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Full text of "Narrative of an expedition to the source of St. Peter's river, Lake Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, &c., performed in the year 1823, ... under the command of Stephen H. Long"

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STEPHEN H. LONG, Major U. S. T. E. 

— LiBiARY 













BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-ninth day of Novem- 
ber, in the forty-ninth year of the independence of the United States 
of America, A. D. 1824, H.C. Carey & I. Lea of the said district, have 
deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim 
as proprietors, in the words following', to wit: 

" Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Lake 
" Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, &c. 8tc. performed in the year 1823, 
•' by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, under the com- 
*' mand of Stephen H. Long, Major U. S. T. E. Compiled from the 
" notes of Major Long, Messrs. Say, Keating, and Colhoun, by Wil- 
" liam II. Keating, A. M. &c. Professor of Mineralogy and Chemistry 
" as applied to the Arts, in the University of Pennsylvania ; Geologist 
"and Historiographer to the Expedition. In two volumes — Vol. 1." 

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled 
*' An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of 
maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, 
during the times therein mentioned." — And also to the act, entitled, 
•* An act supplementary to an act, entitled, "An act for the encourage- 
ment of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, 
to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein 
mentioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the Arts of design- 
ing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints." 

Clerk of the Easterii Distnct of Pemisylvania- 
















Page 19, line 18, for derangement, read disturbance. 

25, 18, for compensates for a, read compensates the. 

46, 15, for laid, read lay. 

55, 4, for the Expedition, read ive. 

58, 3d and 6th from the bottom, for conjugate, read transverse. 

58, 7th do. do. for transverse, read conjugate. 

63, 9th from the top, for if it be not, read if it should not have been. 

66, 12, for object, read objects. 

67, 15, for itself, read themselves. 
74, 8, erase ybr 

77, 17, for beach, read beech. 

85, 2 from bottom, for with, read to. 

92, last line, for seems, read seem. 

96, 15, for counsels, read councils. 

97, 18, for be, read is. 

99, 27, for decrepid, read decrepit. 

99, last line, for as one of, read among. 
100 and 106, line 11, for endowed, read endued. 

115, 9, for are, read 25. 

115, 22, for sowed, read serf erf. 

117, 14, for endowed, read enrfMtfc?. 

124, 15, for be, read is. 

140, 19, for dared, read durst. 

144, 25, for lead, read led. 

323, 25, for Iroquois, read Chippeiuas. 


Page 8, line 17, for minister, read ministered. 
8, 3 from bottom, for of, read om, 

27, 19, for immense, read indefinite. 

29, 6, for Superior, read Winnepeek. 

36, 28, for valleys, read vallies. 

114, 16, for beach, i-ead beech. 

167, 13, for written, read comjboserf. ' 

176, 8, for meal, read tneat. 

180, 9, for Desmarais, read Desmarest. 

205, 8, for buffalo, read Buffalo. 

210, 27, for west, read north-ivest. 

213, 13, for Small Fox river, read Small Pox river. 

215, 17, for above, read about 

219, 29, for banks, read bars. 

226, 13, after narrative, read and the accompanying JUap. 

J^/ote. — Owing to the absence of Major Long, during the time of printing 
his report. Vol. II. Chap. V. the following discrepancies, between the spell- 
ing of words in that paper, and the accompanying map, have occurred, and 
are to be corrected as follows, viz. for Milwacke, Manitowacke, Pektanon, 
Little Pektanon, and Kakabikka, read Meltvakee, Manitotuakee, Peektano, 
Peektanoa, and Kakabeka, 


IN offering this work to the public, the compiler regrets 
that it has been delayed longer than was originally intend- 
ed; the difficulties which he has encountered in the per- 
formance of a task for which he was quite unprepared, af- 
ford him his only apology. Inexperienced in the art of 
writing for the public, it is probable that he has fallen into 
many errors which, with more time, he might have avoid- 
ed ; but works of the nature of this admit of but little de- 
lay. Narratives of voyages of discoveries lose much of their 
interest, if the publication be long deferred. 

The principal object which the compiler had in view, 
was to unite the documents confided to him, so as to pre- 
sent a faithful description of the country over which the 
.. party travelled, and of the few adventures which inter- 
rupted the monotony of a journey through a wilderness. 

It may be well to state that the historical part of the 
narrative, together with the topographical, and much of 
the descriptive matter, has been drawn from Major Long's 
notes. Mr. Colhoun's manuscripts, besides contributing to 
the same departments, and yielding the astronomical ob- 
* servations, have been very valuable in furnishing the 
"• greater part of the references to older writers. The com- 
S parisons between the observations made by our party and 
the assertions of former travellers, are almost entirely due 
to that gentleman. From Mr. Say's notes, all that relates to 
the zoology and botany of the country traversed has been ob- 
tained, as well as much of the matter relating to the Indians. 
This last department has been completed from the compiler's 
own notes, which have likewise furnished the geological ob- 


servations. Besides which, the journals kept by each of 
the gentlemen, have frequently completed the remark? 
made by some other member of the party. It has been 
deemed unnecessary to state in all cases by whom the ob- 
servations were made or recorded. This has, however, 
been done, whenever the facts appeared sufficiently inte- 
resting to require that the names of the observers should 
be annexed to them. 

As Major Long's report to the war department presents 
a concise summary of the general features of the country 
visited by the party, it has been thought adviseable to in- 
troduce it as a conclusion to the narrative. Having been 
ordered to the Ohio to make an experiment to improve its 
navigation according to the provisions of a late act of Con- 
gress, Major Long was absent from Philadelphia during 
the preparation of that part of the manuscript which follows 
the three first chapters of volume first ; this may account 
for some of the inaccuracies which the work will be found 
to contain; it is presumed that by his presence they would 
have been avoided. 

The compiler has found it impossible in the description 
of the scenery of the Mississippi, &c. to avoid the intro- 
duction of several words, which, although they are not 
sanctioned by the dictionaries, seem to be characteristic, 
and essential to such descriptions; of this nature are the 
words bluff, prairie, &c. The term creek, being used in 
different acceptations in England and America, has been 
avoided in all cases, though with some inconvenience. The 
word run will, it is believed, be found but once in the 
body of the work. Lest any false impression should be 
drawn from the introduction of the term estuary, it may 
be proper to state, that it has been inadvertently used in 
several cases, to designate the outlets of streams where the 
tides do not reciprocate. 


In compiling from notes written by many persons under 
the disadvantages of fatigues, hardships, and privations, it 
is not easy, however it may be desirable, to avoid the use 
of all objectionable terms; for these and other inaccuracies 
which the work may contain, the compiler must plead in 
excuse the difficulties to which he has previously alluded. 

The greater part of the appendix will be found to have 
been prepared by Mr. Say. The loss which he experienc- 
ed of the skins of many birds, quadrupeds, and fish, which 
he had collected, has prevented him from describing seve- 
ral new animals. It is believed that, if none of the shells 
collected had been lost, the amount of new species des- 
cribed would have been much greater. The plants preserv- 
ed by Mr. Say, were placed in the hands of the Rev. Lewis 
D. de Schweinitz, who kindly undertook to describe them; 
the result of his valuable observations will be found in the 
appendix. With a view to give an idea of the climate of 
the country described, as well as to compare it with other 
places whose climate has been ascertained by older obser- 
vations, the interesting tables prepared by Dr. Joseph Lo- 
vell, Surgeon General of the United States' Army, have 
been introduced, with his general observations upon the 
same. They are compiled from the records kept at the 
various military posts. The climate of Philadelphia has 
been established by the results of the observations made 
by Mr. Reuben Haines, at his residence in Germantown, 
six miles from Philadelphia; the great care which Mr. 
Haines bestows upon his observations makes them a fit 
term of comparison for all others. The introduction of 
these tables has superseded the necessity of recording the 
variations of temperature observed by our party; they 
were noted principally by Mr. Seymour. 

It may be proper, however, to state, that, valuable as 

Vol. I. 1| 


are the results contained in the meteorological tables, they 
can only be considered as approximations; because an uni- 
form method of making observations has not yet been 
adopted. Those who are conversant with thermometrical 
observations, know what influence the situation in which 
the instrument is exposed, and the materials of which it is 
constructed, exercise upon the results which it indicates — 
and how guarded we ought to be in adopting comparisons 
made with different instruments, and placed in different 
situations. Of the influence of the materials, the party had 
an opportunity of convincing themselves, by placing two 
of Mr. Keating's thermometers in the same situation with 
that of the surgeon at Fort St. Anthony. The latter in- 
strument consisted of a glass tube attached to a brass plate, 
on which the graduation was marked ; one of Mr. Kea- 
ting's was known to be a good instrument ; it had been made 
in Paris and had its division on a slip of paper enclosed in a 
glass tube: the other thermometer was a small pocket one, 
made by Mr. Fisher of Philadelphia, and was provided 
witli an ivory scale. The usual exposure of the surgeon's 
thermometer was to the south-west. The two others were 
placed close to his. The results are indicated in the fol- 
lowing table. 




July 4, at noon, . . - - 



99° F. 

Do. 3 o'clock, P. M. - 




Do. 8 do. do. 




July 8, 4 do. do. 

- 119 



This proved, that when exposed to the direct rays of the 
sun, or to their reflection by the parade ground, the ther- 
mometer with the brass plate was uniformly ten degrees 
higher than that made entirely of glass, though at other 
times it stood at the same elevation. At the time these 
observations were made, the surgeon was absent. At Fort 


St. Anthony the thermometer was exposed to the south- 
west; at other posts, we have seen it facing the east; 
sometimes the instruments were protected from, at other 
times they were exposed to, the rays of the sun : there 
can be no doubt that some variations must arise from these 
causes; and we think it therefore desirable, in order to 
give the greatest value to the observations made at all the 
garrisons in the United States, that the surgeons should be 
provided, at the public expense, with instruments of uni- 
form and approved construction; and that the observations 
should be made under circumstances as nearly similar as 
the great diversity in the situations of their posts will ad- 
mit. Notwithstanding the variations produced by the 
causes to which we have alluded, we consider these tables 
as being very interesting, inasmuch as they afford the first 
comparative results upon the temperature of the United 
States in general, embracing an immense extent of coun- 
try, and including great diversities of climate. 

We deem it but fair to state that the observations which 
Messrs. Say and Keating made, concerning the manners, 
&c. of the Indian tribes which they met, were greatly fa- 
cilitated by the valuable notes furnished to them by the 
American Philosophical Society, and which were chiefly 
prepared by Peter S. Duponceau, Esquire, one of the Vice 
Presidents of the Society, Professor Robert Walsh, jun. one 
of the Secretaries, and by Dr. Samuel Brown,* Professor of 
the Practice of Physic in the Transylvania University. 

* The undersigned begs leave to state, that Dr. Brown's name was 
inadvertently omitted in the Preface to the " Account of an Expedi- 
tion from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains." The gentlemen of that 
party were provided with the same notes which were used on the se- 
cond expedition, and which were in both cases found very valuable. 

T. SAY. 


In conclusion, the compiler has much pleasure in ac- 
knowledging the great obligations under which he lies to 
George Ord, Esquire, one of the Vice Presidents of the 
Academy of Natural Sciences, and one of the Secretaries 
of the American Philosophical Society, for his assistance 
in the preparation of this work. Mr, Ord's perusal of the 
greater part of the manuscript previous to its being put to 
press, has preserved it from many inaccuracies which it 
Avould otherwise have contained. 

W. H. K. 




Depai'ture from Philadelphia. Geolog-y of the AUeghanies. Cum- 
berland Road. Wheeling . . . - . 9 


Zanesville. Salt and Iron Works. Columbus. Piqua. Indian 
Antiquities. Ohio Canals. Fort Wayne - - - 34 


Description of Fort Wayne and its vicinity. Fur trade. Pota- 
watomis ....... 79 


Carey mission-house. Lake Michigan. Chicago - - 139 


Rock rirer. Menomones. Geology of the country west of Lake 
Michigan. Prairie du Chien. Sauks and Foxes - - 172 


Prairie du Chien. Indian remains. Division of tlie pai-ty. Missis- 
sippi. Dacota villages. Fort St. Anthony. Falls. River St. Peter 235 


Geology of the Mississippi. The Expedition ascends the St. 
Peter. Character of the Country. Arrival at Lake Travers 302 


Account of the Dacotas or Sioux Indians. Their divisions into 
tribes. Their numbers, language, manners and customs. Notice 
of Wanotan, principal chief of the Yanktoanan tribe. Descrip- 
tion of the Columbia Fur Company's estabhshment on Lake 
Travers ....... 375 


Map of the Country traversed by the Expedition. 
Plate 1. Wanotan and his son, to face the title page of Vol. I. 

2. Plan of Indian fortifications at Piqua - - Page 56 

3. Heads of Metea, Wennebea, &c. - - . - 90 

4. View of the Maiden's Rock on Lake Pepin - - 284 

5. Dacota and Chippewa songs - - - - . 438 

6. View of Lake Travers, to face the title page of Vol. II. 

7. Killing of a buffalo near Red river - - - 22 

8. View of Indian lodges, &c. at Camp Monroe - - 48 

9. View of the Slave Falls on Winnepeek river - - 99 

10. View of the Upper Falls of Winnepeek river - 100 

11. View of the Lake of the Woods from Cosse's island 109 

12. View of the Falls of Kakabikka on the Kamanatekwoya 138 

13. View of the north shore of Lake Superior - - 185 

14. Shells, &c. 254 

15. Shells 264 





Departure from Philadelphia. Geology of the Allegha- 
nies. Cumberland Road. Wheeling. 

THE success which attended the expedition to the 
Rocky Mountains, and the important information which 
it imparted concerning the nature of the valley drained by 
the Missouri and its tributaries, of which nothing was 
Jknown but what had been observed by Lewis and Clarke, 
induced the government of the United States to continue 
its endeavours to explore the unknown wilds within its 
limits. The first object which appeared to it deserving of 
investigation was the district of country bounded by the 
Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Northern Boundary of 
the United States. 

This triangular section includes about three hundred 
miles of longitude and seven hundred of latitude. Governor 
Cass had, on his late expedition, explored the southern 
shore of Lake Superior to the mouth of St. Louis river, 
and the water communication between Fond du Lac and 
the Mississippi, which river he ascended to the Upper 
Red Cedar or Cassina Lake, and then descended to the 
mouth of the Wisconsan. By this journey much light wars 

Vol, I. 2* 


thrown upon the history of the Upper Mississippi, which 
was previously known only through the fascinating, but 
imperfect, and in many instances, fabulous accounts of old 
travellers, and through the hasty observations of the late 
General, (then Lieut.) Pike, an officer whose zeal made 
him overlook difficulties which would have arrested a less 
hardy explorer, but who unfortunately was not provided 
with the means of making accurate observations. 

All the later travellers who had visited the Upper Mis- 
sissippi concurred in mentioning a river, discovered at the 
end of the seventeenth century, and known by the name 
of the St. Peter. This river, which discharges itself into 
the Mississippi at a short distance below the Falls of St. 
Anthony, had not been visited by any traveller but Car- 
ver, whose account of it, published about the year 1778, 
contains many circumstances which might induce us to 
question the accuracy of his report. 

The extent of the fur trade carried on by the British and 
American trading companies in that part of the country, 
the report of the easy communication between the head of 
the St. Peter and that of the Red River, whose waters 
running into Lake Winnepeek finally empty themselves 
into Hudson's Bay, and the various contradictory reports 
of the quality of the soil and the nature of the country on 
Red River, resulting from the conflicting interests of the 
two rival British companies, made it an object of interest 
to our government, to obtain correct information upon the 
country which lies on the St. Peter and the Red River to 
the 49th parallel of north latitude, as well as to ascertain the 
nature of the country along our, as yet unsurveyed, northern 

Accordingly, it was determined in the spring of 1823, 
^' by the Executive, that an expedition be immediately 


fitted out for exploring the river St. Peter's and the coun- 
try situated on the northern boundary of the United States 
between the Red River of Hudson's Bay and Lake Su- 

The command of the expedition was intrusted to Major 
S. H. Long, and he received orders from the War Depart- 
ment, dated April 25, 1823, of which the following is an 
extract : — 

" The route of the expedition will be as follows : — com- 
mencing at Philadelphia, thence proceeding to Wheeling 
in Virginia, thence to Chicago via Fort Wayne, thence to 
Fort Armstrong or Dubuque's Lead Mines, thence up the 
Mississippi to Fort St. Anthony, thence to the source of 
the St. Peter's river, thence to the point of intersection be- 
tween Red River and the forty-ninth degree of north lati- 
tude, thence along the northern boundary of the United 
States to Lake Superior, and thence homeward by the 

" The object of the expedition is to make a general sur- 
vey of the country on the route pointed out, together with 
a topographical description of the same, to ascertain the 
latitude and longitude of all the remarkable points, to 
examine and describe its productions, animal, vegetable, 
and mineral ; and to enquire into the character, customs, 
&c. of the Indian tribes inhabiting the same."* 

The advanced state of the season admitting of no delay, 
the necessary preparations for the expedition were hastily 
made, and the party left Philadelphia on the 30th of April 
— consisting of Stephen H. Long, Major United States' 

• Reference was also made to the insti'uctions which were issued by 
the War Department at tlie commencement of the Expedition to the 
Rocky Mountains, an extract of which is inserted in the Journal of 
that expedition. 


Topographical Engineers, commanding the Expedition— 
Thomas Sav, Zoologist and Antiquary — William H. 
Keating, Mineralogist and Geologist — Samuel Seymour, 
Landscape Painter and Designer, Messrs. Say and Kea- 
ting were likewise appointed joint literary journalists to the 
expedition, and charged with the collecting of the requisite 
information concerning the names, numbers, manners, cus- 
toms, &c. of the Indian tribes on the route.* 

The party travelled in light carriages from Phila- 
delphia to Wheeling, where they disposed of them and 

* Lieut. Andrew Talcott of the United States' Topographical Engi- 
neers, had been appointed second in command of the expedition, and 
was to have assisted the commander in the astronomical and topographi- 
cal department, but his services being required in another direction, 
James Edwahd Colhoux was appointed astronomer and assistant topo- 
grapher, and leaving the City of Washington, proceeded to Columbus, 
(Ohio,) where he joined the party on the 20th of May. 

Dr. Ebwiu James, Botanist, & the Expedition to the Rocky Moun- 
tains, and Surgeon in the United States' army, had been appointed 
botanist, geologist, and physician to the expedition. In pursuance of 
which, orders were sent to him at Albany, where he then was, to join 
the party at Wheeling or Columbus, and as it was apprehended that 
he might have already left that place on Lis way to Bellefontaine on 
the Mississippi, (to which post he had been previously ordered,) letters 
were written with a view to intercept him, but which unfortunately 
did not reach him in season, and at the time when the party passed 
through Wheeling he was in Pittsburg, where he remained until it 
was too late for him to overtake them. By tliis unfortunate misunder- 
standing the expedition was deprived of the serA'ices of this active offi- 
cer. An apprehension that some unforeseen event might prevent Dr. 
James from joining the expedition, induced the commanding officer to 
obtain a division of the services allotted to him, and the appointment 
of Mr. Keating to the geological department, while the botanical was 
reserved for Dr. James. It continued vacant during the expedition, a 
circumstance which was much to be regretted. Mr Say undertook 
however to collect such plants as might appear to him interesting, but 
with that diffidence with which a man will attend to a task with which 
he does not profess to be conversant. 


purchased horses in exchange. This part of the journey was 
performed in eleven days. The usual route through Lan- 
caster, Columbia, York, and Gettysburg, was travelled. 
Here they left the Pittsburg turnpike road and reached 
Hagerstown in Maryland by a cross road ; from Hagers- 
town they continued along the Maryland turnpike road to 
Cumberland, where it unites with the national road, upon 
which they travelled to Wheeling. 

From Philadelphia to Wheeling, the Geologist has an 
opportunity of observing almost every formation, from the 
old primitive to the coal strata. On leaving Philadelphia, 
the primitive soon disappears, and is replaced by the tran- 
sition limestone, which is of a blue colour, very much in- 
termixed with quartz in veins running through the mass. 
There are also patches of white limestone which are ob- 
served in sundry places, and which being of a highly crys- 
talline character, might almost induce us to rank this lime- 
stone as primitive. 

We find occasionally breaking through the limestone, 
hills composed of amphibolic rocks ; this accident is more 
frequent as we approach the Brandywine. These hills are 
very readily discernible from the undulations of the lime- 
stone country, by the difference in their outward form, 
which in the limestone hills is mammillary, constituting 
low and rounded swells ; while the amphibolic hills are 
steep, and covered with a wilder vegetation. Beyond Lan- 
caster the rocks assume a slaty appearance, which increased 
as we approached the Susquehanna. At Columbia we had 
an opportunity of observing the rock as it is laid bare in 
the bed of the river. It there appears to be the red sandstone, 
and is that mentioned by Mr. Maclure in his observations 
on the geology of the United States. It constitutes part 
of a red sandstone formation, which crosses through the 


states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Vii - 
ginia. This formation extends in a general north-easterly 
direction. The rock appears to be nearly horizontally stra- 
tified, but from the slight inclination which it presents to 
the north, the strata are presumed to extend in a north- 
east and south-west direction. 

The limestone and red sandstone, with its accompanying 
red slate, alternately appear on the west side of the Sus- 
quehanna. The limestone is generally found in the val- 
leys, and the sandstone upon the acclivities of the hills, 
which are generally crowned with small patches of trap. 
This rock occurs, however, only upon the higher hills, 
where it seems to have protected the sandstone from de- 

On approaching Millerstown, the country assumes a 
more broken appearance ; the limestone ceases, and indica- 
tions of crystallization are visible in the rocks. Millers- 
town, (sometimes called Fairfield,) is situated on the east- 
ern side, and at no great distance of that ridge which is 
generally called the South mountain, and which may be 
considered as the easternmost of the parallel ridges, which 
constitute the great chain of Alleghany mountains, at least 
in the southern part of Pennsylvania. In the vicinity of 
this place, there are masses of a calcareous breccia, in every 
respect similar to that found on the Potomac, and which 
has acquired of late a well-merited celebrity, on account of 
its having been used for the beautiful columns which adorn 
the interior of the Capitol, in the City of Washington. 
This breccia, which is too well known to require descrip- 
tion, consists of fragments of limestone of very many kinds, 
differing in texture, colour, &c. all imbedded in a calcare- 
ous cement. Some of these fragments have a fine sacca- 
roidal or subsaccaroidal grain, while others are compact. 


There are also fragments of white quartz intermixed with 
those of limestone. The breccia appears to form partial 
deposits in the coves or valley basins of that vicinity. 

In the neighbourhood of this town there are numerous 
indications of the existence of large deposits of copper. The 
ores of this metal have been found in many places, and 
excavations were commenced as far back as the year 1798. 
Some of the ore obtained at this place was sent to England, 
where it is said to have been worked to advantage. An 
attempt was made last year to resume the operations, but 
with no great success. The want of a person qualified to 
determine as to the best spots at which to commence the 
excavations, may be considered as the principal obstacle 
existing at present to the success of these works. The ore 
hitherto extracted is not sufficiently rich to warrant works to 
any great extent, but some specimens which were analysed 
last year in Mr. Keating's laboratory in the University of 
Pennsylvania, yielded as much as thirty per cent. That the 
smelting of this ore could be made profitable, if a sufficiency 
of it were obtained, appears from the circumstance, that a 
ton of the ore which was sent to Centre county, to be re- 
duced at one of the iron works, yielded about three hun- 
dred weight of metal. 

The ore discovered in this vicinity varies, but is for the 
most part a mixture of the oxidule, (red oxide,) with the 
green carbonate, the hydrate, the copper pyrites, the sul- 
phuret of copper, and gray copper ore. The whole of it 
appears very much intermixed with siliceous matter. 
These masses of copper ore are in a talcose slate — they are to 
be observed every where. Doubts exist as to the manner 
in which they lie, the sides of the excavations had sunk in, 
so much, at the time the party passed through, that it was 
not in their power to determine that question ; from the in- 


formation which was received, it would appear probable, 
that the ore has been worked, in one place at least, on a 
vein running nearly east and west. The rock, as has been 
observed, is a talcose slate, which in some places appears to 
be penetrated with copper pyrites. These mines all lay in 
a hill known by the name of Jack's mountain ; upon the 
top of which a porphyritic rock occurs. The crystals are 
of feldspar ; the cement is of a red colour, and appears to 
be compact feldspar, ( pett^osilex palaiopetre of de Saus- 
sure ;) besides the crystals of feldspar, there are some of 
quartz and probably of mica. This porphyry appears 
principally upon the east side of the mountain towards the 
top — no indications of stratification were observable. The 
porphyry constitutes probably a subordinate formation in 
the talcose slate which reappears on the crest of the hill, 
and is there very abundantly studded with small crystals, 
which are presumed to be epidote. In descending on the 
west side of Jack's mountain, the blue limestone reappears 
very distinctly stratified, the strata running north-east and 
south-west, it dips in most places about 80° to the south- 
east. The dip varies however, being only in some places 
about 30°, as may be very distinctly observed in the exca- 
vations made for cellars, &c. at Hagerstown. 

This town is pleasantly situated in Washington county, 
Maryland, on the great turnpike road which leads from 
Baltimore to Cumberland. We saw here specimens of the 
white marble which occurs at Boonsborough, about ten 
miles south-east of Hagerstown. It is said to exist there in 
considerable quantities on the west side of the South moun- 
tain not far from its foot. It was at first mistaken for gyp- 
sum by the people in the neighbourhood, and very abun- 
dantly applied to manure their lands, and it was only after 
its inefficacy had been demonstrated by experience, that 


its true nature was ascertained. This marble is of the finest 
white, with a subsaccaroidal grain, and may become of 
great use in buildings ; it is however too fine-grained 
for statuary purposes. An analysis of it was made with a 
view to ascertain its purity ; it was found to consist en- 
tirely of carbonate of lime, with little or no foreign admix- 
ture. It certainly belongs to the primitive formation, and 
cori'oborates the opinion we had formed at Millerstown, 
that the primitive rocks reappear to the west of the red 
sandstone formation ; a circumstance not stated in the geo- 
logical observations of Mr. Maclure. It is probable, how- 
ever, that the appearance of the primitive there is but par- 
tial, and confined to certain localities, where it rises through 
the incumbent strata of transition rocks. There is an exten- 
sive cave or grotto in the blue limestone, about seven 
miles to the east of Hagerstown, which has not yet been 
fully explored. 

From Hagerstown to Cumberland the mountains are 
numerous, and the works which have been executed for the 
road have in many places laid the rock bare, so as to make 
its structure apparent. We there see a great variety in the 
nature of the rocks, which however are observed uniformly 
to belong to the transition or secondary ; the former being 
observed near to Hagerstown, and passing gradually into 
the latter, which occur very distinctly in the vicinity of 
Cumberland. At first, the blue limestone, with a consi- 
derable, though varying, dip to the south-east, is seen 
gradually passing into a slaty rock, which finally predo- 
minates, and is a transition clay-slate, probably the Grau- 
wacken-shiefer of German mineralogists. This however 
is found in parallel directions, alternating, as is believed, 
with this limestone, on a distance of several miles. After 
which, as we approach the North mountain, a sandstone of 

Vol. I. 3* 


apparently very ancient formation, and which we feel in- 
clined to refer to the red sandstone formation, occurs. It 
frequently acquires a reddish colour, and being in great 
measure composed of quartz, assumes in some places the 
appearance of an eisenkiesel. Its stratification is very dis- 
tinct, extending from north-east to south-west and dipping 
to the north-west. This stratification is not visible oa 
both sides of the mountain. The eastern slope being car- 
ried upon the crests of the strata, which are very brittle, a 
sort of soil is soon formed from the fragments of the rock, 
which entirely conceals it from view, but on the western 
slope it is very well marked. On the summit of the hill, 
numberless fragments of trap rock are strewed in every 
direction. To the west of this ridge we again strike the 
clay-slate, which continues along the valley of the Potomac, 
being interrupted by the appearance of the blue limestone 
in the traverse valleys of the Big and Little Conolaway 
Creeks. This slate differs very much from that described 
aliove as constituting the North mountain. The latter is a 
quartzose, the former an argillaceous slate ; and the differ- 
ence of dip is sufficient to distinguish them. 

This clay-slate is formed of alternate layers of a very 
shistose mass and a more compact one. The layers vary 
in thickness, many of them however not exceeding a few 
inches. In the more compact layers there are indications 
of a globular structure consisting of concentric shales. 

The slate is soon succeeded by a sandstone, which 
constitutes several of the mountains known by the local 
appellations of the Sideling, Town-hill, &c. It is not 
possible to determine with precision the spot at which the 
sandstone of coal formations commences, indeed we think 
it probable that no such limit exists in nature. The pro- 
cess may have continued without any marked interruption. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 19 

from the time at which the transition formations were pro- 
duced, until the coal and its accompanying strata had com- 
menced to be formed. We observe, in most cases, that 
the slate and reddish sandstone occupy the base of the 
higher mountains, and constitute the whole of the lower 
ones ; while the crest of the high hills is formed of a sand- 
stone which in every respect resembles that of the coal for- 
mations. There seems likewise to be a difference in the 
organic remains contained in these rocks, for in the lower 
ones there are but vegetable impressions, (chiefly stems,) 
while in the superior strata, shells belonging to the genus 
Terebratula or Productus, are very frequently met with. 

We had an opportunity of ascertaining that the slate 
which occupies the whole valley of the Potomac, in this 
district, varies in its dip ; sometimes inclining to the south- 
east, and at other times to the north-west. In one spot we 
observed the change in the dip produced by a very gentle 
undulation, without any derangement or interruption in 
the stratification. Overlaying this slate, there is a lime- 
stone of a blueish colour, presenting signs of organic re- 
mains, and constituting Martin's Hill, which is one of the 
highest in the range. This limestone appears at first to be 
horizontally stratified, after which it assumes an inclined 
position, and on ascending becomes nearly vertical, while 
the top of the hill is crowned with large masses of lime- 
stone, quite free from stratification, and presenting only a 
very irregular division. Upon the summit of the mountain 
the limestone is cavernous, and contains many organic re- 
mains, among which the Terebratula and Productus are 
chiefly discernible. It is filled with veins of crystalline car- 
bonate of lime, which in some places assumes regular forms. 

From Cumberland to Wheeling the geology of the 
country is much simplified. The coal formation predomi- 


nates without any interruption. It consists merely of al- 
ternating strata of slate-clay, sandstone, limestone, and coal. 
Of these the sandstone is the most abundant ; it is generally 
fine-grained, composed principally of fragments of quartz, 
connected by a siliceous cement. In some cases there is 
much mica, and at times a little feldspar, so as to consti- 
tute in local formations a regenerated granite not unlike 
that observable in the coal basin of St. Etienne in France, 
but these are rather mineralogical curiosities, and can 
scarcely be considered as forming a feature in the geology 
of this part of the route. The stratification is nearly hori- 
zontal, and is very distinct wherever the slate-clay is found, 
but wn^re this rock is deficient, the sandstone loses its 
stratified character, or at least ceases to present it in a dis- 
tinct manner. 

The sandstone frequently alternates with the slate-clay, 
and it is not uncommon to observe a real passage of the 
one into the other ; in some cases, as in the neighbourhood 
of Cumberland, the slate-clay is very rare. 

The limestone is compact, of a grayish or brownish co- 
lour, very argillaceous, emitting a strong argillaceous 
odour when breathed upon ; it occurs in parallel stratifica- 
tion with the above-mentioned rocks, and exists very 
abundantly all over the country, where it may be seen in 
many places alternating with the other strata ; but we know 
of none where this can be so well observed as on the west 
bank of the Monongahela, in the neighbourhood of 
Brownsville, in those places where the road has been dug 
into the hill. 

The coal has not yet been found to the eastward of 
Cumberland, but west of this town it occurs almost every 
where; it is found in beds which vary in thickness from 
an inch to several, sometimes ten, feet. It appears that 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 21 

these beds extend over the whole country, for the same 
may be traced for miles without any sensible alteration in 
its appearance. There are various beds at different levels 
and of different qualities, and it is from this circumstance, 
probably, that the coal of one neighbourhood is considered 
preferable to that of another, because they work upon beds 
at different levels ; yet it may be also that in some cases 
they work upon one and the same bed, the quality of 
which may be improved or impaired from accidental cir- 
cumstances. Small excavations are made in numberless 
places so as to answer the wants of the consumers. It is 
generally obtained at the mouth of the pit for five dollars 
per hundred bushels, and is sometimes sold as low as four 
cents per bushel. In the town of Cumberland it usually 
sells for about ten dollars per hundred bushels. 

The abundance of timber in that district, and the thin- 
ness of the population, have not yet rendered coal the ex- 
clusive fuel used, and it was not until we approached the 
vicinity of Wheeling that we found coal exclusively used 
in lime and brick kilns. 

The most common disposition of the strata presents the 
sandstone as the lowest member of the formation, above it 
is the coal, which is itself overlayed by the slate, and the 
limestone covers the whole, and becomes itself a substratum 
for a superior bed of sandstone, &c. 

The only substances of any importance which accom- 
pany these rocks, are iron pyrites, and probably the white 
pyrites. These minerals are so abundant throughout the 
rocks, that they in many places produce a very rapid de- 
composition and destruction, and unfit them for many uses 
of domestic economy ; thus many of the beds of coal which 
would otherwise prove valuable, are so completely pervad- 
ed with pyrites that it is impossible to use them as fuel in 


private houses. This will probably ever prevent their be- 
ing applied to metallurgical purposes. The pyrites not 
only penetrate the coal and its accompanying slate, but 
they extend even into the sandstone, to which they in 
many cases impart a tendency to decomposition, so great 
as to render it unfit for use as a building stone. To the 
universal diffusion of this mineral we must attribute the 
circumstance that the country about Wheeling abounds in 
mineral springs, strongly charged with sulphates of iron and 
alumine. Indeed it is a matter of considerable surprise, that 
with such an abundance of vitriolic matter at hand, and with 
an inexhaustible store of coal in immediate contact with 
it, no attempt has as yet been made to derive advantage 
from it, by converting it into green vitriol, alum, and 
sulphate of alumine. No doubt can be entertained of 
the facility with which this might be effected, and of the 
great advantage which would attend it. There is no place 
we think, where chemical manufactures of every kind 
could thrive to such advantage as at Wheeling. With coal 
mines even in the very heart of the town, with a constant 
and never-failing navigation, by means of which the pro- 
ducts of its industry may be sent to a certain market, back- 
ed by a rich agricultural district to support the excess of 
its population. Wheeling seems destined to rise to great 
affluence, becoming in a manner the emporium through 
which all the commerce between the east and west must 

We were much disappointed at not finding in the rocks 
as many organic impressions as we had expected ; we could 
discover no shells in the rocks, though we have reason to 
believe that the limestone must in some places abound in 

In the sandstone there are many vegetable impressions. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 23 

apparently of palms. The vegetable matter had completely 
disappeared, leaving only an impression, which, although 
very distinct, was not sufficiently well characterised to 
allow of a determination of its nature. This sandstone is 
of a grayish colour, middling-sized grain, and appears to 
be very micacious in some parts, while in others it consists 
of quartz nearly pure. The impressions are not very 
large, seldom more than ten or twelve inches long, and lay 
parallel to the stratification of the rock. At the hill over 
which the national road passes, in the immediate vici- 
nity of Wheeling, the sandstone is about fifty or sixty feet 
in height, divided into layers of variable thickness : over 
this is a stratum of coal eight feet thick. In this coal, as 
well as in the accompanying slate, there are many remains 
of vegetables converted into pure charcoal, and entirely 
free from bitumen. These though numerous, are too im- 
perfect to allow of determining the species to which they 
belong. This bed, as well as the other parallel ones, when 
not too much intermixed with pyrites, is worked by galle- 
ries running into the hill. The works are very carelessly 
carried on and the waste of coal is great. The propping 
is very rough and unsafe, frequent accidents occur from 
this circumstance. The ventilation is not understood, and 
many works have been abandoned from the foulness of the 
air, no attempt being made to correct it. No inconvenience 
has as yet been experienced from inflammable gases; but the 
carbonic acid and the gaseous oxide of carbon are very 

This bed of coal is separated from a superior one by a 
bed of slate-clay of about three feet in thickness, which 
from its unsoundness is always worked at the same time 
as the upper and lower beds of coal ; although the upper 
coal be but six or eight inches thick and of a very inferior 


quality ; but in this manner a safer roof is obtained for the 

The limestone is considerably affected by the pyrites, 
and being in some places, as we were informed, magnesian, 
it gives rise to sulphate of magnesia, which might also 
probably be worked to advantage. The pyritous beds of 
limestone are only such as come into contact with the coal, 
the superior strata are said to be quite free from it. 

The only circumstance worth mentioning concerning 
the coal mines is, that they have frequently been on fire, 
and that there are many indications of conflagrations at a 
more remote period, probably caused by the spreading of 
the fires lighted at the surface by the Indians to facilitate 
their hunting. From these conflagrations the slate is in 
many places observed to be quite altered in its appearance, 
so as to resemble porcelain jasper in its characters. 

No iron ore has been found in this neighbourhood, and 
we looked in vain, for indications of the argillaceous car- 
bonate of iron, so usually to be met with in coal fields. We 
were informed that at some distance from the town, large 
quantities of iron ore had been discovered, but which from 
the characters ascribed to it we were induced to believe 
were not the argillaceous carbonate, but the oxide and 
hydrate of iron. 

Having thus presented in one connected view, the vari- 
ous geological observations which were made on this 
part of the route, we return to notice the other interesting 
circumstances which attracted the attention of our party. 

The route which we travelled is far more interesting to 
the general observer than that to Pittsburg, the country 
along the Potomac offers many very fine views, among which 
none is more remarkable than that from Sideling-hill. The 
ranges of mountains as they then present themselves, strike 

SOURCE OF §T. Peter's river. 25 

the traveller in the most favourable manner. The freshness 
of the vegetation is peculiarly grateful to the eye in the com- 
mencement of May, and contrasts beautifully with the 
deep blue of the distant mountains. At times the road winds 
along the valley; and again, it crosses the ridges, offering 
the greatest variety of scenery and affording to the artist 
many views worthy of his pencil ; for while the bottoms 
abound in rich and smiling prospects, the mountainous 
parts arrest the attention, by their bold and gigantic fea- 
tures, and by the antique forests which cover them. 

The season in which we commenced our journey, was 
not very favourable to the proper display of vegetation. 
The frost had not yet subsided in the mountainous dis- 
tricts, and the very heavy rains which had fallen in great 
abundance this spring, had retarded all the products of the 
earth to an unusual degree, but the fine blossoms of the dog- 
wood tree, ( Cornus Jlorida,) which every where met the 
eye, amply compensated for a want of other flowers. 

Art has done little to add to the charms of the natural 
scenery, except in the construction of a road. The question 
of the propriety of opening, at the national expense, a com- 
munication between the Ohio and Potomac, had been so 
much the subject of discussion, as to make us desirous of 
observing the mode in which it had been executed, and the 
too favourable idea, which we are, perhaps, always led to 
form, of what carries with it a national character, together 
with an account of the immense expenditure incurred in 
the making of this road, had prepared us for a magnificent 
work. We were therefore somewhat disappointed at the 
state in which we found it, as it is very inferior in execu- 
tion to the Maryland road, which connects with it. There is 
in the whole of the national road but little to justify the high 
eulogiums which have been passed upon it. The immense 

Vol. I. 4 


expense, amounting to nearly two millions of dollars, 
(^1,995,000,) which has attended its construction, can be ac- 
counted for but by a reference to the difficulty of making a 
road across high and steep ridges, which perhaps had not been 
sufficiently explored, to ascertain the lowest levels and the 
most accessible points ; and, as we think, to the injudicious 
manner in which the original contracts were given out. We 
were credibly informed, that in most cases the original un- 
dertakers did nothing themselves, but portion out their con- 
tracts to a second set of contractors, and in some cases it 
happened that the third or fourth set alone performed the 
work, the other contractors sweeping away immense sums 
without any labour.* Had the route been properly divided 
into small lots, and these only given to such as were really 
qualified to execute the work, no doubt can exist that a 
considerable saving would have been obtained. The letting 
it out into large sections had the disadvantage of making 
it an object of speculation, and of alarming many who 
would otherwise have offered themselves as contractors. 

Another cause of the great expense which attended it, 
Avas the location of its western end in the valley of Wheel- 
ing creek, instead of carrying it over the high land. Some 
difference of opinion exists in the country as to the pro- 
priety of this selection. We were informed by many, that 
this location had been made, rather with a view to benefit 
private interests, than with a careful regard for the public 
good. Certain it is, that the number of bridges which were 
required in the route through the valley, added very con- 
siderably to the expense of the road. There are no less 
than seventeen bridges over the main creek, within thir- 
teen miles of this valley road. It is but justice to observe, 

* One of these is said to have accumulated in this manner a fortune 
of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. 


that the bridges are, for the most part, substantial, well 
built, and even elegant in their construction.* A circum- 
stance which enhanced much the expense of the valley 
road, was the necessity of propping it in many places by 
a stone wall or parapet, amounting in the aggregate to at 
least one-fourth or one-third of the distance. The road 
has, however, along this route, the advantage of being car- 
ried almost on a dead level, and in the other parts, where 
it crosses the mountains, it must be acknowledged that the 
ascents are better regulated than on any other road we have 
ever travelled. But a great defect which prevails throughout 
the whole route, and which we had not expected to meet with, 
is that of using stones of too large a diameter on the road. Af- 
ter all the improvements which have been, of late years, made 
in this important branch of engineering, and after the very 
just celebrity which the M' Adams' roads have obtained in 

•At the extremity of one of these bridges, a monument has been 
erected by a Mr. Shepherd, one of the principal contractors of this 
road. From an inscription on the monument, we learn that it was 
erected by " Moses and Lydia Shepherd, in honour of Mr. Speaker 
Clay, as a testimony of their gratitude to him, and of their high vene- 
ration for his public and private character." Mr. Clay is known to 
have advocated this undertaking, on the floor of congress, with much 
talent and zeal. There are, we believe, as yet, but few instances of 
monuments erected in our country by private individuals, to comme- 
morate the public services of our statesmen, and we must regret that 
the taste which designed, and the hands which executed this monu- 
ment, were not equal to the liberality which provided for it. We have 
seldom seen a more clumsy attempt at allegory, or a more unfortunate 
introduction of emblematical figures. The inscriptions are also equally 
deficient in taste, in grammatical construction, and in orthography. 
In order to improve its appearance, the stone in itself a beautiful build- 
ing material, has been covered with a wash or paint, which, having 
scaled off from some parts and remained upon others, contributes to 
giVQ it a motley and uncouth appearance. 


England, we had hoped that the suggestions of this able 
engineer on this subject, would have been more closely ad- 
hered to. Whatever may have been the defects or the 
mistakes which attended the location or execution, no 
doubt can exist as to the importance of the work itself, or 
as to the soundness of the policy which led to it. By the 
opening of it, the nation has gained a great deal ; it has as- 
certained the practicability and the expediency of entering 
largely upon a system of internal improvements, the ne- 
cessary consequence of which must be, to unite by closer 
bonds, the distant parts of our vast country ; and of all im- 
provements, none can be more important, than such as tend 
to connect the waters of the Gulf of Mexico with those of 
the Atlantic. Immediately allied to this subject, is the pos- 
sibility of making a water communication between the 
Ohio and Potomac. At a time when, by a broad and liberal 
policy, the executive of the United States has been autho- 
rized to apply to the consideration of this important object, 
the united talents of the civil and military engineers of 
our country, and when a full and able report upon the 
practicability of this connexion may be expected from those 
most competent to decide upon it, we shall be excused from 
embodying here, the imperfect information which a tran- 
sient visit through the country has allowed us to collect. 

We found some interest in that part of the route which 
lies near Smithfield, as being the scene of some of General 
Washington's earliest military operations. The ruins of 
Fort Necessity, constructed at that distressing season, when 
the French troops with their savage allies extended along 
the banks of the Ohio, and oppressed our frontier settle- 
ments, are still to be seen in what are called the Big Mea- 
dows, about fifty miles west of Cumberland. This fort was 
erected in the year 1754, and after having been defended , 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 29 

with great valour, was surrendered in the campaign which 
preceded Braddock's defeat, (Marshall's Life of Washing- 
ton, Vol. ii, p. 9,) and the remains of it still to be traced, 
show that the ditch was inside of the embankment, which 
comports better with Indian warfare.* The fort stands about 
a quarter of a mile to the south-west of the road, and it is 
difficult to trace its outline, but from the obsei^vations we 
made, it would appear as if it had been triangular and 
scarcely one hundred feet in length. It is said that when 
Washington first entered it, his force amounted to six hun- 
dred men, but that having advanced on his march towards 

• We are led to notice this fact more particularly, from the impor- 
tance which Bishop Madison has attached to the circumstance of the 
ditch being inside of the ramparts in most, or perhaps in all the Indian 
remains, which are considered as fortifications. His opinion that these 
works were not of a military nature, appears to us very far from being 
proved. He quotes Livy and Polybius to show us, that in Roman works, 
" the parapet or breastwork was formed of the earth dug out from the 
fosse and thrown up on the side of the camp" — and he further asks, 
*' whether the military art does not require that the ditch should be 
exterior" We do not consider this to be the question at issue. We 
have derived our notions of fortifications from the Romans, and we have 
continued to this day, probably with propriety, to place the ditch out- 
side of the rampart ; but this is no reason why works constructed by 
the Indians for military purposes, may not have had it otherwise. If 
we form our opinion of their notions of the military art, from the traces 
still visible among the Indians, who, if they be not their lineal descen- 
dants, have at least succeeded to them in the inhabitance of that coun- 
try, (and it is more consistent to look to them than to the Romans in 
this case,) we will find that their usual practice is, when apprehensive 
of an attack from an enemy, to make a small excavation, by digging 
up a little earth, which they uniformly throw out in the direction from 
which they apprehend an attack, and then to descend into this hollow 
where they find themselves sheltered from the missile weapons of 
their enemies. (Vide a letter on the supposed fortifications of the 
western country, from Bishop Madison of Virginia to Dr. Barton, Amer. 
Phil. Trans, Vol, vi, i, p. 132.) 


Fort Duqucsne he was abandoned by a considerable pro- 
portion of his men, and this circumstance, together with 
the information which he received, that the French were 
advancing against him with reinforcements, obliged him to 
abandon for the time his contemplated march, and to re- 
turn to Fort Necessity, which he was engaged in repairing 
when the enemy made his appearance. The country in 
the vicinity was probably at that time destitute of timber, 
the growth upon it not being very large. A fine brook 
which flows near it, has retained the name of the unfortu- 
nate general who, in the ensuing campaign paid for his 
rashness by the loss of his life. Indeed, it is said, that the 
remains of General Braddock were interred within two 
miles of this fort, near the old road called Braddock's road, 
and at the spot where he died during the retreat which closed 
this disastrous campaign. 

In this vicinity there is a blowing spring, which is si- 
tuated in an excavation on the side of a hill. The stream 
of air which issues from a crack or crevice in the rock, is 
very considerable, and sufficiently powerful to extinguish 
a candle. By placing our ears near to the crevice we heard, 
very distinctly, the sound of water running under ground, 
probably upon a rocky and unequal bed ; it runs out at a 
short distance lower down. This stream of air is doubtless 
produced by the same cause which is made to operate in 
the construction of the water blasts, used in metallurgy. 
We had no means of collecting and examining the gas 
which escapes, but we had no reason to believe it other 
than atmospheric air. 

This section of our route does not offer to the zoologist 
much subject of observation. The wild animals which 
formerly roved over this part of our country have been 
driven further west, or completely cut off by the advance 


of civilization, and the domestic animals which now occupy 
their place, have nothing to characterize them. We cannot, 
however, omit noticing the extraordinary size and strength 
of the Pennsylvania waggon horse, which yields in these 
particulars to but few breeds. There are several appellations 
by which the different breeds of this useful animal are 
distinguished in Pennsylvania, such as the Conestoga, the 
Chester line, &c. but these are principally of a local im- 
port. The usual height of farm and waggon horses is 
about sixteen hands or five feet four inches, measured 
according to the usual custom. We were credibly informed 
that horses seventeen, seventeen and a half, and even 
eighteen hands high, are by no means rare. A few have been 
known to exceed that size, and we have been told that one, 
the largest ever known in the country, had attained the 
gigantic size of nineteen hands or six feet four inches. A.s 
a proof of the great strength which they sometimes attain, 
it is said that an experiment was once tried in the city of 
Lancaster, which resulted in a single horse's dragging 
around the court-house on the bare pavements, without the 
intervention ofwheels or rollers, two tons of bar iron, which 
had been bundled together for this experiment. 

