its close proximity to others, but 
quite as good as we could have hoped for." 

*^The Pottawattomies were encamped on all sides — on the 
wide, level prairie beyond the scattered village, beneath the 
shelter of the low woods which chequered them, on the side 
of the small river, or to the leeward of the sand hills near the 
beach of the lake. They consisted of three principal tribes, 
with certain adjuncts from smaller tribes. The main divisions 
are the Pottawattomies of the Prairie and those of the Forest, 
and these are subdivided into distinct villages under their 
several chiefs." 

^^The General Government of the United States, in pursu- 
ance of the scheme of removing the whole Indian population 
westward of the Mississippi, had empowered certain gentle- 
men to frame a Treaty with these tribes, to settle the terms 
upon which the cession of their Eeservations in these States 
should be made." 

*^A preliminary council had been held with the chiefs some 
days before our arrival. The principal Commissioner had 
opened it, as we learnt, by stating that, * as their Great Father 
in Washington had heard that they wished to sell their land, 


he had sent Commissioners to treat with them.' The Indians 
promptly answered by their organ, Hhat their Great Father 
in Washington must have seen a bad bird, which had told 
him a lie, for that, far from wishing to sell their land, they 
wished to keep it.' The Commissioner, nothing daunted, re- 
plied Hhat, nevertheless, as they had come together for a 
Council, they must take the matter into consideration.' He 
then explained to them promptly the wishes and intentions 
of their Great Father, and asked their opinion thereon. Thus 
pressed, they looked at the sky, saw a few wandering clouds, 
and straightway adjourned sine die, as the weather is not 
clear enough for so solemn a council." 

** However, as the Treaty had been opened, provision was 
supplied to them by regular rations ; and the same night they 
had great rejoicings — danced the war dance, and kept the 
eyes and ears of all open by running howling about the 

**Such was the state of affairs on our arrival. Companies 
of old warriors might be seen sitting smoking under every 
bush; arguing, palavering or 'powwowing' with great earn- 
estness ; but there seemed no possibility of bringing them to 
another Council in a hurry." 

** Meanwhile the village and its occupants presented a most 
motley scene." * * * 

**Next in rank to the Officers and Commissioners may be 
noticed certain storekeepers and merchants, resident here; 
looking either to the influx of new settlers establishing them- 
selves in the neighborhood, or those passing yet farther to 
the westward, for custom and profit; not to forget the chance 
of extraordinary occasions like the present. Add to these a 
doctor or two, two or three lawyers, a land agent, and five 
or six hotelkeepers. These may be considered as stationary, 
and proprietors of the half a hundred clapboard houses 
around you." 

**Then for the birds of passage, exclusive of the Potta- 
wattomies, of whom more anon — and emigrants and land- 
speculators as numerous as the sand. You will find horse- 
dealers, and horse-stealers, — rogues of every description, 


white, black, brown, and red — ^half-breeds, quarter breeds, and 
men of no breed at all ; dealers in pigs, poultry, and potatoes ; 
men pursuing Indian claims, some for tracts of land, others 
like our friend Snipe, for pigs which the wolves had eaten; 
creditors of the tribes, or of particular Indians, who know 
that they have no chance of getting their money, if they do not 
get it from the Government agents ; sharpers of every degree ; 
peddlars, grog-sellers; Indian agents and Indian traders of 
every description, and contractors to supply the Pottawat- 
tomies with food. The little village was in an uproar from 
morning to night, and from night to morning ; for, during the 
hours of darkness, when the housed portion of the population 
of Chicago strove to obtain repose in the crowded plank edi- 
fices of the village, the Indians howled, sang, wept, yelled, and 
whooped in their various encampments. With all this, the 
whites seemed to me to be more pagan than the red men.'' 

**You will have understood, that the large body of Indians, 
collected in the vicinity, consisted not merely of chiefs and 
warriors, but that in fact the greater part of the whole tribe 
were present. For where the warrior was invited to feast at 
the expense of the Government, the squaw took care to accom- 
pany him; and where the squaw went, the children or pap- 
pooses, the ponies, and the innumerable dogs followed; and 
here they all were living merrily at the cost of the Govern- 

**0f their dress, made up as it is of a thousand varieties 
of apparel, but little general idea can be given. There is 
nothing among them that can be called a national costume. 
That has apparently long been done away with, or at least so 
far cloaked under their European ornaments, blankets, and 
finery, as to be scarcely distinguishable. Each seemed to 
clothe him or herself as best suited their individual means or 
taste. Those who possessed the means, were generally at- 
tired in the most fantastic manner, and the most gaudy col- 
ours. A blanket and breech-cloth was possessed with a very 
few exceptions by the poorest among the males. Most added 
leggings, more or less ornamented, made of blue, scarlet, 
green, or brown broadcloth ; and the surcoats of every colour. 