The town of Wheeling appears to be in a very flourishing 
condition, and the increase in its population has been very 
great, since the completion of the national road. Business has 
taken a new direction ; instead of centering, as it formerly 
did in Pittsburg, it now goes principally to Wheeling, 
which has the advantage of a much more permanent navi- 
gation all the year round. The population amounts at 
present to upwards of two thousand inhabitants. The 
situation of the town is pleasant, the river here is about 
five hundred yards wide, and there is opposite to the town 
a large and beautiful island nearly three-quarters of a mile 


wide. Tlie town is divided into the old and the new, the 
former is built upon a narrow bank, which extends between 
the river and the ridge of hills on the eastern shore; the 
new town is built a little below the old, on the river, and 
has a wider field to expand upon, owing to the junction 
of the lateral valley of Wheeling creek with that of 
the river. We regretted to find brick resorted to as a 
building material, not only in the construction of private 
houses, but even of churches and other public edifices, 
while a beautiful sandstone admirably adapted to the pur- 
poses of architecture, and which might be obtained at a 
very low price, remains unwrought. 

The weather was so unfavourable during the three days 
which we remained here, as to preclude the possibility of 
ascertaining by astronomical observations the latitude and 
longitude of this town. 

In our walks along the banks of the river, which are 
covered with a vast deposit of alluvium, and which present 
in this vicinity at least, no section of rocks, we were struck 
with the immense numberof pebbles partaking of the nature 
of primitive rocks, which are strewed along the surface of 
the ground. They are not, it is true, of a large size, and 
their smooth and rounded surfaces attest that they have 
travelled far from their native sites. In examining our 
imperfect geological maps to endeavour to assign to them 
an origin, we feel at a loss to decide whence they may have 
been brought. We find no primitive formations nearer 
than those on the north side of our great lakes, which, 
from the aspect of the country, may be supposed to have 
given rise by their destruction to these extensive alluvia 
of primitive debris. Among these pebbles, chiefly of gra- 
nite, gneiss, sienite, &c. we observed a rock formed of feld- 
spar, quartz, and handsome crystals of translucent garnets^ 


which appear to be very abundantly disseminated through- 
out the rock.* 

There is in Wheeling a glasshouse, which we visited ; 
the glass made there is very good ; the sand which they use 
is brought down from the banks of the Alleghany, and 
appears to consist of silex nearly pure ; the alkali added is 
principally unwashed ashes. We were somewhat surprised 
at hearing, that the clay used in the manufacture of their 
crucibles was brought from Germany ; indeed we consi- 
der this very improbable, as a clay very well adapted 
to this purpose is found in many parts of the country. 
The atmosphere in the glasshouse was extremely foul, 
owing to the sulphurous vapour disengaged from the coal. 

The hills in the neighbourhood of the town are covered 
with masses of clay, sand, &c. which, as soon as they be- 
come penetrated with moisture, slide along the upper sur- 
face of the rocks, even where their inclination is but small. 
This feature is observable only on the northern slopes, the 
southern are much more abrupt. We were at first induc- 
ed to attribute it to the effect of the winter frosts, but 
Colonel M'Ree, who had examined its appearance with 
care, attributes it principally to the action of moisture, 

•On the banks of the river there were but few shells, and these 
were referrible principally to the Unio praelongus, (Barnes,) and to 
the Unio crassus, and Unio purpureas of Say. Among the land uni- 
valves, Mr. Say observed the following shells, which had been previ- 
ously described by him ; viz. the Helix albolabris, Helix thyroidea. 
Helix alternata. Helix palliata, Helix profunda, Helix tridentata, Helix 
solitaria, Helix inornata. (Vide Nicholson's Cyclopoedia, Amer. Ed. and 
Journal of the Acad. Nat. Sci. of Philadelphia, Vols. 1 and 2.) 

Vol. I. 5* 



Zanesville, Salt and Iron Works. Columbus. Piqua- 
Indian Antiquities. Ohio Canals. Fort JVayne. 

HAVING spent three days in Wheeling, and changed 
our mode of conveyance, in order to accommodate our- 
selves to the state of the roads, rendered almost impassable 
for carriages by the unusual quantity of rain which had 
fallen this spring, we crossed the Ohio in a team-boat, pro- 
pelled by two horses. The river is there divided into two 
branches by the aforementioned island, which is about 
three quarters of a mile wide ; over the first branch of the 
river a team-boat plies constantly, and corresponds with a 
common ferry boat on the other branch. The Ohio road 
is carried along the valley of a rivulet called Indian 
Wheeling, and is rendered extremely unpleasant to tra- 
vel, by the frequent crossings of that brook. It was how- 
ever so bad at that season of the year, that many preferred 
travelling up the bed of the creek to following the road. 
It has been observed by all travellers, that the Ohio runs 
in a valley, the average breadth of which does not exceed 
a mile and a half, the sides being lined by ranges of hills, 
which are generally termed the River Mountains ; these 
vary considerably in height, generally ranging between 
t^ree hundred and five hundred feet. After these are 
ascended, the country is rough, but the hills compara- 
tively are small. These are, however, very steep, probably 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 35 

owing to the nature of the stratification, which is horizon- 
tal throughout the country; for it is a fact, which general 
observation confirms, that those hills, which are composed 
of rocks horizontally stratified, are generally steepest in 
their ascents, and present a tabular form at their summit. 
The coal formation of Wheeling is very extensive; the 
exact limits of this coal basin have not yet been traced with 
accuracy, but as far as we are able to judge from the infor- 
mation obtained upon a country as yet but thinly settled, 
and in which natural science has been little attended to, 
it would appear that it probably reaches as far to the 
north-east as Lawrenceville, in Tioga County, Pennsylva- 
nia, and perhaps may be considered as connected with 
that lately discovered in Tioga County, (New York,) near 
the head of Seneca Lake. The coal found at that place 
is, as we were informed, abundant, of an excellent qua- 
lity, and well characterised as bituminous. The eastern 
limit may be taken to be formed by the main ridge of 
the Alleghany mountains. Upon its western and south- 
ern limits we are not prepared to decide, but it is proba- 
ble that its breadth bears but a small proportion to its 

At Zanesville we had an opportunity to observe the 
geological features of the country to advantage. The bed 
of the Muskingum is deeply incased, and the stratification 
is exposed for a considerable distance. It there presents 
the same features as in the vicinity of Wheeling, but the 
order of stratification and the character of the rocks are 
somewhat different. 

A very fine break displays the following section : com- 
mencing at the lowest rocks, there is a sandstone of a toler- 
ably coarse grain, filled with remains of vegetable sub- 
stances converted into charcoal, in some cases partaking of 


a bituminous character, so that a gradual and invisible, but 
certain, transition from the charcoal to coal manifestly takes 
place. These remains are, however, as far as we saw them, 
so much impaired as to make it impossible to assign to 
them any particular place in fossil botany, though of their 
vegetable origin no doubt can exist. In remarking upon 
their position, we ascertained, that they generally lay in 
the direction of the stratification, very seldom intersecting 
it. Besides fragments of charcoal and coal, we found im- 
pressions of plants, some of which were tolerably well cha- 
racterised. In one instance a jjhyllolithos, (Martin,) was 
collected in a very good state of preservation. 

The sandstone in a few cases assumes a somewhat mi- 
caceous appearance, consequently a more slaty structure, 
and then resembles that hereafter to be noticed. The rock 
immediately superincumbent is presumed to be a bed of 
clay-slate ; though the junction being concealed and the re- 
lative positions of the rock being judged of only by the 
general level of the country, it was not in our power to de- 
cide in a positive manner whether or not there were any 
other strata interposed between the two. 

This slate-clay is very brittle, and easily divisible ; on 
exposure to the atmosphere it readily crumbles, and lays 
open to view concentric globules of argillaceous carbonate 
of iron, in every respect similar to those observed in other 
coal formations. 

The iron ore is found in rounded or oval masses, some- 
what flattened in the direction of the stratification ; it ap- 
pears to be quite abundant, and, we doubt not, if made the 
object of an exploration, would be found sufficiently so to 
justify the erection of iron works on a large scale. 

Resting upon the slate-clay, we observed a bed seve- 
ral feet in thickness, composed of a dark gray limestone 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 37 

very compact in texture, but presenting at the same time 
a slaty structure, and divisible in layers parallel to the stra- 
tification. This limestone is replete with organic remains, 
chiefly belonging to the Encrinite, Terebratula, Productus, 
&c. among which we also found a shell belonging to the 
genus Trochus or Turbo. These shells are very abundant 
in the rock ; they are found, as far as we could judge, irre- 
gularly disseminated, and adhering so closely that it is im- 
possible to separate them, or to divide the mass into speci- 
mens which shall exhibit their characters uninjured; but 
being for the most part formed of calcspar, they resist de- 
composition better than the compact limestone in which 
they are imbedded, and from this circumstance the best 
specimens are found protruding from the exposed surfaces 
of the rock. 

This bed offered great interest to the two naturalists of 
the expedition, the one as zoologist, the other as geologist. 
Mr. Say thought he beheld in it the confirmation of an 
opinion which he had long entertained, that, of all fossils, 
the Encrinus is that which resists decomposition best. 
Without pretending to dispute the correctness of the ob- 
servation, as a general one, Mr. Keating thought that the 
present instance did not confirm it, and that there were 
many spots where the bivalves, (Terebratula and Productus,) 
indicated a greater degree of hardness and solidity, by re- 
sisting the effects of the weather better than the Encrini. 
This we state as being perhaps the only time when the 
two naturalists differed in their observation of the same 
fact, when coming under the notice of both. 

Upon this limestone lay a bed of coal, of about two feet 
in thickness, and apparently of a very good quality; some 
works of no great amount were undertaken here not long 
since, which are unattended to at present. We were told, 


however, that in other parts of the country this coal is 
worked to advantage. It is the usual fuel in the town, be- 
ing worth from four to six cents per bushel. 

It is covered by a bed of slaty rock, which in some cases 
assumes a decided appearance of slate-clay, and in other 
points runs into a micaceous sandstone, not unlike the mi- 
caceous parts of that described as the lowest stratum visible 
in this vicinity ; like the former it is filled with vegetable 
impressions of a very undecided character. 

Over this slaty rock another bed of limestone occurs, the 
characters of which, resembling in every respect those of 
the stratum under the coal, require no further description. 
The superior bed, as well as the inferior one, is rich in im- 
pressions of Encrinites, Terebratula, Productus, &c. which 
shells retain their pearly lustre, and even in some cases 
their animal matter. 

The limestone is covered with a fine vegetable mould, 
and affords a rich soil, not inferior to any of the limestone 
bottoms of Pennsylvania. We had no means of ascertain- 
ing what rocks lay below the first bed of sandstone ob- 
served in this break, but from what we could discover in 
the bed of the canal then digging in the neighbourhood of 
the town, we believe it to rest upon a sandstone in every 
respect similar to that described in the first chapter as ex- 
isting in the neighbourhood of Wheeling, and we have 
every reason to believe that the same alternation of strata 
which exists there, would be found in like manner here, 
and that if shafts were sunk, inferior strata of coal might 
be reached. 

Zanesville is a pleasant and flourishing town, situated 
at the junction of the Licking creek and Muskingum, 
about ninety miles above the confluence of the Muskingum 
a,nd Ohio. Asa manufacturing town it possesses great ad- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river, 39 

vantages. A dam built across the two streams, a short dis- 
tance above their junction, gives it a command of water 
power which is calculated to set in motion very extensive 
mills and manufactories. It was the observation of these 
natural advantages, that induced the late Mr. Zane* to fix 
upon it as a seat for a town ; the rapid growth of the place 
has raised it to a rank among the most thriving towns in 
the state of Ohio. A number of manufactories have al- 
ready been established there, which appear to be conducted 
with spirit and enterprize ; among these a manufactory of 
cut nails belonging to Mr. Reeves deserves notice. The iron 
for the manufactory is prepared by him from the pigs by 
the process of puddling and rolling. Glasshouses, in which 
both green and white glass are made, exist there ; it is said 
that the clay from which they make their crucibles, and which 
is found at a short distance from the town, is excellent. 
Within four miles of Zanesville, on " Licking creek," there 
is a furnace at which an hydrated oxide of iron is worked. 
The difference in the price between cast iron and pigs is 
so great as to enable them to convert the whole of their 
produce into hollow ware, which is readily disposed of at 

• A few days before our arrival at Wheeling", Mr. Zane, the founder 
of Zanesville, died in that place. This man was extensively known as 
having been one of the first settlers in that state. He was one of those 
pioneers of civilization, of which the history of our western states 
presents us so many instances, men equally distinguished by a daunt- 
less courage, an unwearied perseverance, and by the success with 
which they resisted the aggressions of the aborigines, who frequently 
attempted, but in vain, to oppose those, whom they, perhaps very 
justly, considered as trespassers upon the soil which they had inherit- 
ed from their fathers. Mr. Zane's character was highly respectable, 
and among the many anecdotes still current in Ohio, many of which 
attest his courage, there are none but such as are reputable to him 
as a man of feeling. 


seventy dollars, while the pigs command only thirty dol- 
lars a ton. Bar iron, and that not of the best quality, is 
sold for one hundred and twenty-five dollars. The little 
iron, refined in this vicinity, is generally of an inferior 
character. The experiment of manufacturing the iron by 
rolling, as is done at Reeves' establishment, has not been 
attended with sufficient success to lead to a more general 
introduction of this process. We conversed with several 
intelligent iron masters on the subject, with a view to 
obtain accurate information on the advantages of this me- 
thod over that of hammering; the result of which was, 
that the product obtained from rollers was not so uniformly 
good as that obtained by hammering, which, in the opinion 
of our informants, was due rather to the defect of the work- 
men than of the process. The management of rollers is 
probably not well understood by them. We have taken oc- 
casion to record this information, because it appears to us that 
every thing that can throw light upon the manufacture of 
iron, is interesting. We consider the question of the pro- 
priety of using rollers, as a highly important one, and as one 
not yet settled ; we know that a strong prejudice exists in 
this country against the rolled iron ; and that the results of 
experiments made in Pennsylvania, are rather unfavour- 
able J but we likewise know, that the process is very ex- 
tensively carried on in England, where it has met with a 
decided preference in many instances; and the economy 
which attends it, must make it very desirable that it should 
prove successful. Experience shows that all innovations 
in the arts meet with objections ; and that the failure of 
those, who attempt to repeat them without proper care or 
knowledge, is not unfrequently attributed to the imper- 
fections of the process, instead of being charged to the in- 
experience of the operators. 

SOURCE oP ST. Peter's river. 41 

It is a remarkable fact, that with the admitted supe- 
riority of the British over American castings, no attempts 
have been made to work the same ore and by means of the 
same fuel which have proved so successful when used abroad. 
It is a truth with which every person who feels an interest 
on this subject, is conversant, that the clay iron stone is the 
principal ore used in England ; that it is smelted by means 
ofcoak; that the products are extremely advantageous ; that 
results equally favourable, if not more so, have been obtain- 
ed in Silesia from the same ores ; that experiments which 
have been made on the same subject in France, have been 
attended with the happiest results. We may therefore won- 
der, that so much of this valuable ore is allowed to remain 
unwrought in the midst of the very fuel which ought to 
be used to smelt it ; and that a preference should be given 
to the hydrates and oxides of iron, worked with charcoal, 
very frequently with great disadvantage. 

The furnace which we visited near Zanesville, was 
built in 1809, and was, as we were told, the first erected in 
the state of Ohio ; its inside is lined with fire-bricks made 
of the clay which is used for crucibles in the glasshouse, 
and the proprietors informed us that it was their intention 
to make large bricks of the same materials for their hearths, 
as all the stones they had heretofore used had proved de- 
fective, and had obliged them to suspend their operations 
under a year's blast, at a time when the rest of the fur- 
nace was in a very sound state. This experiment, if suc- 
cessful, will be attended with great advantages to the coun- 
try. The clay has been analysed in Mr. Keating's labora- 
tory in the University of Pennsylvania, and found to con- 
tain about seventy-two per cent, of silex, with alumine, 
little or no lime, and no metallic oxide. 

The iron ore used here is an hydrjited oxide, which 

Vol. I. 6 


yields in castings about thirty-three per cent. It smelts 
very readily of itself, requiring but a slight addition of about 
three per cent, of limestone. Among the great improvements 
which have been made at this place, is the connexion, by 
means of a canal with locks, between the upper and lower 
level of the Muskingum. The company who erected the 
dam, were bound by their charter to keep a lock naviga- 
tion in repair, and their improvements, which have re- 
moved all obstacles to the navigation, will doubtless prove 
very valuable, as they have afforded them a very extensive 
water-power. Salt was some time since obtained at Zanes- 
ville, and all along the Muskingum ; but of late the works 
here have been abandoned, the springs being too weak. It 
appears that those below are very productive; it is calculated 
that one hundred gallons of water from these will generally 
yield about a bushel of salt weighing fifty pounds ; hence the 
water must contain upwards of six per cent, of salt. The 
establishments, as they are generally made in this country, 
contain twenty kettles of the capacity of ninety gallons 
each, costing together about seven hundred dollars; of 
these kettles or pans, fourteen are used for evaporating and 
six for crystallizing the salt During the evaporation, a se- 
diment is formed, which is supposed by some to consist of 
loam and lime; no experiments have as yet been made 
upon it to ascertain its nature. No use has ever been made 
of it, but it would doubtless prove very valuable in agri- 
culture. The depth to which they bore varies much, it is ge- 
nerally about two hundred feet. In some cases the auger 
holes, which are about three inches in diameter, have been 
sunk to seven hundred feet in depth. The expense of course 
varies according to the depth, but the work is generally un- 
dertaken at from one dollar and fifty cents to two dollars 
per foot. In one instance, where tliQ boring extended to 


upwards of one hundred feet, it was performed for seventy- 
five cents per foot. The whole capital required to put up 
salt works in this neighbourhood, is estimated at four 
thousand five hundred dollars; and when the work is pru- 
dently conducted, the business is considered very good; 
though the price of salt is at present low. 

It was in boring for coal, a few years since, that a de- 
ception was practised, which made considerable noise in 
the country, and produced much mischief in Zanesville and 
its vicinity. It appears well ascertained, at present, that 
the silver, said to have been found in one of the auger 
holes bored on the banks of the river, had been thrown in 
by some evil-minded persons. The pretended discovery 
induced many to speculate largely upon the mine, before 
the detection of the plot, whence they incurred great losses; 
this event occurred in the year 1819. 

The banks of the river are strewed with vast numbers of 
pebbles, much rolled, and evidently carried from a great dis- 
tance. They consist principally of quartz, in some cases hya- 
line, in others partaking of the nature of jasper, agate, semi- 
opal, &c. fragments of granitic and amphibolic rocks are also 
to be met with here and there. Specimens of petrified Re- 
tipore and Favosites striata, Say, and of a new genus of the 
Polypiers lameUiferes of Lamarck, Chonemblema, Say,* 
were also observed on the shore. These petrifactions are 
siliceous and rolled, and bear the appearance of having been 
removed far from their original locality. Specimens of the 
Favosites striata are also common in this vicinity. 

We observed near the bank of the river a considerable 
accumulation of common flint, (quartz silex,) which con- 
sisted of irregularly shaped blocks of silex, apparently no- 

• Appendix, I. A. 


dules, which had been imbedded in a rock, in the manner 
in which the same substance lies in the chalk of the neigh- 
bourhood of Paris; its colour is black. Upon inquiry we 
were informed, that these blocks are gathered from the 
fields, where they are found loose and scattered; they do 
not carry with them the appearance of much attrition. They 
are used in the glasshouses in the preparation of fine white 

Among the features which strike the traveller, as he 
contemplates the scenery of the Muskingum, none contri- 
butes more to give a character of originality to the land- 
scape, than a rude bridge erected across the river, in which 
the architect has contrived to connect three forks or arms, 
one of which reaches to the cape formed by the junc- 
tion of the Muskingum and Licking creek^ while the 
other two establish a connexion between the opposite banks 
of the Muskingum, below the junction of the two streams. 
This presents an uncouth mass, contrasting well with the 
magnificence of the scenery. The bridge appears destitute 
of solidity, and will probably be soon replaced by a more 
elegant and permanent one. It is thus that the rude works 
of the first settlers in the west are disappearing gradually, 
and making way for the more improved structures of civi- 
lized life. 

Having remained half a day in Zanesville, we continued 
our journey towards Columbus, which we reached on the 
19th. The route between these two places ofiered us but 
little interest. To the mineralogist it presents none at all, 
being level, flat, and covered with an alluvium. We were 
informed that coal had been observed in many places, 
but in no instance of a quality to warrant its extraction ; 
and that no where had it been worked beyond five miles 
west of the Muskingum. Our road, which led us through 


the valley of Licking creek, was very even. The rocks 
w^ere always concealed from view, except in one or two 
places, where abrupt cliffs rose at too great a distance from 
the road, to permit us to decide upon their nature ; but their 
general aspect appeared to connect them with those ob- 
served in the vicinity of Zanesville. 

Our attention was, however, soon directed in another 
channel. The country aljout the Muskingum appears to 
have been at a former period the seat of a very extensive 
Aboriginal population. Every where do we observe in 
this valley, remains of works which attest, at the same 
time, the number, the genius, and the perseverance of 
those departed nations. Their works have survived the 
lapse of ages ; but the spirit which prompted them has dis- 
appeared. We wander over the face of the country; 
wherever we go, we mark the monuments which they have 
erected ; we would interrogate them as to the authors of 
these mighty works, but no voice replies to ours save that of 
the echo. The mind seeks in vain for some clew to assist 
it in unravelling the mystery. Was their industry stimulated 
by the desire of protecting themselves against the in- 
roads of invaders, or were they themselves the trespassers ? 
did they migrate to this spot, and if so, whence came they ? 
who were they ? where went they ? and wherefore came 
they here ? Their works have been torn open ; they have 
been searched into, but all in vain. The mound is now 
levelled with the sod of the valley ; the accumulated earth 
which was perhaps collected from a distance into one im- 
mense mass to erect a monument deemed indestructible, over 
the remains of some western Pharoah, is now scattered oves 
the ground so that its concealed treasure may be brought 
to light. Every bone is accurately examined, every piece 
of metal or fragment of broken pottery is curiously studied, 


still no light has as yet been thrown upon the name, and 
date, of the once populous nation which formerly flourish- 
ed on the banks of the numerous tributary streams of the 

Such were the reflexions suggested to us by our visit to 
the numerous mounds and Indian works which abound in 
this part of the country, the first of which we observed in 
the small village of Irville, situated eleven miles west of 
Zanesville. It has been opened, and as usual, it has yielded 
bones. This mound was about fifteen feet in diameter and 
four and a half in height; it appears to have had an 
elliptic basis. Our guide told us, that he was present at the 
opening of it, and that there were a number of human 
bones, and among others, a tolerably entire skeleton which 
laid with its head to the north-west ; the arms wei-e thrown 
back over the head. Besides the bones, there were nume- 
rous spear and arrow points, and of the latter, we picked 
up one on the spot. There was also a plate of copper of the 
length of the hand, and from five to six inches in width, it 
was rolled up at the sides, and had two holes near the cen- 
tre •, its weight, we were told, might have been about a quar- 
ter of a pound, but was probably heavier ; for it must have 
been very thin, if, with those dimensions, it weighed so 
little. What could have been the use of it, except as an 
ornament, was not determined ; indeed, the inhabitants of 
that part of the country are so much accustomed to dig up 
bones, and remains of the Aborigines, that they are very 
careless about observing or recording the objects found, 
and the circumstances under which they were discovered. 
We were told that pieces of copper, and even of brass, had 
been frequently collected. The copper may easily be ac- 
counted for, without a reference to a higher degree of 
civilization, or to an intercourse with nations more ad- 


vanced in the arts. The existence of native copper strewed 
upon the surface of the ground in many places, will easily 
account for the circumstance of its being used by the na- 
tives as an ornament, in the same manner that the Copper 
Indians of the north have been known, from the earliest 
days of their discovery by the whites, to adorn their per- 
sons with it, but we cannot account for the discovery of 
ornaments of brass, unless we admit an intercourse with na- 
tions that had advanced in civilization. The existence 
therefore of fragments of this alloy in mounds, appears to 
us doubtful ; for if true, the Indians who constructed them 
must have been much more refined than we can suppose 
they were ; or they must have had intercourse with civil- 
ized nations. The erection of these mounds, which ap- 
pear to be in a great measure contemporary, was cer- 
tainly much anterior to the discovery of this continent in 
the fifteenth century ; and therefore it is not from Europeans 
that these pieces of brass were obtained ; if again, we re- 
peat it, they have been found interred in these worics. 

Besides this mound, there are many others in the imme- 
diate vicinity of Irville, some of which have very great di- 
mensions ; we observed one, near the road, which had been 
but recently excavated at its summit ; it was perhaps about 
thirty-five or forty feet high. These mounds were for the 
most part overgrown with bushes ; we could discover no 
order or plan in their relative positions, and from the scat- 
tered and irregular manner in which they lie, it does 
not appear that they were intended to be connected 
xvith any work of defence ; it is more probable, that they 
were erected as mausoleums over the remains of the dead, 
and that the difference in their size was intended to convey 
an idea of difference in the relative importance of those, 
whose bones they covered. We were informed that this 
valley and the neighbouring hills abound in excava- 


tions resembling wells ; we met with none of these ; they 
are said to be very numerous, and are generally attributed 
to the first French adventurers, who being constantly in- 
tent upon the search of the precious metals, commenced 
digging wherever they observed a favourable indication ; 
not having seen any of these, we could not pretend to ex- 
press an opinion upon their origin, but from the number in 
which they are represented to be, as well as from their di- 
mensions, they appear to us far exceeding the abilities of 
those to whom they are attributed : and to have required 
a much more numerous and permanent population than 
these adventurers are known to have brought over with 
them; we would therefore prefer the opinion which as- 
cribes them to the same nations that erected the mounds, 
and who may have sunk these wells, either for pur- 
poses of self-defence, according to the usual mode of Indian 
warfare, or as habitations, in the manner known to be 
practised by some Indian tribes, (vide Harmon's descrip- 
tion of the Carriers^* J or finally, for some other cause as 
yet undiscovered. Their great depth, which is said at 
this time in many cases to exceed twenty feet, may be 
considered as an objection to the opinion which we have 
advanced. The supposition of Mr. Atwater,that these wells, 
which he states to be at least a thousand in number, were 
opened for the mere purpose of extracting rock crystal and 
hornstone, appears to us too refined ; what ever may have been 
the advances of these nations in civilization, we have no 
reason to believe that they had carried them so far as to be 
induced to undertake immense mining operations, for the 
mere purpose of obtaining these articles. (Archaeologia 
Americana, vol. i. p. 130.) 

Newark is a pleasant little town, situated at the fork of 

•Journal of a Voyage and Travels in the Interior of North America, 
by n. W. Harmon, Andover, 1820. 


Licking and Raccoon creeks, about twenty -five miles from 
Zanesville. Within a short distance of it are some very- 
fine remains of Indian works, which we were deprived 
from seeing, having been misinformed as to their real 
position ; but we had less cause to regret this, as an excel- 
lent description of them has been published by Mr. Caleb 
Atwater, whose zeal and activity in exploring those old 
Indian works, have acquired for him a distinguished rank 
among the antiquaries of America. From his account of 
them, it would appear that these works must have covered 
several miles of country, and that they were perhaps con- 
nected with other works, situated at a distance, by parallel 
walls extending over a space of thirty miles. Of the 
labour bestowed upon them, an idea can be formed from 
the circumstance, that among these works there " is a circu- 
lar fort, containing about twenty-six acres, having a wall 
around it, formed by the ground which was thrown out of 
a deep ditch on the inner side of the wall ; this wall is now 
from twenty-five to thirty feet in height." (Archaeol. Am. 
i. 127.) 

In the vicinity of Newark we observed an orchard, every 
tree of which was propped, having, as we were told, suf- 
fered much from a violent south-westerly gale on Easter 
Sunday of this year ; the fact would not have appeared to 
us worthy of notice, but for the observation that this gale 
of wind, which was felt very extensively throughout the 
country, was observed to have a different direction in dif- 
ferent places ; at Philadelphia it is known to have been 
from the north-east. It may be a question, whether these 
two gales were in any manner connected, and if so, why 
they happened to proceed from different directions. 

At Newark the party fell in with Captain John Cleves 
Symes, a man whose eccentric views on the nature of the 

Vol. I. 7 


globe, have acquired for him, not only in America, but also 
in England, a temporary reputation. The partial insanity 
of this man is of a singular nature. It has caused him to 
pervert, to the support of an evidently absurd doctrine, all 
the facts, which, by close study, he has been enabled to collect 
from a vast number of authorities. He appears conversant 
w^ith every work of travels from Hearne's to Humboldt's, 
and there is not a fact to be found in these which he does not 
manage with considerable ingenuity, to bring to the sup- 
port of his favourite doctrine. Upon other subjects he talks 
sensibly, and as a well-informed man. In listening to his 
expositions of his views of the concavity of our globe, we 
felt that interest which is inevitably awakened by the 
aberrations of an unregulated mind, possessed probably of 
a capacity too great for the narrow sphere in which it was 
doomed to live ; and which has consumed itself with the 
fire, which if properly applied, would doubless have illu- 
mined some obscure point in the science which it so strongly 
atfects. In another point of view. Captain Symes has a claim 
to our best sympathies for the gallantry with which he serv- 
ed his country during the war. 

From Newark to Columbus the road passes through a 
moist and heavily-wooded country, well calculated for the 
growth of the beach tree, which was found here superior 
in size to any previously observed. This part of the route 
lying remote from any navigable streams, is almost des- 
titute of population ; and it was only when we came to the 
immediate vicinity of Columbus, that we again found our- 
selves in the midst of civilization. 

The spot upon which the metropolis of Ohio now stands, 
presents a remarkable instance of those rapid changes which 
are so often to be met with in our western states. In 1812 a 
tjingle log cabin only could be observed, where now a popu- 



lation of fifteen hundred inhabitants is seen enjoying all the 
comforts, and carrying on all the business of an old settle- 
ment. The situation of Columbus is, however, far from pre- 
senting advantages that can compete with those of many 
other western settlements. Much difficulty and division ap- 
pears to have prevailed in Ohio previously to the location of 
the seat of government; and this spot was probably selected 
by a sort of compromise, rather with a view to its central 
situation than from any great local advantage. It stands 
on the left bank of the Scioto, at about half a mile from 
Franklinton, whose site on the right bank was thought 
too low and unhealthy. 

The party were here joined by Mr. Colhoun, who had 
travelled from Washington city by the national road to 
Wheeling, and thence proceeded to Columbus, where he 
waited for the arrival of the Expedition. Some further ar- 
rangements required to accommodate ourselves to the coun- 
try through which we had to travel, occasioned in this town a 
delay of one day, during which we experienced a remarkably 
heavy thunderstorm, which was accompanied by a wind 
apparently like a hurricane, its direction shifting at every 
moment; this produced much damage in the town, and 
among other things carried off both the gable ends of a 
house, the wind forcing a way for itself under the roof. 

The banks of the Scioto are covered with pebbles, ap- 
parently from primitive formations ; no rocks were visi- 
ble in place, but the limestone used in the town, and 
which is filled with organic remains, is said to be found in 
the vicinity ; it appears to be similar to that observed at 

The wealth of Ohio has been so often the subject of dis- 
cussion, that we felt an interest in ascertaining how far the 
reports circulated were correct. We found that, in fact, 


the produce yielded by agriculture so far exceeds all de- 
mands for it, that it has become a sort of dead stock in 
the hands of its owners. The price of grain has fallen so 
low, that the only mode of disposing of it consists in dis- 
tilling it into whiskey, of which the price is twelve and a 
half cents per gallon, and when retailed in small quanti- 
ties it sells at the rate of twenty-five cents per gallon. 
Such prices must of course be a check upon all industry, 
and at the same time productive of much mischief by of- 
fering a temptation to intoxication, which too many find 
it impossible to resist. 

The weather had already set in very warm, the thermome- 
ter standing usually at noon at upwards of eighty degrees. 
Observations for latitude and longitude were commenced 
here, but were interrupted by the storm. 

Wednesday, May 21st, the expedition left Columbus on 
its way to Piqua, situated on the Miami, about seventy 
miles west of Columbus, and likewise in the state of Ohio. 
The intermediate country is but thinly settled ; the soil is 
black, and not very deep, seldom more than eight inches ; 
it is underlaid with sand and pebbles, which are evidently 
the detritus of granitic rocks, similar to the large boulders 
observed every where throughout the country. No rocks 
to be met with in place. Although the country is very 
high, being probably from the best measurements which 
have been made, at least three hundred and fifty feet above 
the surface of Lake Erie, and consequently upwards of 
nine hundred feet above the surface of the ocean, it is very 
wet, being swampy, with occasional open woods and soft 
marshy prairies, very unlike those that are described by 
travellers as existing to the westward, and which we after- 
wards met with on the St. Peter's, &c. The whole of this 
part of our route led us irresistibly to the conclusion, that 


we were travelling upon the bottom of some lake, whose 
waters had, at a comparatively modern period, broken 
their bounds and found their way to the ocean. It is true, 
that in the present state of our geographical and geological 
knowledge of the valley drained by the Mississippi, it is 
impossible to assign any probable limits to this vast inter- 
nal ocean ; we know too little of the true direction of the 
different chains of mountains, which extend throughout 
this section of our country, or of their respective heights, 
to allow us to trace the limits of that powerful dam which 
formerly kept the whole of our western country under 
water ; nor can we attempt to show in what places and 
from what causes the dam was forced, but the mere in- 
spection of the high plains, which form the centre of the 
state of Ohio, must satisfy us that they doubtless owe the 
characters which they now present, to the recent sojourn 
of water. The country is covered with a very heavy 
growth of wood ; many of the trees are upwards of five 
feet in diameter. These forests consist chiefly of oak, ash, 
elm, hickory, sugar-maple, black-walnut, beach, tulip, wild- 
cherry, &c. The cotton-wood tree, and the garden-coral 
honeysuckle were first observed here in great abundance ; 
the tulip or Liriodendron, is the tree which attains the 
largest size. The soil, though good, is not of the first 
quality, and it is generally observed that the dark black 
soil, which predominates, is inferior in quality to a choco- 
late-coloured one which is occasionally met with. The 
average produce of the best crops of Indian corn amounts 
to about fifty bushels per acre ; a good crop of wheat yields 
about thirty bushels. The increase of population in this 
district is far from being as rapid as it promised to be ; the 
want of a market, the unhealthiness of all the marshy 


lands,* and the constant impulse to an emigration further 
to the west, have prevented many settlements being made, 
remote from the streams. Wild and unimproved land may 
be had, in most places, at two dollars per acre, and there is 
still some public land, belonging to the United States, 
which may be purchased at one dollar and a quarter per 
acre. The surface of the country presents some slight un- 
dulations. The only stream of any consequence which we 
met between the Scioto and the Miami, was Mad river, a 
tributary of the latter. The name which it bears was 
given to it on account of the wildness of its scenery, and of 
the agitation of its waters, resulting from the roughness of 
its bed. This is one of the most romantic streams which 
the western country presents. Instead of the wide, and 
frequently bare bed, in which the other streams run with 
a slow and lazy pace. Mad river descends in many parts 
of its course through a narrow and contracted channel, 
with the rapidity of a torrent. Notwithstanding the un- 
cultivated and uninhabited state of the country, we saw 
but little game ; this consisted of a few deer and wild tur- 
keys, which however kept so far from our course as to pre- 
vent our firing at any. 

The town of Urbanna is small, but neatly laid out. We 
met here with a family of emigrants lately removed from 
New Jersey, for the purpose of raising the Palma Christi, 
and manufacturing from it Castor oil, which they pro- 
pose sending to the eastern cities, by the way of New Or- 

* Besides the ague and intermittent fevers, we were informed that 
a very fatal disease had prev.iiled during the last summer ; it is well 
known to the west under the name of the sick stomach, or milk sick- 
ness, and is supposed to be produced by drinking milk, which has be- 
come unwholesome from some cause or other ; many persons died of 
it last year. 


leans ; they have already planted twelve acres of it, and 
from the experiments which have been made, anticipate 
much success in this culture, 
/^t The expedition stopped for a day at Piqua, a small in- 
corporated town, situated on the west bank of the Miami 
river, and on a spot which appears to have been the site 
of a numerous Indian population. The river is navigable 
for keel boats, a few miles above the town, during half the 
year. The town is built in a semicircular bend of the 
river, so that its streets, which are rectilinear, and parallel 
to the chord of the arc, are terminated at both ends by the 
water. The spot is one of the most advantageous in the 
country for a large population ; the situation is very fine 
for defence against aggressors ; and we find that with their 
accustomed discrimination, the Indians had made this one 
of their principal seats. The remains of their works are 
very interesting, and being, we believe, as yet undescribed, 
we surveyed them with such means as were at our dis- 
posal. They consist for the most part of circular parapets, 
the elevation of which varies at present from three to five 
or six feet ; but which bear evident marks of having been 
at one time much higher ; many of them are found in the 
neighbourhood of the town, and several of them in the 
town itself. The plough passes every year over some 
parts of these works, and will probably continue to unite 
its levelling influence with that of time, to obliterate the 
last remains of a people, who, judging from the monuments 
which it has left behind, must have been far more advanced 
in civilization than the Indians who were found there a 
century or two ago ; and of whom a few may still be seen 
occasionally roving about the spot, where their fathers met 
in council. 
We observed one elliptic and five circular works, two of 


which are on the east bank of the river, the others are on 
the west. The ground appears, in all cases, to have been 
taken from the inside, which forms a ditch in the interior; 
its depth cannot of course be ascertained at present, as it is 
in great measure filled up, but it must have been consider- 
able. The area, within the ditch, probably retained the 
level of the surrounding country. The parapet may have 
been from three to four feet wide, but from slow decay it 
appears much wider. The first which we visited, (A.)* 
is situated at about a quarter of a mile to the south-west of 
the town, and half a mile westward of the river ; it appears 
to have been the most important of all, and forms, as it 
were, the centre round which the others were disposed. 
Its form is circular ; its diameter is about one hundred and 
fifty feet : it has a gateway from eight to ten feet wide, 
which faces the river. Immediately connected, and in close 
contact with it, to the south-south-east, there is a small cir- 
cular work, Ca.J the parapet of which is considerably 
higher; its diameter is about forty-three feet; it has no 
gateway or opening whatsoever. It has generally been 
considered as intended for a look-out post ; but this opinion 
appears incorrect, from the circumstance that it is not raised 
high enough for this purpose ; that its size is much greater 
than what would be required for a mere post of observa- 
tion ; and finally, that its construction essentially differs 
from that which is recorded by Mr. Atwater and other 
observers, as belonging to such posts of observation. There 
is nothing to support this opinion but its situation, which 
is in the most elevated part of the plain. We however 
think it more probable, that it was considered as a strong 
hold which should be resorted to in the last extremity. 

• See the annexed plan. 


This opinion accounts for all the characters which we ob- 
serve about it. Its situation near the main fort at the cen- 
tre of the works ; its smaller dimensions, which, while they 
would admit a considerable force, would permit it to be 
defended more easily than the extensive works with which 
it is connected : the height and thickness of its parapet con- 
firm this belief. The cii'cumstance of there being no gate- 
way, is an additional proof for us, that it was intended to 
be used like the citadel of a modern fortress, as the last spot 
in which the remnants of a defeated army might be con- 
centrated in order to make a decisive stand against their 

Proceeding in a direction south sixty-five degrees east 
from the first work, at a distance of about seven hundred 
and sixty feet we find another fortification, (B.) which, 
like the former, is partly situated in a ploughed field, but 
which passes also over a bye-road. In this old work, the 
white man has built his barns, stables, &c. and appears 
anxious to hurry on the destruction of what would, if un- 
injured by him, have resisted the assaults of time. The 
parapet of this fort is not quite so elevated as that of the 
former ; its dimensions are larger, being a|)out two hun- 
dred and twenty -five feet in diameter ; it has a gateway 
fronting that in the first fort, and similar to it. If any 
covered way ever existed by which these two works were 
connected, it has disappeared, no trace of it bein^ at pre- 
sent visible. 

Taking again the first fort, (A.) as a centre, and proceed- 
ing from it in a course north eighty-five degrees east, we 
find another circular enclosure, (C.) distant seven hundred 
and fifty feet from the first, and about five hundred and 
forty feet in a northerly course from the second ; its para- 
pets are higher than those of the other two; its diameter 

Vol. I. 8 


is about one hundred and fifty feet; it is provided with a 
gateway fronting that of the first fort. Between the se- 
cond and third forts, (B. and C.) and near the bank of the 
river, there are remains of a water-way, (W.) formerly 
connected as we suppose with the third fort; these remains 
consist of a dltcli dug down to the edge of the river ; the 
earth from the same having been thrown up principally 
on the south side or that which fronts down the river, the 
breadth between the two parapets is much wider, near the 
water, than at a distance from it ; so that it may have been 
used either for the purpose of offering a safe passage down 
to the river, or as a sort of harbour, in which canoes might 
be drawn up; or perhaps, as is most probable, it was in- 
tended to serve both purposes. This water-way resembles 
in some respects, that found near Marietta, but its dimen- 
sions ai-e smaller. The remains of this work are at present 
very inconsiderable, and are fast wasting away, as the road 
which runs along the bank of the river intersects it, and 
in the making of it, the parapet has been levelled and the 
ditch filled up ; this is much to be regretted, as this work, 
if it could be seen in its perfect state, would perhaps dis- 
cover the motive which led to the erection of these fortifi- 
cations, the attacks against which they were intended to 
provide, and the means with which the resistance was to 
be effected. But the largest of the works on the western 
bank, still remains to be noticed. This is an elliptical 
construction, (D.) of great eccentricity; its transverse and 
conjugate diameters measuring eighty-three and two hun- 
dred and ninety -five feet; it is situated six hundred feet in a 
direction north forty degrees east from the first fort, its een- 
jugate axis extends nearly east and west; we observed no 
gateways ; this work is almost^effaced, its parapet does not 
rise quite one foot above the ground. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 59 

We crossed the river in a canoe, and landed at the foot 
of a very steep hill, about one hundred feet high. On the 
top of this hill, remains of a fort (E.) in a very good state 
of preservation are to be seen ; it lies in a direction north 
sixty degrees east from the first fort which we visited, and 
is one hundred and twenty -three feet in diameter; it is 
placed on a very commanding position, on the brow of the 
hill which has unfortunately been partially washed away, 
and has carried down with it about one-third part of the 
works. There is at present but one gateway visible, which 
is on the east side, and is about six or eight feet wide. This 
part of the works is one of the most interesting, it having 
as yet received no injury from the hands of man. It is 
covered with trees of a very large size. Upon the top of 
the parapet we found the trunk of a tree, which had 
evidently grown long after the rampart had been con- 
structed, and probably much after it had ceased to be the 
theatre of bloodshed and of assault. The interior part of the 
trunk was very much decayed ; but we counted two 
hundred and fifty concentric layers in what appeared to be 
less than the outer half; whence we concluded that this 
tree was certainly upwards of five hundred years old at the 
time it was cut down. These works all bear the impress 
of a very remote antiquity; in some cases, trees of a ver)'^ 
large size are seen growing upon the trunks of still larger 
trees. We have, as we conceive, no data to enable us to 
refer to them any definite date ; but we are well warranted 
from all their characters in assigning to them an antiquity 
of upwards of one thousand years. 

At about fifty rods to the north-north-west of the last 
mentioned work, there is another, which is circular, and of 
a much larger size. It has two gateways, one fronting east, 
and the other west. We did not see this last, but we are 


indebted to some of the inhabitants of Piqua for a descrip- 
tion of it. 

About these forts there are, as might be expected, many 
Indian arrow-heads, and other remains to be found. Those 
which we saw present however nothing peculiar. We 
observed both the war and the peace arrow-head, or that 
which is used in hunting, and which is distinguished from 
the war arrow-head, by the absence of the acute shoulder, 
with which the war arrow is always provided, in order to 
cause it to remain in the wound, from which it cannot be 
extricated without much danger and pain to the patient : 
whereas, that used in hunting is such that it can be with- 
drawn without diificulty. For the same reason, while the 
latter is attached to the arrow very firmly, the war head 
adheres to it but imperfectly, so that after it has entered 
into the body, if the arrow be withdrawn, the head remains 
buried in the flesh. Among other things found near these 
fortifications was a piece of broken pottery, which was con- 
sidered as of Indian manufacture; but on examining it 
closely, we immediately recognised it to be a fragment of 
a small earthen crucible, and from its appearance we believe 
it to be of French manufacture, as it resembles more the 
French than the German crucible. Taking this into con- 
sideration, and bearing in mind that the first French 
settlers in this country were constantly looking out for 
ores of gold, silver, &c. we entertain no doubt that this, 
instead of being of Indian manufacture, is a fragment of a 
crucible, probably imported from France, and used in some 
docimastic experiment. 

We had an opportunity the ensuing day, on our road to Fort 
St. Mary, to see the remains of an old Indian work, which 
consists of stones apparently from the destruction of a stone 
wall which is supposed to have been erected by the same 


nation. It is situated about three miles west of Piqua, on a 
bluff elevated about thirty feet above Uie level of the 
valley of the river. The wall, which is considered by 
some as having been erected for purposes of defence, stood 
near the brink of the hill, facing to the south-east. It has 
been completely thrown down, but its limits may be very 
distinctly traced by the stones which lay on the ground, form- 
ing an ellipsis whose axes are respectively fifteen hundred 
and nine hundred feet.* This work is stated upon the autho- 
rity of Col. Johnston, to enclose an area of seventeen acres. 
The longest axis extends in an east and west line ; the distance 
of the nearest point of the ellipsis to the river was estimated 
to be about seven hundred yards. At its south-eastern 
part, it is supported by a circular earthen fort, similar to 
those previously described, and measuring about thirty -six 
yards in diameter. The stones, of which the wall was 
built, are all rolled, mostly granitic, few of them are cal- 
careous : they are in every respect similar to those we find 
scattered over the country, and especially on the banks of 
the river. At present they form a loose pavement, about 
six feet wide round the ellipsis. The figure of the ellipsis 
deviates in some cases from a strict regularity, probably to 
accommodate itself to the surface of the country as it then 
was. In sundry parts, and more especially towards the 
west side, are many gateways or interruptions in the walls ; 
which are generally from six to eight feet wide. Back of 
these, and within the area of the ellipsis, we find a number 

* This as well as the measures given for the preceding works, must 
be taken as approximate. When the distance was small, it was determin- 
ed by means of a measuring tape ; when long, by pacing the ground ; the 
measure of the pace having been first determined by experiment. 
The courses or directions are coiTcct, having been taken with a com- 


of stones heaped up in the form of mounds, which arc sup- 
posed to be the remains of small works, thrown up for the 
defence of the gateway, and so situated that one mound will 
protect two gateways. Although the general opinion 
seems to be favourable to the idea, that this stone wall was 
erected as a fortification, we by no means consider this as 
proved. All the stones which are found there, if arranged 
so as to form the highest possible wall, would probably not 
rise above four and a half to five feet; but in order to 
afford the wall any degree of solidity, it would be neces- 
sary to give it such a breadth as would probably reduce 
its dimensions to less than three feet. On the part of those 
who do not consider this as the remains of a military 
work, it may be argued that we have no proof of these 
stones having ever formed a wall; that they may have 
been gathered for the purpose of forming the elliptical 
pavement which they now present. That this may have 
been constructed for motives which we cannot at present 
conceive of, is no proof that such motives may not have 
existed ; further, it may be said that, admitting these stones 
to be the remains of a wall, it is not probable that it was made 
for military purposes, as a work of this kind would certainly 
not have been erected for the protection of a small force, 
and as a large number of persons collected in it would have 
been quite unprotected against arrows and other missile 
weapons. That the situation, though a commanding one, 
appears quite untenable for want of water, which can only 
be procured by descending the hill towards the river, in 
which case the party venturing out would be exposed to 
be cut off by the enemy. A spring was, it is true, observed 
within the elliptic enclosure; but the small quantity of 
water which it affords at present, renders it improbable 
that it should have been at any time sufficient for tlie con- 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 63 

sumption of as large a force as would have been required 
in the defence of so extensive a work. The number of 
gateways it may be said, likewise excludes the possibility 
of its being intended as a work of defence ; for they are 
very numerous and sometimes within four or five feet of 
each other. The unevenness of the ground, part of the 
wall being along the sides of the hill and much lower than 
the rest, may be urged as another strong objection to its 
being considered as a military work. If it be not intended 
for purposes of war, what was the intention of those who 
erected it ? Its extent, the labour which it required in order 
to accomplish it, its form and situation, in fine, all its cha- 
racters would then concur in leading to the belief that it 
must have been a religious monument; probably forming 
an arena where their sacred festivals, their games, their 
ceremonies could be conveniently carried on. The num- 
ber of the gates, the heaps of stones which lay near them, 
all tend to prove that no other origin can be safely 
ascribed to it. It was suggested that this may perhaps be 
the remains of a pound, similar to those made by the Indians 
to this day, for the purpose of entrapping buffaloes and 
other wild game. But this opinion is likewise excluded by 
the little resistance which a wall of such small dimensions, 
formed by the union of uncemented stones but loosely 
piled together, would have presented to the powerful efforts 
of the wild animals which it would have been intended to 
enclose. Its situation on an uneven ground, likewise 
excludes this hypothesis from any claim to plausibility. 

The stones used vary much in size, from that of a wal- 
nut to the largest which a man may carry; doubts may 
exist whether this wall was raised upon an earthen pa- 
rapet ; if there was one of this kind, it has certainly dis- 
appeared almost entirely, yet in a few places the elevation 


formed by the stones, appeared greater than might have 
been expected from the quantity of materials which were 
observed. It is, therefore, not impossible that, in some 
places at least, the wall may have been supported by an 
earthen parapet. The motive for which these stones were 
collected will probably ever remain a secret; and we 
must be contented with surmises, all of which are unsatis- 
factory, because all are founded upon hypothetical manners, 
which we ascribe to the authors of these works. When we 
observe a circular rampart with a fosse, a gateway and a 
traverse inside of the gateway, we discover a similarity 
to our modern fortifications, and we immediately consider 
that this may have been erected for the same purpose; 
without enquiring into the foundation which we have for 
assigning to them the same system of fortification which 
we have adopted. In examining into the character of man, 
whether civilized or savage, we are, it is true, struck with 
the powerful influence which two of the most opposite 
passions, a warlike and religious spirit will exercise over 
him ; and to one or both of these we may attribute his 
most astonishing actions, whether good or bad. The ex- 
perience of every nation proves, that almost all religious 
faiths have led to the undertaking of vast constructions. 
Without recurring to the Egyptian and Indian antiquities, 
we find in the splendid remains of Greece and Rome, in 
the colossal and magnificent Gothic cathedrals of the middle 
ages, and even in the more recent edifices of modern times, 
that religion has at all periods been the principal motive 
Avhich induced men to exert their genius and expend 
their labour in constructions. Judging, by the same test, 
of the nations long since extinct, which at one time covered 
the banks of our western streams, we will not be surpris- 
ed if the remains of their finest works bear the character 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 65 

of having been undertaken, partly at least, with religious 

On the road from Piqua to this stone wall, we passed a 
very large mound, which had been partially cut down in 
order to make room for the road. This mound has, as we be- 
lieve, never been opened. In this vicinity and near 
the bank of the river, is the residence of Colonel John 
Johnston the Indian agent, a man whom we should judge 
to be of estimable feelings as, unlike most of the settlers in 
this new country, he has respected the remains of these In- ) 
dian works, and has not suifered the ploughshare to pass 
through them. Colonel Johnston observes, that he does not 
know that any Indian works have been found due north of 
Miami county, (Ohio,) though they occur to the south and 
south-west as far as the Floridas. (Western Gazetteer, p, 
290.) About half a mile to the south of the town of Piqua, 
there is an old Indian cemetery, it is situated upon a level 
piece of ground, elevated about twenty feet above high water 
mark, and in a romantic spot intersected by a small run. The 
surface of this place is formed by limestone rocks, laying bare 
and deposited in horizontal strata. Upon these rocks it appears 
that the corpses were deposited, and that they were co- 
vered over with slabs of stone, some of which were tolera- 
bly large ; over these a thin soil has been formed, in the 
lapse of ages, and this supports a scanty herbage. Upon 
reaching the spot, we found that most of these mounds 
had been broken open for the purpose of burning in- 
to lime the fragments of stone which composed them, and 
of avoiding thereby the trouble of working into the solid 
rock. We opened several, but in all cases we found the 
bones very much injured ; indeed, all of them were more or 
less broken except one, which was evidently a toe bone. 
They had become very much altered, and were yellow and 

Vol. I. 9 


cellular. We took specimens with us to examine them 
chemically, with a view to ascertain what changes they 
had undergone; but they were lost with part of our collec- 
tions. The objects which seemed to resist decomposition 
most effectually, were teeth. Of these we found, how- 
ever, but few, not more than half a dozen ; two of them 
were milk teeth, the rest had belonged to adults; they 
were rather of a small size, and worn out almost to the 
root. The bones all lay scattered and without order ; they 
were fragments of the cranium, the arms, shoulders, &c. 
which almost crumbled under the pressure of the fingers. 
The only object that we noticed with them, were the two 
incisor teeth of a ground squirrel, which were probably of 
fortuitous deposition. 

The rocks in the neighbourhood of Piqua are uniform- 
ly composed of a white limestone, of a compact texture, 
but containing many cavities filled by crystallized carbon- 
ate of lime. It is filled w^ith organic impressions, among 
which Mr. Say determined the Flustra, (expanded and 
branched,) the Terebratula, the Caryophillaea, and probably 
several others. A rolled specimen, which is supposed not 
to belong to this formation, contained a tolerably good im- 
pression of Favosites striata^ S. 

We also found here a specimen of primitive limestone 
with mica ; but it was evidently rolled, and bore no resem- 
blance to the rocks which occur in place in this vicinity. 
At Piqua the rocks are all very well stratified, the strata 
being nearly horizontal. This limestone is found to yield 
by burning, a lime of a tolerably good quality. It is stated 
that salt springs have been discovered in various places 
near Piqua, but we met with none. 

There is a very considerable rapid in the Miami at this 
place, which has induced a company to cut a canal for the 


■accommodation of the ascending navigation. This im- 
provement is now completed, and afiFords them a fine 
water-power, with a fall of nine feet. This, together with 
the fertility of the adjoining country, which is represented 
as formed of a very rich prime soil, of a chocolate colovn*. 
will doubtless soon lead to the erection of extensive grist 
mills at this place ; the capital of the company not being 
adequate to the undertaking, the mills which they have es- 
tablished are by no means suitable to the power of which 
they can dispose. The Miami is fordable here at almost 
all seasons of the year, but there is a very good bridge over 
the river. The name of the town is derived from that of 
one of the principal tribes of the Shawanese Indians, who 
formerly roved through this part of the country, spreading 
itself as far as the Pickawa plains, situated about seventy-five 
miles to the south-east. This tribe is now nearly extinct, the 
few remaining descendants of it have united themselves 
with the Miamis, and are settled in the vicinity of Fort 

After spending a very interesting day in Piqua, in the 
examination of its antiquities, we left this place with a feel- 
ing of gratitude for the kind attentions shown to our party 
by the inhabitants of the town, and particularly by the 
Register of the Land-office, Major Oliver, late of the Army, 
whose acquaintance with the country made him a very in- 
teresting companion in our investigation of the antiquities 
of the vicinity. 

The country through which we travelled lies near the 
head waters of Loramie's creek, one of the tributaries of 
the Miami. We entered this day upon what may be term- 
ed the table land, that divides the waters of the Lakes from 
those of the Gulf of Mexico, and continued on it or in its 
immediate vicinity, until we reached Prairie du Chien on 


the Mississippi. As wc shall have frequent opportunity 
of recurring to the singular feature, which this country 
presents in the interlockage, almost every where apparent, 
between the head streams of two mighty rivers, whose 
waters fall into the ocean at a distance of upwards of two 
thousand miles, we need not enter at present into many 
particulars. It will suffice to state, that after leaving the 
tributaries of the Miami, we came, in less than two hours' 
ride, to the rivers which send their waters to the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence. The intermediate country is wet and 
marshy, there is no appearance of a ridge, properly speak- 
ing ; it is an elevated flat plateau, the nature of which is 

This remarkable feature in the topogi-aphy of the state of 
Ohio, has not escaped the attention of its inhabitants. Wc 
find that the possibility of establishing a connexion between 
the rivers that empty into the lakes, and the tributaries of 
the Ohio, has long since been asserted by the statesmen of 
the west. The only point which remained unsettled was, 
what direction should be given to the proposed works, and 
which of the many routes suggested, was preferable? On 
this point it cannot be doubted that the prerequisite infor- 
mation had not been obtained, and consequently that no 
decisive answer could be given; in the absence of authentic 
calculations, prepossessions founded on local interest were, 
perhaps, allowed to exercise too great a sway. To avoid 
these evils, and with a view of doing justice to the whole 
state, the legislature of Ohio by a very liberal policy 
appointed a board of commissioners to examine the whole 
country, make accurate surveys of the various routes which 
had been suggested^ ascertain by gaging or otherwise, the 
quantity of water on each route ; and finally locate lines of 
canals upon such routes as appeared to them practicable. 


They were directed to submit the result of their operations 
to the legislature, who would then be enabled to decide 
upon the merits of the respective routes. 

These duties were too extensive and too arduous to 
admit of their being executed in one season ; and the com- 
missioners have been arrested in many of their surveys by 
the unhealthiness of the country, through which they were 
obliged to carry on their operations. We have taken pains 
to acquire information on this interesting subject, and we 
are inclined to consider that which we have received as 
correct, because it was obtained from persons conversant 
with it, and particularly from M. T. Williams, Esq. of 
Cincinnati, one of the acting commissioners, with whom we 
had the pleasure of travelling for a few days ; and who, in 
the many conversations which we had with him, has shown 
himself master of the subject. We have likewise drawn 
part of our information from the able report made on the 
21st January, 1824, by the canal commissioners to the 
general assembly of Ohio, for copies of which we are in- 
debted to Mr. Williams. 

From this report it appears that the routes proposed may 
be reduced to four, viz. : — 

The first route would be to connect the waters of the 
Grand river of Lake Erie with the Ohio, at the mouth of 
the Big Beaver creek. This route, being very near to the 
Pennsylvania line, and in some parts east of it, cannot be 
eligible by the state of Ohio, if any other practicable route 
may be found. From the surveys made by Judge Geddes, 
or under his direction, it would appear that this summit, 
which is known by the name of the Mahoning summit 
level, is elevated three hundred and forty-two feet above 
Lake Erie, and two hundred and fourteen feet above the 


Ohio at the mouth of Big Beaver creek.* This canal would 
therefore require upwards of five hundred and fifty feet of 
lockage. The question whether or not a sufficiency of wa- 
ter can be obtained on this route is still undecided. 

The second route contemplates connecting the Muskin- 
gum with the lake, which may be done either by the Tus- 
carawas and the Cuyahoga creeks, or by the Killbuck and 
Black rivers; a third division of this route purposes 
ascending the Killbuck, continuing along the summit 
level in an easterly direction to the Cuyahoga, and de- 
scending that stream to the lake. These three plans may 
be considered as parts of one general route, the preference 
to either being a question, which it will only be important 
to decide, after the propriety of adopting the Muskingum 
route shall have been decided in the affirmative. The sum- 
mit level between the Killbuck and Black river, is elevated 
three hundred and thirty-seven feet above Lake Erie and 
three hundred and sixty-one above the Ohio at Marietta. 
It would therefore require near seven hundred feet of 
lockage. The level between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas 
has been found to be four hundred and four feet above Lake 
Erie and four hundred and twenty-eight above Marietta. 
The locks would therefore exceed eight hundred and thirty 

* We have here adopted the measurements given by the canal com- 
missioners in their report, though we are afraid that a mistake may 
have escaped their notice ; the height of this summit level was stated 
by a gentleman whom we met at Columbus to be three hundred and 
twenty-four feet, which appears more correct, for by a comparison of 
the difference of level between Lake Erie and the mouth of the Mus- 
kingum, the fall of the Ohio from the town of Beaver in Pennsylvania 
to Marietta would be one hundred and fifty -two feet, if we adopt the 
calculations of the commissioners ; whereas, upon the other data it 
would be but thirtj-six feet, which is much more probable. 


feet ; this section of the Muskingum route, though longer, 
and crossing a higher summit tlian that up the Killbuck, 
would probably be preferred, as being more easily supplied 
with water. 

The third route for the canal is that which would con- 
nect the Scioto and Sandusky rivers. These streams, passing 
nearly in a north and south line through the centre of the 
state, seem at first sight to be the most eligible for the canal 
if it be practicable to execute it in this direction. Doubts had 
been entertained concerning the quantity of water which 
might be obtained on this summit, but as Judge Geddes 
and Mr. Forrer had ascertained that most of the head wa- 
ters of the Great Miami river might be brought upon the 
summit level of this route, generally designated in Ohio as 
the Tyamochte level, hopes were entertained that it would 
prove practicable. This level is elevated about three hun- 
dred and fifty -four feet above the lake, and four hundred 
and fifty -five above the mouth of the Scioto, whence it will 
require about eight hundred and ten feet of lockage. Upon 
a further survey of the country, and gaging the streams, 
the commissioners have however come to the final con- 
clusion, that the supply of water on this route would pro- 
bably be insufficient to overcome the losses by leakage, 
evaporation, &c. ; and that it would leave no supply of wa- 
ter for the expenditure in the passage of boats through the 
locks. In their calculations they have assumed as a basis 
the loss of water by leakage, evaporation, &c, on the New 
York canals, which has there proved much greater than 
had been anticipated, as it amounts to an average of one 
hundred cubic feet per minute, for every mile of canal 
route. This amount was reduced by proper allowances for 
the difierence in the nature of the country through which 
it was contemplated that the canal would pass ; but, even 


with these allowances, they have been led to believe, that 
" the upper levels on the Sandusky and Scioto route, could 
not be supplied with the necessary quantity of water in 
dry seasons, by either of the methods proposed and consi- 
dered; and the board after deliberating on the subject, from 
the facts and views laid before them by the acting com- 
missioners, came to the conclusion that a further expendi- 
ture of time or money in locating a canal line on the Sandus- 
ky or Scioto route would be inexpedient, unless some other 
method should be devised, or some other source of supply 
discovered.'^ It has therefore become, to say the least, 
" extremely doubtful whether a canal on the Sandusky and 
Scioto route can ever be made." 

The fourth route which has been suggested, and which 
is termed the western route, has for object to unite the wa- 
ters of the Great Miami and Maumee rivers, by means of 
Loramie creek and the Auglaize river. The summit level 
in this case will be elevated three hundred and eighty-nine 
feet above Lake Erie, and five hundred and forty above 
the Ohio near Cincinnati ; occasioning therefore a lockage 
of about nine hundred and thirty feet. This route appears 
to be the best supplied with water ; it would pass through 
a section of country inferior to none in America, in the 
fertility of its soil, or the amount of surplus productions 
which it is capable of sending to market ; it would become 
a source of immediate and extensive profit, by the quantity 
of water which it would bring to the termination of the canal 
at Cincinnati, affording power for extensive and valuable hy- 
draulic works, which are there much needed. The com- 
missioners appear to be of opinion that the bed of the river 
ought not to be pursued, but that a thorough-cut ought to 
be made. The summit level would be in the vicinity of 
Fort Loramie. This canal would probably be about two 


hundred and fifty miles long. The supply of water would 
be amply sufficient even for locks of the size of those on 
the New York canal. Allowing the expense to be the same 
as in New York, this canal would probably cost about three 
millions of dollars ; but the experience which has been ac- 
quired in the construction of that work, warrants us in be- 
lieving that a similar undertaking may hereafter be per- 
formed at a more economical rate. However this may be, 
no doubt can exist as to the benefits which Ohio would reap 
from this canal. 

From all that has been stated, it appears that the last of 
these routes is that which offers at present the most decid- 
ed advantages, but the plan which the commissioners have 
in contemplation, and which, if practicable, will we doubt 
not, at their suggestion, be undertaken by the state of Ohio, 
is one that would prove as beneficial to that state as it will 
be honourable to it. This plan would be to construct a canal 
\vhich would unite with the lake as near the north-east 
corner of the state as nature will permit, and passing 
through the great vallies of the Muskingum, the Scioto, 
and the Miami, in a south-westwardly direction, enter the 
Ohio near the south-west corner of the state. The com- 
missioners appear to be aware of the difficulties they will 
have to encounter ; but the data they have already collect- 
ed on this subject, are favourable to the execution of the 
scheme, and if they should be equally successful during 
the summer of 1824, in establishing the complete connexion, 
they will have the honour of having suggested a course, 
which, if it be not adopted at present, will be so at a future 
time ; for, after the undisputed benefits which canals have 
afforded wherever they have been made, it is impossible 
to doubt that, with the great natural advantages which she 
possesses, Ohio will be among the first to enlist herself 

Vol. I. 10 


among the patrons of an extensive system of internal im- 

After crossing Loramie's creek two or three times, 
we reached St. Mary's river, which unites at Fort Wayne 
with the St. Joseph to form the Maumee. The his- 
torical recollections which connect themselves with the 
section of country through which we travelled, compensate 
for the little interest which it offers to the naturalist. To him 
nothing can be more annoying than to pass over a marshy, 
swampy country, where no rocks appear in situ, and where 
but few boulders are met with ; where the animals arc 
few in number, and apparently afraid to risk themselves in 
spots in which their speed would avail them but little. It 
is true, that the pursuits of the botanist might have been 
carried on successfully, in a situation where an abundant 
growth of plants would probably have offered him objects 
worthy of his notice ; and this would have compensated 
the rest of the party for the apparently uninteresting cha- 
racter of the country ; for, in an expedition of the nature 
of ours, the success of each individual in his peculiar 
pursuit, becomes a source of gratification to all. Being, 
however, unaccompanied by a botanist, we found in this 
part of Ohio nothing to interest us but the recollection 
of the busy scenes of war which had at a former time 
been enacted in this district. As the principal field upon 
which all the military operations of Generals St. Clair, 
Wayne, and Harrison, were conducted, there is much 
cause to dwell with pleasure upon the spot. A vast dif- 
ference exists, however, between the theatre of an Indian 
warfare and that of the military undertakings of civilized 
nations. The descriptions of the spots, upon which the 
latter occur, are so much more accurate that they never 
can be mistaken ; while of the former we seldom know the 

souiicE OF ST. Peter's river. 75 

exact site. Even the history of the defensive works which 
were erected, soon loses part of its interest by the destruc- 
tion of the works themselves. We read of the deeds done 
in the neighbourhood of Fort Loramie by the French, or 
of the Miami villages by St. Clair, but if we travel over 
the ground, we find but few traces of these deeds. At 
Fort St. Mary, which was one of General Harrison's 
principal depots in 1813 and 1814, we see but the re- 
mains of a half-ruined blockhouse, and of a very miserable 
hut surrounded by pickets, which are fast falling to decay. 
A few years more and the remains of these works will be 
sought for by the traveller as unsuccessfully as we now 
search for the spots upon which St. Clair fought, and 
Wayne conquered. A young growth of trees is rising, 
which, if not levelled by the axe of the forester, will soon 
conceal the last traces of the clearing, made by Wayne for 
the advance of his army, which was pointed out to us as 
Wayne's road. The party arrived in the afternoon of the 
24th of May at Fort St. Mary, just in time to avoid a 
heavy rain. A solitary log-house marks the spot where 
a little village formerly thrived, under the protection of 
the French fort," erected at this place. It stands on St. 
Mary's river, at a distance of fifty-eight miles by land 
from Fort Wayne ; the distance by water is probably about 
one hundred and thirty-eight miles. The river is naviga- 
ble, during half the year, for large boats, carrying from 
one to two hundred barrels ; during the rest of the year, in 
dry seasons, there is scarcely water enough in it to float a 
canoe, and its course is very much impeded by driftwood. 
A little limestone of a very inferior quality has been found 
on the river bank, below the fort. From Piqua to St. 
Mary the soil is only of second quality, being in many 
places too wet and swampy for grain. The weather had 


become very hot ; at noon, Fahrenheit's thermometer stood 
in the shade at eighty-eight degrees. Our party began to 
suffer much from the inconvenience of mosquitoes and 
other insects. The entertainment which we received 
along the road was observed to become more and more 
rough, and to denote our speedy approach to the last 
limits of civilization. The cotton-wood tree became 
much larger as we advanced. Mr. Say noticed the Papilio 
thoas and ajax in great number. 

On leaving, on the 25th May, the miserable hut which 
had aflforded us a shelter during the storm, our route led 
us along the banks of the St. Mary, which we followed 
down to its confluence with the St. Joseph, occasionally 
coming in sight of the river and keeping off from it, at 
times, according as its course was a straight or devious 
one ; we travelled for twelve miles over the swampy coun- 
try through which this river flows, after which we struck 
a beautiful dry prairie, known by the name of Shane's 
prairie, and at eighteen miles from Fort St. JNIary we 
crossed the river at a settlement called Shanesville ; both 
the prairie and settlement, (which consists of but one fa- 
mily,) owe their appellation to an interpreter, who is a 
half-breed Indian, his father was a Canadian, his mother 
an 6't-f a-wa'.* He was employed as an interpreter and spy 
by General Harrison, during his western campaigns, and 
is considered as having acquitted himself of his duties 
faithfully ; on the conclusion of the war he was rewarded 
by the grant of a section, (six hundred and forty acres,) of 
land, which he has divided into town lots ; he resides 

• Whenever an Indian word occurs for the first time, its orthography 
and pronunciation will be indicated by using Walker's key. The sign 
(') prefixed to a vowel indicates that it is short, while the sign Q) 
shows it to be long, the unaccented vowels have the usual quantity. 


within a short distance of Shanesville on part of his grant. 
The soil being considered of the best quality, and the situ- 
ation on the river an advantageous one, he has already sold 
out some parts of it. No man is better known in this part 
of the country than Shane ; his influence among the Indians 
is great, and he enjoys a high degree of popularity with 
the whites, founded upon the uniformly good character 
which he maintained during the war, and upon the 
unbounded confidence reposed in him by General Harrison. 
He was absent from home at the time we passed there, but 
we afterwards met with him at Fort Wayne. 

The late heavy rains had so much swelled the St. Mary 
that it was impossible to ford it. We passed it in a canoe 
— our horses swam across. Fourteen miles of bad roads, 
leading however through a country remarkable for the 
excellence of its soil, and for its fine luxuriant growth of 
white and black oak, beach, hickory, shellbark, &c. brought 
us to a new settlement, where, notwithstanding the badness 
of the accommodations, wc were happy to find a hospitable 
reception. Near to this house we passed the state line, 
which divides Ohio from Indiana. In the state of Ohio 
we met with no Indians. Their numbers appear to be 
diminishingvery rapidly. We were informed that they 
do not exceed two thousand, consisting principally of 
Ottawas, Miamis, Senecas, Wyandots, &c. This neigh- 
bourhood abounds, as we were informed, in wolves, deer, 
and raccoons ; bears are few, and the panther is seldom seen ; 
we met with no wild animal whatever, on this part of our 
route. The distance from this to Fort Wayne is twenty- 
four miles, without a settlement; the country is so wet 
that we scarcely saw an acre of land upon which a settle- 
ment could be made. We travelled for a couple of miles 
with our horses wading through water, sometimes to the 


gii'lh. Having found a small patch of tame grass, (which 
from its colour, is known here by the name of blue-grass,) 
we attempted to stop and pasture our horses, but this we 
found impossible on account of the immense swarms of 
mosquitoes, (Culex,) and horseflies, ( Tahaimis,) which 
tormented both horses and riders in a manner that ex- 
cluded all possibility of rest. 

At a distance of about nine miles from Fort Wayne, wc 
observed a large ash which had been blown down, the tree 
had been divided in two, in part of its length; a small trough 
had been excavated in it, in which an Indian child had been 
deposited, the upper segment of the tree had been replac- 
ed to cover the corpse, and the whole secured by a neat 
little frame. This rude grave had been torn open, doubtless 
by some white man, to rob it of the trifles with which the 
tenderness of an Indian parent supplies its offspring when 
about to travel to the land of spirits ; the deceased must 
have been an infant, for the trough was not more than 
twelve inches long. We were informed that among the 
Potawatomis, this is a frequent, though not an universal 
mode of disposing of their dead. These solid cofiins or 
rude sarcophages are often suspended in trees. 

We arrived at Fort Wayne at an early hour in the after- 
noon of the 26th of May. The distance from Wheeling 
to Columbus is one hundred and forty miles, which we 
travelled in six days, that from Columbus to Fort Wayne 
amounts to one hundred and fifty-eight miles, which were 
performed in the same time, making an average of twenty- 
five miles per day. 

■SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 79 


Description of Fort Wayne and its vicinity. Fur trade. 

AT Fort Wayne we made a stay of three days, during 
which our time was usefully and agreeably employed in 
acquiring some information concerning the manners and 
institutions of the Indian tribes which inhabit its vicinity. 
To a person visiting the Indian country for the first time, 
this place offered many characteristic and singular features. 
The town or village is small ; it has grown under the shel- 
ter of the fort, and contains a mixed and apparently very 
worthless population. The inhabitants are chiefly of Cana- 
dian origin, all more or less imbued with Indian blood. 
Not being previously aware of the diversity in the charac- 
ter of the inhabitants, the sudden change from an Ameri- 
can to a French population, has a surprising, and to say the 
least, an unpleasant effect ; for the first twenty -four hours, 
the traveller fancies himself in a real Babel. The confu- 
sion of languages, owing to the diversity of Indian tribes 
which generally collect near a fort, is not removed by an 
intercourse with their half-savage interpreters. The busi- 
ness of a town of this kind differs so materially from that 
carried on in our cities, that it is almost impossible to fancy 
ourselves still within the same territorial limits; but the 
disgust which we entertain at the degraded condition in 
which the white man, the descendant of the European, ap- 
pears, is perhaps the strongest sensation which we expe- 


rience, it absorbs all others. To see a being in whom, from 
his complexion and features, we should expect to find the 
same feelings which swell in the bosom of every refined 
man, throwing ofi" his civilized habits to assume the garb of 
a savage, has something which partakes of the ridiculous, 
as well as of the disgusting. The awkward and constrain- 
ed appearance of those Frenchmen who had exchanged 
their usual dress for the breech-cloth and blanket, was as 
risible as that of the Indian who assumes the tight-bodied 
coat of white men. The feelings which we experienced 
while beholding a little Canadian stooping down to pack 
up and weigh the hides which an Indian had brought for 
sale, while the latter stood in an erect and commanding pos- 
ture, were of a mixed and certainly not of a favourable na- 
ture. At each unusual motion of the white man's, his 
dress, which he had not properly secured, was disturbed, 
and while engaged in restoring it to its proper place, he 
was the butt of the jokes and gibes of a number of squaws 
and Indian boys, who seemed already to be aware of the 
vast difference which exists between them and the Cana- 
dian Fur-dealer. The village is exclusively supported by 
the fur trade, and will probably continue to thrive as long 
as the Indians remain in any number in this vicinity. It 
has, however, declined from year to year, owing to the 
gradual diminution of the Indian population. The traders 
seldom leave the town, but they have a number of Cana- 
dians in their service, known by the appellation of £^)i- 
gages, who accompany the Indians during their summer 
hunts, supply them with goods in small quantities, and keep 
an eye upon them, so that they should not defraud their em- 
ployers by selling to others the produce of their hunts. The 
furs brought here consist principally of deer and raccoon 
skins; bear, otter, and beaver, have become very rare. The 


skins, when brought by the Indians, nre loosely tied or 
rolled ; they are separated, folded, and made into packs 
three feet long and eighteen inches wide, which are ex- 
posed to a heavy pressure under a wedge press. These 
packs generally contain from forty to fifty deer skins, and 
about two hundred raccoon skins. Bear skins being rare, 
are not put up in packs, but are used to cover the other 
furs. The prices of skins vary every season, according to 
their quality and abundance. In 1823, the skins were 
worth at Fort Wayne — 

For Deer, (bucks,) - - - ^125 

(does,) - - - - 1 00 

Raccoon . _ _ - 50 

Bear - - - ^ 3 00 to 5 00 

The amount of furs annually made up at this post is, as 
we were informed by a competent and disinterested judge, 
about two hundred packs, the average value of which may 
be fifty dollars each, making an aggregate of ten thou- 
sand dollars. But this value is rather a nominal than a 
real one, as the furs are paid for to thf^ Tndinns at the prices 
just quoted, in goods which are passed off to them at a 
value at least double the amount of prime cost and expense 
of transportation. So that to the dealer the real expense 
attending the purchase of the furs does not amount to one- 
half of their nominal value. They are usually sent down 
the Maumee to Lake Erie, and thence to Detroit, where they 
are for the most part purchased by the American Fur Com- 
pany. At the time when we visited Fort Wayne, the 
number of Indians there was considerable. This is one of 
the stations at which the Potawatomis, Miamis, &c. re- 
ceive their annuities. The late Indian agent, Mr. Hays, 
was on the point of leaving the post, previously to which 
he was desirous of paying them an annuity^ but this being 

Vol. I. 11 


the time of the year when they attend to their farming 
avocations, the chiefs had used their influence to keep their 
people from going to the fort. This delay prevented the 
immediate distribution of the annuity, and offered to 
the most idle and worthless of the tribes an inducement 
and an excuse for frequenting the town. 

Fort Wayne, as it now stands, was erected in 1814, on the 
site of the old fort, the situation of which had been selected 
by General Wayne after his victory over the Indians. It 
is a square palisade, protected at two of its angles by block 
houses, calculated to be defended with artillery. The fort 
is considered as a good specimen of stockade fortification, 
which answers very well as a defence in Indian warfare. An 
improvement which it possesses, and which these works 
do not all present, is that of giving to the roofs of the bar- 
racks and other buildings enclosed by the palisade an 
inclination in one direction only, and this towards the area 
of the work ; the advantage of which is to afford to the 
besieged a protection against their assailants, when forced 
to ascend the roofs, in order to put out fires occasioned by 
arrows conveying combustibles to the tops of houses, as is 
frequently practised by the Indians. The fort lies on the east 
side of St. Mary river, immediately opposite to its junction 
with the St. Joseph. On the other side of the Maumee we 
were shown the spot rendered conspicuous by the defeat of 
General Harmer's army in 1791. This might, we think, 
more correctly be called Harden's defeat, as by the account 
of it furnished both by Marshall and Ramsay, it appears 
that the detachment that was cut up was commanded by 
Colonel Harden.* Indeed, the whole of the country about 
the upper part of the Grand Miami and Maumee, (generally 

• Marshall's life of Washington, Vol. 3. p. 302. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 83 

called in the history of that war the Miami and Miami of 
the lake,) is interesting, as being the theatre of the war 
which raged from 1791 to 1794, when a stop was put to it 
by the great victory achieved by General Wayne over the 
confederated Indian nations, on the 20th of August of that 
year. This may be considered as one of the most memo- 
rable events in our history, since the close of the revolu- 
tionary war, as it was obtained in front of a British fort 
which had been erected at the Maumee rapids evidently 
for the protection of the Indians. 

General Wayne's victory was soon followed by the treaty 
of Greenville, concluded by him in the succeeding year; 
a treaty " by which the expensive and destructive war 
which had long desolated that frontier, was ended in a 
manner perfectly agreeable to the United States." 

The situation of Fort Wayne was considered at the time 
of that treaty, as a favourable one to keep the Indians in 
check, and prevent the recurrence of the hostile measures 
wiiich terminated in that treaty. It was one of the most 
advanced posts of the cordon which was drawn along the 
western limits of Ohio for the protection of the frontiers. 
It must be admitted that its position is a very judicious one 
for a work of this kind, although it would be very impro- 
per in a war with an enemy possessed of artillery, as it is 
commanded by several eminences in the vicinity. During 
the late war, it was besieged for some time by the Indians, 
and a few men were killed on both sides. The garrison 
having made resistance, the Indians cut a log into the 
form of a field-piece, painted it black, and placed it on 
one of the heights within gunshot of the fort; they then 
summoned the garrison to surrender. Although aware that 
all resistance against artillery would be vain, the officer in 
command refused to comply with the summons. When the 


Indians finding their i^use de guerre to be unsuccessful, 
raised the siege. 

No garrison is at present kept up at this place, and it 
is probable that even in the case of a future war, this post 
like many others, formerly considered of great importance, 
will be so surrounded with a white population, as to render 
any military force in its vicinity unnecessary. The works 
offer now a comfortable and suitable residence to the gen- 
tlemen attached to the Indian department. The removal of 
the garrison, and the decrease of the fur trade, will proba- 
bly affect for a while the growth of the settlement. But it 
will eventually resume the importance to which it is enti- 
tled from its advantageous situation ; as a central point at 
which three respectable streams connect, it must become 
the seat of an extensive trade. The St. Mary being navi- 
gable during part of the year for one hundred and thirty 
niiles, the St. Joseph for fifty miles, and the Maumee 
offering during the spring, to boats carrying three hundred 
barrels, a free navigation along the whole of its course to 
Lake Erie, (one hundred and sixty miles,) a considerable 
quantity of produce will necessarily pass at Wayne. The 
prosperity of the town will be increased by the arrange- 
ments made by the government of the United States for 
the sale of the public land in the vicinity. At the time we 
passed through, we were informed that all the land about 
the village, and even that upon which it stands, was public 
propert}^, but that orders had been issued to sell the 
whole, with the exception of about thirty acres near the 
fort, which were reserved for the use of the Indian agency. 
This accounted for the mean appearance of the houses, which 
are of log, rudely put up, the roofs being made of clap l^oards 
kept down by logs. No person felt inclined to lay out money 
in building on property which could not be sold. The point 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 85 

of land upon which the town stands appears to be sandy, 
and of an inferior quality, but we were told that a very ex- 
cellent soil prevailed in the vicinity. It was expected that 
the property would sell well, and it was thought that the 
quarter section, ( 1 60 acres,) upon which the town is situat- 
ed, would yield at public sale ten thousand dollars. Wc 
were somewhat surprised to find that the inhabitants of the 
town expressed no dissatisfaction at the prospect of the 
sale of a property upon which they had been residing, free 
of rent, for so many years, and that not the least question 
was raised as to the justice or propriety of a measure, by 
which they were about to be dispossessed of the small im- 
provements which had been made by their fathers and 
themselves. But the population of Wayne partakes in this 
respect of the indifference and carelessness that charac- 
terize the two races from the admixture of which they 
have sprung. A circumstance which will add considerably 
to the future prosperity of Wayne, is its being at the com- 
mencement of the short portage of eight miles which sepa- 
rates the Maumee from the Wabash. An extensive trade 
has already been carried on through this route, and as it 
offers the most direct communication between the head of 
Lake Erie and the northern parts of Indiana, it will doubt- 
less daily increase in importance. 

In the vicinity of Fort Wayne, on the west bank of the 
river, we were shown a small tree growing on the spot 
where " Little Turtle" was bui'ied. This was one of the 
most celebrated Indian chiefs ever known to white men. 
His character is well remembered by the old residents 
among the Indians, and from the accounts which have been 
given of him, we find but few names on record in the his- 
tory of Indian chiefs that can be compared with his. His 
character will contrast advantageously with those of King 


Philip, Pontiac, and Tecumseh. The influence which he 
appears to have possessed over the Indians was unbounded. 
Under these circumstances, it is to be regretted that all the 
facts connected with his life and character, have not been 
collected with care. He is the same whom Volney 
describes as having met with in Philadelphia in the year 
1798. From the abstract furnished us by this able traveller 
of the conversations which he had with Little Turtle and 
with his interpreter, captain Wells, we are led to form a 
very high opinion of the sound philosophy, and excellent 
judgment possessed by this chief. Of his military talents 
we can entertain no doubt, since it is well ascertained that 
to him is chiefly to be ascribed the success which the In- 
dians met with during the years 1791 and 1792. Like King 
Philip, Tecumseh, &c. he is said to have entertained at 
one time the hope of forming an extensive coalition among 
the Indians, with a view to retrieve the soil of which they 
had been so unjustly deprived ; but meeting with difficulties 
which he probably foresaw would be invincible, he, with 
more foresight than either of those chiefs, soon discovered 
that the day for such measures had long since passed away, 
and that the only advisable course, which remained for his 
nation to adopt, would be to make peace with the invaders, 
and endeavour to improve by their superior information. 
In this manner he succeeded in rescuing them from 
that destruction, to which King Philip and Tecumseh were 
hurrying on their brethren, at the time that they themselves 
became victims to the wars which they had been instru- 
mental in producing. Doubtless his great spirit flattered 
itself with the hope, that by an advancement in the arts of 
civilized life, his brethren would regain that importance 
which they seemed to be on the point of losing for ever. 
His mind had predicted the awful consequences of the op- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 87 

preach of white men. " No wonder," said he, " the whites 
drive us every year further and further before them, from 
the sea to the JVIississippi. They spread like oil on a blan- 
ket ; and we melt like snow before the sun. If things do not 
greatly change, the red men will disappear very shortly." 
How well-founded this apprehension has proved, and how 
rapidly the prediction has been verified, let the experience 
of every traveller to the west attest. 

Little Turtle died in the year 1804 or 1805, and his death 
at that time is very much to be regretted, as the attach- 
ment which he had contracted for the American nation had 
become so great, that it is presumed he would have used 
his influence, which was very great, to prevent the Indians 
of that vicinity from joining the British during the late 
war ; and no doubt can be entertained that a peaceful 
policy, if supported by a man of his weight, would have 

The naturalists to the expedition being aware that few 
or no skulls of Indians exist in the collections of our At- 
lantic cities, were desirous of procuring some, and among 
others they would have been pleased to obtain that of this 
celebrated chief It would, in their opinion, have been in- 
teresting to observe, whether the examination of this head 
would have afforded any support to the new, and as yet 
uncertain, science of Phrenology. The principal traits 
which have been collected of the character of Little Tur- 
tle, might have been compared with the developements of 
the brain, and this comparison would perhaps have led to 
some interesting results. They were likewise in hopes, 
that by disintering it they might have rescued, (for a while 
at least,) from final decay, the head of one of the greatest 
men Avho, to our knowledge, have adorned the character of 
the American aborigines. But upon consulting with the 


gentlemen of the Indian department, they found that tlie 
memory of Little Turtle was so much revered by his na- 
tion, and the visits of Indians to the grave of departed 
friends were so frequent, that such an attempt could not 
pass unnoticed, and that this apparent sacrilege would doubt- 
less irritate them, and might lead to unpleasant consequences. 
The hope of obtaining this head was therefore abandoned. 

The expedition was as kindly treated as they could have 
wished, by the gentlemen attached to the Indian depart- 
ment at this place. General Tipton, (the present Indian 
agent,) and Mr. Hays, (the late agent,) afforded them all 
the facilities in their power ; and to Mr. Kercheval, the 
sub-agent, they are under great obligations for the infor- 
mation which his long experience of the Indians, and his 
acquaintance with their language enabled him to commu- 
nicate. In order to afford to the party an opportunity of ob- 
taining the best information, General Tipton sent for one 
of the principal chiefs in that vicinity, with whom they 
conversed for two days. 

The name of this man is Wt-V^-i', (which signifies in 
the Potawatomi language, Kiss me. J He was represented 
to us as being the greatest chief of the nation ; we had, 
however, an opportunity of ascertaining afterwards, that 
he is not the principal chief, but that he has, by his talents 
as a warrior, and his eloquence as an orator, obtained con- 
siderable influence in the councils of his nation. He may 
be considered as a partisan, who, by his military achieve- 
ments, has secured to himself the command of an indepen- 
dent tribe. He resides on the St. Joseph, about nine miles 
above Fort Wayne, at an Indian village called Mus-kwa- 
w'a-s'^-p'e-o'-t'^n, {tow}i of the old red wood creek. J Be- 
ing a chief of distinction, he came accompanied by his bro- 
ther ; as his rank required that he should be assisted by 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 89 

some one to light his pipe, and perform such other duties 
as always devolve upon attendants. Metea appears to be a 
man of about forty or forty-five years of age ; he is a full- 
blooded Potawatomi ; his stature is about six feet ; he has 
a forbidding aspect, by no means deficient in dignity; his 
features are strongly marked, and expressive of a haughty 
and tyrannical disposition ; his complexion is dark ; like 
most of the Potawatomis whom we met with, he is charac- 
terized by a low, aquiline, and well-shaped nose ; his eyes 
are small, elongated, and black ; they are not set widely 
apart; his forehead is low and receding; the facial angle 
amounts to about 80°. His hair is black, and indicates a 
slight tendency to curl; his cheek bones are remarkably 
high and prominent, even for those of an Indian ; they are 
not, however, angular, but present very distinctly the 
rounded appearance which distinguishes the aboriginal 
American from the Asiatic. His mouth is large, the upper 
lip prominent; there is something unpleasant in his looks, 
owing to his opening one of his eyes wider than the other, 
and to a scar which he has upon the wing of his nostril. On 
first inspection, his countenance would be considered as ex- 
pressive of defiance and impetuous daring, but upon closer 
scrutiny, it is found rather to announce obstinate constancy 
©f purpose, and sullen fortitude. We behold in him all the 
characteristics of the Indian warrior to perfection. If ever 
an expression of pity or of the kinder affections belonged 
to his countenance, it has been driven away by the scenes 
of bloodshed and cruelty through which he has passed. 
His dress was old and somewhat dirty, but appeared to 
have been arranged upon his person with no small degree 
of care ; it consisted of leather leggings buttoned on the 
outside, a breech-cloth of blue broadcloth, and a short 
checkered shirt over it ; the whole was covered with a 
Vol. I. 13 


blanket, which was secured round his waist by a belt, and 
hung not ungracefully from his shoulders ; generally con- 
cealing his right arm, which is rendered useless and some- 
what withered, from a wound received during the late war, 
when he attacked with a small party of Indians, the force 
that Avas advancing to the relief of Fort Wayne. His face 
was carefully painted with vermillion round his left eye. 
Four feathers, coloured without taste, hung behind him 
secured to a string, which was tied to a lock of his hair. In 
our second interview with him, he wore a red and white 
feather in his head, that was covered with other orna- 
ments equally deficient in taste. Mr. Seymour took a 
likeness of him, which was considered a very striking one, 
by all w^ho knew Metea. (Plate III.) 

The chief was accompanied by his brother, who is much 
younger and resembles him, but whose features indicate a 
more amiable and interesting disposition. We observed, 
that during the interview, the latter treated Metea with 
much respect, always preparing and lighting his pipe, and 
never interfering in the conversation, unless when addressed 
by the chief. On entering the room where the gentlemen 
of the party were, Metea shook hands with the agent, but 
took no notice of the rest of the company, until General 
Tipton had explained to him, through his interpreter, the 
nature of the expedition ; the objects of his great father, the 
President, in sending it among the Indians ; and the infor- 
mation which would be expected from him ; he informed 
him likewise that his time and trouble would be suitably 
rewarded. The chief then arose from his seat, shook hands 
with all who were present, told them that he would very 
willingly reply to all their questions, but that according to 
usage, he was bound to repeat to his nation all the questions 
that would be asked, and the replies which he would make; 




that there were certain points, however, on which he could 
give no information, without having first obtained the 
formal consent of his community ; that on those subjects 
he would remain silent, while to all others he would reply 
with cheerfulness, and that after they should have conclud- 
ed their inquiries, he would likewise ask them some 
questions, upon points which he thought concerned his 
nation, and to which he trusted they would in like manner 
reply. He then resumed his seat, and answered with much, 
intelligence, and with a remarkable degree of patience, all 
the questions which were asked of him. 

The Potawatomis, whose name as sounded by them- 
selves, is P6-ta-w^a-t6'-me, (in their language, " we are 
making fire,") appear to be connected not only by language 
but also by their manners, customs and opinions, with the 
numerous nations of Algonquin origin. The languages 
of all these nations bear evident marks of a common origin, 
and in some cases appear only to be dialects of the same 
tongue; and although diversities of dress and of dialect 
distinguish them, their customs and usages are evidently, for 
the most part, the same. Their traditions as to their origin are 
very uncertain. They believe that the first meeting between 
them and the Miamis occurred at a time not very remote. 

The Potawatomis resided on the banks of Lake Michi- 
gan. Of their first meeting with the Miamis, the following 
tradition appears to be fresh in the recollection of all. It 
is said that a Miami, having wandered out from his cabin, 
met three Indians whose language was unintelligible to 
him ; by signs and motions he invited them to follow him 
to his cabin, where they were hospitably entertained, and 
where they remained until dark. During the night, two 
of the strange Indians stole from the hut, while their com- 
rade and host were asleep; they took a few embers from 


the cabin, and placing these near the door of the hut, 
they made a fire which, being afterwards seen by the Mia- 
mi and his remaining guest, was understood to imply a 
council fire in token of peace between the two nations. 
From this circumstance the Miami called them in his 
language, W^a-h^6-n^-h3., or the fire-makers, w^hich being 
translated into the other language, produced the term by 
which this nation has ever since been distinguished.* All 
the Indians of this part of the country recognise their alliance 
with the Delaware Indians, whom they seem to consider as 
their forefathers, applying to them in councils the appellation 
of" Grand Fathers," and recognising their right of interfer- 
ing and of deciding in last resort in all their national con- 
cerns. This right extends, however, only so far as to make 
their approbation necessary to the adoption of any import- 
ant measure. Should it be withheld, the matter is again 
referred to the nations for consideration, in their separate 
councils, and should they persevere in the measure, it 
would bring on a separation of the alliance, and the nation 
refusing to submit to the decision of their grandfathers 
would be considered as strangers. No such instance is, 
however, recorded, and it is a remarkable trait in the cha- 
racter of all Indian institutions, as far as we have observed, 
that the principle of the binding influence of the will of 
the majority is unknown. In all their decisions, unanimity 
must be obtained, and very seldom fails to be procured. 
Firmness of purpose and an invincible perseverance in all 
plans against national enemies, seems with them to be 

• This tradition, together with a considerable part of the circum- 
stances which we shall embody in the following pages, was obtained 
from the Agent's Interpreter, Mr. Joseph Barron, a man whose long 
residence among the Indians, extensive acquaintance with their cha- 
racter, together with his unimpeachable veracity, confer much value 
upon all the information obtained from him. 


united to a great spirit of conciliation among themselves, 
and to an indifference as to the final result of any measure 
which they advocate in their councils. The success of a 
measure depends altogether upon the personal influence of 
the man who brings it forward. If he be one whom they 
deem wise in their generation, or if he be supposed to be 
gifted with supernatural talents, they will yield to his. 
suggestions without opposition, if on the contrary he be pos- 
sessed of but little weight, he meets with no support, and his 
good sense probably induces him to relinquish his scheme. 
When the Miamis first met with the Potawatomis, they 
applied to them the title of younger brothers ; but this was 
afterwards changed, and their seniority acknowledged, 
from the circumstance that they resided further to the 
west ; as those nations which reside to the west of others 
are deemed more ancient. This was settled in a council 
of the two nations, held some time after their first meet- 
ing ; the Potawatomis being at present acknowledged 
and styled elder brothers, and the Miamis younger bro- 
thers : but the council fire is always held with the Mia- 
mis. By some it is mentioned, that they have no recollec- 
tion of the Potawatomis having ever assisted at any coun- 
cil fire but one, which was held on the St. Joseph, (of 
Lake Michigan?) and at which the Chippewas, Potawato- 
mis, and Ottowas were present.* 

* This statement is taken from a valuable manuscript of observations 
concerning the Indians, communicated to the party by Dr. Thomas P. 
Hall, Surgeon U. S. A. Dr. Hall was stationed at Chicago at the time 
we visited that post. His opportunities of obtaining information were 
sucli, as to render liis notes valuable, and they are particularly so in 
the medical parts, from which we have made many extracts. As the 
observations, which he made, relate principally to the Potawatomis, it 
has been thought proper to connect them with those made at Fort 


Their notions of reliji;ion appear to be of the most sim- 
ple kind ; they believe in the existence of an only God, 
whom they term Ka-sh'4-ma-ne-t'6, or Great Spirit. Kasha 
means great, and Maneto an irresistible almighty being. 
The epithet of Kasha is never applied to any other word, 
but as connected with the Supreme Being. It would be 
highly indecorous to apply it to a house, a horse, or any 
other visible object. Yet it is, in a few instances, ap- 
plied to a good man, in order to give more force to the 
expression, by connecting his good qualities with those 
which they ascribe to the Great Spirit. They recognise 
also an Evil Spirit, whom they call Mat-ch^a-ma-ne-f 6, (from 
matcha, which signifies bad.) This unfavourable epithet 
is not restricted in its application, but is extended to all un- 
pleasant or disagreeable objects. They consider them- 
selves as indebted to the Good Spirit for the warm winds 
from the south, while the evil one sends the cold winds 
and storms of the north. The Matchamaneto resides in 
the cold regions of the north, where the sun never shines. 
The Kashamaneto, on the contrary, dwells at the " mid- 
day-sun's place." Their worship appears to be princi- 
pally addressed to the Evil Spirit, whom they think it ex- 
pedient to propitiate ; the good one needing no prayers, 
for his natural goodness Avill always induce him to assist 
and protect man without being reminded of it by his peti- 
tions; neither do they believe that their prayers to the Evil 
Spirit can in any manner displease the Good. In certain 
cases, however, as when afflicted with disease, or when, 
impelled to it in a dream, they will offer a sacrifice of liv- 
ing animals to the Kashamaneto. This is generally done at 
the suggestion of one of the chiefs or leaders, who calls all 
the warriors together, explains to them his views, and ap- 
points one of them to go in search of a buck, to another 

SOURCE OF ST. peter's rtver. 95 

he commits the killing of a raccoon, to a third he allots 
some other animal to be killed ; and when they have been 
successful in their respective hunts, they meet and fasten 
the first buck which they kill, upon a high pole, and leave it 
in this situation, so that it may serve as a sacrifice to the 
Great Spirit. Any other animal would answer as well as a 
buck. Upon the remainder of the chase they feast. After 
having boiled the animal, they partake of it in the name of 
the Great Spirit. The object of these sacrifices is to obtain 
luck in their pursuits, whether of hunting or fighting; these 
/easts are generally accompanied with prayers, dancing, 
.singing, &c. The only period when they have regular 
sacrifices is during the winter and spring of the year ; at 
which time, many of the warriors give feasts ; each selects 
the time that suits him best, and invites such guests as he 
thinks proper. Having assembled them all, he rises, takes 
a sort of tambourine, formed by fastening a piece of skin or 
parchment upon a frame, he beats upon this and addresses 
himself to the divinity, accompanying his invocation by 
many violent gestures. They have no set form of prayer ; 
when he has concluded, he resumes his seat, hands over 
the tambourine to another, who proceeds in the same man- 
ner. They have regular songs, which they sing together 
on such occasions. No other music is ever used but that 
of the tambourine.* 

• Among the Shawanese there is a solemn festival called the green 
corn dance, which resembles the offering of the first fruits as enjoin- 
ed to the Israelites. This practice is said to exist among the Creeks, 
Cherokees, and other southern tribes, but is unknown to the Potawa- 
tomis and other nations, which live in the neighbourhood of the 
Shawanese. It is said, that among the latter, however ripe an indivi- 
dual's corn may be, he w ill not pluck it until after the celebration 
of the festival. 