and every material; together with rich sashes, and gaudy 
shawl or handkerchief -turbans. ' ' 

**A11 these diverse articles of clothing, with the embroid- 
ered petticoats and shawls of the richer squaws, and the 
complicated head-dress, were covered with innumerable 
trinkets of all descriptions, thin plates of silver, beads, mir- 
rors and embroidery. On their faces, the black and vermillion 
paint was disposed a thousand ways, more or less fanciful 
and horrible. Comparatively speaking, the women were sel- 
dom seen gaily drest, and dandyism seemed to be more par- 
ticularly the prerogative of the males, many of whom spent 
hours at the morning toilet. I remember seeing one old fool, 
who, lacking other means of adornment and distinction, had 
chalked the whole of his face and bare limbs white. *' 

**A11, with very few exceptions, seemed sunk into the low- 
est state of degradation, though some missionary efforts 
have been made among them also by the American Societies. 
The Pottawatomie language is emphatic; but we had no 
means of becoming acquainted with its distinctive character 
or learning to what class of Indian tongues it belonged.** 

**A11 was bustle and tumult, especially at the hour set apart 
for the distribution of the rations.*' 

**Many were the scenes which here presented themselves, 
pourtraying the habits of both red men and the demi-civilized 
beings around them. The interior of the village was one 
chaos of mud, rubbish and confusion. Frame and clapboard 
houses were springing up daily under the active axes and 
hammers of the speculators, and piles of lumber announced 
the preparation for yet other edifices of an equally light char- 
acter. Baces occurred frequently on a piece of level sward 
without the village, on which temporary booths afforded the 
motley multitude the means of * stimulating,* and betting and 
gambling were the order of the day. Within the vile two- 
storied barrack, which, dignified as usual by the title of Hotel, 
afforded us quarters, all was in a state of most appalling 
confusion, filth and racket. The public table was such a scene 
of confusion that we avoided it from necessity. The French 
landlord was a sporting character, and everything was left 


to chance, who, in the shape of a fat housekeeper, fumed and 
ioiled round the premises from mormng to night.'* 

^^ Within there was neither peace nor comfort, and we spent 
much of our time in the open air. A visit to the gentlemen 
at the fort, a morning's grouse shooting or a gallop on the 
broad surface of the prairie, filled up the intervals in our 
perturbed attempts at reading or writing indoors, while 
-awaiting the progress of the Treaty.'' 

**I loved to stroll out towards sunset across the river, and 
gaze upon the level horizon, stretching to the northwest over 
ihe surface of the prairie, dotted with innumerable objects 
far and near. Not far from the river lay many groups of 
ients constructed of coarse canvas, blankets and mats, and 
surmounted by poles, supporting meat, moccasins and rags. 
Their vicinity was always enlivened by various painted 
Indian figures, dressed in the most gaudy attire. The interior 
of the hovels generally displayed a confined area, perhaps 
covered with a few half-rotten mats or shavings, upon which 
men, women, children and baggage were heaped pellmell." 

'*Far and wide the grassy prairie teemed with figures; 
warriors, mounted or on foot, squaws and horses. Here a 
race between three or four Indian ponies, each carrying a 
-double rider, whooping and yelling like fiends. There a soli- 
tary horseman with a long spear, turbaned like an Arab, 
scouring along at full speed; groups of hobbled horses; 
Indian dogs and children ; or a grave conclave of grey chiefs 
iseated on the grass in consultation." 

**It was amusing to wind silently from group to group- 
here noting the raised knife, the sudden drunken brawl, 
-quashed by the good-natured and even playful interference 
of the neighbours; there a party breaking up their encamp- 
ment and falling, with their little train of loaded ponies and 
wolfish dogs, into the deep, black narrow trail running to the 
north. You peep into a wigwam, and see a domestic feud; 
the chief sitting in dogged silence on the mat, while the 
women, of which there were commonly two or three in every 
-dwelling, and who appeared every evening even more ele- 
vated with the fumes of whiskey than the males, read him a 


lecture. From another tent a constant voice of wrangling 
and weeping would proceed, when suddenly an offended fair 
one would draw the mat aside, and, taking a youth standing 
without by the hand, lead him apart, and sitting down on the 
grass, set up the most indescribable whine as she told her 
grief. Then forward comes an Indian, staggering with his 
chum from a debauch; he is met by his sqiiaw, with her child 
dangling in a fold of her blanket behind, and the sobbing and 
weeping which accompanies her whining appeal to him, as 
she hangs to his hand, would melt your heart, if you did not 
see that she was quite as tipsy as himself." 