Among the Potawatomis polygamy is not only allowed, 
but even encouraged ; a man has two or more wives, some- 
times four, according to his skill and success as a hunter. 
The number of wives which an Indian keeps, is equal to 
that which he can support and maintain ; he, therefore, that 
has many, is respected as being abetter or a more favoured 
hunter than he that has but one wife. Dr. Hall observes that 
polygamy exists in the proportion of twenty-five per cent, 
that some men have three, four, or five wives, and one 
man was known to have eight. They appear to be very 
attentive to the proper education to be given to chil- 
dren, in order to impart to them those qualities both of the 
mind and body, which shall enable them to endure fatigue 
and privation, and to obtain an influence, either in the 
counsels of the nation, or during their military operations. 
When questioned on this subject, Metea replied, that while 
he was yet very young, his father began to instruct him, 
and incessantly, day after day, and night after night, taught 
him the traditions, the laws and ceremonies of his nation. 
"This he did," said Metea, "that I might one day benefit 
my country with my counsel." The education of boys 
generally commences at ten or twelve years of age ; they 
accustom them early to the endurance of cold, by making 
them bathe every morning in winter. They likewise encour- 
age them to habituate themselves to the privation of food. 
In this manner, children are observed to acquire, more 
readily, the qualifications which it is desirable for an Indian 
to possess. Parents use no compulsory means to reduce 
their children to obedience, but they generally succeed in 
obtaining a powerful influence over them, by acting upon 
their fears; they tell them that if they do not behave them- 
selves as they are bid, that they will irritate the Great Spirit, 
who will deprive them of ajl luck as hunters, and as war- 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 97 

riors. This, together with the constant and never ceasing 
importance, which the children observe, that their parents 
attribute to luck in all their pursuits, is found to have the 
desired effect upon the minds of young persons, fired 
with the ambition of becoming distinguished, at some fu- 
ture day, by their skill and success. Their fasts are mark- 
ed by the ceremony of smearing their faces, hands, &c. with 
charcoal. To effect this, they take a piece of wood of the 
length of the finger, and suspend it to their necks, they 
char one end of it, and rub themselves with the coal every 
morning, keeping it on until after sunset. No person, whose 
face is blackened, dare eat or drink any thing during that 
time; whatever may be the cravings of his appetite, he 
must restrict them until the evening arrives, when he 
may wash off his black paint, and indulge, moderately, in 
the use of food. The next morning he repeats the ceremony 
of blackening his face, and continues it from day to day, until 
the whole of his piece of wood be cunsumed, which gene- 
rally takes place in the course of from ten to twelve days. 
After this term, they either suspend their mortifications, 
or continue them according as the exigencies of the case 
seem to require. From the information which was com- 
municated by the interpreter and others, it does not ap- 
pear that, in any one instance, have the Indians ever been 
known to break their fasts, whatever may have been the 
temptation to which they were exposed ; so powerful, in- 
deed, is their superstitious dread of that ill luck, which 
would attach to a transgression of their rules, that even 
children have been, in vain, tempted to take food when at 
the houses of traders, and beyond the control of their 
parents ; in all cases they have declined it ; neither does it 
appear that, during, those seasons of mortification, they in- 
dulge after sunset, in any unreasonable gratification of their 
VoT- I. 1 3 


appetite ; in this respect, therefore, they prove themselves 
more consistent than the Mahometans, who are said while 
their Ramadan or lent lasts, to make up by the debauche- 
ries in which they indulge in the night time, for the 
painful restrictions imposed upon them during the day, by 
the precepts of their prophet. The same apprehensions 
which will prevent an Indian, whether man or boy, from 
tasting food, while covered with his coating of charcoal, 
will not allow him to shorten the term of his penance by 
consuming the piece of wood too hastily. If he does not 
use it sparingly, he is certain that the charm or virtue wnth 
which he invests it, will be dispelled. In addition to these 
mortifications, the Indian attempts to impress upon his off- 
spring a permanent and unshaken belief in the existence 
of a Great Spirit, ruler of the universe, whose attributes 
are kindness to men, and a desire of relieving them from 
all their afflictions : the necessity of doing all that may be 
grateful to him is often recurred to, in those exhortations 
by which every Indian parent instructs his sons, both 
morning and evening. It does not appear that the same 
care is extended to the religious principles of females. We 
never heard of their joining in fasts or mortifications; 
they are not allowed to take a part in the public sacrifices, 
and as they have no concern in the noble occupations of war 
or the chase, it probably matters but little whether or not 
they are agreeable in the sight of the Great Spirit. The only 
inducement which they have to pray is, that they may 
continue to hold a place in the afFectionsof their husbands; 
but, as upon this point the men are quite indifferent, it would 
appear to them unworthy of their superior rank in creation, 
if they were to bestow a thought upon the subject. 

Among the men of their own tribe, these Indians are re- 
presented as indulging in many of the virtues which have 


long been considered as peculiar to man in a state of civili- 
zation. Children incapacitated from labour, or exertion, 
by accident or deformity, are carefully attended to, and sel- 
dom allowed to suffer, from a privation of any of the com- 
forts which the rest of the tribe enjoy. It is considered 
disgraceful in a man, to inflict any injury upon a helpless 
or unprotected person. In a few instances, it is said, that 
children born deformed have been destroyed by tlieir 
mothers, but these instances are rare, and whenever dis- 
covered, uniformly bring them into disrepute, and are nqt 
unfrequently punished by some of the near relations. In- 
dependent of these cases, which are but rare, a few instances 
of infanticide, by single women, in order to conceal in- 
trigue, have been heard of; but they are always ti-eated 
with abhorrence. In like manner when going out on hunt- 
ing excursions, elderly parents have been known to be 
abandoned, or exposed to a certain death, but these were 
likewise rare cases, which may be considered as always 
carrying with them a severe punishment by the utter con- 
tempt and detestation in which those who committed them 
were held. When questioned upon this point, Metea de- 
nied that it had ever happened ; " as they have taken pains 
to raise us when we were young," said he, " it is but fair 
that we should return this care to them in their old age." 
Instances have however occurred even among the Pota- 
watomis ; one of which took place on the Milwacke, when 
a decrepid old woman, who had no horse to remove her 
from that place, was burned by them. In painful and vio- 
lent diseases, Indians are sometimes killed at their own re- 
quest, and afterwards burned to prevent contagion or the 
disease falling upon another. Their attentions to old per- 
sons, and their respect towards them, may be considered 
as one of the virtues in which they pride themselves most, 


and one of those which they exercise most frequently. To 
ideots they likewise generally extend a kind and humane 
treatment. By their relations, ideots are always treated 
with tenderness ; but the idle and foolish, who are not con- 
nected with them, though they never abuse, will some- 
times ridicule them ; in this respect imitating the treat- 
ment to which they are so inhumanly, yet so frequently ex- 
posed, from the unthinking, even among civilized nations. 
There are some persons among them who think that ideots 
are possessed of more intellect than they make show of, and 
who believe them to be endowed with much intelligence, 
but by none are they held in the light of sorcerers. The 
same opinion is likewise entertained of insane persons, who 
are supposed by some to hold converse with the Deity ; 
this opinion is not, however, universally adopted. Care is 
taken in the physical education of the Potawatomi from 
his earliest age, that his body should be straight and well- 
formed, no attempt is however made to change the shape of 
the head ; the observations which have been made on this 
subject by various travellers, apply only to certain nations, 
one of which is designated by the term of Flat-heads, and 
it is highly incorrect to consider them as general. The 
shape of the head is one of the features which assists most 
in the discrimination of the various tribes. It is at least 
as easy for a person well acquainted with the Indians, to 
distinguish between the different nations, as it is among 
white men to observe differences between the various races 
that inhabit Europe ; to an Indian this is even easier, as 
his long habits of scrutiny have made him quick at no- 
ticing differences which would escape the attention of less 
practised observers. " We know every tribe at first sight," 
said Little Turtle, "the shape, colour, legs, knees, and 
feet, are all to us certain marks of distinction." 


If in the intercourse of the Potavvatomi with men of 
his own tribe, we observe many of the virtues and finer 
feelings which adorn mankind in all situations, we have, 
unfortunately, cause to regret that in his conduct towards 
other nations he appears under very disadvantageous co- 
lours. To a stranger, if he be not an enemy, it is true that 
he will extend the most unrestricted hospitality ; his prin- 
ciples as well as his habits of life prevent his greeting him, 
or joining him in conversation ; but all that the most libe- 
ral spirit can do, to secure to him a friendly and fraternal 
reception, is cordially done. In all his actions, words, and 
motions, the stranger must however take heed lest he re- 
veal himself to be an enemy ; for in that case, not the bread 
that they have been breaking together, nor the tobacco of 
which they have both smoked, nor the sacred laws of 
hospitality, could protect the guest from the sacrifice which 
the Potawatomi considers as enjoined upon him by the 
paramount obligation of destroying his enemy, or that of 
his nation, wherever he may meet with him. Their feel- 
ing of hatred and resentment against all nations with which 
they are at war, has led them to deeds, from the recital of 
which we shrink in disgust. Among these there is 
none more horrible, and on the subject of which so much 
difference of opinion has existed, as that of cannibalism, as- 
cribed to them by numerous travellers. We find it as- 
serted, in plain terms, by some of the oldest writers upon 
America ;* but it has been brought into question by many, 

• The fact which we advance here of the cannibalism of the Pota- 
watomis, is not new as regards the North American Indians, though 
some travellers may have asserted it not to exist among them. 

" I think," says Hennepin, " that the Neros and Maximians of old 
never invented greater cruelties to test the patience of martyrs, than 
the torments to which the Iroquois expose their enemies. And 


who, having never visited the Indians, have been influ- 
enced by a laudable incredulity, springing doubtless from 
a justifiable wish to close their eyes and ears against evi- 
dence which bears so hardly upon human nature. With 
these feelings the gentlemen of the expedition first heard 
the reports of the anthropophagy of the Potawatomi, and 
yielded but an unwilling ear to every thing that could in- 
duce a belief in the existence of this disgusting trait in the 
character of the north-west Indians. Truth compels them 
however to assert, that the reports which they have re- 
ceived on this subject were so frequent, so circumstantial, 

when we saw that their children were cutting- slices of flesh from the 
slave whom their parents had murdered with the most unheard of 
cruelties, and that these young anthropophagi were eating the flesh of 
this man in our own presence, we withdrew from the hut of the 
chief, and we would eat with them no longer, and we retraced 
our steps through forests to Niagara river." (page 40,) and again, in 
page 304. 

•* In this confusion it was not difiicult for the Iroquois, united with 
the Miamis, to carry away about eight hundred slaves, both women 
and young men. These anthropophagi eat immediately several old 
men of the Illinois nation, and burned a few others who had not 
strength enough to follow them to the country of tlie Iroquois, more 
than four hundred leagues distant." He however makes an excep- 
tion in favour of the Nadiousioux, (Sioux ?) whom he asserts, " not 
to be so inhuman, and not to partake of human flesh." (Page 68. 
Description de la Louisianne, &c. &c. par le K. P. Louis Hennepin, 
&c. Paris. 1683. 12mo.) 

Even Adair, who may be considered as the great skeptic on this 
subject, in the same page in which he rejects the charge as a false 
one, states that he could not learn "that they had eaten human flesh, 
only the heart of the enemy, which they all do sympathetically, (blood 
for blood,) in order to inspire them with courage." •••»«« To eat the 
heart of an enemy will, in their opinion, like eating other things be- 
fore mentioned, communicate and give greater heart against the ene- 
my," &c. Page 135. History of the American Indians, by James 
Adair, Esq. London, 17'74. 4to. 


and derived from such respectable sources, that any con- 
cealment of it, or any apparent incredulity on their 
part, would be a dereliction of duty. Even the most 
incredulous of the party, or those disposed to entertain 
the most favourable opinion of the Indians, were at last 
compelled to acknowledge that all doubt on the subject had 
been removed from their minds. They have been asked, 
whether they had ever been present at such a feast, and 
they have heard it asserted by respectable persons, that 
nothing but the autoptical observation of the travellers 
could induce them to place any credit in this imputed canni- 
balism ; to this it may be replied that, travelling as they 
did, at a time when the Indians were comparatively in a 
state of peace, when few and but accidental hostilities had 
occurred between them, and these always at a distance from 
the route which they pursued ; it could not be expected 
that they should have been themselves eye witnesses to 
these infamous orgies. But if it can be adduced in support 
of their assertion, that the fact has been acknowledged by 
the Indians themselves, by those that had perpetrated the 
deed, that it has been uniformly admitted by the interpre- 
ters and traders who have long resided among them, who 
are connected to them by intermixtures, who are them- 
selves partly Indians, and who declare having been present 
at the time it took place ; if the names of the individuals 
who became victims to it, can be mentioned, if the addi- 
tional circumstance of its having been observed at several 
thousands of miles distance, but among those Indians who 
are known to be of the same nation, and who speak dialects 
of the same language be taken into consideration, if these 
facts should be corroborated by names expressive of this 
custom, given to certain localities by the Indians them- 


selves, and if all these should be found to concur with the 
observations recorded in the histories of the first travellers 
in America, (who, whatever may have been their errors, 
must be considered as having adhered more closely to truth 
than is generally supposed,) then with all this circumstan- 
tial evidence, strongly and uniformly bearing on one side 
of the question, is it possible for thejnost skeptical to refuse 
his belief to this fact, whatever may be the horrour which 
attends it. We are far however from asserting, that this 
practice has prevailed universally among the Indians ; the 
evidences on the subject of the cannibalism of the Dacota 
or Sioux Indians, (Naudowessies of Carver,) are too few and 
too suspicious ; they are refuted by too many contradictory 
facts to permit us to place any confidence in them; but the 
case is otherwise with the Chippewas, the Miamis, the 
Potawatomis, and all the other Indian nations which are 
known to be of Algonquin origin. 

The motives which impel them to cannibalism are va- 
rious : in some cases it is produced by a famine over the 
country, and of this we shall be able to cite a number of 
well attested instances, some of which carry with them 
very horrible features, when we treat of the Chippewa 
tribes west of Lake Superior. Another, and a more fre- 
quent cause, is the desire of venting their rage upon a de- 
feated enemy, or a belief that by so doing, they acquire a 
charm that will make them irresistible. It is a common su- 
perstition with them, that he that tastes of the body of a 
brave man acquires a part of his valour, and that if he can 
eat of his heart, which by them is considered as the seat of 
all courage, the share of bravery which he derives from it is 
still greater. It matters not whether the foe be a white man 
or an Indian, provided he be an enemy, it is all that is re- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 105 

quired. Mr. Barron has seen the Potawatomis, with the 
hands and limbs, both of white men and Cherokees, which 
they were about to devour. 

It is well attested, that one of the officers, attached to 
General Harmer's command, was taken prisoner by the 
Miamis, previously to the defeat of the whole army, and 
tortured by them in the most cruel and unrelenting man- 
ner for three days, on the west bank of the Maumee. The 
Indians declared that he had behaved with a remarkable de- 
gree of fortitude. Pieces of flesh were cut from his 
body, roasted and eaten by them in the presence of 
the agonized victim. No exclamation or groan could be 
drawn from the intrepid prisoner, until a squaw thrust a 
burning brand into his privates, when he was heard to ex- 
claim, " Oh my God !'' A young Indian warrior then de- 
clared, that the prisoner having proved himself a brave 
man, should no longer be kept in agony, and put a period 
to his sufferings by despatching him with his tomahawk. 

One of the best attested instances, is that of Captain 
Wells, who was killed after the capture of Chicago in 1812. 
This man, who had been a long time among the Indians, 
haviftg been taken prisoner by them at the age of thirteen, 
had acquired a great reputation for courage ; and his name 
is still mentioned as the bravest white man with whom they 
ever met. He had almost become one of their number, and 
had united himself to a descendant of Little Turtle. At 
the commencement of hostilities between Britain and the 
United States he sided with his own countrymen, while the 
Indians of this vicinity all passed into the British service. 
When the fort was afterwards besieged by the united In- 
dians, Captain Wells was there, having arrived two days 
prior with the orders from General Hull for the evacuation 
of the post. Wells was killed after the action, his body 

Vol. I. 14 


was divided, and his heart was shared, as being the most 
certain spell for courage, and part of it was sent to the 
various tribes in alliance with the Potawatomis, while they 
themselves feasted upon the rest. 

Among some tribes, cannibalism is universal, but it 
appears that among tlie Potawatomis it is generally re- 
stricted to a society or fraternity, whose privilege and duty 
it is on all occasions to eat of the enemy's flesh ; at least 
one individual must be eaten. The flesh is sometimes dried 
and taken to the village. Not only are the members of this 
fraternity endowed with great virtues, but they can im- 
part them by means of spells to any individual whom 
they wish to favour. No warrior can be elected into the 
association, except by the unanimous consent of all its 
members. In such a case, the candidate for this distinction, 
which is held in great esteem, makes a fine present to the 
society. We shall have an opportunity of recurring on 
some future occasion to this subject, and we shall be enabled 
to prove the participation in this nefarious practice, of many 
Indian tribes collected together on a memorable occasion, 
at the siege of Fort Meigs, in 1813. We do not wish to 
be considered as advancing the doctrine that human flesh 
is usually, or as a matter of preference, eaten by these In- 
dians, or by any others with whom we may have met, but 
that it has been eaten on many occasions under the most 
aggravating circumstances, and without the least shadow of 
necessity, we consider as fully established. 

Of their first origin, their ideas appear to be very confused. 
They all consider the earth as their mother, and some of them 
are impressed with the belief that they formerly resided un- 
der ground, and that they rose out from it. On this subject 
Mr. Keating held a conversation of better than an hour with 
Richarville, one of the principal chiefs of the Miamis, who 


gave him a long but confused account of the division which 
exists among the Miamis, into two tribes, one of which 
considers itself as having risen from the waters, and the 
other from the centre of the earth. Those of Neptunian 
origin, made their way as is believed, to the surface, by 
climbing up trees, &c. The man who gave this account 
is a half-breed Miami, his father being a Frenchman ; he 
speaks very good French. x'Vt the time we saw him, he 
was dressed like a trader, and from his appearance, man- 
ners and language, we should never have suspected him to 
be any other than a Canadian fur-dealer. He is said, how- 
ever, to possess considerable influence with his tribe. He 
sometimes assumes the Indian costume, with the exception 
of the blanket, for which he always substitutes a capote. 
In the conversation which we had with him, we had reason 
to consider him as well entitled to the reputation which he 
has acquired, of being one of the most artful and deceitful 
of his nation. He declined meeting the party in conference, 
stating that the other chiefs of his tribe were absent, and 
that the circumstance of his holding a confprp.nee with 
white men might expose him to suspicion, which would 
the more readily attach to him on account of his being him- 
self but a half-breed. This reason was too plausible to allow 
of our objecting to it; and we regretted that we could not 
test the sincerity of his offer, to answer all our questions, in 
a few days, when the other men of his nation would have 
arrived. The gentleman of the party who conversed with 
him, noticed that he had never met with a man whose man- 
ners evinced so much cunning and subtilty as those of this 
chief. Affecting not to understand questions to which he 
did not choose to reply, and involving all his answers in 
obscurity, he imparted no information concerning the points 
upon which he was questioned, except in the instance 


already alluded to, of the division of the Miamis into two 
tribes, whose orig;ins are supposed to be so different. This 
might be considered as very interesting, if any confidence 
could be placed in such a man as Richarville. Of his craft and 
worthlessness, an idea can be formed from the circumstance 
that, when negotiating on the part of the Miamis a treaty with 
the commissioners at Chicago, he made it an indispensable 
condition that a tract of nine sections of land should be secur- 
ed to him in fee simple, while the rest of his nation are 
merely joint tenants on their lands, and destitute of the privi- 
lege of disposing of the same, except with the consent of the 
Government of the United States. It must be regretted, 
that this mode of obtaining the assent of chiefs, to a treaty 
by private presents, grants, &c. should have ever been 
allowed. It was, we believe, first introduced by the French, 
whose object was, by these pretended treaties, to which the 
chiefs of the nations were bribed to give their consent, to 
obtain a colour of right which the French government 
could afterwards maintain against European nations. This 
practice has existed so long, and is so universal, that it would 
perhaps be difficult to make a treaty with the Indians, if pre- 
sents or grants were withheld from the chiefs; but in order 
to test the correctness of the principle, we need but look to 
the feelings which would be excited if an European power, 
while discussing the terms of a treaty with our government, 
were to offer or to consent to give any private presents to 
the negotiators on the part of our country. Richarville 
retains his attachment to the British government, and 
although residing upon our territory, and sharing in the 
annuity paid by the United States to the Miamis, he still 
holds a commission in the British service, and his name still 
appears on the half-pay or pension list of Great Britain. 
Metea told us that the Potawatomis thought that they 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 109 

had always existed in the neighbourhood of Lake Michi- 
gan. That the first man and woman had been made by 
the Great Spirit. God sowed the seed and the men sprung 
up. When called upon to explain what he meant by this, 
he gave to understand that he had used the language in a 
figurative point of view, and as a parable. Their tradition 
at first mentioned but one original couple, the parents of 
the red people, from whom they believed themselves to 
have descended. But when they became acquainted with 
the different races of men, they supposed a couple of white, 
and another of black, had likewise been created by the Great 
Spirit, and that these had given rise to the white and black 
people whom they had since seen, but he had not troubled 
himself much with thinking on this subject. Soon after 
the white men came among them, they were told that, far to 
the setting sun, there was a race of people whose features 
and complexion resembled theirs. This had led them to 
think upon and discuss this matter frequently among them- 
selves ; they had often enquired from other nations whence 
they came, but they found strong reasons to adhere to 
their old traditions, that the land on which they now 
resided was that upon which the Great Spirit had first 
placed them. Metea has always been of the opinion that 
there is but one God, who is a Supreme Being, but that he 
has made a Spirit or God to be under him, whose spe- 
cial duty it is to take charge of the Indians. This he 
thought to be the common opinion of all Indians whom 
he knew. This inferior Deity stood to the Supreme Being 
in the same relation that the red man stands to the white. 
The existence of a Bad Spirit is considered as proved by 
the circumstance of there being bad men, for a Good Spi- 
rit could not have made any thing that was evil. 

When questioned as to his opinion of a future life, and 


the immortality of the soul, he unhesitatingly replied that 
lie had heard the white men talk of those things, but had 
no belief whatever in them. He thought that after death 
both body and spirit decayed and disappeared ; nor would 
he at all acknowledge a belief in the doctrine which we 
liad heard asserted by the interpreter, as generally enter- 
tained by the Indians, that the spirits of the departed re- 
turned after death to the Master of Life. In replying to this 
question he made use of a strong expression, " as a dog dies, 
so man dies — the dog rots after death, so does man decay 
after he has ceased to live." Being asked if it was true 
that they placed provisions near the dead, both at the time 
of death and afterwards, and if true, wherefore this was 
done, if both spirit and body decayed together ? He replied, 
that this custom really prevailed, but he knew of no other 
foundation for it, than a dream of one of their ancestors, 
that a departed friend had appeared to him, and told him 
he was hungry, which induced him to take provisions to 
the grave of that man — ^he knew of no other cause for 
it. We felt some anxiety to obtain a more satisfactory 
answer from Metea on this point, as we knew that at the 
funeral of a nephew of his, he had once expressed himself 
thus in the presence of Mrs. Hackley,* who repeated it to 
Major Long. " His spirit has fled upon a long journey, and 
you must give him provisions that he may feed upon 
during his journey." Although all our attempts at obtain- 
ing a different answer from Metea proved abortive, we in- 
cline to the opinion that the doctrine of the immortality of 

• Mrs. Hackley is the daughter of the late Captain Wells, by a Miami 
squaw, who was either the daughter or adopted chihl of Little Turtle. 
Having received her education among white men, she unites to the 
manners of civilized life, many of the interesting peculiarities which 
distinguish mankind in its primitive state. 


(he soul, and of a future state of reward and punishment, is 
generally entertained by them, and that it probably preex- 
isted to their intercourse with white men. Our opinion 
does not merely rest upon the general prevalence of this 
belief among all those who have made the least advance 
above the lowest state of barbarism, but upon the uni- 
form opinion on this subject, expressed to us by those 
who were most conversant with Indian manners, and who 
had enjoyed the best opportunities of becoming acquainted 
with them. From Mr. Barron we heard that they gene- 
rally admitted the existence of a future life, of which, how- 
ever, they entertained very confused ideas, believing for 
the most part that the spirits of those who had lived a good 
life, went to a country where they could pursue without 
fatigue their favourite occupation of hunting, where animals 
would be plenty and fat. Not so with the spirits of the 
bad ; theirs would be a country barren and nearly destitute 
of animals, where the chase would become a painful and 
unprofitable occupation. At any rate, they hold that their 
existence is at the disposal of the Great Master of Life. Many, 
however, when asked where their spirits went after death, 
carelessly replied that they knew not what became of them, 
they saw them not leaving the body. One of the strongest 
facts in corroboration of their entertaining a belief in futu- 
rity, and the immortality of the soul or spirit, is, that they 
all believe in ghosts or phantoms. " Once," said Mr. Bar- 
ron, " on approaching in the night a village of Ottawas, I 
found all the inhabitants in confusion ; they were all busily 
engaged in raising noises of the loudest and most inhar- 
monious kind. Upon inquiry, I found that a battle had 
been lately fought between the Ottawas and the Kickapoos, 
and that the object of all this noise was to prevent the 
ghosts of the departed combatants from entering the village." 


It is impossible in seeing them at present, not to feel 
convinced that the time for correct information has passed 
away ; they have imbibed from the missionaries so many 
notions which certainly did not belong to them originally, 
and the crafty policy of their chiefs to counteract the ef- 
fect of their intercourse with white men, has raised so many 
idle and false traditions, that it is difficult to distinguish 
the genuine from the false doctrines attributed to these na- 
tions in their original state. Of the many interesting customs, 
which, according to their traditions, v^^ere formerly preva- 
lent among them, the dereliction of none is more to be re- 
gretted than of that which accompanied their marriage cere- 
mony. This has now nearly disappeared from the face of 
the country. Their intermarriages with other nations have 
become so frequent, and the demoralizing tendency of their 
Intercourse with the traders has been so great, that it has 
led them to neglect practices which were recommended 
to them by a venerable antiquity. 

The form of courtship which existed formerly, is 
stated to have been as follows ; when a young man had con- 
ceived an attachment for a female, or that he wished to 
make her his wife, he gave the first intimation of his de- 
sign, by throwing a deer into the lodge belonging to the 
girl's parent. This he would repeat for several days, from 
ten to fifteen, after which the father usually asked him 
what object he had in doing so, and whether it was to ob- 
tain his daughter. The young man having replied in the 
affirmative, the relations of the girl would, if they approv- 
ed of the connexion, prepare a dress for the youth, which 
they would take to his house, and there the damsel's father 
would invest him with it. He would then take him home 
with him and introduce him to the bride ; there the lover 
remained for the space of ten or twelve days, until his 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 113 

friends had prepared the presents they intended for his 
wife's family, and had taken them to their house. It was 
usual for the young couple to dwell with the wife's parents 
for the term of a year, during which time the husband 
was, as it were, a servant in the family, giving to his fa- 
ther-in-law all the produce of his hunt. At the expiration 
of this term, he was at liberty to remove his wife to his 
own house, and treat her as he pleased. The opinion 
which is entertained by the Missouri Indians, and by all 
those who reside along the banks of the Mississippi, that it 
would be the height of indecorum in a man to speak, or 
even to look upon his son-in-law, does not exist at pre- 
sent, and is believed never to have prevailed among the 
Potawatomis. The power of the husband over his wife 
was unlimited, he might even put her to death if he chose, 
and she had lost all claim to the sympathy and protection 
of her own relations. They never would resent any treat- 
ment which she had been made to endure. There was no 
fixed time for marrying; girls were sometimes betrothed 
at a very early age, long before maturity. The presents 
which it was customary to make, were of the most valua- 
ble kind, and consisted of horses, venison, guns, &c. In 
some instances it happened that the parties were mutually 
attached, and that they contracted a secret engagement, 
marrying w^ithout the consent of their parents. But these 
breaches of ceremony were usually made up, by the inter- 
change of presents between the parents on both sides, who 
then confirmed the marriage. 

It was usual for them, when an Indian married one of 
several sisters, to consider him as wedded to all ; and it 
became incumbent upon him to take them all as wives. 
The marrying of a brother's widow was not interdicted, 
hut was always looked upon as a very improper connexion. 

Vol. T. 1 5 


The union of persons related by blood was likewise dis- 
liked, and discouraged. An incestuous connexion was at 
all times considered as highly criminal, but no punishment 
was attached to it. Instances of it are not, however, as 
riire as might be expected. Among the Potawatomis we 
heard of several. We were told at Chicago of two cases, 
which were accompanied by circumstances of an aggra- 
vating nature. A Potawatomi of the name of W^a-ga-k^'- 
na-go'n, died a short time since, aged about fifty; he had 
married his mother-in-law, previous to wdiich he had been 
connected w^ith two of his daughters. He denied the con- 
nexion with his elder daughter, who, however, acknowledg- 
ed that he had seduced her, by promising to teach her a spell 
by which she would be enabled to destroy her enemies, by 
writing their names on sand. A few months afterwards, 
he was detected in an intercourse with his second daugh- 
ter, whom he had likewise seduced. Both the women open* 
ly confessed their guilt, but with very little appearance of 
shame. This did not prevent their marrying subsequent- 
ly. After these abominable transactions, he married their 
grandmother, who was the mother of his first wife. Ano- 
ther man belonging to the same nation, and who had be- 
come a chief by the death of his brother, is known to have 
had intercourse with a woman that was the mother of his 
first wife. He afterwards deserted both, and took a third 
wife. The two other women, both mother and daugh- 
ter, were subsequently married ; this man's name was 
0-zan-6'-f ap, ( YcUoiv-head. ) But all these connexions are 
lield in utter abhorrence by the nation at large, and those 
who contract them are considered as base and worthless 
members of the community. 

The circumstances which attend funerals arc likewise 
worthy of notice. They have, it is true, but few cerem6- 


nies at the time of the removal of the corpse ; but the man- 
ner in which this duty is performed deserves mention. 
The greatest pains are taken that all should be transacted 
in the most decorous manner ; the spot selected is always 
as dry as the circumstances of the place will admit of. The 
body of the deceased is clothed in his best garments, and, 
if the relations can afford it, new clothes are obtained 
for this purpose. His moccassins, rifle, knife, money, 
silver ornaments, in fine, the whole of his property are 
placed near him : the corpse is laid with its face turned to 
the east. A small quantity of food is placed near the head. 
The funeral is generally attended by all the relations, who 
express their grief by Aveeping ; but yells, dances, &c. are 
not customary on such occasions. The deceased is buried 
in an erect, seated, or inclined posture, according to the 
wishes and directions which he may have given previously 
to his death, for these are always most implicitly obeyed. 
The graves in which they are buried are generally from 
four to five feet in depth. If the deceased had previously 
to his death expressed a wish to be deposited in a tree, this 
is attended to ; otherwise the corpse is always interred. 
When the corpse is to be deposited in a tree, it is first sowed 
up in a blanket, and this is suspended to the branches. 
The friends of the deceased visit it frequently, until they 
observe that the body is decaying ; they then shake hands 
with it, and bid it a last farewell ; but even after this they 
return yearly to visit the spot where it is deposited, and 
they uniformly leave some food near it. At the time of 
the funeral, they frequently light a fire near the head of 
the grave, and upon this they prepare their feast, throw- 
ing a part of the food on the grave for the use of their 
friend. If they have whiskey, they likewise scatter some 
@n the ground, but of this they are sparing, doubtless from 


the belief that the living require it much more than the 
dead. An invocation is then made to the deceased, who 
is entreated to speed his course direct to the Great Prairie, 
without casting his eyes back ; for they hold, that if on 
his way to the land of Spirits, he were to look behind him, 
it would bring ill luck upon some one of his relations, to 
whom it w ould be a signal, that his company was required 
by his departed friend. It is usual to mark the grave with 
a post, on which are inscribed in hieroglyphics the deeds 
of the deceased, whether in the way of hunting or of fight- 
ing. It is not uncommon for the survivors to adopt a male 
or female child as a substitute for their lost relative. When 
they bury a corpse in a trough hollowed out of a tree, they 
prefer one of ash wood, as they observe that it is less easily 
penetrated by water. 

We are informed, that they profess to have been well 
acquainted with the art of making maple sugar previous 
to their intercourse with the whites. Our interpreter 
states, that having once expressed his doubts on the sub- 
ject in the presence of Jose Renard, a Kickapoo chief, the 
latter answered him immediately, with a smile, " can it 
be that thou art so simple as to ask me such a question, 
seeing that the Master of Life has imparted to us an instinct 
which enables us to substitute stone hatchets and knives for 
those made of steel by the whites ; wherefore should we 
not have known as well as they how to manufacture sugar ? 
He has made us all, that we should enjoy life ; he has placed 
before us all the requisites for the support of existence, 
food, water, fire, trees &c. ; wherefore then should he have 
withheld from us the art of excavating the trees in order 
to make troughs of them, of placing the sap in these, of 
heating the stones and throwing them into the sap so as 
to cause it to boil, and by this means reducing it into 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 117 

sugar." In this short reply of the Kickapoo, we have a 
brief sketch of the rude process practised by the Indians 
in the preparation of the maple sugar. Previously to this 
they had learned the art of making and using pottery, but 
had abandoned it for the purpose, as Metea told us, of using 
wooden troughs, and hot stones, perhaps because their pot- 
tery did not stand fire well. The evaporation resulting 
from the action of the hot stones, produced a crystallization 
of sugar in the trough. Their process was a tedious and 
imperfect one, which probably required much time before 
it could be improved ; to use the language of Nacoma, 
a Delaware, " Brother, there is a great difference between 
the white man and the Indian ; we believe that we are 
not endowed with the same natural advantages which you 
possess, since we discover those things alone which nature 
places before us ; we derive advantage of such tools and 
implements as she has provided for us, only so far as 
they appear to us useful, but without any attempt to in- 
quire into their nature ; you, on the contrary, have re- 
ceived from the Master of Life, the disposition to erect to 
yourselves a system of education that enables you to trea- 
sure up the knowledge which you may have acquired, to 
endeavour to prosecute your discoveries, to make new 
applications of them, and to dive into those things with 
which you are unacquainted." We shall have an opportu- 
nity of comparing these ideas of the Delaware chief with the 
reflexions made by a Sauk Indian, who attended the expe- 
dition as a guide, and we shall be confirmed in the belief 
that, with all their apparent contempt for the whites, the In- 
dians are frequently obliged to acknowledge the superiority 
of the civilized man, which however they improperly con- 
sider as the cause, and not as the effect of civilization. 
The use of salt previously to the arrival of Europeans is 


likewise claimed by the Indians. They trace the origin of 
their acquaintance with this valuable condiment, to the ob- 
servation of the preference given by elks to the water from 
salt licks ; having tasted it, they liked it, and took some to 
boil their vegetables with, and having found it palatable, 
they boiled down the water in the manner that they had 
done the sap, and thus obtained salt. It is not improbable, 
that the sediments of white salt, which are frequently ob- 
served during dry seasons, in the vicinity of salt springs, 
may have taught them that it was by evaporation that the 
substance could be separated from the water which holds 
it in solution ; for although the Indians were totally ignorant 
of the nature and causes of evaporation, they had noticed 
the process, and were aware, that it could result as well 
from the action of fire as from that of the sun. 

Prior to their intercourse with white men, it appears 
that these Indians were not acquainted with any intoxi- 
cating liquors ; if we except a decoction of a plant resem- 
bling the whortleberry, which was used by the Chippe- 
was in cases of sickness only ; it produced vertigo. As 
this fact was ascertained by Dr. Hall at Chicago, where the 
Chippewas and Potawatomis frequently meet, it is not 
improbable that the latter were also acquainted with it, but 
it was never used except in cases of sickness. To the 
Europeans they are therefore indebted for all the evils 
which have attended too free a use of spirituous liquors. 

The Potawatomis are not divided into tribes, designated 
by the name of animals, as is reported to be the case with 
the Missouri Indians, but they are distinguished merely 
from their local habitations. Those that live on the St. 
Joseph form a small tribe, in every respect similar to 
those residing near Chicago, or near Lake Michigan. Al- 
though not divided into regular tribes, they have a sort of 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 119 

family distinction, kept up by means of signs resembling 
those of heraldry. These signs are by them called T^o-t^'m ; 
they are taken from an animal or from some part of it, but by 
no means imply a supposed relationship with that animal, as 
has been incorrectly stated. It is merely a distinguishing 
mark or badge, which appears to belong to every member of 
a family, whether male or female. The latter retain it even 
after matrimony, and do not assume that of their husbands. 
It does not appear that this implies the least obligation of 
the Indian, to the animal from which it is taken. He may 
kill it or eat it. The totem appears to answer no other 
purpose than that of distinguishing families ; it does not 
imply any degree of nobility or inequality of rank among 
them. It is the same custom, which is improperly at- 
tributed by Carver to the Dacota or Sioux Indians, (Nau- 

Independently of the name which he bears, and of the 
totem or badge of family to which he lays claim, an In- 
dian has frequently a kind spirit to watch over him and 
assist him. This tutelar saint is of course held in high ve- 
neration, and nothing is done that could in the least offend 
him. The mode in which each Indian becomes acquainted 
with the name or nature of this ministering spirit, is by 
dreams, in which he fancies that the Master of Life re- 
veals himself to him in his sleep, under the form of some 
tangible object in creation, generally of an animal ; under 
this shape the Great Spirit holds converse with him, and 
the Indian ever after supposes that this is the form in 
which he may expect to see the Great Spirit appear to 
him. To this animal, whom he considers as a medium of 
communication between him and the Master of Life, he 
addresses his prayers and states his wants ; he consults it 
in all his difficulties, and not unfrequently conceives that 


he has derived relief from it Of course, he abstains from 
eating of the animal, and would rather starve than sacrile- 
giously feed upon his idol. But he holds the animal as a 
friend to himself alone. He knows that others have differ- 
ent spirits, and hence does not think himself bound to pro- 
tect that animal against his companions, because he knows 
that there is no virtue in the animal for any one but him- 
self. Sometimes, instead of the whole animal, it is only in 
some part of it that the charm resides, and in this case he 
will feel no hesitation in eating of all the other parts of the 

In their conversation, the Indians frequently display 
considerable humour. Their attempts at wit are nume- 
rous, and often successful ; but their wit as Avell as the 
general tenour of their conversation, is obscene ; in proof 
of this, we might, if it were necessary, mention several in- 
stances ; but they have been so frequently noticed by the 
travellers that have preceded us, that we feel ourselves 
excused from doing it. As an instance of an attempt at 
what they consider as wit, the following was related to us ; 
an Indian called for milk ; when they were about to give 
him some, he pointed to a whiskey bottle, and observed 
that it was the milk of that black cow, that he wanted. 
Such an observation is sure to draw peals of laughter from 
all about them, which encourages them to proceed. But 
perhaps, the most remarkable trait in their conversation 
is, that they feel none of that delicacy or restraint, which 
among civilized nations has proscribed many words from 
general use. With them every idea which enters into their 
head, or every word which they think of, is uttered with- 
out any respect for the company present. With this 
apparent obscenity in their conversation, the Indians are 
very guarded in their actions, and their manners indicate 


a considerable degree of native modesty. In this they 
generally excel the white men who live with them ; and 
it is a fact, well attested by the experience of all who 
have spent any time among them, that they are seldom or 
never observed in an obscene or indecorous attitude. 

Metea was asked, whether he had ever heard of any tra- 
dition accounting for the formation of those artificial 
mounds, which are found scattered over the whole country ; 
when he immediately replied, that they had been constructed 
by the Indians as fortifications, before white men had come 
among them. " After men had been made," said he, " they 
scattered themselves over the surface of the earth, and lost 
all knowledge of each other. When they afterwards met, 
it was with fear and caution ; they were engaged in wars, 
during which they erected these works, which served for 
defence, until treaties and alliances were made between 
them." He has always heard this origin ascribed to them, 
and has known three of those constructions which are 
supposed to have been made by his nation. One is at the 
fork of the Kankakee and the Des Plaines rivers, a second 
on the Ohio, which, from his description, was supposed to 
be at the mouth of the Muskingum ; he visited it, but could 
not describe the spot very accurately; and a third, which 
he had also seen, he states to be on the head waters of the 
St. Joseph of Lake Michigan. This latter is at about 
forty miles north-west of Fort Wayne, and five or six 
miles distant from an Indian village called Mangokwa, 
on a small stream which empties into the St, Joseph ; it is 
a round hill about as large as Fort Wayne. Major Long, 
whj has seen those on the St. Joseph and at the mouth of 
the Kankakee, on a former visit to this country, considers 
them^ as natural, and not artificial elevations. One of the 
Miami chiefs whom the traders have named Legros, once 
told Barron that he had heard that his father had fought 

Vol. L 16 


with his tribe in one of the forts at Piqua; that the fort 
had been erected by the Indians against the French, and 
that his father had been killed during: one of the assaults 
made upon it by the French. 

The chiefdom is hereditary among the Potawatomis. 
If a chief should be destitute of male heirs, sons or ne- 
phews, he assembles the warriors of his tribe, and ap- 
points one of them as his successor. Should he die without 
leaving any male heir, and without having adopted any, 
then the warriors convene and appoint one of their num- 
ber to succeed to the vacant dignity ; " for a nation cannol 
exist" says Metea "without a leader." In their councils 
no regular debate takes place. The first man who is 
nominated as chief, generally unites all votes; it is evi- 
dent that much must depend upon the influence of him who 
nominates a candidate. It is, however, usual to ascertain 
the wish of the people beforehand, and for this reason they 
are always consulted. 

In like manner, if a man be desirous of leading a war- 
party, he mentions it to others, secures their assistance, 
and then publicly announces his intention in the vil- 
lage, when such as please follow him. Previous to his 
departure, he performs his religious ceremonies, and pre- 
pares what is termed his " medicine" or spell, by which 
he hopes to insure success. If the chief of the village be 
opposed to the scheme, he undertakes to prevent it, by 
influencing their superstitious fears. To this effect, he 
counteracts, as they suppose, the spells prepared by the 
warrior, by walking round him in a circle, and then re- 
suming his place. This they so firmly Joelieve to vitiate 
the medicine, that it immediately puts a stop to the expe- 
dition. The power of the chief appears to rest exclusively 
upon his personal influence. He can use no coercive mea- 
sures to obtain what he wishes, or prevent what he dis- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 123 

likes. Although the Indians have notions of right and 
wrong, they have no means of rewarding the former and 
redressing the latter; the chief cannot punish a man for 
any offence whatsoever. If the crime committed be flagrant, 
the party that deems itself injured may seek for redress in 
a forcible manner, but there is no mode of obtaining it by 
fair and legal means. In some cases, however, a breach of 
faith may be punished ; if, for instance, a chief wishes to 
undertake a military operation, he convenes his warriors, 
and states his views ; should they agree to it, they declare 
their assent by presenting him with a string of wampum, 
which is kept as an evidence of their acquiescence. Should 
any one of those who have agreed to go, afterwards break 
his promise, he is liable to be punished by forfeiture of 
part of his property, or by expulsion from the village. A 
string of wampum is sometimes sent from one village to 
another, with a piece of tobacco attached to it as a proof of 
the faith of the messenger. It has often been stated, that 
the Indians in no instance whatever punished their children. 
This is not correct as a general rule. Mr. Colhoun was in- 
formed, that the Potawatomis sometimes enjoin upon their 
children, as a punishment, the use of the charcoal and its 
accompanying fast. He also observes, that the circum- 
stance of chastisement being inflicted by some Indians, is 
confirmed by Joutel's statement, that the Illinois and 
Cadoquias punished their children by throwing water in 
their faces ; and by Jones's observations, that the Shawa- 
nese had the same practice, and likewise threw them into 
brooks.* The power of the chief is only exercised as 

• Vide " Journal Historique du dernier Voyage de M. de la Salle, par 
Joutel." Paris, 1713, p. 284 and 342, and "Journal of two visits to some 
nations of Indians west of Ohio river, in 1772 and 1773, by Rev. D. 


long as he behaves himself in a manner agreeable to the 
wishes of his warriors, for though the dignity be a heredi- 
tary one, it is not uncommon for them to depose their 
chiefs. The principal prerogative of the chief is to con- 
duct all military operations ; when once war is declared, 
he cannot conclude peace without the consent of his war- 
riors. The duty of dividing the annuity paid to them by 
the United States' Government, likewise devolves upon the 
chief. Formerly the partition was made by him in the 
manner that he thought best, but some cases of malversa- 
tion have led to a different method. The money is paid 
to the principal chief of the nation, who calls his people 
round him, places them in a circle, and then throws a dol- 
lar to each, all round, continuing this operation until the 
whole of the money be disposed of In this division the 
father of a family receives an equal share for every indi- 
vidual in his household, whether male or female, child or 
adult. The annuities paid to the Miamis amount to eighteen 
thousand dollars. The last census, taken a few years since, 
made their numbers eleven hundred and seventy-two, of 
whom three hundred were warriors. An accurate amount 
of the Potawatomi population could not be obtained here ; 
it has been variously stated ; we heard it rated at ten thou- 
sand, which is probably far beyond the true number. Those 
who receive their annuities at Fort Wayne, are not nume- 
rous, and the census of Indians in the state of Illinois does 
not admit of more than twelve hundred Potawatomis. The 
payment of their annuities on the United States' territory, 
is_^very much to be regretted ; they ought to be paid to them 
on the Indian reservations, where by a humane law no 
spirituous liquors can be sold ; if some means were taken of 
holding a sort of fair for cattle, and implements of agricul- 
ture, at the time that the annuity is paid, they might, per- 


haps, be induced to apply to the purchase of useful objects, 
the money which is at present wasted in procuring spirits. 
Under the present system, the moment an Indian receives 
his annuity, he immediately converts it into whiskey •, the 
deplorable effects of which upon their system are too well 
known to require that we should dwell upon them ; but we 
may be permitted to add the testimony of what came under 
our own inspection, to the great mass of information which 
has already transpired on this subject. During the three days 
that we stayed at Fort Wayne, we saw two Indians toma- 
hawked. The first case happened the night of our arrival ; 
this man was very severely cut in the head by some 
unknown person. It was supposed that it was by one 
of the French engages. At the time this occurred, they 
were all concerned in a drunken frolic. The next day, 
on visiting the Fort, we met at the gate a few Indians, 
one of whom was in a state of intoxication; and we 
were informed by a boy, that he had threatened to shoot 
his wife. A few moments after, while we were en- 
gaged in conversation with the Indian Agent, word was 
brought to him, that the Indian had drawn his knife and 
severely wounded her in the forehead. It appeared the 
only provocation she had given him, was in attempting to 
draw him away from the town, and induce him to return 
to his village. In both these cases the loss of blood was 
very considerable, and such that it was believed none but 
Indians could have survived it ; but they are so inured to 
pain and privations of every kind, that it cannot be doubted 
that they recover from wounds which to other men would 
prove fatal. The excellent surgical assistance which they 
receive in all cases of wounds and bruises, may also be 
considered as one of the causes which tend to restore 
them to health. These assaults are, however, so common 


here, that no one appears surprised at them ; they are con- 
sidered as an every day occurrence. Generally an Indian 
will, after he has recovered from his drunken frolic, express 
great regret for the fatal effects which have attended it. 
This is peculiarly the case where he is at a distance from 
the white population, and where intoxication has not be- 
come with him an habitual or daily vice ; otherwise the 
frequent repetition of these bloody frays renders him cal- 
lous to their consequences. As an instance, we were told, 
that some time since, when the Baptist Missionary Society 
were allowed to occupy Fort Wayne as one of their sta- 
tions, an Indian brought to the fort the corpse of his 
brother, and asked the Rev. Mr. M'Coy, who superintended 
the establishment, to provide for the funeral. On inquiry, 
Mr. M'Coy found that the deceased had been murdered a 
short time before, by the very Indian who had brought 
him in. When questioned as to the cause of his brother's 
death, the murderer carelessly raised the clothing from the 
breast of the deceased, and exhibited five or six wounds 
which he had inflicted with a knife, nor could any emo- 
tion of compunction be observed in his unyielding coun- 
tenance. These evils may all be traced to the unfortu- 
nate circumstance, that the prohibition to sell spirituous 
liquors to the Indians only extends to their territory. 
If congress were to include in this prohibition all lands be- 
longing to the United States, the evil could be partly, if 
not wholly, remedied. The inducement to smuggle li- 
quor and sell it clandestinely, might be sufficiently great to 
prevent the mischief from being completely removed, but 
it would certainly render it rare. Perhaps, also, if the 
agents were required to pay them their annuities on the 
Indian reservation, and at a time when an opportunity would 
be given them of laying out their money in the purchase 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 127 

of cattle, implements of agriculture, and other useful or in- 
nocent articles, while the introduction of spirituous liquors 
would be closely guarded against, the great evil of intoxi- 
cation would be rendered still more rare. Whatever mea- 
sures congress may choose to adopt to civilize the Indians, 
it is not difficult to foresee that they will ever prove un- 
successful, unless a check be immediately put to the sale of 
ardent liquors among them. The law that prohibits the 
sale of it upon their territory having proved insufficient, a 
more general system of restriction must be adopted. 

Experience has likewise proved, that the term sale was 
not sufficiently comprehensive. The giving of spirits ought 
to be subjected to the same regulation ; for it has been ob- 
served on the Missouri, as well as on the Mississippi, and 
probably every where throughout the Indian country, 
that if prohibited from selling it, the traders will give it to 
the Indians as an inducement to trade with them, taking 
care that the price of the liquor be included in that of the 
tobacco or other article sold to them at the time. 

All Indians concur in considering intoxication as impro- 
per, and as the source of every evil. Among crimes, those 
that are held to be most atrocious, are murder, theft, and 
the violation of the advice and directions of their parents. 
Many, however, are said to be " foolish," and not sensible 
of crime. Rape is considered as visited by the anger of the 
Great Spirit, and is never practised but upon females in a 
state of intoxication. In the treatment of their wives, they 
are often severe and brutal ; if they should prove lazy, or 
be deemed so by their unrelenting husbands, or if careless 
of their children, they arc not unfrequently beaten with 
clubs. Among women no crime is considered so flagrant 
as infidelity to their husbands ; this is punished with blows, 
and sometimes by cutting off the nose, or other mutilations. 


Seldom do the Potawatomis punish it by death, and it is 
very rare that they vent their resentment against the pa- 
ramour. The barbarous punishment noticed by INIr. Say 
in the account of the manners of the Otos, Omawhaws, 
and other Missouri Indians, which he described under the 
name of the Round in the Prairie, (tour de la prairie of 
the Canadians,) is not known among the Potawatomis. 

The Indians are liable to more distempers than might 
at first be expected from their mode of living. Croup is 
one of their most common diseases ; in some seasons, most 
of the cases are fatal, while in others all the patients reco- 
ver. No medicine is applied in this disease, except the 
maple sap, or sugar dissolved in hot water. Adults find re- 
lief from vomiting. Sore throat appears, also, to be one of 
their most frequent complaints ; especially in the morning, 
but it soon passes off. They are often bitten by rattlesnakes ; 
the wound is cured among the Potawatomis by poultices of 
the Seneca snake-root, draughts of violet tea, and Eupato- 
riutn perfoliatum ; they have other remedies, which they 
keep secret; the venom of the snake is considered greater 
at some periods of the moon than at others ; in the month of 
August it is most so. These Indians entertain a high degree 
of veneration for the rattlesnake, not that they consider it in 
the light of a spirit, as has frequently but incorrectly been 
asserted, but because they are grateful to it for the timely 
warning which it has often given them, of tlie approach 
of an enemy. They therefore seldom kill it, unless 
when a young man fancies that he requires a rattle, in 
which case he will have no hesitation in killing a snake ; 
which act he, however, always accompanies by certain 
forms. He introduces it by many apologies to the animal, 
informing it that he wants the rattle as an ornament for his 
person, and by no means to make fun of it, and in testi- 


mony of his amity to the species, leaves a piece of tobacco 
near the carcase. The fang of the snake is held to be a 
charm against rheumatism and other internal pains ; the 
mode of applying it consists in scratching the affected part 
until it bleeds. In their rude midwifery, they use the rat- 
tle to assist in parturition ; it is then administered inter- 
nally ; it is not, however, used as an emmenagogue. Leprosy 
is known among' them, and has been observed under some 
of its most horrible features. In a case, known to Dr. Hall, 
the patient required some one to be constantly scraping 
his body and limbs with a knife. A double handful of 
furfuraceous matter was daily discharged ; he died in the 
course of six months ; his feet had turned as black as gun- 

Fevers are common among the Potawatomis, and are 
either bilious, intermittent, remittent or continued ; they 
afflict most those who follow the game to the interior of 
the country; while those who reside along the shores of 
the lake enjoy much better health. The Indians observe 
that the easterly winds are the most wholesome, the 
southerly produce dullness and laziness, the north wind is 
too cold, and that from the west is veiy uncomfortable. 
Haepatitis is not common ; when it occurs, it is relieved by 
repeated vomiting until the bile is completely evacuated ; if 
the bile be not discharged, the white of the eye turns yellow, 
and continues so until death ensues. Hydrocephalus and 
dropsy are, itseems, unknown to them. Small Pox is frequent, 
but is always introduced by white men ; it does not, how- 
ever, commit any great depredation ; at one time it raged 
among them, and proved disastrous and incurable. Its 
evil effects were suspended by the introduction of the 
practice of inoculation and vaccination, which Little Turtle 
made known to them. Having never known the small 

Vol. I. 17 


pox to be violent but once, they have not entertained that 
opinion, of its return at periodical times, which is said to 
be held by other nations. Dr. Hall's offer to vaccinate 
them was accepted by many and declined by others. 
Metea told us that vaccination had only been abandoned 
for want of the virus, he expressed a great wish to obtain 
some, and said if he had it, he would use his influence to 
disseminate it. 

Syphilis was, according to Metea, known to the Indians 
in its mildest form prior to the arrival of white men among 
them. It is considered as having increased in virulence and 
frequency, since the promiscuous intercourse of white men 
and squaws which is not interrupted, according to the uni- 
form practice of Indians, during the period of the catamenia. 
When the disease is in its mild state, they cure it very readily 
by timely application to their medicine men ; the principal 
remedies are decoctions of the red root and the prairie willow 
root, as also of sassafras. In such cases they drink very plenti- 
fully. These remedies are not applied to the disease in its worst 
forms : we heard that they had remedies which, even in these 
cases, were considered as certain, but of which we could 
not ascertain the nature. In all such diseases, they apply 
to their regular doctors, who are said to charge very extra- 
vagant fees. These men combine the use of spells with 
that of herbs, and are held in very great esteem. Their 
materia medica consists of astringents, cathartics, emetics, 
mucilages, and sudorifics. Among the emetics most in use, 
we heard of pills made from the product of the evapora- 
tion of a decoction of the horse-chestnut boiled down to a 
viscous state. One of their sudorifics is said to consist in 
the application of a poultice of maize, boiled as for food, 
which is spread over the body of the sick person, who 
is first extended on a board or skin. The maize used in 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 131 

this application is afterwards used as food. The berry of 
the prickly ash is used by them as a warming medicine 
for inward complaints. They have no vesicatories but fire 
and hot water, which are applied for sore joints and rheu- 
matism. Phlebotomy is performed with a small knife or 
with a thin lamina of flint attached to a stick in the man- 
ner of a fleam, and stuck in the flesh in the same way. 
For a pain in the head they bleed in the bend of the 
arm, or above it ; for one in the side below the bend ; 
and if the pain be in the back they bleed on the right or 
left ankle according as it inclines to the right or left 
side. Bleeding is never resorted to in fevers. 

Calculous symptoms are accurately described, but the dis- 
ease and its causes are unknown to them. The process of 
parturition is generally easy, the woman being on her 
knees ; it is sometimes assisted by bending the body over 
a cord, the ends of which are attached to the top of the 
cabin ; the funis is regularly tied and cut. The operation of 
turning is unknown ; no manual assistance is resorted to, 
even in cases of wrong presentation ; and many instances 
have occurred in which the foetus became putrid before it 
was expelled. They have professed midwives, who are 
paid for their attendance ; these are principally old women. 
Men are never allowed to assist at the delivery of a woman. 
A general opinion has prevailed that all Indian women 
bathed in cold water immediately after parturition. This 
is however extremely incorrect ; the practice exists among 
the Sioux or Dacotas, and among many other nations, but 
we very much question whether any nation of Algonquin 
origin practises it. The Potawatomi women are very care- 
ful not to expose themselves to cold after child-birth, and 
do not bathe for ten days unless the weather be very warm. 
The placenta not being always expelled naturally, they 


have recourse to a strong medicinal draught ; it is stated, 
that if it should remain for several days, the husband 
takes his wife upon his shoulders, and carries her about for 
some time ; the motion is said to assist in its expulsion. 
Mothers always nurse their children, and continue to suckle 
them for a great length of time, in some instances for 
three, four, or more years, if no subsequent pregnancy oc- 
cur ; in one case a mother was observed suckling a child 
twelve years of age. When the mother's milk fails, the 
child is fed with an extract of sweet maize in boiling water, 
and medicines are administered to renew the secretion. 
Metea had never heard of a total failure of a woman's 
milk while nursing her child; during a temporary in- 
terruption of it they sometimes commit children to the 
care of a friend, who acts as a nurse; but this practice 
is disapproved of. Parturition is seldom fatal : when 
it proves so, it is attributed to ignorance or carelessness on 
the part of the midwife ; in women of indolent habit it is 
said to be painful, in the active it is much less laborious. 
Sterility is very common, but does not expose women to 
contempt, though it is frequently the cause of their being 
cast off by their husbands. The period of gestation varies 
from eight to nine months, and is seldom attended with 
sickness or nausea. Menstruation commonly commences 
at the age of fourteen, and continues until fifty, and in some 
cases sixty years; it is not uncommon to see a woman 
with gray hair, whose catamenia has not ceased. Many 
women become disabled from child-bearing by accidents 
during their first gestation, although still very young. 
Menstruation is often irregular with them ; when too 
abundant, they have remedies which are represented as 
very successful, but which Metea declined indicating, as it 
was not usual for them to talk of these things except when 


called upou professionally, and with a fee. In a suppres- 
sion of menses they seldom apply any remedy ; as they 
are apprehensive that this might be productive of sterility, 
which is by all Indian women considered as the greatest 
curse that can be entailed upon them. During the period 
of the catamenia, women are not allowed to associate with 
the rest of the nation ; they are completely laid aside, and 
are not permitted to touch any article of furniture or food 
which men have occasion to use. If the Indians be sta- 
tionary at the time, the women are placed outside of the 
camp; if on a march, they are not allowed to follow the 
trail, but must take a different path and keep at a distance 
from the main body. This practice, which appears to pre- 
vail wherever man retains his primitive simplicity and 
purity of manners, has been very unphilosophically con- 
sidered by Adair and other theoretic writers as a strong 
confirmation of the descent of the aborigines of America 
from the ten lost tribes of Israel. But as Charlevoix ob- 
serves, " one must have good eyes, or rather a very lively 
imagination to perceive in them all that some travellers 
have pretended to discover."* The late Mr. Samuel 
Prince, of Boston, who resided thi'ee or four years in 
Owhyhee, assured Mr. Colhoun that the natives of that 
island are equally scrupulous with regard to the catamenia, 
and during its continuance ; the women being secluded in 
houses without the villages. This custom of Owhyhee 
has not, we think, been noticed by any traveller that we 
have met with. 

It has been often asserted that it was a common prac- 
tice with Indian women to destroy the foetus. This 
may be correct as respects certain nations, but it ought 

* Charlevoix's Journal Historique, Letter 23i. 


by no means to be considered as applicable lo all ; and 
we know it to be incorrect as respects the Potawato- 
mis. All travellers concur in representing them as very 
proud of the number of their children. Where the mild 
and humane provisions of the Christian faith do not pre- 
vail, children form almost the only link which binds man 
to woman for life. It is the only obstacle to that constant 
repudiation of wives which occurred previous to the Chris- 
tian dispensation ; hence, independent of the moral turpi- 
tude of the deed, it would be the height of impolicy in a 
woman to impair the strongest claim which she has upon 
her husband's affections ; besides these considerations, the 
Potawatomi woman is prevented from attempting infanti- 
cide from the fear which she entertains that abortion would 
be followed by the death of the parent. 

Askabunkese, one of the most celebrated physicians 
among the Potawatomis, being asked whether chlorosis 
was known to them, said that he did not know it ; the wo- 
men were too modest to inform the men, and would knock 
him down with a stick if he were to inquire of them. 

Among the Potawatomi, the practice of medicine is con- 
sidered quite distinct from that of jugglery. Both are in great 
repute, but it appears that there is no interference. The 
man of medicine has, it is true, recourse to spells and in- 
cantations to add to the virtue of the plants which he uses; 
but this is totally unconnected with the avocations of the 
sorcerer and juggler, whose object is amusement, and who 
are resorted to for the recovery of lost articles, or to answer 
questions about persons and things at a distance, for which 
they sometimes get pay from the more ignorant, but they 
are soon detected in their clumsy arts. The sorcerers arc 
treated with much respect, being held in great awe ; they 
generally perform their tricks in the, twilight, or during 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 135 

the night. Prophets formerly existed in great number, 
and were much revered ; but the failure which attended 
the predictions made by the great prophet of the Shawa- 
nese, the brother of Tecumseh, has opened their eyes on 
this subject, and satisfied them that he, as well perhaps as 
the others who had enjoyed reputation among them, was 
merely a tool in the hands of a designing chief, to deceive 
the Indians into measures which he wished to effect. 

The Potawatomis have a number of war songs, formed 
for the most part of one or two ideas, expressed in short 
and forcible sentences, which they repeat over and over, 
in a low humming kind of tune, which to our ears ap- 
peared very monotonous ; they have no love songs, the 
business of singing being always connected with warlike 
avocations. We took down the words of one of their sonscs 
as follows : — 

Y6-wa-kwa ta-m^-noi me-ch^-mo-ko-man. 

IFhat do I hear behind me? the Americans 

n^-to-ta-wa-n^-ka pe-te-ksi-wa, 

are entering our village. Prepare yourselves to fight. 

Ka-na-m^-ta-s^ we-ta-se ne-p6-vv^n. 

We must die. Victory or death. 

The translation of two others is annexed, with a view- 
to give an idea of the purport of their songs. " When I 
march against mine enemies, the earth trembles under my 
feet:" this is sung with considerable force by a warrior: 
the others joining in chorus, to the words ya, wa, often re- 
peated, and concluded with a general whoop. 

Another, which is very short, consists merely in the re- 
petition of the words, " The head of the enemy is cut off, 
and falls at my feet;" with the exclamation ha-ha-ha, fre- 
quently repeated. 

Singing is always attended by the dance, and if pos- 


sible, by intoxication, in which case it becomes incohe- 
rent and unintelligible. The only musical instruments 
which they use, are the drum, rattle, and a kind of flage- 
let. They have various kinds of dances known by the 
name of the war dance, medicine dance, Manito or spirit 
dance, wabano, metawee, mewicine, and beggar's dance. 
Their games are numerous and diversified ; they resemble 
many of those known to civilized men ; such as gymnastic 
exercises, battledore, pitching the bar, ball, &c. tennis and 
cup-ball, for which they use the spur of the deer with a 
string attached to it. They are fond of games of chance, 
particularly cards, which they have received from traders, 

The Potawatomis are for the most part well proportion- 
ed, about five feet eight inches in height, possessed of much 
muscular strength in the arm, but rather weak in the back, 
with a strong neck, endowed with considerable agility. 
Their voice is feeble and low, but when excited very shrill ; 
their teeth are sound and clean, but not remarkable for re- 
gularity. In persons of feeble habits, or of a scrophulous 
tendency, the teeth are found to decay much faster than in 
others. Dentition is said to be a painful process among 
Indian children, a circumstance which we had not expect- 
ed. Their complexion is very much darkened by expo- 
sure to the sun and wind, while those parts which are 
kept covered, are observed to retain their native bright- 
ness. Children are red when new-born, after a few years 
they assume the yellow colour. Their sight is quick and 
penetrating, but blindness is frequent from the intense ap- 
plication of the eye in still hunting, and from exposure to 
the alternate, and, in some cases, united action of the sun 
and snow ; doubtless also on account of the constant smoke 
in their huts. Their hearing is usually good when young ; 


but is often affected in old age, probably by the effect of 
cold, or the usually disordered state of their stomach. 
Their olfactory nerves are said to be inferior in acuteness 
to those of the white man ; which is singular, considering 
the extent of the sense of smelling among wild animals. 
We should have believed that man in his {[primitive state 
would be possessed of a more acute sense of smelling than 
when civilized; the facts stated on this subject of the 
Caraibs being able to trace men through the woods by the 
scent, like hounds, and of their distinguishing " the track 
of an Englishman or a negro, from that of a Frenchman 
or a Spaniard, by the sense of smelling," if true, would be 
strong confirmation of this doctrine.* It is said that the 
Arabs cannot bear the smell of a city. 

Their endurance of cold is great. Their powers of di- 
gestion are strong, but exposed to severe trials. The quantity 
of food which an Indian will take when he has it in abun- 
dance is surprising, and if considered in connection with what 
is related by Captain Parry of the appetite of the Esquimaux, 
would lead us to believe that this is not peculiar to any na- 
tion of Indians, but that it belongs to man in general in his 
wild state. We find that it extends also to the half-breeds 
who live among them. The observations made at a later 
period of the expedition, upon the quantity of buffaloe 
meat consumed by every man of the party, confirm this. 
The usual allowance of fresh buffaloe meat to the guides 
and boatmen of the fur trading companies is not less than 
eight pounds per day ; it is probable, that during the short 
time the party were among the buffaloe, the ration of each 
of the gentlemen averaged about four pounds. This is not 
to be attributed to any want of nutritive power in the flesh 

• Archseologia Americana, vol. I. p. 426. 

Vol. I. 18 


of the buflaloe, but to the great facility that attends the di- 
gestion of this food, and to the irregular habits which even 
the most civilized men readily acquire as soon as they find 
themselves beyond the pale of society. Certain it is, that 
if well provided with food, and not engaged in hunting, the 
Potawatomi will eat from ten to twenty times a day. Fre- 
quent exposure to privation of food has, however, accus- 
tomed him to endure the want of it with more fortitude, 
and perhaps with less real inconvenience, than the white 
man. There is also probably a moral support which the 
red man receives from the recollection, that however fre- 
quent, and however long have been the intervals during 
W'hich he was deprived of all subsistence, they have al- 
ways terminated in time to secure him from absolute fa- 
mine ; he therefore always retains the hope of being soon re- 
stored to abundance. The white man, less accustomed to 
these privations, considers himself as lost the very first time 
that he misses his usual allowance, and is deprived of the great 
accession of physical strength which proceeds from moral 
courage. Notwithstanding their great fortitude, the men 
of this nation are sometimes liable to unaccountable de- 
pression of spirits, which seldom, however, leads them to 
commit suicide ; we heard of two instances only, one of 
which was in a fit of intoxication, and the other to get rid 
of a scolding wife. 

This account of the Potawatomis might have been 
lengthened out by adding many circumstances which were 
related to us concerning their manners and opinions ; but 
having given the most important, we shall withhold notic- 
ing the remainder, except in a few instances, when treat- 
ing of other Indian tribes ; in which case they may assist 
in a comparison between the different nations. 



Carey mission-house. Lake Michigan. Chicago. 

THE only person worthy of note, whom the party met 
at Fort Wayne, besides those already alluded to, was Cap- 
tain Riley, the same gentleman who has amused the 
world by an account of his sufferings in Africa. He has 
formed a settlement on St. Mary river, fourteen miles 
above Fort Wayne, which he has called Willshire, in honour 
of the British consul who redeemed him from captivity. 
The spot which he has selected is said to be the only one 
that affords a water-power witliin fifty miles of Fort Wayne ; 
from which circumstance it will probably increase in im- 
portance. The party made arrangements to cross the wil- 
derness, of upwards of two hundred miles, which separates 
this place from Chicago ; they fortunately met here the ex- 
press sent from the latter place for letters, and detained 
him as a guide. His name was Bemis, and wc have great 
pleasure in stating, that of all the United States' soldiers who, 
at various times, accompanied the expedition in the capa- 
city of escort or guide, none behaved himself so much to 
their satisfaction as this man. On the 29th of May, the 
party left Fort Wayne, the cavalcade consisted of seven 
persons, including the soldier, and a black servant, called 
Andrew Allison ; there were in addition two horses loaded 
with provisions. The first day the party travelled but 
twenty miles, and encamped on the bank of a small stream 
known by the name of Blue-grass ; this is the last of the tri- 
butaries to the Mississippi which are met with in Indiana ; 
all the streams which we crossed during the ensuing five or 


six days empty their waters into Lake MicTiigan. The 
country to the west of Fort Wayne is much more promis- 
ing than that which lies east of it Though wet, and in some 
places swampy, it is much less so than that through which 
we had previously travelled. The soil is thin, but of 
good quality; prairies are occasionally met with; the fo- 
rests consist of white oak, shellbark, aspen, &c. The 
weather, which was cloudy in the morning and showery 
in the afternoon, cleared off towards sunset, and our first 
night's exposure was attended with no evil consequences. 
The meadow on which we halted, was covered with a 
fine tame grass, which afibrded us a soft couch, while it 
secured to our horses plentiful and palatable food. The 
streams we crossed this day were inconsiderable ; the first 
known by the name of Eel river, is one of the head branches 
of the Wabash : it was considerably swollen at that time ; 
we forded it with some difficulty, and met on the west bank 
a party of traders, who had been encamped there some- 
time with a large quantity of furs, which they dared not 
trust across the stream in its present state of elevation. 
They were nearly destitute of provisions, and we supplied 
them with one day's rations. A ride of thirty miles took 
us the next day to a fine river called the Elkheart, which 
it had been our intention to have forded before night ; 
upon reaching its banks we found it so much swollen as to 
preclude the possibility of crossing it, unless a raft could be 
made ; but as this would have detained us too long, we prefer- 
ed attempting to make our way down the left bank of the 
stream. We were led to take this course from the cir- 
cumstance, that the usual path crosses back to the left or 
southern bank, about twenty miles below the first cros- 
sing. The country travelled over this day, consisted of low 
flat ridges, the summits of which presented extensive levels 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 141 

interspersed with many small lakes and lagoons. These 
ridges are not more than ten or fifteen feet in height, their 
sides are so steep as to make them sometimes difficult of 
ascent for horses. The country is almost destitute of timber 
until within a few miles of the Elkheart, when we entered 
the river bottom, in which we found a noble forest of 
oak, black and white walnut, wild cherry, beech, poplar, 
ash, bass or linden, white and sugar maple, &c. the soil upon 
which it grows appearing to be of the very best quality, 
but somewhat wet. Among the plants observed upon the 
prairie land, Mr. Say noticed a lupin with blue flowers, in 
full bloom and in great abundance; a fine cypripedium, 
and the wild flax, which grew in great plenty. Some of 
the small lakes or ponds are surrounded exclusively with 
a thick growth of white cedars, none of which are seen 
elsewhere, or intermixed with any of the forest trees on 
the more elevated ground. One of the most curious cha- 
racters of the prairie, was the number of conical depres- 
sions in the earth, resembling the sink holes in the neigh- 
bourhood of St. Louis ; they are from eight to ten or more 
feet in depth, and from twenty to thirty in diameter. They 
remind the geologist of the numerous funnel-formed holes 
which are observable in gypsum formations, and particularly 
in the muriatiferous gypsum of the vicinity of Bex in Swit- 
zerland, Moutiers in Savoy, &c. No rocks appear in situ 
any where along these prairies, but they are covered with 
granitic boulders, bearing evident marks of attrition. The 
soil is likewise thickly studded with water-worn pebbles, 
and is therefore far inferior in quality to that over which 
we passed the preceding day. The grass of these prairies 
is generally short and dry. 

One of the greatest inconveniences we encountered at 
this stage of our journey, and which was felt still more 


sensibly when travelling on the prairies west of the Missis- 
sippi, was the great range of the thermometer. We noticed 
this day, that at sunrise it stood at 38^, (of Fahrenheit's 
scale,) while at noon it had risen to 72°. So great a variation 
of temperature is productive of very heavy dews, to which 
we were frequently exposed, as we often neglected pitch- 
ing our tents at night. In rising in the morning we 
found our clothes as wet as if they had been drenched in 
water. Whether the usual elevation of these prairies pre- 
vents the dew from being attended with the sickliness 
which generally prevails in the vicinity of rivers, or 
whether the life, to which men are exposed in crossing 
the prairies, protects them against the noxious influence 
of the dew, we know not; but it is remarkable that none 
of the party suffered from it. In no instance were any of us 
affected with either cold or rheumatismal pains ; and if in 
one or two cases symptoms of fever prevailed, it was at a 
time when we had left the prairies. 

A few Potawatomi Indians were met this day on their 
way to Fort Wayne. The trail which we followed was 
struck by that which leads to one of their villages about 
fifteen miles distant. The weather was hazy throughout 
the day ; in the evening light clouds were observed. A gen- 
tle breeze from the north-west prevailed during the day. Our 
liorses had been fastened, to prevent their rambling in 
the woods ; meeting with but a scanty supply of grass in 
the neighbourhood of the river which was overgrown with 
bushes, and which offered them no other food but the bark 
of trees, many of them broke the bark ligaments with 
which they were secured, and strayed to a considerable dis- 
tance from the camp ; these ligaments are called in the lan- 
guage of the travellers to the west " hobbles." The pursuit 
after the horses in the morning occasioned a great loss of time, 

SOURCE OF ST. peter's kiver. 143 

which was however increased on discovering that the black 
boy (Andrew) had not returned with them ; he having unfor- 
tunately lost his way in the woods. Our search after him hav- 
ing proved vain, we wrote directions for him to pursue our 
track, affixed them to a tree, and were on the point of 
leaving the camp, when fortunately he made his appear- 
ance. It is probable, as we afterwards found out, that he 
would have perished in the woods had he not come in 
just at that moment ; for it would have been impossible 
for him to have traced the party in the thick forest 
through which our course led us : neither would it have 
been prudent for us to have remained any longer there, 
as our horses gave evident signs of their having been 
on short allowance since noon of the preceding day. 
Andrew's return to the camp enabled us then to attend to 
what appeared to be the most important object, which was 
to seek for a place where the horses might pasture to ad- 
vantage. We therefore resolved upon following as short a 
course as we could to the prairie land, endeavouring at the 
same time to keep near enough to the river to reach the 
second crossing before night. In this attempt we met with 
great difficulties, from the closeness of the forest and the 
swampy nature of the ground. The horses laboured much 
to get through, and when we stopped at noon to pasture 
them on a small patch of grass, we found that our progress 
during four hours had been but about six miles. We had 
met with a bold and hitherto undescribed stream, about 
twenty yards wide, which empties into the Elkheart about 
three miles below the usual crossing, and which we have 
designated in our map as the south-west branch of that 
river. From the rapidity and depth of this branch we anti- 
cipated the same difficulties which we had encountered the 
evening before, but on continuing along the bank, for some 

144 ExrKDlTlON TO THE 

time, we observed a large tree that had fallen across, 
and that afforded a safe and commodious bridge for our- 
selves and baggage, while our horses swam over. The 
afternoon of that day was consumed in passing through 
swamps, in which our horses were frequently in danger of 
being lost. At one place three of the horses with 
their riders, were near being severely hurt, by the fruit- 
less efforts of the former to get over a bad hole. We 
were happy to get through without any more serious injury 
than that of being smeared with dirt from head to foot, 
and with the loss merely of a few spurs that stuck to the 
bottom of the pool. After one of the most trying days that 
any of us ever recollected having undergone, we encamp- 
ed, at sunset, in a place so low that we could scarcely get 
a spot dry enough to spread our blankets ; and before we 
had partaken of our evening meal, the mosquitoes arose 
in such numbers around us, that we were deprived of all 
rest for the night. We had likewise the mortification of 
finding that our horses were almost as badly off for grass 
this evening as the last; the distance travelled this day 
did not exceed twenty miles. Our course had been entirely 
directed by the compass, and was nearly west. An Indian 
trail which we observed in a direction north 40° west, was 
followed for a while, with the hope that it would take us 
to an Indian village, but it only lead us back to the Elk- 
heart, which we found as deep and as rapid as at our last 
encampment. We observed here the remains of a frail 
canoe which, for a moment, we thought might assist us in 
crossing the river ; but the weakness of this little vessel, 
soon convinced us of the impossibility of trusting to it ; it 
was made of the bark of the linden or elm, procured by 
cutting through to the wood transversely, first at the foot of 
the tree, and then again about twelve feet above this. A 


longitudinal cut, uniting these two, allowed the bark to be 
shelled off in a single piece. It had then been reversed, so 
that the inner surface, while on the tree, formed the outside 
of the boat; the whole was finished by causing the middle 
part to bulge out, by means of sticks placed athwart, while 
each end was pressed in, and rendered water-tight. This path 
having misled us, we retraced our steps until we ascended 
a bank, about twenty-five feet high, which runs parallel 
with the river, and we continued along the edge of this 
through thick woods of elm, prickly ash, red haw, spice 
wood, papaw in flower, &c. Our situation during the night 
was a very uncomfortable one, and little calculated to 
please those of the party, who were, for the first time, en- 
gaged on an exploring expedition. To be placed in the midst 
of a dense forest, surrounded by bogs, from which our horses 
had been extricated with great difficulty, uncertain as to the 
possibility of reaching by this route the spot at which 
we wished to arrive, tormented by insects, our horses faint 
for want of food, and all this at the commencement of our 
journey through the woods, was rather a discouraging si- 
tuation. Anxious to escape from these difficulties, we re- 
sumed our journey on Sunday, the 1st of June, at as early 
an hour as we could, and were engaged for about five 
hours, in difficulties still greater than those of the preced- 
ing day. The thickness of the forest having obliged us to 
dismount and lead our horses, we waded knee deep in the 
mire, and met with a new obstacle in the necessity of making 
frequent halts, to replace on the horses the baggage which 
was thrown off, during the many leaps which they had 
to take over the fallen trees. After a while we reached a 
high and dry prairie, partly covered with young aspen 
bushes, rising to the height of from eight to ten feet, and 
so thick that it was almost impossible to keep the whole of 
Vol. T. 19 


the party in sight; this reminded Major Long of some of 
the difficulties he had experienced in travelling through 
the cane hrakes of Arkansaw. On halting at noon, we disco- 
vered the Elkheart at no great distance, and from the account 
of our guides, concluded that we had got through our diffi- 
culties. To the younger travellers it was a source of much 
gratification, to find that the fatigues of that morning had ex- 
ceeded all that their more experienced companions had ever 
met with, as it was to them a sure warrant that they had not 
overrated their forces in undertaking the journey. At our 
noontime's encampment, we found the angelica plant, and the 
wild pea-vine. We soon struck a trail, and about three 
miles below, came to the lower crossing of the river ; it 
was still so high that it would have been impossible to pass, 
but we experienced great pleasure in ascertaining that we had 
again fallen into the usual track from Wayne to Chicago ; 
we observed here, for the first time, the equisetum grow- 
ing in abundance. In the afternoon we travelled with 
ease and comfort over a prairie country interspersed with 
occasional spots of woodland. One of these prairies which 
was about five miles wide and one and a half long, was as 
level as possible, and as far as the eye could observe, it re- 
sembled a smooth unruffled sheet of water. The scene was 
enlivened, and the solitude interrupted by the quick flight 
of the deer which we disturbed while feeding, and which 
darted across our path with a rapidity that baffles description. 
About sunset we arrived at a romantic stream called Devil's 
river, and here we encamped upon as beautiful a spot as 
the most fastidious could have wished for; we pitched our 
tent for the first time, and while partaking of a comfortable 
meal, in the open air, spent a more pleasant evening 
than perhaps we could ever have expected to enjoy 
in such a solitude. There was a still sublimity in the scene, 


Avliich we have in vain looked for on many an occasion. 
The dreariness of our last encampment contrasted so 
strongly with the calmness of the present, that it powerfully 
reminded us of that constant mutability in the situation of 
man, which perhaps finds its parallel only in the unceasing 
changes which his ideas and his feelings undergo. 

The next day we proceeded along the southern bank of the 
Elkheart and observed its junction with the St. Joseph. This 
last mentioned stream is known by the appellation of St. 
Joseph of Lake Michigan, in contradistinction to the river 
of the same name which empties into Lake Erie, and which 
we saw at Fort Wayne. The St. Joseph of Michigan is a 
fine stream, deeply incased ; it is about one hundred yards 
wide, and being at that time very full, was both deep and 
rapid ; it is the finest stream we have met with since we 
left the Muskingum, and perhaps even the Ohio. A beau- 
tiful prairie with a fine rich soil, ojfifered to the party an 
easy mode of travelling, and the occasional glimpses which 
they caught of the St. Joseph and its adjoining forests, 
afibrded them a series of varied but ever beautiful prospects, 
which were rendered more picturesque by the ruins of 
Strawberry, Rum, and St. Joseph's villages, formerly the 
residence of Indians or of the first French settlers. It was 
curious to trace the difference in the remains of the habi- 
tations of the red and white man in the midst of this dis- 
tant solitude. While the untenanted cabin of the Indian 
presented in its neighbourhood but the remains of an old 
cornfield overgrown with weeds, the rude hut of the 
Frenchman was surrounded with vines, and with the 
remains of his former gardening exertions. The asparagus, 
the pea-vine, and the woodbine, still grow about it, as 
though in defiance of the revolutions which have dispersed 
those who planted them here. The very names of the vil- 


lages mark the difference between their former tenants j 
those of the Indians were designated by the name of the 
fruit which grew abundantly on the spot, or of the ob- 
ject which they coveted most ; while the French missionary 
has placed his village under the patronage of the tutelar 
saint in whom he reposed his utmost confidence. Near 
to these we found two traders settled in the vicinity of 
Indian lands, or as is believed by many, upon the reser- 
vation itself; where they probably carry on a lucrative 
trade, if, as we were informed by one of them, a skia 
valued at one dollar was obtained for five gunflints, which 
had cost him a cent a piece. This is, however, the least 
evil; our objections to this ti'ade would be much lighter, if 
the Indians were liable only to be defrauded of their dues ; but 
great as is this injustice, it bears no comparison to the evils 
growing out of the constant temptation of liquor to which 
they are exposed, and which as is too well known it is impos- 
sible for them to resist. It is really shocking to observe the 
manner in which, notwithstanding the laws of the land, the 
dictates of sound reason, and morality, and the active efforts 
of the United States' agents, the traders persist in their 
practice of offering liquor to the Indians, the effect of 
which is to demoralize and to destroy them. 

There is in this neighbourhood an establishment which, 
by the philanthopic views that have led to its establish- 
ment and by the boundless charity with which it is admi- 
nistered, compensates in a manner for the insult offered to 
the laws of God and man by the traders. The reports 
which we had received of the flattering success which had 
attended the efforts of the Baptist missionaries on the St. 
Joseph, induced us to deviate a little from our route to 
visit their interesting establishment. The Carey mission- 
house, so designated in honour of the late Mr. Carey, the 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 149 

indefatigable apostle of India, is situated within about a 
mile of the river, and twenty-five miles, (by land,) above its 
mouth. The ground upon which it is erected is the site 
of an ancient and extensive Potawatomi village, now no 
longer in existence. The establishment was created by 
the Baptist Missionary Society in Washington, and is 
under the superintendance of the Rev. Mr. M'Coy, a man 
whom from all the reports we heard of him we should 
consider as very eminently qualified for the important trust 
committed to him. We regretted that at the time we pas- 
sed at the Carey mission-house, this gentleman was absent 
on business connected with the establishment of another 
missionary settlement on the grand river of Michigan ; 
but we saw his wife, who received us in a very hospitable 
manner, and gave us every opportunity of becoming ac- 
quainted with the circumstances of the school. The spot 
upon which the houses are built and the agricultural pur- 
suits carried on, was covered with a very dense forest seven 
months before the time when we visited it, but by the great 
activity of the superintendant, he has succeeded in the course 
of this short time in building six good log houses, four of 
which are connected and afford a comfortable residence to 
the inmates of the establishment, a fifth is used as a school- 
room, and the sixth forms a commodious blacksmith's shop. 
In addition to this, they have cleared about fifty acres of 
land, which are nearly all enclosed by a substantial fence; 
forty acres have already been ploughed and planted with 
maize, and every step has been taken to place the establish- 
ment upon an independant footing. The school consists 
of from forty to sixty children, of which fifteen are females. 
They are either children of Indians, or half-breed de- 
scendants of French and Indian parents; there being about 
an equal number of each. It is contemplated that the 


school will soon be increased to one hundred. The plan 
adopted appears to be a very judicious one ; to instruct them 
in the arts of civilized life, to teach them the benefits which 
they may derive from them, without attempting to con- 
fuse their heads by ideas of religion, the value of which it 
is in their present state, impossible for them to appreciate. 
It is only after they shall have been f3.miliarized with the 
blessings attendant upon civilization, that they may be in- 
duced to turn, with effect, their attention to the sublime 
principles of that dispensation to which we are indebted 
for all those comforts. To attempt to christianize them before 
they have been civilized, would be to expect of them a matu- 
rity of reasoning far beyond that of which experience teaches 
us that they are possessed. In his present state of a\ ildness 
and ignorance, it is impossible for the Indian to appreciate 
the vast difference which exists between his heathen su- 
perstitions and the pure morality of the gospel. Could we 
entertain a doubt of what must strike every reflecting man 
as true, we need but open the books of the Catholic mis- 
sionaries whose zeal first induced them to visit the track- 
less wastes of America, to ascend her as yet unknown 
rivers, and to risk every hazard and surmount every ob- 
stacle, conveying the glad tidings of the gospel and bap- 
tising in the name of the Lord. What say they of their 
success, they were heard with patient attention, for such 
is the practice of the Indian, but what root did their words 
strike in the minds of their pupils? Father Hennepin, one 
of the most celebrated of these missionaries, has accounted 
for their ill success in the true way. "There are," says he, 
" several obstacles to the conversion of the Indians, but in 
most cases the chief difficulty arises from the indifference 
which they manifest for every thing. If we instruct them 
in the creation of the world, and in the mysteries of the 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 151 

christian religion, they say that we are right, and they ge- 
nerally applaud what we tell them. They would hold it 
to be a great breach of manners to intimate the least doubt 
as to the truth of all that we teach them, but having heard 
and praised all that we had to say, they pretend that we 
ought to show the same deference for the tales which they 
relate to us, and when we tell them that all they have ad- 
vanced is false, their reply is, that as they have acquiesced 
in all that we have stated, it is foolish on our part to in- 
terrupt them and deny the truth of what they assert." " All 
that thou hast taught us, say they, respecting the belief of 
thy country is doubtless true as respects thy people, but 
it is otherwise with us who belong to a different nation, 
and who dwell upon lands which are on this side of the 
great lake." It is this indiflference in all matters of 
faith, this belief that their doctrines were as good as those 
of the missionaries, that may be*'considered as the true 
source of the failure of all attempts to christianize them. 
But after their ideas will have been expanded by a proper 
acquaintance with the arts of civilized life, then they can- 
not fail fully to appreciate the superiority of our faith over 

The plan adopted in the school, purposes to unite a 
practical with an intellectual education ; the boys are in- 
structed in the English language, in reading, writing and 
arithmetic, they are made to attend to the usual occupa- 
tions of a farm, and to perform every operation connected 
with it, such as ploughing, planting, harrowing, &c. ; in 
these pursuits they appear to take great delight ; the sys- 
tem being well regulated, they find time for every thing, 
not only for study and labour, but also for innocent recrea- 
tion, in which they are encouraged to indulge ; and the 
hours allotted to recreation may perhaps be viewed as pro- 


ductive of results fully as important as those accruing from 
more serious pursuits. In visiting Indian villages, we ob- 
served, that the children seldom played together in the 
manner in which those of white men unite for recreation. 
The pursuits of the Indian boy are of a solitary nature, he 
imitates the chace, practises shooting at a mark in order to 
acquire a sure aim, prepares his arrows, &c. but seldom 
appears to enjoy that community of pleasures, from which 
a taste for society would necessarily spring. By inducing 
the boys of the Mission-house to play together, they will 
soon discover how many of the comforts and pleasures of 
life arise from the communion of souls ; and they will be 
led to form attachments which will attend them through 
life, and which may induce them, after they have left the 
peaceful abode of the missionary, to continue in the course 
which has already been to them the fruitful source of so 
much delight. The females receive in the school the same 
instruction which is given to the boys, and are in addition 
to this, taught spinning, weaving, and sewing, both plain 
and ornamental ; they were just beginning to embroider, 
an occupation which may, by some, be considered as unsuit- 
able to the situation which they are destined to hold in 
life, but which appears to us very judiciously used as a re- 
ward and stimulus ; it encourages their taste and natural 
talent for imitation, which is very great ; and by teaching 
them that occupation may be connected with amusement, 
it may prevent their relapsing into that idleness, which has 
been justly termed the source of all evils. They are like- 
wise made to attend to the pursuits of the dairy, such as 
the milking of cows, churning of milk, &.c. The establish- 
ment is intended to be opened for children from seven to 
fourteen years old, but they very properly receive them 
at a much earlier age, and even where a great desire of 


learning was manifested, older persons have been ad- 
mitted. All appear to be very happy, and to make as 
rapid a progress as white children of the same age would 
make ; their principal excellence rests in works of imitation ; 
they write astonishingly well, and many display great natural 
talent for drawing. The institution receives the counte- 
nance of the most respectable among the Indians ; there 
ai-e in the school two of the gi-andchildren of T6-p4-ne-ba, 
the great hereditary chief of the Potawatomis, who has his 
residence upon this river. The Indians visit the establish- 
ment occasionally, appear pleased with it, and show their 
favour to it by presents of sugar, venison, &c. which they 
often make to the family of the missionary. Some of 
the parents of the half-breed scholars pay for their chil- 
dren's board, and contribute in this manner to the support 
of the establishment ; which, being sanctioned by the Wai' 
Department, receives annually one thousand dollars from 
the United States, for the support of a teacher and black- 
smith, according to the conditions of the treaty concluded 
at Chicago in 1821, by Governor Cass and Mr. Sibley, com- 
missioners on the part of the United States. By this treaty 
about four or five millions of acres of land were relinquished 
by the Potawatomis. It was one of the conditions of the 
purchase, that a small tract of the Indian reservation should 
be conveyed in fee simple to the Baptist missionaries, for the 
purpose of forming a school and agricultural establishment. 
It is said that the Indians themselves selected this spot as be- 
ing the site of their old village ; this must have been very 
populous, as the remains of corn-hills, which are very dis- 
tinctly visible at this time, are said to extend over a thou- 
sand acres. The village was finally abandoned about fifty 
years ago, but there are a few of the oldest of the nation 
who still recollect the site of their respective huts ; they 
Vol. I. 20 


are said frequently to visit the establishment, and to trace 
with deep feeling a spot which is endeared to them by " the 
memory of past joys, pleasing and mournful to the soul." 

The Carey Mission-house has been very liberally sup- 
ported by the charitable contributions raised throughout the 
western states. The family have a flock of one hundred sheep, 
collected in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, and are daily 
expecting two hundred head of cattle from the same states. 
These contributions, together with the produce of their 
farm, will, it is thought, prevent them from being exposed 
to suffer as much from scarcity of provisions as they have 
already done. When we visited them, they were on short 
allowance, owing to the loss of a load of wheat which had 
been sent from Fort Wayne in a wagon a short time before 
we left that place, and which had been embarked in pi- 
rogues at the upper crossing of the Elkheart ; by the acci- 
dental upsetting of the pirogues the whole of the cargo 
was lost. 

We were told that the family had been deprived of 
the use of milk, during the whole winter, from the 
circumstance of their cows feeding upon a kind of wild 
onion which grows in the prairies. It may be well to state 
that, notwithstanding the great objection which the Indians 
generally have to the use of milk, the children in the 
school have become quite fond of it. In order to give a 
greater extension to their establishment, they contemplate 
engaging Shane as an interpreter and assistant ; from what 
we saw of this man while at Fort Wayne, we were not led 
to form so high an opinion of him as we had entertained 
from reports received on St. Mary's river. 

No rock appears in place near the establishment; and we 
met with none on our way from Devil's river, except in 
one place where we observed, in a ravine, a calcareous for- 


mation evidently of the latest date, and which probably 
still continues to increase ; it was filled with vegetables, 
some of which were unaltered, while others appeared to 
have undergone a partial decomposition. 

Having engaged an Indian to lead us back from Mr. 
M'Coy's to the Chicago trace, we resumed our journey on 
the 3d of June. Our guide's hoary head would have satisfied 
even Humboldt himself, that his assertion " that the hair of 
Indians never becomes gray," was too general.* We have 
met with many instances, and the circumstance is so na- 
tural that we should not have mentioned it, but for the im- 
portance attached to the slightest observation of a traveller 
so accurate as Humboldt generally is. After travelling 
about ten miles through a prairie we parted from our guide, 
who considered himself amply rewarded with about half a 
pound of gunpowder. We then entered upon what is 
termed the fourteen mile prairie, which for the first seven 
miles presented an extensive plain uninterrupted by the 
least elevation, and undiversified by the prospect of a 
single tree. We had occasion to observe, on a for- 
mer occasion, that the route which we travelled carried 
us along the height of land that separates the waters 
tributary to the Mississippi from those which empty into 
the lakes ; and we had an opportunity of seeing this con- 
firmed, in this place, by the fact that a communication be- 
tween those waters has been efiected, during wet seasons, 
through the fourteen mile prairie. It appears that a very 
deep swamp, which we avoided by our visit to the mission 
station, establishes a connection between two streams one 
of which empties its waters into the Kankakee, while those 
of the other run to the St. Joseph. This has afforded, and 
still continues to afford every year an easy communication 

* Polit. Ess. on the Kingd. of New Spain, (Lond. 1811,) vol. i.p. 150, 


for canoes and small l)oats. An intercourse has likewise 
existed, in wet seasons, across the prairie east of the trader's 
establishment which we passed on the previous day. At 
noon we rested our horses in the vicinity of the remains 
of an Indian village, named the Grand Quoit, and we 
observed a few Indian lodges scattered along the edge of 
the forest which encloses this prairie. On discovering 
our party on the prairie, the tenants of the lodges imme- 
diately rode out of the woods, advanced towards us, 
and opened a conversation with our guides. Their inter- 
course with white men, and the consequent departure from 
their original customs, were observable in the circumstance 
of their commencing the conversation, and in their minute 
inquries respecting our object and intentions in visiting 
the country. They are said to experience a great scarcity 
of food, which we can readily believe from the total ab- 
sence of any kind of game which we have observed upon 
the route. An Indian who rode up near us, while we were 
partaking of our dinner, stopped and appeared to long after 
food ; but called for none. We offered him some, which 
he very thankfully accepted, and seemed to eat with 
great voraciousness. 

Our party was this day overtaken by an express from 
Wayne, who brought letters to Major Long, one of which 
w^as from Dr. James, stating that he had been waiting in 
Pittsburg for the party. From the contents of his letter, 
we concluded that the hopes, which had been hitherto 
entertained, of his being able to effect a junction with us, 
were vain. These were the last letters, received from our 
friends, until we found some on our return at the Sault de 
St. Marie. 