**Here sitting apart and solitary, an Indian expends the 
exuberance of his intoxicated spirits in the most ludicrous 
singing and gesticulation ; and there squat a circle of unruly 
topers indulging themselves in the most unphilosophic and 
excessive peals of laughter.'' 

**It is a grievous thing that Government is not strong- 
handed enough to put a stop to the shameful and scandalous 
sale of whiskey to these poor, miserable wretches. But here 
lie casks of it for sale under the very eye of the Commission- 
ers, met together for purposes which demand that sobriety 
should be maintained, were it only that no one should be able 
to lay at their door an accusation of unfair dealing, and of 
having taken advantage of the helpless Indian in a bargain, 
whereby the people of the United States were to be so greatly 
the gainers. And such was the state of things day by day. 
However anxious I and others might be to exculpate the 
United States Government from the charge of cold and selfish 
policy toward the remnant of the Indian tribes, and from that 
of resorting to unworthy and diabolical means in attaining 
possession of their lands — as long as it can be said with truth 
that drunkenness was not guarded against, and that the means 
were furnished at the very time of the Treaty, and under the 
very nose of the Commissioners — ^how can it be expected but 
a stigma will attend every transaction of this kind? The sin 
may lie at the door of the individuals more immediately in 
contract with them ; but for the character of the people as a 
nation, it should be guarded against, beyond a possibility of 


transgression. Who will believe that any act, however for- 
mally executed by the chiefs, is valid, as long as it is known 
that whiskey was one of the parties to the Treaty?^* 

**But how sped the Treaty?'^ you will ask. 

**Day after day passed. It was in vain that the signal gun 
from the fort gave notice of an assemblage of chiefs at the 
council fire. Reasons were always found for its delay. One 
day an influential chief was not in the way; another, the sky 
looked cloudy, and the Indian never performs any important 
business except the sky be clear. At length, on the 21st of 
September, the Pottawattomies resolved to meet the Conmiis- 
sioners. We were politely invited to be present.'' 

**The Council fire was lighted under a spacious open shed 
on the green meadow, on the opposite side of the river from 
that on which the fort stood. From the difficulty of getting 
all together, it was late in the afternoon when they assembled. 
There might be twenty or thirty chiefs present, seated at the 
lower end of the enclosure; while the Commissioners, Inter- 
preters, etc., were at the upper. The palaver was opened by 
the principal Commissioner. He requested to know why he 
and his colleagues were called to the council? An old war- 
rior arose, and in short sentences, generally of five syllables, 
•delivered with a monotonous intonation and rapid utterance, 
gave answer. His gesticulation was appropriate, but rather 
violent. Rice, the half-breed Interpreter, explained the sig- 
nification from time to time to the audience ; and it was seen 
that the old chief, who had got his lesson, answered one ques- 
tion by proposing another, the sum and substance of his ora- 
tion being *that the assembled chiefs wished to know what 
was the object of their Great Father at Washington in calling 
his Red Children together at Chicago!' " 

**This was amusing enough after the full explanation given 
a week before at the opening session; and, particularly, when 
it was recollected that they had feasted sumptuously during 
the interval at the expense of their Great Father, was not 
making very encouraging progress. A young chief arose and 
spoke vehemently to the same purpose. Hereupon the Com- 
missioner made them a forcible Jacksonian discourse, wherein 


a good deal which was akin to threat was mingled with ex- 
hortations not to play with their Great Father, but to come 
to an early determination, whether they would or would not 
sell and exchange their territory; and this done, the council 
was dissolved. One or two tipsy old chiefs raised an occa- 
sional disturbance, else matters were conducted with due 

**The relative positions of the Commissioner and the whites 
before the Council fire, and that of the Eed Children of the 
Forest and Prairie, were to me strikingly impressive. The 
glorious light of the setting sun streaming in under the low 
roof of the Council House, fell full on the countenances of 
the former as they faced the West; while the pale light of 
the East hardly lighted up the dark and painted lineaments 
of the poor Indians, whose souls evidently clave to their 
birth-right in that quarter. Even though convinced of the 
necessity of their removal, my heart bled for them in their 
desolation and decline. Ignorant and degraded as they may 
have been in their original state, their degradation is now 
ten-fold, after years of intercourse with the whites ; and their 
speedy disappearance from the earth appears as certain as 
though it were already sealed and accomplished.'' 