At about forty-three miles from the Carey station the 
trail which we followed struck the shores of Lake Michi- 
gan ; this was a source of great gratification to us ; as the 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 157 

last twelve miles of our road had been very dangerous on 
account of the numerous deep holes formed in it ; to these 
may be added the many superficial roots that projected 
from the beech trees, in every direction, and that exposed 
the horses to frequent stumbling. The forest was almost ex- 
clusively composed of the finest growth of beech ; on some of 
the higher grounds we found, in great plenty, the partridge or 
fox-berry, (Gaultheria procumbens,) with its aromatic red 
fruit, in a state of perfect maturity ; it was accompanied by 
the whortleberry in full blossom. We saw this day the first 
white pine, and in some places this tree was very abundant. 
We had been following for some time the valley of a small 
stream, called by the French, Riviere du Chemin, (Trail 
river,) but on approaching near to its mouth, our path 
winded to the south, and we found ourselves at the base of 
a sand-hill of about twenty feet in height ; the fog which 
arose behind it, and the coolness of the air warned us of our 
approach to the lake, and on turning along the base of the 
hill we discovered ourselves to be on the beach of Lake 
Michigan. The scenery changes here most suddenly ; in- 
stead of the low, level and uniformly green prairies, through 
which we had been travelling for some time past, or of the 
beech swamp which had offered us such difficulties during 
the last four hours of our ride, we found ourselves transport- 
ed, as it were, to the shores of an ocean. We were near to 
the southern extremity of the lake ; the view, towards the 
north, was boundless ; the eye meeting nothing but the vast 
expanse of water which spread like an ocean, its surface at 
that time as calm and unruffled as though it were a sheet of 
ice. Towards the south, the prospect was limited to a few 
hundred yards, being suddenly cut off by a range of low 
sand-hills, which arose to a height varying from twenty to 
forty feet, in some instances rising perhaps to upwards of one 


hundred feet. When we first approached the lake, it was co- 
vered with a mist, which soon vanished and the bright sun, 
reflected upon the sand and water, produced a glare of light 
quite fatiguing to the eye. Our progress was in a south- 
vvestwardly direction, along the beach, which reminded us 
of that of the Atlantic on the coast of New Jersey. The 
sand-hills are undulating and crowned at their summits 
with a scrubby growth of white pine and furze •, while the 
brow, which faces the lake, is quite bare. In the rear of the 
hills, but invisible from the beach, spreads a level country 
supporting a scattering growth of white pine, oak, beech, 
hophorn-beam, (Ostrya virginica,) &c. East and west of us, a 
continuous narrow beach curved gradually towards the north 
and, bounded by the lake and the hills, was all that the eye 
could observe. At our evening's encampment of the 4th of 
June, we were at the southernmost extremity of the lake, 
and could distinctly observe that its south-eastern corner is 
the arc of a greater circle than the south-western. The beach 
is strewed with fragments of rocks, evidently primitive, 
and probably derived from the decomposition of the same 
masses which, by their destruction, have given rise to the 
immense deposite of sand and pebbles that forms the bot- 
tom of the lake. These fragments, which are all rolled, 
vary much in size ; the largest we observed weighed per- 
haps twenty or thirty tons. They consist of granite, mica 
and clay-slates, hornblende, &c. The hills appear to have 
been produced by the constant accumulation of sand, blown 
from the beach, by the strong north-westerly winds which 
prevail during the winter season ; the sand is loose and 
uncemented. In a few places traces of lignite and peat 
are to be met with ; doubtless resulting from the decompo- 
sition of the partial vegetation which grew upon these hills, 
and which was successively destroyed and buried under 


the sand ; perhaps also from some of the drift-wood which 
is often carried ashore by the waves. 

The lake appears to abound in fish, judging from the quan- 
tity that we saw gliding along the surface of the water ; upon 
the beach there were many that lay dead, and that in some 
places rendered the air quite fetid. These belonged chiefly 
to the pike, the salmon-trout, &c. We cannot learn that 
there is any great variety in the fish found in this lake. 
The streams passed this day, during our ride along the 
beach, were inconsiderable ; the first is termed the Riviere 
des JBois, probably from the quantity of drift-wood ob- 
served near it; the English appellation for it is Stick 
river ; the second, which we met, was the Big Calamick, 
(K^-no-mo-konk of the Indians,) where the party dispersed, 
during the evening, each to attend to his own avocations. 
Major Long and Mr. Colhoun commenced observations 
for latitude, which they found difficult to complete on 
account of the fog which spread over the lake. Hunting 
and fishing parties were sent out, but which returned with- 
out having met with any success. 

The colour of the streams which we passed indicates their 
origin in a swamp ; and the great excess of water in this 
fen during some seasons, together with the loose nature of 
the sandy bar which divides it from the lake, causes it fre- 
quently to force the dam, and open to itself a new passage 
into the lake ; there are near to this place two streams, one 
of which, named Pine river was opened last year ; the other, 
termed New river, was formed a short time before. We 
crossed both these streams as well as the little Calamick, 
and finding that the travelling on the beach had become 
very uncomfortable, owing to a heavy fog, and a strong 
lake wind which announced an approaching storm, we 
crossed the sand hills, and travelled on the prairie ; in this 


manner we were well sheltered from the wind. Our path 
led us over the scene of the bloody massacre perpetrated 
in 1812, when the garrison of Chicago was entirely de- 
stroyed by the Indians, (principally Potawatomis,) after 
they had abandoned the fort and in violation of the pledge 
given to them by the Indians. No traces are now to be 
seen of the massacre ; the bones, which are said to have re- 
mained for a long while bleaching upon the prairie, were at 
last gathered up and buried by order of Captain Bradley, 
who had the command of the new fort built on the ruins of 
the old one ; but no one could point out to us the spot 
where they had been deposited. While resting at noon, 
on the bank of New river, we observed how difficult it is 
to judge correctly of objects on the prairie and, at the same 
time, how great is the similarity between the prairie wolf and 
the dogs owned by the Indians. While seated at dinner, we 
were told that one of the soldiers had discovered a wolf 
and was about to fire upon it. The whole paily saw the 
animal and remained convinced that it was a wolf, until one 
of the men observed an Indian hut in the distance, and sug- 
gested that it might be a dog belonging to the tenant of the 
hut, which information induced the soldier to desist from 
shooting ; a few moments afterwards an Indian made his 
appearance on the prairie and called the animal to him. 
This Indian was remarkable for the length of his beard, 
which, contrary to their usual custom, he had allowed to 
grow to the length of one inch and a half; his dress was 
indicative of the same slovenly disposition. We were ob- 
liged to commit to his charge one of the horses ; this was the 
only one that had travelled the whole distance from Phil- 
adelphia ; but he had become unable to proceed, having 
been affected for some time past with the distemper ; and, 
notwithstanding all the care that was taken of him, he had 


become so faint that, even without any load, we found it im- 
possible to make him keep up with the rest of the horses. 
The Indian undertook to take care of him for a few days, 
and then lead him to the fort, which promise he faithfully 

In the afternoon of the fifth of June, we reached Fort 
Dearborn, (Chicago,) having been engaged eight days in 
ti'avelling a distance of two hundred and sixteen miles, 
making an average of twenty-seven miles per day. Our 
estimate of the distance exceeds the usual allowance by 
sixteen miles, on account of the circuitous route which we 
took to avoid crossing the Elkheart. At Fort Dearborn 
we stopped for a few days, with a view to examine the 
country and make further preparations for the journey to 
tlie Mississippi. 

In taking a retrospective view of the nature of the coun- 
try travelled over, we find that from Fort Wayne to twenty 
miles west of Devil river, it presents as it were two dis- 
tinct surfaces. The first, or lower one, is a level moist 
prairie covered with luxuriant herbage ; the second, or upper 
one, is abruptly elevated twenty-five or thirty feet above 
the prairie land, and consists of a succession of flat ridges, 
uniform in height, but of unequal breadth, that are fre- 
quently disconnected by narrow straits of prairie land; 
from this circumstance the lower level presents a continu- 
ous surface, while the upper one is broken into distinct 
ridges insulated in the midst of the prairie. The soil of 
the ridges is poor and gravelly, covered with a thin growth 
of scrubby oaks ; it appears to have been occasioned by what 
has been termed an ancient alluvial formation, (probably 
similar to those extensive deposites which are said to con- 
stitute the great plains that are observed in South America ;) 
this formation having been afterwards divided by valleys 

Vol. I. 21 


of a still later origin, has produced a lower level that 
is filled with a newer alluvion probably resulting from 
the action of causes which still continue to operate to 
this day ; as we had an opportunity of remarking in the 
prairie east of the trading house v.hich we visited pre- 
viously to our arrival at the Carey station. To these 
ridges succeeds a broken country consisting of insulated 
hills of a soil still inferior, but having more trees ; among the 
oaks, that grow here, we observed for the first time the 
hickory interspersed. 

Fort Dearborn is situated in the State of Illinois, on the 
south bank, and near to the mouth of Chicago river; the 
boundary line between this state and that of Indiana strikes 
the western shore of Lake Michigan ten miles north of its 
southernmost extremity, and then continues along the 
shore of the lake until it reaches the forty-second and a 
half degree of north latitude, along which it extends to 
the Mississippi. The post at Chicago was abandoned a few 
months after the party visited it. Its establishment had 
been found necessary to intimidate the hostile and* still 
very powerful tribes of Indians that inhabit this part of the 
country ; but the rapid extension of the white population 
to the west, the establishment along the IMississippi of a 
chain of military posts which encloses them, and at the 
same time convinces them of the vigilance of the govern- 
ment, and of the inevitable destruction which they would 
bring upon themselves by the most trifling act of hostility 
on their part, have, it is thought, rendered the continuance 
of a military force at this place unnecessary. An Indian 
agent remains there, in order to keep up amicable relations 
with them, and to attend to their wants, which are daily 
becoming greater, owing to the increasing scarcity of game 
in the country. 

We were much disappointed at the appearance of Chi- 


cago and its vicinity. We found in it nothing to justify 
the great eulogium lavished upon this place by a late 
traveller, who observes that " it is the most fertile and 
beautiful that can be imagined." " As a farming country," 
says he, " it unites the fertile soil of the finest lowland 
prairies with an elevation which exempts it from the in- 
fluence of stagnant waters, and a summer climate of de- 
lightful serenity."* The best comment upon this description 
of the climate and soil is the fact that, with the most active 
vigilance on the part of the officers, it was impossible for 
the garrison, consisting of from seventy to ninety men, to 
subsist themselves upon the grain raised in the country, 
although much of their time was devoted to agricultural 
pursuits. The difficulties which the agriculturist meets 
with here are numerous; they arise from the shallowness 
of the soil, from its humidity, and from its exposure to the 
cold and damp winds which blow from the lake with great 
force during most part of the year; the grain is fre- 
quently destroyed by swarms of insects; there are also a 
number of destructive birds of which it was impossible for 
the garrison to avoid the baneful influence, except by keep- 
ing, as was practised at Fort Dearborn, a party of soldiers 
constantly engaged at shooting at the crows and blackbirds 
that depredated upon the corn planted by them. But, even 
with all these exertions, the maize seldom has time to ri- 
pen, owing to the shortness and coldness of the season. The 
provisions for the garrison were for the most part conveyed 
from Mackinaw in a schooner, and sometimes they were 
brought from St. Louis, a distance of three hundred and 
eighty-six miles up the Illinois and Des Plaines rivers. 

The appearance of the country near Chicago ofiers but 
few features upon which the eye of the traveller can dwell 

• Schoolcraft's Nan-ative Journal of Travels, (Albany, 1820,) page 


with pleasure. There is too much uniformity in the 
scenery ; the extensive water prospect is a waste uncheck- 
ered by islands, unenlivened by the spreading canvass, and 
the fatiguing monotony of which is increased by the 
equally undiversified prospect of the land scenery, which 
aflbrds no relief to the sight, as it consists merely of a plain 
in which but few patches of thin and scrubby woods are 
observed scattered here and there. 

The village presents no cheering prospect, as, notwith- 
standing its antiquity, it consists of but few huts, inhabit- 
ed by a miserable race of men, scarcely equal to the In- 
dians from whom they are descended. Their log or bark 
houses are low, filthy and disgusting, displaying not the 
least trace of comfort. Chicago is perhaps one of the 
oldest settlements in the Indian country ; its name, derived 
from the Potawatomi language, signifies either a skunk, or 
a wild onion; and either of these significations has been oc- 
casionally given for it. A fort is said to have formerly exist- 
ed there. Mention is made of the place as having been visited 
in 1671 by Perot, who found "Chicagou" to be the resi- 
dence of a powerful chief of the Miamis. The number of 
trails centring all at this spot, and their apparent antiquity, 
indicate that this was probably for a long while the site of 
a large Indian village. As a place of business, it offers no 
inducement to the settler ; for the whole annual amount of 
the trade on the lake did not exceed the cargo of five or six 
schooners even at the time when the garrison received its 
supplies from Mackinaw. It is not impossible that at some dis- 
tant day, when the banks of the Illinois shall have been cover- 
ed with a dense population, and when the low prairies which 
extend between that river and Fort Wayne, shall have ac- 
quired a population proportionate to the produce which they 
can yield, that Chicago may become one of the points in 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 165 

the direct line of communication between the northern 
lakes and the Mississippi ; but even the intercourse which 
will be carried on through this communication, will we 
think at all times be a limited one ; the dangers attending 
the navigation of the lake, and the scarcity of harbours 
along the shore, must ever prove a serious obstacle to the 
increase of the commercial importance of Chicago. The 
extent of the sand banks which are formed on the eastern 
and southern shore, by the prevailing north and north- 
westerly winds, will likewise prevent any important works 
from being undertaken to improve the post of Chicago. 

The south fork of Chicago river takes its rise, about six 
miles from the fort, in a swamp which communicates also 
with the Des Plaines, one of the head branches of the Illi- 
nois. Having been informed that this route was frequent- 
ly travelled by traders, and that it had been used by one 
of the officers of the garrison, who returned with provi- 
sions from St. Louis a few days before our arrival at the 
fort, we determined to ascend the Chicago river in order 
to observe this interesting division of waters. We ac- 
cordingly left the fort on the 7th of June, in a boat which, 
after having ascended the river about four miles, we ex- 
changed for a narrow pirogue that drew less water ; the 
stream we were ascending was very narrow, rapid, and 
crooked, presenting a great fall ; it continued so for about 
three miles, when we reached a sort of swamp desig- 
nated by the Canadian voyagers under the name of le petit 
lac. Our course through this swamp, which extended for 
three miles, was very much impeded by the high grass, 
weeds, &c. through which our pirogue passed with diffi- 
culty. Observing that our progress through the fen was very 
slow, and the day being considerably advanced, we landed 
on the north bank, and continued our course along the 


edge of the swamp for about three miles, until we reached 
the place where the old portage road meets the current, 
which was here very distinct towards the south. We were 
delighted at beholding for the first time, a feature so inte- 
resting in itself, but which we had afterwards an opportunity 
of observing frequently on the route ; viz. the division of 
waters starting from the same source, and running in two 
different directions, so as to become the feeders of streams 
that discharge themselves into the ocean at immense dis- 
tances apart. Although at the time we visited it, there was 
scarcely water enough to permit our pirogue to pass, we 
could not doubt, that in the spring of the year the route 
must be a very eligible one. Lieut. Hopson, who accom- 
panied us to the Des Plaines, told us that he had travelled 
it with ease, in a boat loaded with lead and flour. The dis- 
tance from the fort to the intersection of the Portage road 
and Des Plaines, is supposed to be about twelve or thirteen 
miles ; the elevation of the feeding lake above Chicago 
river was estimated at five or six feet ; and, it is probable 
that the descent to the Des Plaines is less considerable. 
The Portage road is about eleven miles long ; the usual 
distance travelled by land seldom however exceeds from 
four to nine miles ; in very dry seasons it has been said to 
amount to thirty miles, as the portage then extends to 
Mount Juliet, near the confluence of the Kankakee. When 
we consider the facts above stated, we are irresistably led to 
the conclusion, that an elevation of the lakes of a few feet, 
(not exceeding ten or twelve,) above their present level, 
would cause them to discharge their waters, partly at least, 
into the Gulf of Mexico ; that such a discharge has at one 
time existed, every one conversant with the nature of the 
country must admit ; and it is equally apparent that an ex- 
penditure, trifling in comparison to the importance of the 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 167 

object, would again render Lake Michigan a tributary of 
the Mexican gulf. Impressed with the importance of this 
object, the legislature of Illinois has already caused some 
observations to be made upon the possibility of establishing 
this communication ; the commissioners appointed to that 
effect, visited Chicago after we left it, and we know not 
what results they obtained, as their report has not reached 
us ; but we have beerrinformed that they had considered 
the elevation of the petit lac above Chicago to be some- 
what greater than we had estimated it. It is the opinion 
of those best acquainted with the nature of the country, 
that the easiest communication would be between the Lit- 
tle Calamick and some point of the Des Plaines, probably 
below the Portage road ; between these two points there 
is in wet seasons, we understand, a water communication of 
ten or twelve miles. Of the practicability of the work, and 
of the sufficiency of a supply of water no doubt can exist. 
The only difficulty will, we apprehend, be in keeping the 
communication open after it is once made, as the soil is 
swampy, and probably will require particular care to op- 
pose the return of the soft mud into the excavations. 

In the immediate vicinity of Chicago, a secondary lime- 
stone is found, disposed in horizontal strata ; it contains many 
organic remains. This limestone appears to us to be very 
similar in its geological as well as mineralogical as|>ect, to 
that observed above the coal formation on the Miami ; but 
no superposition being visible, it is impossible for us to 
determine at present its relative age ; we however incline 
to the opinion, that it is one of the late secondary lime- 
stones. We have to regret that the specimens which were 
obtained of the same have been lost, and that we are depriv- 
ed of the opportunity of comparing them with those col- 
lected in other parts of our route. This limestone, which 


lies exposed to view in some places, is for the most part 
covered with an alluvial dcposite consisting of the detritus 
of primitive rocks. Upon the shore of Lake Michigan, 
specimens of native copper have likewise been occasionally 
picked up. We have in our possession, owing to the libe- 
rality of Dr. Hall, a specimen which is part of a mass, 
weighing two pounds, found by the express from Chicago 
to Greenbay ; it was picked up, on'wie lake shore, about 
five miles south of the Milwacke, a stream which empties 
into the lake about eighty-five miles north of Chicago; 
the spot at which it was found is known by the name of 
the Soapbanks, and is stated by Mr. Schoolcraft to consist 
of a bed of white clay ; Dr. Hall was led to visit the spot 
in hopes of finding more copper, but met with none. We 
have dwelt upon this fact merely from the great im- 
portance which has been attached to every locality of 
native copper, by those who are induced to believe that, 
where a specimen exists, a mine ought to be looked for. 
In reading the relations of travellers on the subject we 
become satisfied of the incorrectness of this conclusion ; 
wherever the copper has been found, it has always been 
in detached masses, generally of a small weight, and 
appearing evidently out of place. We must not there- 
fore expect to find veins in their vicinity ; if the existence 
of copper in the west deserves all that importance which 
it has received, a circumstance which we very much question 
in the present state of the country, it is not upon the study 
of the localities of these fragments of native copper that we 
are to waste our time and means. The main object must 
be to ascertain whence they came ; and this can only be 
determined by an examination of the nature of the valleys, 
of the extent and abundance of the alluvial deposite in 
which they are found, and of the original primitive forma- 


tions, from the partial destruction of which these extensive 
deposites of alluvion, and the large boulders which ac- 
company them, have received their origin. But these are 
considerations which we shall not broach at present, as 
they will find their place, more naturally, at a later period 
of this work. 

Although the quantity of game in this part of the coun- 
try is diminishing very rapidly, and although it is barely suf- 
ficient for the support of the Indians, still there is enough, 
and particularly of the smaller kind, to offer occupation to 
the amateur sportsman. There are many different kinds of 
aquatic birds, which feed upon the wild rice, (Zizania 
aquatica,) and other plants that thrive in the swamps which 
cover the country, Mr. Say observed, among others, the 
mallard, (Anas boschas,) shoveller-duck, (A. clypeata,) 
blue-winged teal, (A. discors,) common merganser, (Mer- 
gus serrator,) common coot, (Fulicaamericana,) stellate he- 
ron or Indian hen, ( Ardea minor,) &c. &c. In the lake there 
is also a great quantity of fish, but none appears to be of a 
very superior quality ; the white fish, (Coregonus albus, 
Lesueur,) which is the greatest delicacy found in the lakes, 
is not caught at Chicago, but sometimes twenty or thirty 
miles north of it. 

Observations, for latitude and longitude, were made here, 
by Mr. Colhoun, from which the situation of this place was 
found to be in latitude 41° 59' 53" N.— longitude 86° 47' 
15" W.— Magnetic variation 6° 13' East* 

During our short residence at Chicago, we were, by the 
favour of Dr. Wolcott, the Indian agent, furnished with 
much information concerning the Indians of this vicinity, 
through his interpreter, Alexander Robinson, a half-breed 

* See Appendix II. Tl>e longitude cannot be depended upon witli 
certainty, as there was some doubt as to the error of the watch. 
Vol. I. 22 


Chippewa, who informed us that the Indians who frequent 
this part of the country are very much intermixed, be- 
longing principally to the Potawatomis, Ottawas, and 
Chippewas, (6'-ch^6-pe'-w'Ag,*) from which circumstance 
a great admixture of the three languages prevails here. 
The vicinity of the Miamis has also, in his opinion, tended 
to adulterate the language of the Potawatomis in the neigh- 
bourhood of Fort Wayne ; and it is believed that this lan- 
guage is spoken in the greatest purity, only along the 
banks of the St. Joseph of Lake Michigan. Robinson did 
not suppose the Potawatomis to exceed two thousand five 
hundred souls ; but it is probable that their number must 
be greater; especially as they are united with the Kicka- 
poos, whose population amounts to six hundred in the State 
of Illinois. According to his observations, the Potawato- 
mis believe that they came from the vicinity of the Sault 
de St. Marie, where they presume that they were created. 
A singular belief, which they entertain, is, that the souls of 
the departed have, on their way to the great prairie, to 
cross a large stream, over which a log is placed as a bridge ; 
but that this is in such constant agitation, that none but the 
spirits of good men can pass over it in safety, while those of 
the bad slip from the log into the water and are never af- 
ter heard of. This information they pretend to have had 
revealed to them by one of their ancestors who, being 
dead, travelled to the edge of the stream, but not liking 

• We have in the course of this work conformed with the general 
usage in the spelUng of this word, dropping the final y used by many 
authors; but from the above method of spelling it, according to its 
pronunciation, it will be readily observed that the usual orthography 
can give no idea of the true Indian pronunciation of this word. The 
final letter ought to be pronounced in a manner intermediate between 
the g and k. 


to venture on the log, determined to return to the land of 
the living, which purpose he effected, having been seen once 
more among his friends, two days after his reputed death. 
He informed them of what he had observed, and further 
told them that while on the verge of the stream, he had 
heard the sounds of the drum, at the beat of which the 
blessed were dancing on the opposite prairie. This story 
they firmly believe. 

With a view to collect as much information as possible 
on the subject of Indian antiquities, we inquired of Robin- 
son whether any traditions, on this subject, were current 
among the Indians. He observed, that their ancient forti- 
fications were a frequent subject of conversation ; and es- 
pecially those in the nature of excavations made in the 
ground. He had heard of one, made by the Kickapoos 
and Fox Indians, on the Sangamo river, a stream running 
into the Illinois. This fortification is distinguished by the 


name of E'tn^dt^a^'k. It is known to have served as an in- 
trenchment to the Kickapoos and Foxes, who were met 
there and defeated by the Potavvatomis, the Ottowas, and 
the Chippewas. No date was assigned to this transaction. 
We understood that the Etnataek was near the Kickapoo 
village on the Sangamo. 

The hunting grounds of the Potawatomis appear to be 
bounded on the north by the St. Joseph, (which on the east 
side of Lake Michigan separates them from the Ottowas,) 
and the Milwacke, which, on the west side of the lake, di- 
vides them from the Menomones. They spread to the south 
along the Illinois river about two hundredi miles ; to the west 
their grounds extend as far as Rock river, and the Mequin or 
Spoon river of the Illinois ; to the east they probably sel- 
dom pass beyond the Wabash. 



Hock river. Meno77iones. Geology of the country west of 
Lake Michigan. Prairie du Chien. Sauks and Foxes. 

HAVING spent a few days in Chicago, the party left that 
post on Wednesday, June 11th. By the instructions re- 
ceived from the War Department, Major Long had the 
option of striking the Mississippi at Fort Armstrong, or at 
Dubuque's lead mines, and then ascending that river to 
Prairie du Chien. It appeared to him, however, that if the 
direct route to Prairie du Chien, across the prairies, was 
practicable, it would save several days; but upon inquiry 
no person could be found who had ever travelled through, 
in that direction ; and although from the description of the 
country, the route was supposed to be very practicable, 
yet from the impossibility of procuring a guide, it would 
have been relinquished, had not an old French engage, by 
the name of Le Sellier, undertaken to direct the party. 
This man, who had lived for upwards of thirty years with 
the Indians, had taken a wife among the Winnebagoes, 
and settled on the head waters of Rock river ; knowing the 
country as far as that stream, he presumed that he could find 
his way thence to Fort Crawford, situated on the Missis- 
sippi near the junction of the Wisconsan. Under his 
guidance the party proceeded on the first day of their jour- 
ney, in a general direction nearly west, for about seventeen 
miles. The first stream passed, on that day, was the Chicago 
river, which we crossed about half a mile above the fort, 
and immediately above the first fork, (or Gary's river) ; the 


party next came to the River des Plaines, which is one of the 
head branches of the Illinois; it receives its name from a va- 
riety of maple, which by the Canadians is named Plaine. In 
Potawatomi the river is termed Sh6-shik-ma-6-shi-ke Se-pe, 
(which signifies flumen arboris quae mingit.) This appel- 
lation is derived from the great quantity of sap which flows 
from this tree in the spring. We crossed the Des Plaines 
about four miles above the Portage road; it was forty 
yards wide, and so deep that part of our baggage was wet 
while fording it, but fortunately none materially injured. 
The length of the Des Plaines from this ford to its source 
is about fifteen miles, that to its confluence with the Kan- 
kakee about forty miles. 

We encamped on the east bank of a small stream, about 
eight yards wide, designated by the Indians under the 
name of 6-t6-k&-ke'-n6g, which means the uncovered breast. 
The voyagers call it De Page's river, from a Frenchman 
of that name, who died and was buried on the banks of 
this stream. The De Page enters the Des Plaines about 
half a mile above its junction with the Kankakee. From 
Chicago to the place where we forded the Des Plaines, the 
country presents a low, flat, and swampy prairie, very 
thickly covered with high grass, aquatic plants, and among 
others with the wild rice. The latter occurs principally 
in the places which are still under water; its blades float- 
ing on the surface of the fluid like those of the young do- 
mestic plant. The whole of this tract of country is over- 
flowed during the spring, and canoes pass in every direction 
across the prairie. Near the fording of the Des Plaines 
there is a Potawatomi village, some of the inhabitants of 
which came to converse with us, while we were encamped 
at noon, during a thunder storm. The birds we saw to-day 
consisted of prairie hens or grous, (Tetrao cupido) reed- 


birds, (Emberiza oryzivora, Wilson,) sand-hill cranes, (Grus 
canadensis,) curlews, &c. Many badger holes were observ- 
ed ; we saw at the garrison one of these animals, that had been 
raised in the fort, and whose playful, inoffensive manners, 
had made him a general favourite. 

A ride of about eighteen miles brought us to the banks 
of Fox river, which is a fine stream about one hundred and 
thirty yards wide, the scenery of which is varied by seve- 
ral islands scattered through its channel. The country, 
which consisted of prairie land, became handsomely wooded 
in the neighbourhood of the river; a couple of Indian lodges, 
seen in the distance, gave an appearance of inhabitance to 
the spot. These we found to belong to the M'e-n6-m'6-n 'e, 
or wild rice eaters, a nation that appears to be fast decreas- 
ing in numbers. The reports concerning the Menomone 
nation are so various, and we observed so few of them on 
the route, that we had not an opportunity of forming an 
opinion upon the disputed point of their Algonquin origin. 
It is said that few if any white men have ever been able to 
learn their language ; and we have been assured by the late 
Indian Agent at Greenbay, (Major John Biddle,) that he had 
found it difficult to obtain an interpreter capable of con- 
versing with them in their own language. A consider- 
able intercourse has, however, existed between them and 
white men ; but it is said to be principally in the Algon- 
quin languages, the prevailing medium of intercourse being 
the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi languages, or as in 
most cases a mixture of these three dialects. The few 
Menomones whom we met with were of a light colour, 
resembling much that of the light mulattoes in our Atlantic 
states, probably nearer the colour of individuals resulting 
from an admixture of five-eighths European with three- 
eighths of African blood. It is said that this light colour 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 175 

which distinguishes the Menomones from other Indians, 
results from a general admixture of European blood. 
But we have been assured, that even when of pure Indian 
extraction, they are of a lighter colour than their neighbours, 
and are therefore often called the White Indians. Whether 
they be descendants of the Algonquins, or of a different 
race of men, is a question of much importance, and which 
perhaps may yet be resolved by those, whose opportunities 
of obtaining information, on that subject, are greater than 
ours were. If they be sprung from a different race of men, 
it may still be questioned whether they settled here, previ- 
ously or subsequently to the Algonquin tribes. Charle- 
voix says that they were not populous in his time. " This is 
to be regretted," he adds, " for they are very fine men, and 
the best shaped of all Canada; they are even taller than the 
Pouteouatamis. I am assured that they have the same origin 
and nearly the same language as the Noquets and Saulteurs, 
(Leapers ;)* but they add, that they have also a particular 
language, which they keep to themselves^] The Meno- 
mones at present reside principally on the west shore of 
Lake Michigan north of the Milwacke, in the vicinity of 
Greenbay, and on the head waters of Fox river, (of Green- 
bay,) of Menomone river, &c. Their personal appearance 
is very favourable, and indicative of more neatness, and of a 
greater taste for ornament, than that of any other of our 
north-western Indians. Their mode of preparing belts, 
garters, sheaths for knives, moccasins, &c. and of ornament- 
ing them with beads, and with the coloured quills of por- 
cupines, evinces much taste, and this of the best kind. 
It does not appear that with them the mere combination of 
many gaudy colours constitutes beauty ; but this is made to 

• Chippewas. }■ Journal Historique, Letter 19th. 


depend more upon the proper union of tlic three colours, 
white, red, and blue united, to form symmetric and varied 

The Fox river, which we crossed, must not be mistaken 
for the same which runs north-eastwardly into Greenbay of 
Lake Michigan. Its course is in a different direction, 
being nearly south-west ; it falls into the Illinois about 
fifteen or twenty miles below the confluence of the Des 
Plaines and Kankakee. 

The Fox river of the Illinois is called by the Indians 
Pish-f 4-k6. It is the same which is mentioned by Charle- 
voix under the name of Pisticoui, and which flows, as he 
says, through the country of the Mascoutins. At present it 
is claimed, at least in this part, by the Potawatomis and 
Kickapoos, who are incorporated together; the Meno- 
mones are allowed to remain there, on account of their 
being connected by intermarriages. The river has a fine 
gravelly bottom, and was very easily forded. On the west 
side we reached a beautiful but small prairie, situated on a 
high bank, which approaches within two hundred and fifty 
yards of the edge of the water ; and upon this prairie we 
discovered a number of mounds, which appeared to have 
been arranged with a certain degree of regularity. Of these 
mounds we counted twenty •rseven ; they vary from one to 
four feet and a half in height, and from fifteen to twenty -five 
in length ; their breadth is not proportional to their length, 
as it seldom exceeds from six to eight feet. They are 
placed at unequal distances, which average about twenty 
yards ; they are chiefly upon the brow of the hill, but some 
of them stand at a greater distance back. Their form ap- 
pears to have been originally oval ; and the slight depres- 
sion in the ground, observed sometimes on both sides of 
a mound, seems to indicate, that it has been raised by 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 177 

means of the earth collected in its immediate vicinity. 
We remained ignorant of the causes which may have 
given rise to their construction, or of the circumstances un- 
der which they were executed. Of their artificial nature, 
no doubt could be entertained. They may probably have 
been ancient dirt lodges, similar to the ruins observed by 
Mr. Say, during the expedition to the Rocky mountains, 
and which were known to be the remains of lodges that 
had existed within the memory of some of the Indians 
then living. It does not appear that the Indians, who re- 
side near the Fox river, have any recollection or tradition 
on this subject. Our guide informed us, that they believed, 
upon the authority of the missionaries, that these mounds 
were of antediluvian origin, and probably erected as places 
of retreat for their families in time of war. 

Proceeding two miles further, through a thinly wooded 
country, we crossed a brook four yards wide ; and six miles 
further of fine rolling prairie, interspersed with light 
woods, brought us to our encampment of the 12th of 
-Tune. As we stopped upon the encamping ground, a 
night-hawk flew away and abandoned two eggs, which 
she appeared to have deposited on the ground, without 
preparing any kind of nest ; they were of a dull white co- 
lour, thickly spotted over with dirty brown blotches. A 
heavy shower, accompanied by thunder and lightning, 
made the weather very comfortable. But a high wind, 
which arose during the night, rendered travelling very un- 
pleasant in the morning. At about twenty-eight miles in 
a general westerly course from the Pishtako, we came 
to a beautiful winding stream, called the Kish-w^a-k6, (Cot- 
tonwood.) It is about twelve yards wide, and is a tributary 
of Rock river. About one and a half mile below the place 
where we forded this stream, we saw a small Indian vil- 

VoL. I. 23 


lage, dei?ignated by the name of Wa-kt'sa. (little bend,) 
from its situation at one of the bends of the Kishwake. It 
consisted of four lodges, the population of which was com- 
puted to amount to at least sixty persons, as there were 
many crowded into one lodge ; the village is chiefly inha- 
bited by Menomones, with a few Potawatomis who have in- 
termarried with them. We stopped at the lodge of the 
chief, whose name is K'i-k'&-k^'-sh'a, (Crow.) He, toge- 
ther with many of his people, was engaged in his corn- 
fields; on seeing the strangers, they gave the dog- whoop, 
and collected at the house at which we had stopped. 
They were all tall and muscular men, well built, and bet- 
ter looking than the Potawatomis generally are; their 
countenance was agreeable, and denoted none of that seve- 
rity about the mouth which Volney ascribes to those whom 
he saw. The chief is a very old man and quite bald ; at 
the time he approached us he had a child-board on his 
back, in which he carried his little grandson. Although 
advanced in years, Kakakesha had none of the decrepitude 
of old age ; there was much dignity in his manner. The 
women were all very ugly, and the children looked like 
little imps, in whose countenance, and apparently deformed 
bodies, we could scarcely discover the embryo of men as 
tall and elegant as those who stood before us. Most of their 
youth had gone out on a hunting excursion. The men whom 
we saw were almost naked, having no other garment than 
the breech-cloth, but as we drew near them they gathered 
up their blankets ; the women had a sort of short-gown and 
a blanket ; the children ran about naked, with no other ap- 
pendage than a belt round their loins. It is curious to ob- 
serve that all Indians, whether old or young, wear a belt, 
even when they have nothing to attach to it ; and the chil- 
dren, who seldom assume the breech-cloth until they at- 

SOURCE or ST. Peter's river. 179 

tain the age of puberty, have all a belt tied round them, 
as soon as they can run about. The house, which we visit- 
ed, was about twenty feet long by fifteen wide, and full 
twelve feet high at its centre. Seen from a distance, it re- 
sembled a log-house ; but on approaching we discovered it 
to be formed of bark, secured to a frame made of poles, 
and covered with the same material. It had the appear- 
ance of being very comfortable. The fire was made in the 
middle of the house; two sides of the interior were occupied 
with a frame, three feet high and four or five feet wide, 
which was covered with blankets, skins, &c. and on these the 
inmates sleep and eat; upon these we were invited to sit 
down. There is no sign of partition, or of any thing that 
can serve as a skreen to separate or divide one part of the 
family from another. A woman who was sick, lay in 
the lodge exposed to view, until the child, which was taken 
from the chief's back, and which was her's, was handed 
over naked to her. Whether from this circumstance, or 
to avoid the curious glances of some of our party, who ap- 
peared to be watching the sick woman's motions, we know 
not, but a blanket was soon suspended in order to conceal 
the patient from view. 

The disposition of these Indians was friendly. The ob- 
ject of the expedition was explained to them, to which 
they made no reply, but the chief directed his squaw, who 
was a very fleshy woman, to give us some maple sugar in 
return for the tobacco we had presented him ; he expressed 
his regret at having no fresh meat to give us ; but added, 
that if his hunters returned that evening with meat, he 
would send some to our camp. We were a little shocked 
at their familiar disposition, which we at first mistook for 
intentional impudence ; they all collected round us, took 
our guns, and began to examine them with care, appeared 


to be liigMy pleased with the double-barrelled guns of 
some of the gentlemen of our party ; one of them even 
drew Mr. Say's hunting knife from the sheath, and after 
having examined it, returned it ; he then took Mr. Say's 
hat, which was a white beaver one, and after having also 
examined this with care, tried it on his own head. All this, 
however, appeared to proceed rather from childish cu- 
riosity than from any intention to give offence. After 
some time, they began to beg for bacon, which soon com- 
pelled us to leave them. 

In order to avoid all further importunity, we travelled 
ten miles before night, and encamped on a fine piece of level 
ground, which was watered by a small stream that discharg- 
ed itself three miles below into the Kishwake. The ther- 
mometer was observed, at six o'clock, P. M. to be at eighty- 
two degrees in the shade, but no inconvenience was felt 
from the heat, owing to a fine westerly breeze which pre- 
vailed during the day. 

On the 14th of July, the party reached Rock river, 
which is the most important tributary of the Mississippi, 
between the Illinois and the Wisconsan. Rock river is 
termed, in the languages derived from the Algonquin, 
Sin-s6-pe, and in the Winnebago, We-ro-sha-na-gra, both 
which names have the same signification as the Eng- 
lish term. It forms the division between the hunting 
grounds claimed by the Potawatomis, on the eastern side, 
and those of the Sauks, Foxes, and Winnebagoes on 
the west. At the place where we crossed the river, 
it was about one hundred and twenty yards wide ; and its 
depth was such that it could not be forded at that time, 
though we were informed that it is customary for horses 
loaded with furs, to cross it without difficulty. We were 
ferried over in a small canoe, sent for us from an Indian 

■f" source op ST. Peter's river. 181 

village in the vicinity. We crossed Rock river just above 
the mouth of the Kishwake, the same stream which we 
had passed the day previous, but which, from its great in- 
crease, we scarcely recognised, when we saw it three miles 
above its mouth, where we were again obliged to cross it. 
Opposite to the mouth of the Kishwake there is a large 
island in Rock river. At the lower crossing of the Kish- 
wake, we passed through an Indian village, designated by 
the name of the river, and which is inhabited by a mixed 
race of Potawatomis, Chippewas, Ottawas, Menomones, &c. 
The chief, who belongs to the first of these nations, was 
away at the time we were there, and in his absence we saw 
no person who could converse with us. A lad, who was in 
the village, and who, as we were told, was the son of the late 
chief, when spoken to, made no answer, but seemed to be 
very stupid ; although the oth^ Indians did not appear 
destitute of intelligence, yet not one of them could converse 
with us. This indeed is one of the characteristics of Indians. 
The business of receiving and replying to speeches belongs 
to the chief, it is one of his proudest prerogatives, and it is 
one in which he chiefly endeavours to excel ; while the 
other Indians, seeming to consider it as no concern of theirs, 
pay no attention to it,'and are always at a loss, when spoken 
to by those whom they are accustomed to treat with re- 
spect or with regard ; but with the traders, whom they ri- 
dicule, and for whom they openly profess the most mani- 
fest contempt, they will join in conversation very freely 
and familiarly. After having crossed Rock river, we stop- 
ped to dine on the high bank which confines it on the west 
side, and were not a little amused at the apparent delight 
with which the little Indian boy, who had brought the canoe 
to us from Kishwake village up Rock river^ partook of the 
bread and bacon which we gave him ; it really seemed as 


though it were the most delicate food that he had ever 

The valley of Rock river is about half a mile wide at 
this place; it is utterly destitute of rocks, differing, in this 
respect, very much from the characters observed higher 
up, and which have entitled it to the name that it now 
bears. We could not, however, ascertain whether the rocks 
were there in place, or merely boulders. We had, in the 
course of the morning, observed a spot where the lime- 
stone appeared in situ ; this was in every respect similar to 
that found near Chicago. The boulders and pebbles which, 
from Chicago to Fox river, had not appeared to be as nu- 
merous as in some other parts of the route, were, after we 
had seen the limestone in the morning, found to increase 
rapidly in number, though not perhaps in size. From his 
former observations upontJ:ie country. Major Long thought 
we were approaching what has been considered the lead 
formation of the west, and this was confirmed by the as- 
sertion of our guide, that much lead had been found on 
some of the tributaries of Rock river, where it is worked, 
by the Indians, in small quantities for their own use. This 
induced us to make a careful examination of the country, 
with a view to ascertain whether any lead ore occurred 
upon our route, and if it did, under what circumstances. 
We met with none ; but from all the characters observed 
in the country, we hesitate not in considering its surface 
as covered by an ancient alluvion, the alluvion of mountains 
of the Wernerian school ; and in which, of course, if any 
lead should be found, it must be out of its original site. 
This alluvion consists principally of a bed of loose and un- 
eemented pebbles, varying in size from the smallest grain 
to the dimensions of an apple, and interspersed with boul- 
ders, which frequently acquire very large dimensions; but 

SOURCE or ST. Peter's river. 183 

these do not appear to be so frequent here, whether it be 
because they are buried in, and concealed by the pebbles, 
or because they were not deposited here, we had no 
means of determining. The alluvion appears to consist 
chiefly of the detritus of primitive rocks, such as fragments 
of quartz, granite, sienite, &c. but, as far as we could observe, 
without any trace of a metalliferous mineral. There are 
also many fragments of limestone, interspersed throughout 
the mass. Under the alluvion, the limestone observed in 
the morning probably extends to a great distance. From 
the observations which we have been able to make, we 
believe it to be the same limestone formation, which extends 
from Piqua to Fort St. Mary, and which is seen near 
Fort Wayne, Chicago, and Rock river. Whether it be the 
same as that observed further east, or in what relation it 
stands to it, we are not desirous of deciding positively, but 
we believe it to be at least as modern as that found above 
the coal formations of Wheeling and Zanesville, and per- 
haps more so. We have spoken of the supposed lead for- 
mations of Rock river; not having visited Dubuque's lead 
mines, or those in the state of Missouri, it would be impos- 
sible for us to express a decided opinion upon their nature ; 
but from all that we have heard on the subject, as well as from 
what has been written upon these lead mines, we can 
scarcely hesitate in considering the ore as being equally 
out of place there. Whether the original sites, from which 
it has been detached, are still to be found in the vicinity, 
is a point which those alone who have seen the country 
are competent to decide, if indeed the question can in the 
present state of science be resolved ; the authors who have 
written upon this subject have, as it appears to us, left the 
question open ; for while they assert that the lead is found 
in clay, they appear to us desirous to convey, at all times. 


the impression that it is in place, as we are informed that 
it " is found in detached pieces and solid masses, in veins 
and beds in red clay, and accompanied by sulphurate 
(sulphate?) of barytes, calcareous spar, blende, iron py- 
rites, and quartz."* Now, that all the indications men- 
tioned by those who have seen these mines, justify a be- 
lief that the lead is not in its original site, we consider as 
satisfactorily proved. That the lead ore as well as the ac- 
companying minerals, must be out of place, is equally ap- 
parent, from the circumstance, that while the clay is said 
to repose upon the limestone, the ore is not stated to have 
ever been worked in this rock. We are told, that " the 
greatest proportion of lead ore is, however, found imbed- 
ded in, and accompanied by, the sulphate of barytes resting 
in a thick stratum of marly clay, bottomed on limestone 
rock. The rock is invariably struck at a depth of from fif- 
teen to twenty feet, and puts a stop to the progress of the 
miner in a common way. To go further, it is necessary to 
drill or blast, and this creates an expense which the gene- 
rality of diggers are unwilling to incur, if not unable to sup- 
port"! Again, we find " in digging down from fifteen 
to twenty feet, the rock is generally struck ; and as the 
signs of ore generally give out on coming to the rock, 
many of the pits are carried no further."J Finally, in 
his visit to Dubuque's lead mines, performed in the year 
1820, Mr. Schoolcraft observed, that the ore " had been 
chiefly explored in alluvial soil;" though he at the same 
time states, that " it generally occurs in beds or veins."§ 
From the specimens which we have seen, as well as from 

• View of the Lead Mines of Missouri. New York, 1819. p. 67. 

flbid, p. 69. + Ibid, p. 108. 

§ Schoolcraft's Narrative Journal of Travels, 8cc. p. 344. 


all that we have heard and read, we cannot hesitate in as- 
serting it as our opinion, that no lead has as yet been dis- 
covered on the Mei'rimeg or Mississippi in a metalliferous 
limestone ;* but that, wherever it has been found, it has al- 
ways been in an alluvion, and never in regular veins or 
beds, nor even in masses, which might be considered 
as coeval with the substances in which they are im- 

On both banks of the Kishwake, not far from its mouth, 
there are many mounds in every respect similar to those 
met with on Fox river ; but scattered along the bank with- 
out any apparent order. Mr. Say counted upwards of 
thirty of these mounds. It is probable that they were for- 
merly the cemeteries of a large Indian population which 
resided along the banks of the Kishwake, and which had 
perhaps its principal village at the beautiful confluence of 
this stream with Rock river. 

In travelling over a prairie country the party were often 
obliged to lengthen or shorten their day's journey, in or- 
der to accommodate themselves to the scarcity of water 
and wood. The afternoon of the 14th of June we en- 
camped at three o'clock, as the distance to the next camp- 
ing ground would have led us too far into the evening. 
The afternoon was employed in taking observations for 
longitude, and in making such repairs and alterations in 

• By metalliferous limestone, we allude to that in which the lead- 
mines of Cumberland and Derbyshire in England, of Vedrin in Bel- 
gium, &c. are found. This limestone is by most geologists considered as 
older than the coal, and probably in many instances connected with 
transition formations ; according to Conybeare and Phillips, it is 
placed, under the name of mountain limestone, between the old red 
sandstone formation and the coal measures. (Vide Geology of Eng- 
land and Wales, London, 1822, part 1, plate, fig. o.) 

Vol. I. 24 


our travelling equipage as had become necessary. Oui- 
horses' backs had been chafed by the saddle, notwithstand- 
ing all the care taken to keep them in a sound state, which 
was dictated not only by humanity, but also by a provi- 
dent attention to our own interest ; for very little experi- 
ence is required to satisfy a traveller that much of his com- 
fort and expedition, on such a journey as ours, depends up- 
on the circumstance of his horse's back not being galled, 
as it otherwise worries and tires the animal before he has 
performed much work. For the information of other tra- 
vellers, we may mention, that after having tried many ap- 
plications, we have found none that succeeded so well as 
white lead moistened with milk, as long as this could be 
procured ; after we had left the settlements, sweet oil was 
used as a substitute for milk ; whenever the application 
was made in the early stage of the wound we have found 
it to be very effectual. It is likewise a convenient one 
to carry on an expedition, as a couple of ounces of white 
lead sufficed for the whole of our party during more 
than a month. 

The succeeding morning the weather was very fair, and 
the party continued its course over fine undulating prairies, 
expanded in every direction so as to appear in some cases 
unbounded by woods. The only defect which we ob- 
served in the country between Chicago and the Missis- 
sippi is the scarcity of wood, which is more seriously felt 
on the west side of Rock river, than to the east of it. This 
will perhaps be the principal difficulty in settling the coun- 
try ; otherwise the land is good, not hilly, sufficiently water- 
ed, and would we doubt not prove productive if well worked. 
Limestone is frequently to be met with, even west of Rock 
river; in other places the soil is underlaid with pebbles 
of white hornstone ; the boulders are not sufficiently abun- 


dant to prove injurious to agriculture ; we observed as a 
distinction between those seen within the two last days, 
and those met with east of Rock river, that the for- 
mer contain principally hornblende instead of mica in their 
composition, while the boulders near Lake Michigan were 
chiefly granitic. The rock, which has given rise to the 
Jiornblendic boulders, is one of a peculiar and interest- 
ing nature ; it differs from sienite by the presence of quartz, 
from granite by the substitution of hornblende for mica. This 
rock has not received much attention from European authors ; 
it does not appear to occupy a very important rank in the ge- 
ology of Europe, while on the contrary it is very abundant 
in North America. Those, who are conversant with the 
mineralogy of New Jersey, know that it constitutes most 
of the primitive rocks which are found in West Jersey, 
and which have been described either as granite or sienite ; 
however extensive that deposite may be, it bears no com- 
parison to the extensive formation of this rock, which we 
shall have occasion hereafter to describe, and from which 
the fragments which constitute the boulders found in Illi- 
nois, Indiana, Ohio, &c. have, as we believe, been de- 

After travelling eighteen miles, we reached a small stream, 
designated under the name of Pek-tan-noHs, a diminutive of 
P^ktannon,* a neighbouring stream into which it discharges 
itself a few miles below. The meaning of this last in 
the Sauk language is muddy, and it is remarkable that the 

* As we have had frequent opportunities of observing a nasal termi- 
nation in Indian words, belonging both to the Sauk, Dacota, and other 
languages, we have adopted the sign (ii) to designate this sound, which 
is equivalent to the nasal termination of the French language, thus in 
the word Pektannon, the last syllable is pronounced by the Indians, 
exactly as the word non is by the French. 


same name has been applied to the Missouri by the Sauks. 
Our guide informed us that it was very common for the 
Sauks to form a diminutive of a word, by the addition of a 
hissing sound at the end, as in the above-mentioned in- 
stance. Observing that Le Sellier seemed to have gone 
beyond the limits of the country with which he was ac- 
quainted, Major Long thought it would be desirable to en- 
deavour to procure an Indian, as a guide to Prairie du Chien ; 
and as we were in the vicinity ofan Indian village, Le Sellier 
was sent ahead, to request one of the men to accompany us. 
The village to which he went was situated on the main 
stream, about three miles from the place where we had 
halted for dinner on the Pektannons ; it consisted of 
seven permanent and three temporary lodges, inhabited 
principally by Sauks, Foxes, Winnebagoes, Menomones, 
and Potawatomis. Their chief is a Sauk ; he was absent, 
but we saw his elder Urother, whom w^e engaged to accom- 
pany us to Prairie du Chien. His name was W^ane'b^^a 
Namo'eta, (spinning top,) the chief's name was W^abe't^'j'ec, 
(white cedar.) We visited the inside of their bark lodges, 
which were very comfortable ; the number of men appear 
ed to us much greater than that of women in the village. 
Being aware of our approach, from the information receiv- 
ed through Le Sellier, they had manifested their friendly 
disposition by hoisting flags, or white rags, all around 
their village and, among others, three white flags hung 
from the head and arms of a large cross, rudely cut out, 
which marked the grave of some departed white man. 
Their behaviour was less familiar than that of the Indians 
whom we had last met with ; but as they evinced the same 
curiosity to examine our arms, we were led to ascribe their 
greater reserve, to the admonition given that morning to 
the Frenchman, that the familiar manner with which he be- 


liaved towards them, must be discontinued in our presence, 
as to that we ascribed their forwardness. The men of this 
village were distinguished from those observed in other 
places, by their unusually dark and expressive eyes, the 
playful smile of their mouth, and their well-formed nose. 
We found them very short of provisions ; they offered us, 
however, a bowlful of maize, which was very acceptable, 
as our bread-corn had been consumed. One of the party 
observed in the lodge a large basket, full of acorns intend- 
ed no doubt for food. We proceeded that afternoon a few 
miles further, and encamped on a beautiful spot near the 
Pektannon ; it was on the verge of a fine wood. The ad- 
joining prairie afforded our horses the finest pasture that 
could be wished for ; an attempt to fish was made, but it 
proved unsuccessful. It does not seem that these rivers 
abound in fish, and the Indians place no dependence upon 
the produce of the fishery for their support. While en- 
camped this evening, we were visited by several Indians, 
who came from the village, and who behaved themselves 
in a very becoming mannei". In order to compare the lan- 
guage of the Winnebagoes, as spoken here, with that con- 
tained in the vocabulary obtained by Major Long in the 
year 1817, and which is recorded in the " Account of an 
Expedition to the Rocky Mountains," (vol. 2, p. Ixxxvi.) 
we read to one of these Indians, who was a Winnebago, 
the words as published in the vocabulary, with a view to 
ascertain whether or not he understood them ; the attempt 
was rather a difficult one, as he had to convey the mean- 
ing of the Winnebago term in the Sauk language to Le 
Sellier, who translated it into French to one of the party 
by whom it was reduced into English. The result of 
this threefold translation was, however, that he recog- 
nised, without hesitation, about one-third of the words ; 


the meanins; of the remainder, which he did not readily 
understand, being conveyed to him through the Sauk lan- 
guage, he repeated aboutone-half of them with a slight va- 
riation, frequently no other than the addition of a termina- 
tion in rr/, which appeared to be a sort of dialect. Some of 
the words he seemed not to recognise at all, even after their 
supposed meaning had been explained to him through the 

Major Long, whose health had been somewhat impaired 
for a few days previous, was so severely affected, on the 
15th, with fever and sick stomach, that we began to ap- 
prehend that his indisposition would prove a serious one, 
but the timely application of medical assistance fortunately 
relieved him. 

Wennebea, of whom we have preserved a very good 
likeness, taken by Mr. Seymour, (plate III. middle figure,) 
is a young and good looking Indian, whose face denotes 
more cheerfulness than is generally observed in the coun- 
tenance of man in the savage life. He seems to be of a 
lively, cheerful disposition, judging from the laughter 
which frequently animated his conversation with Le Sel- 
lier; to us he was always uniformly polite and obliging. 
His dress consisted, as usual with the Indians of this coun- 
try, of a blanket thrown over his shoulders, and reaching 
to his ankles; a breech-cloth of blue broad-cloth; buckskin 
leggings and moccassins of the same material. The leg- 
gings are very similar to a Chinese garment that supplies 
the place of pantaloons; they reach up to the hips, covering 
the whole limb, and are secured to thongs tied to a leather 
belt around the waist. Garters, generally very much orna- 
mented with porcupine quills, beads, and other fanciful ar- 
ticles, support the leggings immediately below the knee. 
His pipe was stuck into the plaited hair which he wore on 


f he crown of his head. He was provided with a gun, of 
the kind distinguished by the name of Mackinaw gun, with 
a spare ramrod, shot-pouch, &c. Wennebea rode a little bay 
mare, with a long untrimmed tail ; she was so small that his 
legs appeared almost to sweep the ground as he travelled 
over the prairie ; but the little animal was a fiery one, pro- 
bably about four years old ; her growth had doubtless been 
stinted by too early an application to labour. We could 
not help, frequently, expressing our admiration at the grace- 
ful and easy manner in which this man rode across the 
plain, occasionally allowing his blanket to drop upon his 
horse's back, and displaying the stout and symmetric 
shoulders and chest, which generally characterize man 
when in a state of nature, and unimpaired by the efiemi- 
nating habits and vices of civilized life. We scarcely re- 
cognised our guide a few days afterwards, when we saw 
him with a calico shirt, which he had borrowed from Le 
Sellier and which concealed his well-formed limbs ; on in- 
quiring into the cause of this addition to his usual costume, 
we were told, that the sun being very hot on the prairie, 
he had accepted the offer to protect his shoulders, against 
its influence, by means of a shirt. This proves how ready 
these Indians are to abandon their natural manners, and 
to assume the artificial ones of civilized man. Wennebea 
wore this garment at first with an apparent air of ostentation, 
which confirmed us in our opinion, that the Indian is no 
wiser than the white man in this respect, often priding 
himself upon the acquisition of a garment, which detracts 
from, rather than adds to, his personal appearance. He 
seemed to be well acquainted with the country, and 
followed, no track across the prairie ; but his course was 
directed by landmarks, such as hills, woods, &c. He 
appeared to guide himself, likewise, by the situation of the 


sun in the heavens ; but we were satisfied, on more than one 
occasion, of the inaccuracy of those who suppose that an In- 
dian has an infallible method of discovering, at all times, the 
direction in which he wishes to travel, and that he never can 
be lost. His habits of observation, permit him, it is true, to 
discover signs, which would probably escape the attention 
of the less experienced white man. Thus, if the sun be 
obscured, his keen eye will sometimes detect, from habit, 
its place in the heavens ; at other times, it is said that he 
can, by close inspection, discover very faint shadows, 
which would elude the observation of a less practised eye. 
When these characters fail, he may, in a forest, point 
with certainty to the north from the circumstance, tliat 
the tnoss grows more abundantly upon that side of a tree 
than upon the others. But if left on a prairie, at a dis- 
tance from trees, when the heavens are deeply overclouded, 
or during the prevalence of a dense fog, the Indian, as well 
as the white man, will often be unable to direct himself 
properly. We frequently observed during the march, that 
he skreened his eyes with his hands, and seemed to study 
very attentively the distant points of woods and the sur- 
rounding prairie, whether to make sure of the proper 
route, or to discover signs of game or enemies, we know 

Wennebea led us in a general north-westerly direction, 
at first through thin woods, which gradually disappeared, 
their place being supplied by an extensive and appa- 
remtly boundless prairie, which occupied us a whole day 
in crossing it. The woods consisted of small oaks with- 
out undergrowth ; the prairie, upon which we were travel- 
ling, was undulated, and extended itself along the base of 
the dividing ridge between the streams tributary to the 
Mississippi and those which fall into Rock river. This 


ridge stretched on our left, in a direction nearly parallel to 
our general course ; it appeared to be in some places from 
one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet high, and from 
six to eight miles distant. Soon after we entered the 
prairie, a deer crossed our route about two miles ahead of 
us ; Wennebea started in pursuit, but returned in the course 
of an hour, after a fruitless and fatiguing chace. He 
brought back, however, a curlew, (Numenius longirostris,) a 
bird of which we occasionally roused a pair or two. We 
frequently observed the majestic sand-hill crane, (Grus 
Canadensis,) striding across the prairie. This animal, if 
taken young, can, it is said, be domesticated with ease. Two 
or three of them were kept last season at Chicago, being al- 
lowed to pass freely before the sentinels ; but they never 
failed to return to their nests. We also saw on the prairie the 
fine swallow-tailed Hawk, (Falco [Milvus] furcatus,) flying 
over us. Our guide showed us a spot where an action had 
been fought, about sixty or seventy years ago, between the 
Sauks and the Peoras ; the former were successful and lost 
but one man, while they killed ten of the enemy. This 
took place on an elevated hill, commanding an extensive 
view of the prairie, and crowned with a forest in which the 
engagement is said to have taken place. 

The country becomes interspersed with hills, which con- 
tribute to vary the scenery ; among others which were very 
distinct, we observed two, rising close alongside of each 
other, forming two twin peaks insulated in the midst of the 
prairie ; the distance between the two being about one and 
a quarter mile in an east and west direction ; they 
are visible for upwards of thirty miles, and constitute 
one of the best landmarks we have ever seen. They 


are called in the Sauk language E'n-n^«i-sh^6-t^'-n^6, (which 
signifies the two mountains being composed of ^'n-n^es, 
Vol. I. 25 


two, and *6-te'-nV>, hills.) Our guide informed us that 
the hill marked on the maps as the Smoky-hill, ( Mon- 
tagne qui bouccane of the French,) lay at a long 
day's march, (about thirty miles,) in a north-easterly 
course from our noon encampment of the 16th. This hill 
has received from the Indians the appellation of Mu-ch^6- 
w^a-kii'-nHn, (Smoky mountain,) from the circumstance 
of its summit being generally enveloped with a cloud or fog, 
and, as we were told, not from any tradition of smoke having 
ever issued from it. To the left a point of highland is in 
sight, which is said to be at the mouth of the Moschioko, 
(always full,) a stream that falls into the Mississippi. In 
the evening we encamped on the left bank of the W4ss6- 
moii, a beautiful tributary of the Pektannon ; it is called af- 
ter an Indian chief of that name, who resided on its banks ; 
it means, in the Sauk language, lightning. On the 
banks of this stream we observed the limestone in place, 
forming cliffs of about fifty feet in height ; the rock is in 
very distinct horizontal stratification; its structure is in 
many parts crystalline, or perhaps it may more properly be 
called gravelly and sandy ; it contains many cells or cavities, 
some of which are filled with crystallizations of carbonate of 
lime ; much white hornstone appears disseminated through- 
out the mass. The hornstone is sometimes seen to constitute 
small beds or layers from one to three or four inches in 
thickness, which are continued for several feet in length ; 
frequently also appearing under the form of flattened ir- 
regular nodules, lying in an almost continuous line for a 
considerable distance, and with their long or flattened 
side parallel to the stratification ; resembling in this respect * 
the disposition of the clay-iron stone in the slaty strata 
that accompany the bituminous coal. Organic remains 
are by no means uncommon, though they are not found as 
abundantly as in some other spots of our route ; they consist 


of Terebratulites, Encrinites, and a Madreporite, (Linne :) 
the ti'ue nature of the last of these could not be ascer- 
tained without a comparison of characters, which we were 
unable to make on the spot, and w^hich the loss of all the 
specimens collected between Fort Wayne and Fort St. 
Anthony has prevented Mr. Say from making since ; the 
rock is of a grayish-yellow colour, with a loose structure. 
We are aware that some of the characters, which we have 
given of this rock, might lead to the opinion that it resem- 
bles the mountain or carboniferous limestone of Messrs. 
Conybeare and Phillips; and consequently that it is the 
same as the metalliferous limestone of other geologists ; 
but we would consider this union as a very hasty, not to 
say, an incorrect one. Although its cavernous nature, its 
indications of crystallization, and its organic remains, pre- 
sent an apparent correspondence with those of that lime- 
stone, as described by the Rev. W. D. Conybeare, in the 
excellent " Outlines of the Geology of England and 
Wales," (Part I. p. 353.) we incline to the opinion that 
this rock is of a much later formation ; we believe it to be 
connected with a limestone which was subsequently ob- 
served on the Mississippi, between Prairie du Chien and 
St. Anthony, and in which we observed an oolite and a pulve- 
rulent limestone similar to the calcareous ashes described by 
Mr. Freiesleben in his elaborate account of the formations 
of Thuringen. If we compare the characters of this rock 
with those of the limestone observed by Mr. Freiesleben, and 
described by him under the name of zechstein and rauch- 
7vacke, we will be surprised at the great similarity in their 
appearance. The " zechstein is a compact, hard and tough 
limestone of an ash-gray colour passing into blackish-gray, 
distinctly stratified, without however presenting any slaty 


appearance, or at least much less so than the inferior beds; 
it contains specks and some veins of calcareous spar and 
gypsum ; also crystals of quartz, &c. ; it likewise offers 
sometimes specks of galena. It generally presents but few 
petrifactions, Corallites and Millepores, as well as several 
species of Terebratulites ; Ammonites, &.c. have been found 
in it." 

"Above this compact limestone another stratum of calca- 
reous rock is found which is known in the country under 
the name of rauchwacke, (smoky wacke ;) it is a limestone 
probably intermixed with silex, of a dark-gray, sometime? 
blackish colour, with a somewhat scaly fracture, occasion- 
ally fine-^'ained, sometimes though seldom oolitic, hard, 
tough, and filled with pores or cavities ; this last feature 
is characteristic ; it may be observed even in those parts 
of the stratum which appear most compact ; the cavities are 
angular, long, and narrow, (as in a cracked clay ;) the in- 
terior of the cavities is lined with small crystals of calc- 
spar, these cavities are sometimes large, being several 
yards in length and breadth, &c." 

He afterwards proceeds to describe the ashes or pul- 
verulent substance found near it. This, from its great simi- 
larity to the residue of the combustion of wood, is desig- 
nated in Germany by the name of asche, (ashes.) These 
characters, when taken into connection, appear to us to 
correspond so well with those observed on the Wasse- 
mon, on the Mississippi, and throughout the country 
between Rock river and Prairie du Chien, that we 
feel strongly induced to consider the limestone of this 
country as analogous to that observed bj^ Mr. Freiesleben. 
This limestone is by some European continental geologists 
referred to the Lias of English geologists ; but we would 


rather refer it, with Messrs. Conybeare and Phillips, to 
the newer magnesian or conglomerate limestone of Eng- 
land ; to this, we think, it has the strongest analogy. 
It is probably connected, as we have already intimated, 
with the limestone situated above the coal fields of Wheeling 
and Zanesville ; it extends over those parts of Ohio and Indi- 
ana, where salt has been found ; it is observed cellular, 
cavernous, &c. on the banks of the Wassemon ; it is con- 
nected with real calcareous ashes on the Mississippi. The 
presence of the oolite which was observed here in a single 
spot, does not militate against the position which we have 
taken, as we find it stated, by Conybeare and Phillips, 
(page 302,) on the authority of Mr. Wynch, that the mag- 
nesian limestone is occasionally oolitic. It presents in many 
of its points, the characters of the rauchwacke, and espe- 
cially the cellular or cavernous structure ; it is seldom found 
very abundantly strewed with organic remains ; its colour 
is the pale buff passing to the ash-gray. In fine, the more 
attentively we examine it, the more closely do we find it 
to connect itself with the formations of Thuringen, and 
with those which cover so extensive a part of England, 
and more particularly with that observed in Yorkshire by 
Professor Buckland ; offering thus, as it appears to us, a 
beautiful confirmation of the analogy established between 
the various kinds of this limestone, observed in divers parts 
of Europe, There is an experiment which would, as we 
conceive, place the matter beyond a doubt ; this would be 
an analysis of the limestone with a view to ascertain the 
quantity of magnesia which it contains, and we regret much 
that the loss of our specimens has deprived us of the op- 
portunity of making this analysis. But we think the case 
sufficiently strong to justify us in considering this as the 
formation corresponding to the magnesian limestone of 


England, and to the rauchwacke and zechstein of Tliu- 

In offering these remarks to geologists, we have not 
overlooked the very correct observation of one whose ex- 
perience adds value to the advice which he gives to natu- 
ralists ; indeed we have found the truth of Mr. D'Aubuis- 
son's remark fully exemplified here. " Let us further 
observe," says he, " that the influence of localities be- 
comes more sensible as we draw nearer to modern epochas, 
and we will be convinced of the difficulty of drawing cer- 
tain conclusions as to the identity of two calcareous forma- 
tions somewhat distant." If with this remark before us, 
we are thought to have ventured too much in supposing a 
connection between the formations of England and Ger- 
many, and those west of the Alleghanies, let it be remem- 
bered that we only offer this as a suggestion to the future 
investigator of our western limestone, in order that he 
may turn his attention to the subject with more favourable 
opportunities of observation than those afforded us by a 
transient visit through the country. We shall have occa- 
sion to mention some further facts which we consider as 
adding evidence to the opinion which we have advanced. 
But there is another question which naturally arises; if, 
as Mr. Freiesleben has described it, the zechstein pre- 
sents specks of galena or sulphuret of lead ; if, as Mr. Co- 
nybeare states, the galena is seen " occurring in strings in 
the magnesian limestone of Nottingham and Durham ;" if 

• The reader is referred to the Outlines of the Geology of England 
and Wales, by the Rev. W. D. Conybeare and Wm. Phillips, &c. Lon- 
don, 1822, p. 300, & seq. Traite de Geognosie, par J. F. D'Aiibuisson de 
Voisins, Paris, 1819. Vol.11, p. 336, 337, 343,353. J.C.Freiesleben's 
Geognosliche Arbeiten, (Beytrag zur kentniss des kupferschieler-ge- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 199 

it has been occasionally found in the conglomerate beds 
associated with this formation, particularly near Mendip- 
hills, in England ; if it contains veins of sulphate of ba- 
rytes at the Huddleston quarry near Sherburn, between 
Ferrybridge and York ; if it is traversed by veins of sul- 
phate of barytes near Nottingham, at Bramham Moor, &c. 
may it not then be asked, whether these considerations do not 
render it probable that the great lead deposite of the west 
is in this limestone? and is it notlikely that all that has been 
worked in an alluvion has been detached from this forma- 
tion ? These are questions upon which, in the present state of 
our acquaintance with the western limestone, we must 
profess ourselves unable to give any decided opinion; but 
from various circumstances which we need not dwell upon, 
we should incline to consider the lead ore as probably ex- 
isting in an older limestone which we think underlays 
this ; and which may be connected with the mountain or 
carboniferous limestone of Messrs. Conybeare and Phil- 
lips, with the metalliferous limestone of other geologists. 

The country becomes more undulated as we draw nearer 
to the Mississippi ; the ridges are low but somewhat steep, 
owing to the horizontal stratification of the rocks ; one of 
their sides very frequently discovers the composition of 
the hills by a steep break. At other times the country pre- 
sents the waved appearance of a somewhat ruffled ocean ; it 
is covered with a short dry grass, the vegetation generally 
appearing inferior to that of the alluvial country through 
which we had previously passed. This waved appearance 
seems to have been caused by the production of valleys sub- 
sequently formed, and extending from north-east to south- 
west, all dipping to the latter point ; these are said to con- 
tinue almost in a straight line to the Mississippi. Our ob- 
ject being to strike that river at a point further north, our 


course, which approaches to a north-west direction, obliges 
us to cross all these ridges and valleys nearly at right an- 
gles. No granitic blocks are to be seen ; this is accounted 
for by the fact that we are no longer upon the alluvial for- 
mation, but upon the magnesian limestone which rises to 
a greater height, constituting the dividing ridge between 
the Mississippi, Rock river, and the Wisconsan, and per- 
haps connecting itself with what have been termed the 
Wisconsan hills. 

The features, which we observed from the Wassemon to 
the Wisconsan, are extremely interesting. At a distance of 
a few miles north-west of the former stream, the vegeta- 
tion presented a sudden and striking change, announcing a 
corresponding one in the geological character of the coun- 
try. We ascended a rough, steep, and hilly ground, which 
was covered with heavy timber, and with a very thick 
underwood, consisting principally of young oak and aspen. 
This thick brush-wood continued for about two miles, 
when we struck the bank of a small stream, remarkable for 
the beauty of its scenery, which differed from any that we 
had hitherto met with. The brook runs in a deep and narrow 
glen, the sides of which are very steep and in some places 
vertical ; they are covered at their summit with a dense vege- 
tation, which extends over the edge of the rock, and imparts 
a character of austerity and of gloom to this secluded valley, 
which finds not its parallel in any that we recollect having 
ever seen. The dark colour, which the water receives from 
the deep shadows cast by the high steep bank and its over- 
hanging vegetation, forms a pleasing relief to the glare, so 
uniformly fatiguing, of the unsheltered prairie. This spot 
conveyed so much relief to the eye and to the mind, that 
the party could not repress their delight on beholding it. 
The geologist who connects a change in the nature of the 


subjacent rock, with a diversity in the character of the 
country, or of its vegetation, would naturally find an ex- 
planation for the new features which the country assumes, 
by observing that the high banks of this glen are formed of 
sandstone rocks, the nature of which we had an opportunity 
of studying with attention, during a great part of our jour- 
ney of the 18th of June. We observed that the sandstone is 
distinctly superposed to the limestone ; that it constitutes 
upon it hills, which vary from thirty to one hundred feet 
and upwards ; these hills are divided by valleys, in the 
bottom of which the limestone reappears in place. The 
sides of the hills are steep, and but few indications of stra- 
tification are observable, except where the valley is partly 
excavated in the limestone itself; in which case the lower 
part of the hill is less steep, but presents a distinct stratifi- 
cation. The line of superposition of the sandstone over the 
limestone, may also be traced with considerable accuracy, 
by the examination of the vegetation. Whenever the lat- 
ter rock prevails, the surface is even and smooth, or mo- 
dified by gentle swells, covered with a thick and long 
grass, and forming an uniform fine green, meadow-like 
country, while the sandstone invariably imparts to the 
surface an asperity which is as distinct as the vigorous 
growth of trees with which it is covered, and as its abun- 
dant undergrowth, which denotes a strong and productive 
soil, having a tendency to bear heavy forests. 

The rock is a white sandstone, formed of fragments 
of fine transparent and colourless quartz, united by a 
cement, which in some parts appears to be ferruginous, 
while in others it is colourless, and probably of a calcare- 
ous nature. In some parts the cement is quite invisible, 
and would almost lead to the belief that the union of the 
grains was a crystalline one. This sandstone appears in frag. 

Vol. T. 26 


ments or tatters, and constitutes the remains of a formation, 
which probably covered the whole of the limestone, at 
least in this part of the country. That it is above the lime- 
stone, no doubt can exist, in our minds, as we saw the imme- 
diate superposition. It sometimes appears, it is true, to sink 
below the level of that rock; and this led us at first to ap- 
prehend that there might be an alternation of strata, but a 
careful examination of all these spots has left no doubt in 
our minds, that in these cases the sandstone is deposited in 
coves or valleys formed in the limestone previous to the 
deposition of the sandstone ; these cases are, however, not 
common, and we may safely state, as a general rule, that 
not only the sandstone is relatively above the limestone, but 
that it is even, in almost all cases, at a greater absolute ele- 
vation ; and the spot, at which we first met with it, west of 
the Wassemon, was considerably elevated above the usual 
level of the limestone ; for, wherever the sandstone has re- 
tained its position, it has protected the limestone against 
decomposition, and hence, in such places, the latter rock 
still continues to rise to a higher level than where it is 
laid bare, and exposed to the destructive influence of at- 
mospherical agents. We also observed very distinctly, that 
while the valleys, formed in the limestone at a time anterior 
to the deposition of the sandstone, were few, those produced 
subsequently were numerous, as was indicated by the great 
roughness and unevenness of the sandstone country, and 
by the many undulations in the uncovered limestone 
which we have already had occasion to mention. From the 
observations made on the 18th, it was thought very probable 
that all the hills observed at a distance on the 17th, were 
formed of this sandstone ; and from some characters which 
had appeared, at the time, to present an anomaly, it was in- 
ferred that the Enneshoteno or twin mountains, near which 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 203 

we had passed that day, without stopping, were probably 
also remains of the general sandstone formation which ex- 
tended over the whole country. No organic remains were 
observed in the sandstone, or in the limestone which under- 
lays it ; but no doubt can exist that they may contain some, 
and that the limestone probably contains many. 

Proceeding towards the Wisconsan, the country pre- 
sents an alternation of rolling and undulated prairie, inter- 
spersed with hills composed of either one or the other of 
these rocks. The sandstone is found in most places to be 
covered with thin flattened fragments of a stone, differing 
in its nature and texture from the character of the other 
rocks, whether of limestone or sandstone. These frag- 
ments are generally observed to vary from three to twelve 
inches in length, from two to eight in breadth, and from 
one quarter to one inch in thickness ; they present appear- 
ances of having been weathered, but not of having been roll- 
ed ; they arc veiy abundant, and we could account for them 
in no other way than by admitting that they were the re- 
mains, probably the harder parts, of a stratum that had at 
one time covered the sandstone, but that had disappeared 
almost entirely, leaving only these fragments to attest its 
former existence and situation. On examining these frag- 
ments with care, we found them to be very uniform in their 
characters ; their composition is in great measure calcareous, 
but from their greater hardness we coTisider it as partly silice- 
ous ; they are replete with organic remains ; these are princi- 
pally referrible to the Productus, Terebratula, &c. We saw 
none but what belonged to bivalves. The existence of 
these fragments was observed upon many elevations, over 
a considerable extent of country, while in the vallies no 
trace of them could be seen. Generalizing the observa- 
tions made during the three last days of our journey pre- 


vious to our arrival on the Mississippi, we are led to admit 
that there are, or rather that there were formerly, two dis- 
tinct formations of limestone in this country, and that 
they were separated by a thick stratum of sandstone ; of 
these two limestone formations, the older one, which wc 
have already described with minuteness, we have been in- 
duced to consider as coeval with, or analogous to, the 
magnesian limestone of England. The superior formation 
is distinguished by the circumstance of its containing 
harder fragments or nodules of limestone, which alone re- 
main to establish the fact of its former existence ; that it 
contained no hornstone or flinty quartz, as observed in the 
former, we are led to believe, because had they existed 
they must necessarily have resisted decomposition as well 
or better than the calcareous nodules which are now found 
alone. The much greater abundance of shells in these no- 
dules, and the total absence of the Madreporites appear to 
us to be very characteristic distinctions between these and 
the underlaying limestone, though perhaps too much 
weight ought not to be assigned to the absence of the 
Madreporites, as these from their loose and more porous 
texture may have been unable to resist the decomposing 
causes which appear to have affected this formation. In 
some places a limestone bed was observed upon the sand- 
stone, but these depositions were so partial, and in all cases 
the ground was so much overgrown with bushes, that we 
were unable to examine their characters with any degree 
of minuteness. This striking difference, however, we 
observed, and we are led to consider it as constant, that 
the inferior limestone, whenever it appears exposed, is 
covered with small scales or fragments of the hornstone 
nodules whose existence has already been alluded to, while 
none of the flat, calcareous fragments, abounding in shells, 


are found upon it ; whereas these were uniformly observ- 
ed to the exclusion of the scales of hornstone upon the sur- 
face of the calcareous stratum that overlays the sandstone. 
If contrary to the opinion which we have been led to adopt, 
the limestone be supposed to constitute but one formation, 
whether above or below the sandstone ; then will we ask, 
whence come these flattened fragments, observed upon the 
sandstone ? If from the remains of a more solid stratum in 
the limestone itself, why, let us again ask, are not these 
likewise observed upon the inferior limestone itself? 
Why is not the hornstone, which appears to characterize 
the lower limestone, also observed upon the sandstone ? We 
might further ask, if the limestone above and below the 
sandstone bed be the same, ought we not to find signs of 
calcareous beds subordinate to the sandstone, and would we 
not have a right to expect an interposition of limestone in 
the immense bed of sandstone which, as we have previously 
stated, is often one hundred feet in thickness ? Yet this we 
never observed to be the case. 

If an alternation of sandstone and limestone strata be- 
longing to the same formation were indicated by the cha- 
racters previously alluded to, would we not be entitled to 
expect that the fragments and detritus of both should be 
found together ? Yet in the valleys of the sandstone coun- 
try, and particularly in the beautiful and romantic one 
which rested upon the limestone, and was enclosed by 
sandstone hills, we observed no fragments of the former 
rock, and but a few large blocks of sandstone which had 
evidently fallen of late from the sides of the valley. 
While travelling on the hills we observed that they were 
covered, in certain parts, with a thin stratum of fine sand, 
resulting from a slight decomposition of the rock, as is ob- 
servable in all sandstones of a loose texture. 


From what lias been previously observed on tlic com- 
parative age of the limestone of the Wassemon with the 
formations of Europe, we readily discover that this sand- 
stone cannot be older than the variegated sandstone, (Bunt 
sandstein,) of Werner, and we have reason to consider it as 
an analogous formation. This of course corresponds with 
the new red sandstone or red marl of English geologists. 
In this formation in England the red marl certainly pre- 
dominates; we are not, however, to be surprised if in 
America we should find the marl almost deficient, and the 
sandstone in its place ; for it cannot be expected that the 
same uniformity, which exists between the primitive or 
general formations of the old and new continent, will be ob- 
served between the secondary or partial formations ; if we 
can trace a general resemblance, we have perhaps gone 
further than we were justified in expecting. With the va- 
riegated sandstones of Germany this formation presents a 
great analogy, and perhaps its most remarkable difierence, 
though undoubtedly a very trifling one in reality, is in the 
colour, which is seldom red, though it occasionally be- 
comes so. This, among many other instances, proves the 
great desideratum that geologists should agree upon names 
more intelligible and less arbitrary than those which have 
been usually adopted; if the formations of Europe and 
America are to be compared, (and the daily progress of 
science proves that even those of Asia and Africa will soon 
be suificiently investigated to enable us to take them into 
consideration,) we ought to have better names than those 
derived from the most fugitive of all characters, that of 

The limestone formation, the existence of which above 
the sandstone we think we have been enabled to establish, 
appears to us from its mineralogical as well as its geologi- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 207 

cal characters to connect itself with the Lias of England, 
and more particularly with that variety so well known in 
France and Germany under the name of Calcaire coqiiilUer, 
(muschel kalk of Werner,) which constitutes, as is well 
known, the upper bed of what was formerly termed the 
Jura limestone ; and which is inferior to the great oolitic 
series of England, of which it forms as it were the founda- 
tion. This oolitic series must not be considered as in- 
cluding the oolites which have been occasionally observed 
in the Jura limestone of the French, the zechstebi of the 
Germans, and the magnesian limestone of England. In all 
these instances the oolite forms but a partial and probably an 
accidental deposite in a limestone, which is certainly inferior 
to the variegated ( Bunt) sandstone, or new red sandstone for- 
mation. We have in this account of the western limestones 
studiously avoided, until this time, introducing the terms of 
Alpine and Jura limestones, and comparing them together, 
as it appears to us well established that the greatest confu- 
sion has prevailed from the indiscriminate application of 
these words. The truth of this will be acknowledged b}- 
those who recollect that, by some geologists, the two names 
have been used to indicate the same limestone, (at least in 
certain cases.) while some have removed almost all the 
Alpine limestone into the transition formations, and others 
have extended the Jura limestone to make it include the 
muschel kalk of Germany, which we have good grounds 
for considering as coeval with the Lias of England. It will, 
doubtless, be observed by those who have made a particu- 
lar study of the limestone formations to which we have al- 
luded, that there are some apparent contradictions in our 
statement. That for instance, the asche and the oolite ob- 
served on the Mississippi cannot be considered as connect- 
ed together, and with the cavernous limestone of the Was- 


semen, without bringing together limestones, which in 
Europe at least, are found of very different ages, unless we 
adopt the opinion that this oolite is subordinate to the mag- 
nesian limestone. This we are disposed to do, as we have 
no reason to believe that the formations of the Mississippi 
are superior to those of the Wassemon, or that they arc 
separated by the new red sandstone formation ; if we could 
venture to express an opinion, where much doubt really 
exists, we would say that the oolite was of the same age as 
the asche, or pulverulent limestone, and that it probably 
constitutes merely an accidental modification of the mag- 
nesian limestone similar to that observed " at Hartlepool 
on the coast of Northumberland, where a stratum of hard 
white oolite exists, the grains composing it being about the 
size of a mustard seed," and similar to the oolitic varieties 
which jMr. Freiesleben observed sometimes, though sel- 
dorn, in the rauchwacke. 

If in the rude and unsatisfactory sketch which we have 
presented of these formations, we have thrown any light 
upon a doubtful and obscure point, we doubt not we shall 
be excused, by the experienced geologist, for the apparent 
contradictions which we may have revealed. Our object 
has been to state the facts as they came under our notice, 
and without any intention to establish a connection be- 
tween the formations of Europe, and those which we have 
described. If the facts militate against observations made 
abroad, we must regret it; but we have only stated them 
as they have appeared to us. Our opinion remains, how- 
ever, unchanged, that Whenever these observations shall 
be repeated under more favourable circumstances, the dif- 
ficulties will vanish, and the analogy between the forma- 
tions of Europe and ours, will appear still greater; a due 
allowance being of course made for those differences whicl« 


result from the local circumstances that may have influ- 
enced these partial deposites. 

Those geologists, who have been called upon to make 
observations in a wild and uncultivated country, where the 
rocks are frequently concealed by a luxuriant vegetation, 
where the industry of man has not penetrated by means 
of quarries, wells, &c. into the bowels of the earth, and 
where no facilities exist to roam at large in search of breaks, 
will, we think, appreciate the difficulties which we have had 
to encounter in the examination of this section of the coun- 
try ; difficulties which have been increased by the loss of 
our specimens, whence we have been obliged to depend 
exclusively upon the descriptions recorded in our notes at 
the time, without being allowed an opportunity of com- 
paring the characters of the rocks with those observed on 
former occasions. 

Observations were made by Mr. Colhoun for the pur- 
pose of ascertaining the longitude of our encampment on 
the Wassemon, which he determined to be 90° 4' 45" 
West. The latitude was also obtained by observations made 
at midnight, and was found to be 42° 30' 10" North. We 
remarked with pleasure the surprise and delight expressed 
in Wennebea's face, duri ng these observations. His astonish- 
ment at the characters of the mercury, used for an artificial 
horizon, showed that he had never seen any thing like it; 
his delight was strongly marked every time he placed his 
fingei: upon the bright and dense mercury, and observed the 
fluid, receding from his touch, and receiving an impression 
as though it had been water ; yet, as he observed, not pos- 
sessed of the property of wetting his finger like the latter 
fluid. He was shown the construction of the sextant, and 
very soon learnt the use of it. As soon as he saw the 
double image of the moon, he raised his two fingers in 

Vol. I. 27 


token of what he had seen. To one disposed to indulge in 
the sublime views of Plato, on the immortality of the soul, 
(Cic. de Senec. Cap. 21,) it would have appeared as if 
there floated in Wennebea's mind, at that time, an indis- 
tinct recollection of what had once been familiar to him. 
His mind seemed to have received a deep impression from 
the contemplation of the heavens, but it still remains ques- 
tionable with us, whether his feelings were produced by 
the wonderful grandeur of the planets which he had be- 
held, and by the associations with which he connected 
them, or by the ingenuity of white men, who with a sort of 
talisman, had brought, within the sphere of his vision, objects 
which were previously unknown to him, and imparted to 
him thereby, as it were, a new sense. It seemed as if his 
mind was overflowing; and he very willingly answered 
the questions which were put to him, concerning his ideas 
of the objects he had been beholding. He believed the 
sun to be the residence of a male Deity, who looks placidly 
upon the earth, and who being propitious to man, exposes to 
his view the wild beasts and serpents which cross his path. 
He thought, that immediately after death, the soul quits its 
mortal residence, and journeys towards the setting sun, 
where, if its life had been spent in a manner agreeable to 
the Deity, it finds no difficulty in stepping over the agi- 
tated log which stretches across the gulf. It then be- 
comes an eternal inhabitant of the " Village of the Dead," 
situated in a prairie, that abounds in all the pleasures which 
the simple imagination of the Indian can covet. The 
moon, on the contrary, he held to be inhabited by an ad- 
verse female Deity, whose delight is to cross man in all his 
pursuits. If during their sleep, this Deity should present 
herself to them in their dreams, the Indians consider it as 
enjoined upon them by duty, to become cinsedi; they ever 


after assume the female garb* It is not impossible that 
this may have been the source of the numerous stories of 
hermaphrodites, related by all the old writers on America. 

Wennebea thought that the Great Spirit had a human 
form, was white, and wore a hat. It is remarkable that 
this personification of the Supreme Being under a different 
appearance from their own, is not peculiar to the Sauks ; 
the Mexicans and the Muypuscas represented him as 
white, and wearing a beard ; the Santees, according -to 
Lawson, held the belief that he was white. " They made 
answer," says he, " that they had been conversing with the 
White Man above, (meaning God Almighty.*)" It would 
be curious to inquire whether there was any connexion 
between this white complexion attributed to the Deity, 
and the prophecies which are said to have prevailed among 
some of the Virginia tribes, as well as at Quizquiz near the 
Mississippi, of the coming of white men among them.t 

These reported prophecies, existing previous to the disco* 
very of this continent, (concerning the arrival of white men,) 
are represented by the early writers as very common; 
whether they really existed in the country, or were art- 
fully cii'culated by the invaders, may be a matter of doubt. 
Montezuma, in a speech to his subjects, in the presence of 
Cbrtez, is said to have alluded to this subject. An old 
writer, John de Laet, reports the same belief to have been 
prevalent in the island of Cozumel, on the coast of Yu- 
catan, and distant from it about four leagues, in latitude 
20° N. This author enters into many particulars on this 

• A New Voyage to Carolina, by John Lawson. London, 1709, p. 20. 

■j- Purchas's Pilgrimage, p. 843. Narrative of De Soto's Invasion of 
Florida, written by a gentleman of Elvas, and translated by Ilackluyt, 
London, 1609, p. 90. 


subject, which we are disposed to consider as altogether of 
his own invention.* 

On the 17th of June our route was diversified by hills 
and valleys. The Smoky mountain to the east, and Du- 
buque's to the west, formed distinct objects of vision, while 
the long ridge, covered with forests, which extended to 
the left, indicated the course of the " Great river," as the 
Mississippi has been emphatically called in the Algonquin 

A badger was this day discovered by the dogs in the 
prairie, and after they had brought it to bay, the Indian 
killed it with his tomahawk ; it was cooked for dinner, and 
those who eat of it, found it very good. This was near a 
small stream, called by the Indians Mi-k'^-be-'a, Sepe, or 
Small-pox river ; it is the Riviere de la Fievre, which is 
said to enter the Mississippi opposite to Dubuque's mines. 

On the morning of the ISth, the sun shone indistinctly 
through a mist, which offered us the singular phenomenon 
of a beautiful Iris without rain. We encamped that after- 
noon at an early hour, on a small stream which is a tributary 
of the Wisconsan and, as we supposed, at a distance of about 
twelve miles from the place where we intended to cross 
that river. 

The next morning, after a fatiguing ride over a rough 
and hilly country, we reached the banks of the Wisconsan ; 
as we could not ford it, we prepared a light raft, and sent 
Bemis across to obtain boats at Fort Crawford, From the 
account of our guides, we thought we were opposite to a 
point in the river, known by the name of the Petit cap 
au Gres, (little sand-stone bluff,) situated about six miles 
above the confluence of the Wisconsan and Mississippi ; 

* Joannis de Laet, Americcc utrlusqTie Descriptio. Lugd. Bat, 
J 633, lib. 5, cap. 27, or p. 273. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 213 

bvit we afterwards found that we were nine miles higher 
than our guides had reported us to be. The place where 
we encamped, until means of transportation across the river 
could be procured, was in a wood at the foot of a high and 
steep bank ; it was almost the only dry place in the vici- 
nity, the river bank above and below it being swampy. 
The river was about a third of a mile wide, and the current 
very rapid. 

About sunset we observed two boats advancing up the 
river, in one of which Colonel Morgan, the commanding 
officer at Fort Crawford, had come up with Lieutenant 
Scott to meet our party. This polite attention on the part 
of the Colonel gave us a foretaste of the hospitable recep- 
tion which we met with during our stay in his quarters. 

Although it was late, yet as the weather was fine, the 
party effected a crossing of the Wisconsan, and having 
relieved their horses of all unnecessary baggage, the gentle- 
men proceeded under Colonel Morgan's guidance towards 
the Fort. It was eight o'clock when they left the Wis- 
consan, and about eleven when they reached the Missis^ 
sippi. This ride, at a late hour, was one of a most romantic 
character ; the evening was fair and still ; not a breath 
of wind interrupted the calmness of the scenery; the 
moon shone in her full, and threw a pale light over the 
trackless course which we travelled. Our way lay across 
a beautiful country, where steep and romantic crags con- 
trasted pleasantly with widely extended prairies, which, 
seen by the uncertain light of the moon, appeared to spread 
around like a sheet of water. Our party was sufficiently 
numerous to form a long line, which assumed a more im- 
posing character from the dark and lengthened shadows 
which each cast behind him. All seemed to have their 
spirits excited by the sublimity of the scene. Even tlie 


Indian, whose occupations must have accustomed him to 
such excursions, appeared to have received an accession of 
spirits, and the loud whoops which he occasionally gave, 
as he raised the summit of a hill, enlivened the ride. Our 
course was a winding one along the glens which divide the 
bluffs; and whenever we rode in the direction of the 
moon's rays, the vivid flashes of light, reflected by our 
military accoutrements, contributed to impart to the whole 
a character entirely new to many of the gentlemen of the 
expedition. It was impossible to be a sharer in this splen- 
did prospect, without joining in the enthusiasm to which 
it naturally gave rise; and however much disposed the 
mind may be at such an hour, and in such a solitude, to 
recall, with deep feeling, the image of abodes endeared 
by the presence of far distant fi'iends, it would have 
been impossible for any one of us to wish himself at that 
moment on any other spot, but in the deep and narrow val- 
leys, or on the smooth prairies, which have imparted to this 
portion of the scenery of the Mississippi, a character of sub- 
limity and beauty, which we would perhaps vainly seek 
for on any other point of the long extended course of the 
" Father of Rivers." 

At Prairie du Chien we sojourned for five days; the ob- 
ject of this delay was to obtain the escort which was to 
accompany the party up the St. Peter. While Major 
Long's attention was engaged in superintending these pre- 
parations, the gentlemen attended to their respective 
departments. The distance from Chicago to Prairie du 
Chien, by the route which the party travelled, is two 
hundred and twenty-eight miles, which, having been per- 
formed in nine days, give an average of twenty-five miles 
per day. No person had ever gone through this route in a 
direct line before we did, which is surprising, when we 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 215 

consider the extent and antiquity of the trade carried on 
in this part of the country, and the facilities which the 
route affords. On no part of our journey have we travel- 
led with more comfort to ourselves, the soil being dry and 
firm, well watered, and sufficiently interspersed with woods 
to afford us a constant supply of this article for fuel ; the 
grass is generally fine, so that our horses fared well ; the 
country only became rough as we approached the Wiscon- 
san. This river, like the Ohio, seems to unite with the 
Mississippi in a hilly country; the hills rise to the 
height of from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet; 
their sides are abrupt, and their soil is but indifferent. 
The Wisconsan has been, for a long time past, the usual 
communication between the lakes and the Mississippi. 
About one hundred and eighty miles above the mouth of 
the Wisconsan, this river comes so near to the Fox river of 
Greenbay, that a portage of two thousand five hundred yards, 
across a low and level prairie which is occasionally over- 
flowed, establishes a connection between the two streams. 
From the portage down to the mouth of Fox river in the 
Greenbay of Lake Michigan, the distance is computed at 
from one hundred and fifty to one hundred and eighty 
miles. The Wisconsan river, which takes its rise near the 
hills of the same name, extends at least one hundred and 
fifty miles above the portage. It is represented as having, 
throughout its course, a rapid current, and but a shallow 
channel, from which circumstances the ascent is difficult 
and troublesome. Fox river is formed by the union of two 
branches, one of which rises at a short distance from the 
portage road ; its course, which is at first westwardly, soon 
takes a general easterly direction, but the river is at all 
times very crooked; it falls into Greenbay near Fort 


The country, through which these rivers pass, is inhabit- 
ed by the Menomones, Winnebagoes, Sauks, and Foxes, 
but principally by the two first mentioned nations ; the Me- 
nomones being chiefly found near the mouth of Fox river, 
and the Winnebagoes near the portage road, and in the 
vicinity of the lake which bears their name. The latter are 
considered as being of distinct origjn from the Algonquin 
tribes ; their language is said to present much greater diffi- 
culties. It abounds in harsh and guttural sounds, and in tlie 
letter r, which does not appear to be common in the Al- 
gonquin languages. We have already had occasion to ad- 
vert to the termination in r«, added to many of the words 
by the Winnebago whom we saw on the Pektannon. It 
is difficult to obtain correct information concerning their 
manners and characters, as a strong prejudice appears to 
prevail against them. They are considered unfriendly to 
white men, and this, instead of being viewed in the light 
of a favourable trait in their character, as indicative of a 
high spirit, which can resent injustice and oppression, and 
which will not crouch before the aggresssor, has been the 
occasion of much ill will towards them ; they have been, 
probably without cause, charged with many offences which 
they did not commit. If we can place any dependence 
upon the character given to them by Carver, we should 
consider them as no worse than other Indians ; indeed his 
acquaintance with them appears to have left a favourable im- 
pression upon his mind. Their appellation in their own 
language, is believed to be Otchagras ; whence the term 
Winnebago has been derived we have not been able to as- 
certain, not having met with it in any author prior to Car- 
ver. By the French they were called Puants or Stinkers, 
which name is attributed by Charlevoix, to their feeding 
principally upon fish. " I judge," says he, "it was there. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 217 

(on the borders of a lake^) that living on fish, which they 
got in the lake in great plenty, they gave them the name of 
PuantSj because all along the shore where their cabins are 
built, one saw nothing but stinking fish which infected the 

In a manuscript narrative of a journey from Bellefon- 
taine on the Missouri to the Falls of St. Anthony, and to 
the Wisconsan portage, performed in 1817, by Major Long, 
we have observed the following account of their mode of 
conveying information by a sort of hieroglyphic writing. 

" When we stopped," says Major Long, " to dine, 
White Thunder, (the Winnebago chief that accompanied 
me,) suspecting that the rest of his party were in the 
neighbourhood, requested a piece of paper, pen and ink, to 
communicate to them the intelligence of his having come 
up with me. He then seated himself and drew three rude 
figures, which at my request he explained to me. The first 
represented my boat with a mast and flag, with three 
benches of oars and a helmsman ; to show that we were 
Americans, our heads were represented by a rude cross, 
indicating that we wore hats. The representation of him- 
self was a rude figure of a bear over a kind of cypher re- 
presenting a hunting ground. The second figure was de- 
signed to show that his wife was with him ; the device 
was a boat with a squaw seated in it; over her head lines 
were drawn in a zigzag direction, indicating that she was 
the wife of White Thunder. The third was a boat with a 
bear sitting at the helm, showing that an Indian of that 
name had been seen on his way up the river, and had given 
intelligence, where the party were. This paper he set up 
at the mouth of Kickapoo creek, up which the party had 
gone on a hunting trip."* 

* Major Long's MS. Journal of a voyage, &c. 1817, No. 1, folio 27. 
Vol. I. 28 


While at Prairie da Chien, we endeavoured to obtain 
from Wennebea as much information as we could concern- 
ing his nation ; and this, together with the notices collected 
from him and Le Sellier during the journey, constitutes 
the basis of the following account of the manners of the 
Sauks. As they are evidently of Algonquin origin, and 
therefore connected with the Potawatomis, we have only 
retained such parts of the information as had not been 
mentioned before, or in which a diflference was observed 
between the two nations. 