**Your own reflection will lead you to form the conclusion, 
and it will be a just one, that even if he had the will, the power 
would be wanting, for the Indian to keep his territory; and 
that the business of arranging the terms of an Indian Treaty, 
whatever it might have been two hundred years ago, while 
the Indian tribes had not, as now, thrown aside the rude but 
vigorous intellectual character which distinguished many 
among them, now lies chiefly between the various traders, 
agents, creditors and half-breeds of the tribes, on whom 
custom and necessity have made the degraded chiefs depend- 
ent, and the Government Agents. When the former have 
seen matters so far arranged that their self-interest and 
various schemes and claims are likely to be fulfilled and 
allowed to their hearts' content — ^the silent acquiescence of 
the Indian follows, of course; and till this is the case, the 
Treaty can never be amicably effected. In fine, before we 


quitted Chicago on the 25th, three or four days later, the 
Treaty with the Pottawattomies was concluded — ^the Com- 
missioners putting their hands, and the assembled chiefs their 
paws, to the same/' 

Thus, as so ably described by the English writer, was con- 
summated the transfer by which Illinois ceased to be the land 
of the Indian. The Indians received as compensation for this 
vast grant $100,000.00, *Ho satisfy sundry individuals in be- 
half of whom reservations were asked, wMch the commission- 
ers refused to granf ; $175,000.00 to ** satisfy the claims 
made againsf the Indians; $100,000.00 to be paid in goods 
and provisions ; $280,000.00 to be paid in an annuity of $14,- 
000.00 each year for twenty years; $150,000.00 '*to be applied 
to the erection of mills, farm houses, Indian houses, black- 
smith shops, agricultural improvements, '^ etc., and $70,000.00 
**for purposes of education and the encouragement of the 
domestic arts.'* 

That in the negotiation of this treaty there was more in- 
trigue, and more attention to selfish interests of half-breeds, 
traders and others seeking personal gain, than in the negotia- 
tion of any other Indian treaty seems quite evident. The 
reading of the schedules of beneficiaries attached to the treaty 
would tend to indicate that the rights of the Indians them- 
selves were quite a secondary matter. 

One remarkable feature of this treaty is the fact that by 
its provisions some five hundred to one thousand persons, 
most of them with no Indian blood in their veins, derived 
personal gain from the transaction; the allowance and pay- 
ment of individual claims, ranging in amount from a few 
dollars to many thousands, and, as already noted, about one- 
third of the cash consideration was thus disbursed. Among 
the individual beneficiaries also appear the following: Alex- 
ander Robinson, $10,000.00 cash and $300.00 annuity, *^in 
addition to annuities already granted"; Billy Caldwell, $10,- 
000.00 cash and $400.00 annuity, *4n addition to annuities 
already granted"; John Kinzie Clark, $400.00; allowances to 


Antoine Ouilmette and Ms family; **Jolm K. Clark's Indian 
<3hildren9 $400.00,*' and various allowances to the Banzie 

The mere reading of the treaty demonstrates that the 
** birds of passage,'' **land speculators," **men pursuing 
Indian claims," ** creditors of the tribe," ** sharpers of every 
degree" and ** Indian traders of every description," so 
graphically described by Mr. La Trobe, constituted no small 
minority of the assembly at Chicago on this occasion, or of 
those who had to do with framing the treaty. 

Mr. Quaife is entitled to credit for writing .the truth about 
these transactions in detail in his recent book, Chicago and 
the Old Northwest, (pp. 348-366) under the title, **The Van- 
ishing of the Eed Man." 

Three years after the signing of this last treaty, and in 
the years 1835 and 1836 the Pottawattamies — or at least the 
most of them, then some 5,000 in number — ^were removed west 
of the Mississippi, into Missouri, near Fort Leavenworth. 
They remained there but a year or two, on account of the 
hostility of the frontier settlers, and were again removed to 
Council Bluffs, and in a few years again to a reservation in 
Kansas, others to the Indian Territory. Their history since 
leaving Illinois has been in the main that of all the Indian 
tribes — a steady dwindling. 

The final chapter of the Indian History of our State must, 
of necessity, ever be found in the sad and pathetic story of 
the Treaty of 1833. Its readers will ever follow the Potta- 
wattamies— these Children of the Prairie and of the Forest- 
as they took their farewell look at old Lake Michigan, and 
<5rossed for the last time in their westward journey, the 
plains, and woods, and streams of the land of the Illinois, 
with sympathy for their unhappy destiny, and with regret for 
the causes which made it possible. And will ever turn for a 
better and brighter picture, to the American days of long 
ago, when the Indian ancestor sat in treaty making councils 


and by the Council Fire, with all the pride of his native man- 
hood; when his eloquent words bespoke the man, and when 
the ealumety as it passed from hand to hand, from Chief to 
Chief-— whether White or Bed— meant peace and friendship 
and honor and all good will to men.