The Sauks call themselves in their own language, S^a-ke- 
w^e. They are a brave, warlike, and, as far as we 
could learn, a generous people. The great reduction in 
their numbers arose from their hostility to the French and 
their allies, and also to the wars which they formerly 
Waged against the Indians on the Missouri and Mississippi, 
such as the Pawnees, the Omawhaws, the Sioux, the lowas, 
&c. Owing to the rapid advance of the white population, 
and the increasing influence of our government over them, 
they are becoming more peaceable, and from this circum- 
stance their numbers are probably on the increase. Their 
historical recollections do not extend far back ; but they have 
been told that about sixty years since, when the French 
occupied the country, one of the Sauk chiefs by the name 
of Me-ne-to-met, found himself surrounded with about sixty 
of his nation by a party of French and Indians, belonging 
to other tribes, amounting altogether to two thousand. 
Menetomet then addressed his men, bidding them not to 
fear, for he had been favoured with a vision from the Great 
Spirit that informed him that if they all fought bravely, not 
one of them should perish. Encouraged by this assertion, 
they fought with such desperation as to break the ranks of 
their assailants, and escape without the loss of a single man. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 219 

They were afterwards led by their chiefs towards the Butte 
de Mort on Fox river, and were on the point of being cut off 
by their enemies, when a peace was effected by the inter- 
vention of a French officer. Wennebea informed us that 
his grandfather was in this party ; had it been cut off the 
nation would, as he thinks, have been totally annihilated ; 
for these composed the whole force of the Sauks. Their 
numbers have since considerably increased, as according 
to his estimate, the nation now consists of upwards of a 
thousand warriors ; in this number are included all the ac- 
tive, able-bodied, and middle aged part of the nation. This 
great accession to their numbers, results principally from 
their system of adopting their prisoners of war. The real 
number of warriors of pure Sauk extraction does not, in his 
opinion, exceed two hundred. The Fox nation, which ap- 
pears to be very closely united with the Sauk, was at that 
time likewise much reduced ; it is stated that at one time 
there were but three lodges of Fox Indians left ; these re- 
ports are probably in some respects exaggerated. The system 
of adoption seems to be carried to a great extent, and the 
duties which it involves are of a peculiar character ; it 
seems to have in a great measure stifled all patriotism and 
attachment to their kin. It is true, that men, reputed 
good among them, ought not to wander from tribe to tribe, 
nor from village to village ; neither is it prudent for them 
to do so, for in case of hostilities breaking out, the new 
comers would always be the first sacrificed. If a man 
should marry in a different nation from his own, he conti- 
nues to live with his wife's nation as long as they remain at 
peace, but should a war be declared he must leave his 
wife and return to his tribe. This does not, however, ap- 
ply to one who has been made prisoner; if a captive 
bo iuloptcd OS one of the nation of his captors, he must for- 


sake all his former ties ; he settles in the nation that adopts 
him, forfeits all allegiance to his native tribe, and contracts 
new obligations. It is his duty, in case of hostilities, to side 
with his new friends against his old ones ; it becomes even 
proper for him to do all in his power to promote the views 
of his adopted nation, by killing as many of their enemies 
as he can ; he may even, (and it is his duty to do it,) kill his 
own father, and, as our guide added, " nay even his grand- 
father." In so doing he is not thought to violate any of 
the obligations of nature, for his adoption has altogether 
cancelled his former bonds. The expression of Wenne- 
bea, " nay even his grandfather/' cannot surprise those 
who have visited the Sauks, or studied to make themselves 
acquainted with their peculiarities, as one of their most 
striking precepts is that the more distant, in the ascending 
line, a parent is, the more is he entitled to respect and af- 
fection ; hence the killing of a grandfather would, under 
common circumstances, be considered as far more atrocious 
than the murder of a father. 

To this high opinion of the duties incumbent upon 
adopted citizens, and to the general humanity which in- 
duces them to spare the lives of their prisoners, we may 
safely attribute the great accession of numbers which their 
nation has undergone within the last century. The Sauks 
have not always resided where they are at present found. 
Their recollection is that they formerly lived upon Sa- 
ganaw Bay of Lake Huron, and that about fifty years 
since they removed, by the way of Greenbay, from the 
lake shore to their present abode. They seem to consi- 
der the name of their nation to be connected with that 
of Saganaw Bay, and probably derived from it. They 
have no account of any former migration, but entertain the 
opinion that the Great Spirit created them in that vicinity. 


With a view to ascertain what were their ideas of moral 
excellence, we asked Wennebea what, in their opinion, con- 
stituted a good rnan. He immediately replied, that in 
order to be entitled to this appellation, an Indian ought to 
be mild in his manners, affable to all, and particularly so to 
his squaw. His hospitality ought to be boundless ; his cabin, 
as well as all that he can procure, should be at the disposal 
of any one who visits him. Should he receive presents, he 
ought to divide them among the young men of his tribe, 
reserving no share for himself. But what he chiefly con- 
sidered as characteristic of a good man, was to be mild and 
not quarrelsome when intoxicated. A good man should 
keep as many wives as he can support, for this will enable 
him to extend his hospitality more freely than if he have 
but one wife. Being asked whether by this he meant that 
an Indian should offer his squaw to strangers, as is practised 
by the Missouri nations, he replied that no man of any 
feeling could do such a thing ; he thought there was no 
man so base as to be guilty of this. Adultery is strictly- 
prohibited; so also is an indiscriminate intercourse of 
sexes. No good man would encourage it, or partake in it ; 
for men were not made like dogs for promiscuous inter- 
course ; but there are some women, whose passions are not 
controlled by reason, and these will always find men disposed 
to share in their shame ; no good man would however do 
so. Neither would a virtuous man always put away his 
wife for adultery; he ought to admonish and reprove 
her. Should she continue in her evil practices, then 
he will be justifiable in discarding, or punishing her. 
There are among the Sauks some men so base that they 
will throw off their male garments, assume those of females, 
and perform all the drudgery allotted to the latter sex, 
becoming real cinsedi. They are always held in contempt, 


though by some they are pitied, as labouring under an un- 
fortunate destiny which they cannot avoid, being supposed 
to be impelled to this course by a vision from the female 
spirit that resides in the moon. Upon the subject of in- 
toxication, Wennebea spoke with much feeling and philo- 
sophy. "Intoxication," said he, "is a bad thing; the In- 
dian has been seduced to it by the white man ; when our 
forefathers were first offered liquor they declined it; for 
they had seen its evil effects upon white men. At last 
two old men were bribed to taste it; they liked it and 
took more ; they were then affected by it, their language 
became more voluble; they were merry in their wine. 
Pleased with the experiment they repeated it, and induced 
two others to join them ; thus did the evil spread gi-adu- 
ally. To drink a little is not improper, but to drink to in- 
toxication is not right; our ancestors have forbidden us to 
do it. You, white men, can take a little and refrain from 
more; while the red man follows but the impulse of 
his feelings; if he takes a little, he requires more, and wuU 
have it if he can get at it in any way. You encourage us 
in this practice; your agents, your traders, instead of 
withholding it, offer it to us, make us take it, and when we 
have had a little we lose all control over ourselves. We had 
no intoxicating draughts before the white man came among 
us, and we were better men ; this has been the ruin of us ; 
all our broils and our quarrels spring from intoxica- 
tion; some of our women take to liquor; they lose all 
shame, and become common." It is melancholy to think 
of the truth contained in these words ; not only do our tra- 
ders, in violation of all law, sell or give liquor to the In- 
dians, but even the agents frequently give them some 
when they visit the forts, either to keep up a sort of popu- 
larity among them, or to rid themselves of their impor 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 22 3" 

timities, thus encouraging this fatal propensity, instead of 
checking it altogether. In this respect the Jesuits were 
wiser if not more humane than our countrymen, since they 
are reported by Grangula, an Iroquois chief, " to stave all 
the barrels of brandy that are brought to our cantons, lest 
the 'people getting drunk, should knock them in the 

It is the duty of a good Indian to offer, on many occa- 
sions, sacrifices to the Master of Life ; he ought to give 
feasts frequently, and expose the skins of white deer upon 
trees, as an offering to the Great Spirit. In such cases he 
never partakes of the entertainment himself ; but his friends 
eat it all up, with the exception of a small part which is 
thrown into the fire. The business of men consists in hunt- 
ing, fighting, building their lodges, digging their canoes, 
taking care of their horses, making wooden spoons, &c. ; 
while it is the duty of women to hew wood, to carry water, 
to plant and raise corn, to take care of their families, and, in 
the absence of the men, they must attend to their horses, build 
their lodges, &c. Man's chief and best occupation is hunting; 
he will never fight unless aggrieved by his enemies, in which 
case it becomes his duty to resent the injury. A good hunter 
is held in high esteem and will obtain as many wives as he 
chooses, because they know that he can support them, but 
the good warrior is esteemed the first man in the nation. 

A woman, in order to deserve the appellation of good, 
ought to be endued with most of the qualities which con- 
stitute virtue among civilized females. To be obedient and 
affectionate to her husband is her first duty. Kind to 
all her children, partial to none ; affable and courteous to 

* " Lahontan's new Voyages to North America, done into English, 
London, 1703." Vol. 1, p. 40. 


all men, avoiding, however, the appearance of familiarity 
with any. Her chastity should be inviolate, even at the 
risk of death ; she ought to be industrious, in order that 
her husband may be wealthy, and able to extend his hos- 
pitality widely. When asked what were the qualifications 
which were most sought after in the selection of a wife, 
and if beauty had any influence, Wennebea replied, that 
they cared but little for a handsome wife, their object be- 
ing to get a good one, who could attend to all their work, 
and behave herself as became a good woman. " We are not 
absolutely regardless of beauty," said he, "but we think it 
a trifling acquirement compared with goodness, and there- 
fore pay but little attention to it ; some young men are 
foolish and attend to it, but these are few, and they soon 
learn to take good wives, without minding their charms." 
Being asked what constituted female beauty, he laughed and 
said, a light complexion, large hazel eyes, a well-formed 
nose, red lips, and a figure rather small and well propor- 
tioned ; they seem to have a dislike to very fat women. 
When questioned as to other points of beauty, he seemed 
not to have made a study of them ; their faces, he said, might 
be more or less handsome, but in other respects women 
were all the same. Feeling a little encouraged, he conti- 
nued in a strain so obscene, as even to put to the blush our 
old interpreter, Le Sellier ; which, for a Canadian trader, 
might be supposed not to be an easy thing. 

It was impossible not to observe in the general tenour 
of Wennebea's conversation that he admitted a superiority 
on the part of white men over Indians, at least in foresight, 
judgment, and capacity to acquire information. Wennebea 
thought that when the Master of Life made the white man, 
he gave him the power to improve in knowledge and the ai'ts ; 
he taught him how to manufacture all the articles that h^ 


wanted, such as cloth, guns, &c. To the red man he gave 
nothing but his bow and his dog ; intending him therefore 
for no other occupation than that of hunting. This appear- 
ed to be a favourite idea with Wennebea ; he frequently- 
dwelt upon this partition of the good things of the earth, in 
which the poor Indian had received but his bwv and his 
faithful dog. It was not alluded to in the spirit of com- 
plaint or as a hardship, but .merely in support of a deep 
conviction on his part, that, while the white man was made 
capable of improvement in the arts, the red man was pre- 
destined to remain stationary, and to live by hunting, for 
which alone he had received, from the All-ruling Spirit, natu- 
ral advantages. We related to him the belief entertained by 
other Indians, who justify their hunting life by saying 
that, in the origin, God divided all animals equally be- 
tween the red and the white man ; and that while the 
latter took great care of his share, the former merely 
wrapped his up, loosely, in his blanket, and having left it for 
a while, he found on his return that all the animals be- 
longing to him had escaped into the woods : it was there- 
fore to recover his lost property that he had addicted himself 
to hunting. Wennebea observed that he had never heard of 
this belief before ; but he thought, if it were true, it was a 
wise decree of the Master of Life, for, he added, if the In- 
dian had not suffered his share to escape into the woods, 
he would have destroyed and wasted it in a short time, 
and been ever after left to starve, as he wants the provi- 
dent care of the white man ; but as it is at present, the In- 
dian can only use his property gradually and according as 
his wants require it. 

Wennebea declined entering upon any particulars re- 
lating to their belief in after life, being apprehensive that 
any conversation on that subject would disturb the quiet 

Vol. I. 29 


of his departed relations. According to Le Sellier,he makes 
a difference between the soul and the spirit ; the former 
being probably in his opinion nothing else but the princi- 
ple of vitality ; its seat is in the heart ; all animals are gifted 
'witli souls, as they are endowed with vitality. He believes 
(hat the soul alone goes to the other world ; the body decays 
after death. We observed in him, and in all the Indians 
whom we met with, that they entertained not the least be- 
lief of the resurrection of the body, as has been asserted of 
them by some authors ; while they generally appeared to 
be convinced of the immortality of the soul or spirit, and 
of an after existence. 

The Indians are particular in their demonstrations of 
grief for departed friends. These consist in darkening 
their faces with charcoal, fasting,'abstaining from the use 
of vermilion and other ornaments in dress, &c. They also 
make incisions in their arms, legs, and other parts of the 
body ; these are not made for the purposes of mortification, 
or to create a pain, which shall, by dividing their attention, 
efface the recollection of their loss, but entirely from a be- 
lief that their grief is internal, and that the only way of 
dispelling it is to give it a vent through which to escape. 
Their outward signs of grief are not merely of a tempo- 
rary kind ; they are more lasting than among those who 
consider themselves as higher in the scale of refine- 
ment than the red man. Wennebea observed that he had 
abstained, for the last fifteen years, fi'om the use of vermi- 
lion on account of the loss of a valued friend, and he meant 
to persist in this practice for ten years longer ; the de- 
ceased was no relation, merely a friend. Public opi- 
nion requires of them some mourning for departed rela- 
tions, but the Indian graduates his expressions of grief ac- 
cording to the value in which he held the deceased, uot 


according to the mere relation in which nature or accident 
placed him in life; for his friend he entertains a feeling 
deep, warm, and unalterable. Their friendship is seldom 
divided between two objects, hence they have not those 
bands of brothers which are stated by Lewis and Clarke 
to exist among some of the tribes they visited ; but the 
adoption of a brother is very common with them ; it 
is always founded upon sincere friendship ; and in the ex- 
posed and wandering life of the Indian, opportunities are 
not wanting to display the extent of this feeling. An In- 
dian will willingly endanger his existence to save the life 
of his adopted brother ; and should one of the two be killed, 
there is no duty more strongly enjoined upon the survivor, or 
which he more willingly discharges, even at the risk of much 
personal danger, than that of avenging his friend's death. 

Against the charge of cannibalism, Wennebea defended 
his nation with considerable zeal. This practice, he ad- 
mitted, existed among the Winnebagoes, Chippewas, Da- 
cotas, and other Indians, but he denied its ever occurring 
among the Sauks, except in a few instances, in which per- 
sons that were very lean and thin would eat a small piece 
of the human heart, together with other medicines, in or- 
der to fatten themselves. When asked whether this must 
not be considered as offensive to the Deity, he replied that 
he knew not, he had never held converse with the Great 
Spirit ; he had heard other men say that they had enjoyed 
visions, and conversations of this kind, but, for his part, he 
never credited them. 

Suicide is, according to Wennebea, common among the 
Sauks, more so with women than men. Grief and jealousy 
appear to be the predisposing causes with women, and 
envy, at the power or consequence of others, is the mo- 
.tivc which impels men to this deed. Our guide, whose 


simple system of ctliics agrees better with that ot the white 
man than is generally admitted, considers suicide as an 
improper act; it does notappear to him to accord with the 
wishes of the Great Spirit; he that gave us life, says 
Wennebea, has alone the power of taking it away. 

Music seemed to have a powerful effect upon him, and 
particularly martial music ; he expressed himself in enthu- 
siastic terms on the su])ject; while at Fort Crawford he 
seemed delighted with the reveille. The bugle was his fa- 
vourite instrument. When asked why he preferred it, his 
answer was, that its notes were so fme, he fancied they 
must reach the ear of the Great Spirit himself; whenever 
the sound of the bugle was heard, his attention was imme- 
diately directed to it ; his eyes sparkled and his language 
became more animated. 

The principal disease of the Sauks is one, the nature of 
which we could not well ascertain from his description of 
it; it is different from dysentery, (being at all times unat- 
tended by bloody discharges;) neither is it the hemorrhoids 
or hernia. It appears to be a mortification of the intestinal 
canal or duct, which is brought on by the use of green corn, 
unripe fruits and vegetables, &c. ; it is more common 
among men tlian women. If timely remedies be not ap- 
plied, it proves fatal in the course of four days ; the dis- 
ease is unaccompanied by pain. He declined mentioning 
the remedies which have been successfully applied, as 
he entertains the common superstition on this subject. 

Intermittents appear to be very prevalent. The 
small-pox has been' known at different periods ; our 
guide, who is about thirty-live years of age, recollects two 
periods, but does not know at what interval of time they 
happened ; it is thought that it will shortly recur among them. 
Of parturition and gestation, his account agreed with that 


obtained at Chicago; being asked how long the pains of la- 
bour endured among women, he said they varied, sometimes 
four days, at other times two days or less, and in some cases 
scarcely long enough to give a man time to smoke a pipe. 

We shall close this protracted account of Wennebea's 
information, with an anecdote which appears to us to con- 
nect itself with a point of some interest in our history ; it 
was related to us spontaneously by Wennebea, and having 
been written down in his own words, shows the strain of 
ideas, of which he was susceptible. 

" You know," said he, " that we always carry medicine 
bags about us, and that in tliese we place the highest con- 
fidence ; that we take them when we go to war ; that wc 
administer of their contents to our relations when sick, 
&c. The great veneration in which wc hold them, arises 
from our deeming them indispensable to obtain success 
against our enemies. They have been transmitted to us 
by our forefathers, who received them at the hands of the 
Great Master of Life himself. We never venture upon a 
warlike undertaking unless, by their means, our chiefs 
should have previously had visions, advising them to do so. 
When we are near to our enemies, they impart to us the 
faculty of beholding, in the heavens, great fires passing from 
one cloud to another. If these fires be numerous, long- 
continued, and extensive, it is a sure sign to us that in the 
part of the heavens where we behold them, there are ene- 
mies ; that they are powerful and numerous, and that we 
must avoid them. If, on the contrary, they be few, faint 
and not frequent, then it is a token that our enemies are 
weak, and that we may attack them with a certainty of 
success. These are not visions, but realities ; we do not 
dream that we see these fires, but we actually behold them 
in the heavens ; for this reason do w^e value our medicine bags 


SO highly that we would not part with them while life en- 
dures. True, some of us did, at one time, at the instigation 
of the Shawanese prophet, (Tecumseh's brother,) throw 
them away, but this proved to us the source of many 
heavy calamities, it brought on the death of all who 
parted with their bags. To this cause do we attribute the 
great mortality which we experienced, during the late war 
against the Americans. He, (the Shawanese prophet,) 
came to us, and by artifice induced us to throw away our 
medicine, a circumstance which we have since had cause 
to regret. His artifice was this ; he convened all our chiefs, 
and told them that he had been favoured with an inter- 
view with the Great Spirit, who had imparted to him ex- 
tensive powers ; that he could recall the dead to life, and 
perform many such astonishing deeds; that he could re- 
store youth to the aged, Sz.c. that the medicine in our bags, 
which had been good in its time, had lost its efficacy ; 
that it had become vitiated through age ; he added that if we 
would throw away our medicines, he would execute, in our 
presence, the miracles which he had spoken of, and that if 
we followed him, he would ensure us a victory over our 
enemies. Induced by these promises and flattering expec- 
tations, many of our chiefs cast away their bags, a circum- 
stance much to be regretted. It is true, that some who 
were then assembled, challenged the Prophet to work the 
miracles which he had announced. There, said they, are 
the bodies of many who have been killed in battle, restore 
them to life, as thou say est that thou canst do. But he evaded 
their challenge by sayingto them, I cannot achieve these won* 
ders for you, unless you previously comply with my request 
to throw away your medicine bags ; such of you as shall do 
so will, on your return, find your children or your friends, 
that have long since been dead, restored to life. Many 


were satisfied and did as he bid them ; but not one of them 
ever returned to his liome, to see if his promises were 
fulfilled ; for they all fell in battle, on account, as we have 
always believed, of their having parted with their medi- 
cine bags. I," added Wennebea, " spoke to him plainly ; 
I told him he wished to impose upon us ; that our bags 
had not lost their virtue ; that still in the hour of need we 
applied to them, and generally with success; that we kept 
them in our villages, and that when our friends were sick, 
we applied to them for relief; and that if we were 
not successful in all cases, at least we were so in most in- 
stances. But he was very angry at me, and his brother 
Tecumseh who was near to us, laid his hand upon me and 
offered to strike me, which he would have done had he 
not been prevented." 

Thus spoke Wennebea Namoeta, a Sauk Indian of the 
tribe of Pa-c6-ha-m6-a, (which signifies Trout;) his bro- 
ther had succeeded to the dignity of chief, although he was 
younger, being considered a man of more talent; and 
so Wennebea himself admitted him to be. We regretted 
tliat we did not meet with this chief, we should have 
liked to see what his abilities are; he may be a bet- 
ter warrior or a more impressive orator, but we ques- 
tion much whether he surpasses our guide in genuine phi- 
losophy. We have with regret shortened the communica- 
tion of the observations made by tliis interesting man ; we 
should have wished to give them entire. They breathe 
throughout a wisdom which would have done honour 
to the philosophers of old, and a morality of which no 
Christian need have blushed. Indeed they speak strongly 
in favour of the doctrine, that wisdom and morality are 
the spontaneous growth of the human heart, the seeds of 
which have been implanted by the great Creator himself; 


that civilization does not produce them ; that the real he- 
nefit, which results from it, is that, in some instances, it may 
curb the passions which would otherwise impede their 
growth. The Indian appears to us to possess ideas of 
virtue and morality, which are full as valuable as those 
that are supposed by some philosophers to be the exclusive 
appanage of civilization. True, they are, perhaps but too 
frequently checked in their growth by the uncontrolled 
sway which his evil propensities exercise over him ; pro- 
pensities which, as we believe, have been unfortunately 
increased, by an indiscriminate intercourse with the most 
worthless of white men who, to serve their own selfish 
ends, have not been ashamed to stimulate the Indian to 
deeds, which his own good sense would have prevented him 
from perpetrating. 

On the route from Chicago to Fort Crawford we saw but 
one deer, at which, however, we had no opportunity of 
shooting. We likewise observed but a single wolf, which 
was of the kind called Prairie wolf. If to these we add 
the badger, which was killed on the 17th of June, we shall 
have the list of the only quadrupeds seen upon upwards of 
two hundred miles of prairie land. The extreme scarcity 
of game in a country so remote from a white population 
as this is, must be striking to every observer ; and it be- 
comes the more so if we take into consideration the abun- 
dance of fine grass which grows upon it. We know of no 
other manner of accounting for this scarcity, than by at- 
tributing it to the pacific state of the Indian tribes that own 
tliese hunting grounds. Being free from all apprehensions 
of enemies, they hunt without reserve, and destroy the 
game more rapidly than it can be reproduced. They appear 
since their intercourse with white men to have lost the sa- 
gacious foresight which previously distinguished them. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river, 233 

It was usual with them, formerly, to avoid killing the deer 
during the rutting season ; the does, that were with young, 
were in like manner always spared, except in cases of ur- 
gency ; and the young fawns were not wantonly destroyed ; 
but at present the Indian seems to consider himself as a 
stranger in the land which his fathers held as their own ; 
he sees his property daily exposed to the encroachments 
of white men, and therefore hunts down indiscrimi- 
nately every animal that he meets with, being doubtful 
whether he will be permitted to reap the ensuing year the 
fruits of his foresight during the present and fearing lest he 
may not be suffered to hunt, undisturbed, upon his proper- 
ty, for another season. To this cause, and to the increase in 
their numbers produced by a long continued peace, we 
must attribute the scarcity of game at present observed ; 
their population must however soon cease to increase if they 
do not betake themselves to agricultural pursuits, as the ra- 
pid diminution in the quantity of game will eventually 
deprive them of the means of subsistence. We are not to 
wonder that an Indian population, apparently so small as 
that which we know to exist here, should be comparatively 
large for the country to which it is restricted in its hunts, if 
we bear in mind the observations of Little Turtle on the 
subject, " You whites contrive to collect upon a small space 
a sure and plentiful supply of food. A white man gathers 
from a field, a few times bigger than this room, bread 
enough for a whole year. If he adds to this a small field 
of grass, he maintains beasts, which give him all the meat 
and clothes he wants, and all the rest of his time he may 
do what he pleases ; while we must have a great deal of 
ground to live upon. A deer will serve us but a couple of 
days, and a single deer must have a great deal of ground to 
put him in good condition. If we kill two or three him- 
VoL. I. 30 


(Ired a year, 'tis the same as to cat all the wood and grass 
of the land they live on, and that is a great deal."^ 

Among the bir^s observed, Mr. Say has recorded a sin- 
gle Rcd-headcd Woodpecker,! together with tiic Ferrugi- 
nous Thrush,jTov/heeBimting,§ Song Sparrow,l| Chipping 
Sparrow,** Bartram's Sandpiper,tt Raven,tJ Reedbirdy 
and a Crow§§ which was 'first heard near the Wisconsan. 

In the vegetable kingdom, the same gentleman observ- 
ed that the Gerardria was found, about the 15th, with its 
petals nearly of full length, but that afterwards they were 
found much shorter. A beautiful specimen of Cassida was 
likewise seen ; its elytra were of a fine green colour tinged 
with golden ; and the exterior margins were pale. 

• Volney, ut supra, p. 384. f Picus erythrocepliahis. 

4: Turdus rufus. § Emberiza erythropthalma. 

II Fringilla melodia. ** Fringilla socialis. 

If Tringa Bartramla. ^ Corvus corax. 
§§ Corvus corone. 



Prairie du Chien. Indian remains. Division of the 
party. Mississippi. Dacota villages. Fort St. ^dn^ 
thony. Falls. River St. Peter. 

OUR arrival at Prairie du Chien, at a late hour in the 
evening of the 1 9th of June, prevented us from obtain- 
ing a sight of the Mississippi ; but early the next morn- 
ing we hastened to take a view of this important river 
which, from its extent, the number and size of its tributa- 
ries, the importance of the country which it drains, will 
bear a comparison with any known stream of the old or 
new continent. It is one of those grand natural objects, 
the sight of which forms an era in one's life. 

To have been the first civilized man, who viewed the 
mighty Mississippi, was, as we conceive, by no means an 
undesirable distinction. And however diflicult it may be, 
at this distant epocha, to ascertain who that man may have 
been, the inquiry is not the less interesting or useful in 
the history of human discoveries. So far as our reading 
extends at present, injustice is done to Alvar Nuiiez Ca- 
beza de Vaca. He traversed North America from Espiritu 
Santo (Tampa) Bay to New Galicia, between the years 
1528 and 1537, and consequently must have seen this river, 
having ci'ossed it above or at its mouth ; though in his 
" Naufragios" he has given neither name nor description by 
which it can be identified 5 his curiosity was repressed by 
extreme suffering and the little hope he entertained of 
again seeing his country. Hernando de Soto arrived at 
its banks below the Arkansaw in 1541, and found it there 
called " Chucagua ;" his body was thrown into it the next 


year, nea^ the mouth of Red river. If we mistake not, 
two vessels under the command of Wood, an Englishman, 
entered its mouth about 163"6.* Father Marquette and the 
Sieur Joliet, to whom the discovery has been generally at- 
tributed, did not see the Mississippi before 1673. They 
entered from the Wisconsan and descended to the Arkan- 
saw. Coxe tells us,t that, among the savages, for about 
half its course it was called Meschacebe, afterwards Chu- 
cagua, Sassagoula and Malabanchia. It is said that at 
Guachoya, (probably an old place on the Mississippi above 
Red river,) it was " called Tamaliseu ; in the country of 
Nilco, Tapatu; and in Coga, Mlco; in the port or mouth, 
Ri."t The French first called it Colbert, then St. Louis 
river. The Spaniards had previously called it Rio Grande, 
Spirito Santo. 

At Prairie du Chien the breadth of the river is estimated 
at one-half of a mile, including a long and narrow island. Its 
current, though rapid compared with that of many other 
streams, is gentle when contrasted with that of the same river 
lower down ; it is only when it has been swollen by the Mis- 
souri and the Ohio, that it acquires the extreme rapidity 
which characterizes it. The village of Prairie du Chien is 
situated four or five miles above the mouth of the Wis- 
consan, on a beautiful prairie, which extends along the 
eastern bank of the river for about ten miles in length, and 
which is limited to the east by a range of steep hills rising 
to a height of about four hundred and thirty-five feet, and 

* AVe have endeavoured, but in vain, to find our authority for this 
statement ; but it has entirely escaped our recollection. This is not, 
however, the same Colonel Wood of Virginia, whom Coxe mentions 
as having discovered several branches of the great rivers Ohio and 
Meschacebe. — (Coxe's Carolana, p. 120.) 

f Description of the English province of Carolana, by Daniel Cose. 
London, 1741, p. 4. 

+ Narrative of de Soto's Invasion, ut supra, p. 122. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 237 

running parallel with the course of the river at a distance 
of about a mile and a half: on the western bank, the bluffs 
which rise to the same elevation are washed at- their base by 
the river. Pike's mountain, which is on the west bank, im- 
mediately opposite to the mouth of the Wisconsan, is about 
five hundred and fifty feet high. " It has received its name 
from having been recommended by the late General Pike, 
in his journal, as a position well calculated for the construc- 
tion of a military post to command the Mississippi and Wis- 
consan. The hill has no particular limits in regard to its ex- 
tent, being merely a part of the river bluffs which stretch 
along the margin of the river on the west, for several 
miles, and retain pretty nearly the same elevation above 
the water. The side fronting upon the river is so abrupt 
as to render the summit completely inaccessible even to 
a footman except in a very few places, where he may as- 
cend by taking hold of the bushes and rocks that cover the 
slope. In general the acclivity is made up of precipices, 
arranged one above another, some of which are one hun- 
dred and one hundred and fifty feet high. From the top 
we had a fine view of the two rivers, which mingled their 
waters at the foot of this majestic hill."* The Prairie has 
retained its old French appellation, derived from an In- 
dian who formerly resided there, and was called the Dog. 
The village consists, exclusive of stores, of about twenty 
dwelling houses, chiefly old, and many of them in a state 
of decay; its population may amount to one hundred 
and fifty souls. It is not in as thriving a situation as it for- 
merly was. Carver tells us, that when he visited it, in 
1766, it was " a large town containing about three hun- 
dred families; the houses," he adds, " are well built after 
the Indian manner, and pleasantly situated on a very rich 

• Major Long's MS. 1817, No. I, p. 37. 


soil, from which they raise every necessary of life in great 
abundance. This town is the great mart where all the ad- 
jacent tribes, and even those who inhabit the most remote 
branches of the Mississippi, annually assemble about the 
latter end of May, bringing with them their furs to dis- 
pose of to the traders."* " I should have remarked," 
says the same author, " that whatever Indians happen to 
meet at La Prairie le Chien, the great mart to which all 
who inhabit the adjacent country resort, though the na- 
tions to which they belong are at war with each other, 
yet they are obliged to restrain their enmity, and to for- 
bear all hostile acts their stay there. This regula- 
tion has long been estalilislied among them for their mu- 
tual convenience, as without it no trade could be carried 

The fort, which is one of the rudest and least comfort- 
able that we have seen, is situated about one hundred 
and fifty yards from the river. Its site is low and un- 
pleasant, as a slough extends to the south of it. The river 
bank is here so low and flat, that by a swell which took 
place in the Mississippi the summer before we visited it, the 
water rose upon the prairie, and entered the parade, which 
it covered to the depth of three or four feet ; it penetrated 
into all the officers' and soldiers' quarters, so as to render 
it necessary for the garrison to remove from the fort and 
encamp upon the neighbouring heights, where they spent 
about a month. The waters having subsided, at the end of 
that time, they returned to their quarters; the old men 
about the village say that such an inundation may be ex- 
pected every seven years. The village also suffered much 
from the inundation, though the ground being somewhat 
higher, the injury done to it was not so great. The fort was 

• Carver's Travels, Philadelphia, 1796, p. 31. f Idem, p. 62. 


orig;inally erected for the protection of the white population 
at the village ; as a military post, its situation is by no 
means a judicious one, for it commands neither the Mis- 
sissippi nor Wisconsan ; but as the necessity which led to 
. its construction is daily becoming less urgent, this posi- 
tion will doubtless soon be abandoned ; one of the block- 
houses of the fort is situated upon a large mound, which 
appears to be artificial. This mound is so large, that it 
supported the whole of the work at this place, previous to 
the capture of the fort by the British and Indians ^during 
the late war. It has been excavated, but we have not 
heard that any bones or other remains were found in it. 

This is by no means the only mound found in the vi- 
cinity of the Prairie. There are very numerous remains 
of Indian works on the Wisconsan, near the Petit cap au 
Gres ; Messrs. Say, Keating, and Seymour, went to examine 
them. They found the bluffs which border upon the Wiscon- 
san, about four miles above its mouth, covered with mounds, 
parapets, &c. but no plan or system could be observed among 
them, neither could they trace any such thing as a regular 
enclosui'e. Among these works, they saw an embankment 
about eighty-five yards long, divided towards its middle 
by a sort of gateway, about four yards wide ; this parapet 
was elevated from three to four feet ; it stood very near to 
the edge of the bluff, as did also almost all the other em- 
bankments which they saw. From this circumstance, they 
were led to consider them as raised for the protection of 
a party placed there, either for the defence of the bluff, or 
to command the passage of the river. For either of these 
objects, it must be acknowledged that the selection of the 
position would be very advantageous. No connexion 
whatever was observed between the parapets and the 
mounds, except in one case, where a parapet was cut ofl^ 


by a sort of gateway or sally-port, and a mound was 
placed in front of it, as it were, to command the gateway ; 
but instead of being inside, in the manner of a traverse, it 
was outside, and could have served no other purpose, that 
they could think of, but to allow some of the party to 
proceed a few steps jfti advance of the works and recon- 
noitre the enemy ; though it must be acknowledged that 
the enemy might, under cover of this mound, have ap- 
proached, perhaps, without being perceived, or at least with 
the advantage of a breast- work. In one instance the works 
or parapets seemed to form a cross of which three parts 
could be distinctly traced, but these were short ; this was 
upon a projecting point of the highland. The mounds, 
which the party observed, were scattered, without any 
apparent symmetry, over the whole of the ridge of high- 
land, which borders upon the river. They were very nu- 
merous, and generally from six to eight feet high, and 
from eight to twelve in diameter. In one case a number 
of these, amounting perhaps to twelve or fifteen, were 
seen all arranged in one line, parallel to the edge of the 
bluff, but at some distance from it. 

These are not the only works in this vicinity; it appears 
that the mounds and parapets extend not only along the 
Wisconsan, but upon the bluffs which run parallel to the 
Mississippi and limit the Prairie to the east. From the 
description which Mr. Say and his companions gave to 
Major Long, of what they had seen, it appeared that these 
could not have been the same as those he observed in 1817. 
According to his MS. Journal of 1817, (No. 2, fol. 22,) 
" the remains of ancient works, constructed probably for 
military purposes, were found more numerous and of 
greater extent, on the highlands, just above the mouth of 
the Wisconsan, than any of which a description has been 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 241 

made public, or that have as yet been discovered in the 
western country. There the parapets and mounds were 
Ibund connected in one series of works; whenever there 
was an angle in the principal lines, a mound of the largest 
size was erected at the angle ; the parapets were terminat- 
ed by mounds at each extremity, and also at the gateways ; 
no ditch was observed on either side of the parapet. In 
many places the lines were composed of parapets and 
mounds in conjunction, the mounds being arranged along 
ihe parapets at their usual distance from each other, and 
operating as flank defences to the lines." 

" The remains were observed in the interior of the coun- 
try in a direction towards Kickapoo creek; they were 
situated for the most part on the ridges, but a few also in 
the valleys. Those on the ridges had the appearance of 
having been intended to resist an attack on both sides, be- 
ing for the most part a single parapet of considerable ex- 
tent, crossed at right angles by traverses at the distance of 
twenty or thirty yards from each other ; and having no 
ditch upon either side. Those in the valleys appeared to 
have been constructed to command the passage of the par- 
ticular valleys in which they were situated. We saw no 
works which exhibited signs of having been complete en- 
closures, but the whole were in detached parts, &c." 

The following account of the nature of the country, back 
of the prairie, extending towards Kickapoo creek, (a tribu- 
tary of the Wisconsan, which empties itself on the north 
bank about twenty miles above its mouth,) is extracted from 
the same MS. 

" The country is divided into numerous hills or rather 
ridges, of various shapes and dimensions, but generally 
of an equal altitude, by valleys and ravines, some of 
which have fine streams of spring water running through 

Vol. I. 31 


them. The hills are generally elevated from three hundred 
to four or five hundred feet above the valleys ; they are hand- 
somely rounded upon their top, but abrupt and precipitous 
on their sides, and almost inaccessible except through the 
numerous ravines by which they are cut. The valleys are 
many of them broad, and appear well adapted to tillage 
and pasture ; the highlands are also well calculated for the 
raising of grain. The country is generally prairie land, 
but the hills and valleys are in some places covered with a 
scattering growth of fine timber, consisting of white, red, 
and post oak, hickory, white walnut,* sugar tree, maple, 
white and blue ash, American box, &z:c." 

It is probable that Prairie du Chien was formerly the 
seat of a large Indian population. The beauty of the coun- 
try, its favourable characters for hunting, its delightful 
jsituation on the banks of the river, must have made it a 
pleasant abode for Indians ; it is doubtful, or at least we 
have not been able to ascertain, to what nation belonged 
the family of the Dog Indians, whose name it bears. This 
family has become extinct; the traditions concerning the 
fate of its members are very indistinct; it is said that a 
large party of Indians came down the Wisconsan from 
Greenbay, and after having massacred nearly the whole of 
them, returned again to the Bay ; that a few of the Dogs, 
who had succeeded in making their escape to the woods, 
returned after their enemies had evacuated the prairie, and 
reestablished themselves in their former residence ; and 
that these were the Indians found at that place by the first 
French settlers. 

This spot, like many of those early settled, has been graced 
with traditions, which, if they contribute but little to the 
history of our north-west Indians, adorn at least with the 
* Jiiglans cinerea. 


charm of romance and fable some of its most beautiful 
scenery. Among these, that, which is related of one of the 
caverns on the banks of Kickapoo creek, appears to us to 
deserve notice. It is said that, in one of the niches or re- 
cesses formed by the precipice, there is a gigantic mass of 
stone presenting the appearance of a human figure. It is so 
sheltered, by the over-hanging rocks, and by the sides of the 
recess in which it stands, as to assume a dark and gloomy cha- 
racter. They relate, on this subject, that long since, a battle 
was fought on the banks of the Mississippi between the 
inhabitants of the prairie and their enemies; in which con- 
flict the latter were victorious, and succeeded in killing a 
srreat number of the former : that an inhabitant of the 
prairie, who was a very good woman, having received 
several wounds during the engagement, effected her escape 
and withdrew to the hills, where she was near perishing 
with hunger; that while wandering along the banks of 
this stream, a kind spirit took pity of her, and converted her 
into this monument to which he, moreover, imparted the 
power of suddenly killing any Indian that approached near 
it. This power was exercised until the spirit, tired of the 
havoc which he had committed, ceased to display his 
vengeance any longer. Although the natives may there- 
fore, at present, approach the statue with impunity still 
they hold it in fear and veneration, and none passes near 
it without paying it the homage of a sacrifice of tobacco, 

There are at present but few Indians in the immediate 
vicinity of the foi't, and none can give an account of the 
works which are so abundantly scattered over the coun- 
try. They say that the only means by which they can ac- 
count for them is to suppose that the country was probably 
inhabited, at a period anterior to the most remote traditions, 
by a race of white men, similar to those of European origin, 


and that they were cut off by their forefathers. This suppo 
sition is grounded upon tlie circumstance of their having 
found'human bones buried in the earth at a much greater 
depth than that, at which they are accustomed to inter their 
dead; and in graves which differ from theirs, inasmuch 
as they are unaccompanied by instruments of any kind, 
whereas they never omit depositing the arms, &:c. with 
the corpse of the deceased. It is also said that tomahawks of 
b?'ass (?) and other implements differing from those in 
common use among the present Indians, have likewise been 
found under the surface of the ground. The fortifications 
appear to them likewise to be a proof of the correctness of 
their opinion, as none of the Indians are in the habit of con- 
structing works of a similar character, and as indeed they 
are unacquainted with the utility of them. 

" Mr. Brisbois, who has been for a long time a resident 
of Prairie du Chien, informed me that he saw the skele- 
tons of eight persons, that were found, in digging a cellar 
near his house, lying side by side. They were of a gigan- 
tic size, measuring about eight feet from head to foot. 
He added that he took a leg bone of one of them and 
placed it by the side of his own leg, in order to compare 
the length of the two ; the bone of the skeleton extended 
six inches above his knee. None of these bones could be 
preserved as they crumbled to dust soon after they were 
exposed to the atmosphere."* 

We saw a number of Indian graves on the prairie, but 
as they were modern they offered nothing peculiar. They 
resemble the graves of white men, but the sod over them is 
covered with boards or bark, secured to stakes driven into 
the ground, so as to form a sort of roof over the grave ; at 
the head, poles were erected for the purpose of supporting 
flags; a few tatters of one of these still waved over the 
• Major Long's MS. No. 2, folio 25. 


grave. An upright post was also fixed near the head, and 
upon this the deeds of the deceased, whether in the way of 
hunting or fighting, were inscribed with red or black paint. 
The graves were placed upon mounds in the prairie, this 
situation having doubtless been selected as being the high- 
est and least likely to be overflowed. 

From a series of observations, taken at this place, it re- 
sults, that Fort Crawford is situated in latitude 43° 3' 31" 
north, and longitude 90° 52' 30" west. The magnetic va- 
riation amounts here to 8° 48' 52" east. 

Previous to leaving the prairie. Major Long provided 
for the safe return of Bemis to his garrison, by placing him 
under the protection of IVIr. Rolette, a gentleman of the 
American Fur Company, who was on the point of travelling 
to Greenbay by the Wisconsan and Fox rivers. Between 
the forts at the Bay and Chicago a regular intercourse ex- 
isted at that time by means of an express sent, at stated 
times, with despatches. We have had great pleasure in 
ascertaining that this man, whose conduct had entitled him 
to the most unqualified praise, returned to his regiment 
without accident. 

Our party was here reinforced by an escort, consisting 
of a corporal, and nine men, under the command of first 
Lieutenant Martin Scott of the 5th regt. United States* 
Infantry, who was selected to command the guard. Ma- 
jor Long secured the services of a half-breed interpreter, 
by name Augustin Roque. The object in taking this man, 
was to afford to the gentlemen, charged with the collecting 
of the Indian information, an opportunity of acquiring 
from him an insight into the manners and customs of the 
Dacota Indians, previous to the party's travelling through 
their country. They were, however, very much disap- 
pointed in the character of this man, who enjoys, in the 


country, a much higher reputation for intelligence and ob- 
servation, than they were led to ascribe to him, and as the 
information which he contributed was but trifling, it has 
been thought proper to embody it with that resulting from 
personal observations, and from conversations with the in- 
terpreters who subsequently accompanied the expedition. 
With a view to proceed, with as much speed as possible, to 
Fort St. Anthony, where the last preparations were to be 
made, Major Long divided the party here, and travelled 
by land with Mr. Colhoun ; while the other gentlemen as- 
cended the Mississippi in a boat. The land party was 
accompanied by George Bunker, (a soldier,) John Wade, 
(a boy of the garrison, who acted as Sioux interpreter,) 
and Andrew, (the black boy.) Tommo, a Dacota (Sioux) 
Indian, acted as guide to the party ; he was a tall, gaunt 
Indian, probably about fifty years old. After having 
crossed the river in the boat, the two parties separated ; 
and Major Long continued his journey on horseback, along 
the right bank of the Mississippi. 

The route from Prairie du Chien to Fort St. Anthony, 
was attended with greater difficulties than had been anti- 
cipated. It was extremely rough and hilly ; thei'e being no 
beaten track, the party were frequently led to the edge of 
a precipice, and compelled to retrace their steps and seek 
a more gradual descent. These difficulties arose from their 
travelling, for the most part, at a distance from the river, 
with a view to shorten the road ; the highlands, which they 
had attempted to keep, were frequently cut by trans- 
verse valleys, opened by streams, tributary to the Missis- 
sippi. In the crossing of these streams, much difficulty was 
experienced from the swampy nature of the ground, in 
which the horses were frequently mired. The distance at 
which they travelled from the Mississippi seldom exceeded 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 247 

ftve or six miles. The guide said it would be difficult to 
travel at a greater distance, although it might shorten 
the route, because the country was too thickly wooded, and 
water very scarce : this last circumstance can only be ac- 
counted for upon the supposition, that the water escapes 
through the numerous sinks observed in the ground. The 
forests, traversed by the party, consisted principally of oak, 
basswood, ash, elm, white walnut, sugar tree, maple, birch, 
aspen, with a thick undergrowth of hazel, hickory, 
&c. In the bottoms the wild rice, horsetail, may-apple, 
&c. were found. The eye is charmed by the abundance of 
wild roses which are strewed over the country, and the 
palate is not less delighted with the excellence of the 
strawberry, which is remarkable for its fine fragrance, and 
which was, just at that time, in a state of perfect maturity. 
A small Indian village, of five lodges, was passed on the 
26th; it is situated on a stream, supposed to be the upper 
Iowa. Judging from the number of women and children 
which the party saw, the population must be dense ; there 
were but two or three men in the village ; the rest were 
probably hunting, especially as a large herd of Elk were 
seen in the morning by the boys of the party, while in 
search of the horses, that had strayed during the night 
time to a distance of eight miles from the camp. The 
whole population of the village seemed to have no other 
culture than about two acres of maize, which was planted 
without order in hills and which had at that time risen but 
about eight inches above the ground. 

At the encampment of the 27th, observations were ta- 
ken at three o'clock, A. M. (of the 28th,) by which the 
latitude of this place was determined to be 43°47' 57" north. 
About one mile north of this, the party crossed a river, 
called, in the Dacota language, H6-ka, (Root.) which is 


supposed to be the Riviere Longue* or Riviere Morteof La- 
hontan, and the Mitschaoywa of Coxe ;t this is the same 
stream which Coxe afterwards calls Meschaouay4 But it is 
impossible to read the Baron Lahontan's account of this 
river, without being convinced that the greater part, if not 
the whole, of it is a deception. By his own account he must 
have ascended it upwards of one hundred and eighty leagues, 
have met on its banks three distinct nations, the Eokoros, 
the Essanapes, and the Gnacsitares, the names of which are 
not recorded by any later traveller ; have seen a population 
considerably greater than that which could have existed 
there : in a word, his description bears such evident marks 
of fiction, that we can credit no part of it. 

Major Long's party passed on the 28th down a valley, 
bounded on both sides by high bluffs and precipices ; their 
ride was a picturesque one ; the green sward of the ravine 
contrasted richly with the grayish hue of the lime and 
sandstone bluffs, which rose like high walls on either side 
of them. At last the valley widened, and they found them- 
selves almost instantaneously in sight of the majestic IMis- 
sissippi, in whose broadly extended valley nature displayed 
herself with gigantic features. The river, one of the largest 
in the world, rolling its waters wdth an undiminished ra- 
pidity, in a bed checkered with islands, was a spectacle, 
which, however often observed, always filled the mind with 
awe and with delight. It was impossible to behold the 
great devastation in the earth's surface, whether consi- 
dered as caused by the Mississippi or as pre-existing to 

• Lahontan, ut supra, Let. 16, vol. 1, p. 112. 

•}• Description of the English province of Carolana, by the Spaniards 
called Florida, and by the French la Louisiane ; by Danief Coxe, Esq, 
London, 1741, p. 19. 

t Idem, ibid. p. 63. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 249 

it, without being induced to look back to the causes which 
may have produced this phenomenon. But here man finds 
himself baffled in every attempt to dive into the abyss 
of past times ; he may contemplate the scenery, but can- 
not unravel the mysteries of its creation. Deep strata of 
sandstone and limestone are disclosed ; they have preserv- 
ed, as yet, the elevation of the hills undiminished, but have 
not protected their sides from waste. " When we entered 
on the prairie, towards the close of the day," says Mr. 
Colhoun, from whose notes this description is chiefly ex- 
tracted, "a landscape was presented, that combined grander 
beauties than any I ever beheld ; far as the eye could fol- 
low were traced two gigantic walls of the most regular out- 
line, formed, as it were, by successive faces of pyramids. 
Between them, extended a level verdant prairie, the scene 
of the Python flexures of the Mississippi. My sensations 
were prolonged by the reflection that I had before me one 
of the noblest rivers in the world ; they were enhanced 
when I saw the evidences of a grand catastrophe. Majestic 
as is the Mississippi, there was a time when it swept 
along, a stream, more than one hundred fold its present 

Whatever might be the reveries in which the party were 
indulging, they were soon recalled to the dull realities of 
travelling, by the howling and barking of a band of dogs, 
that announced their approach to an Indian village consist- 
ing of twenty fixed lodges and cabins. It is controlled by 
W^-pa-sh&, an Indian chief of considerable distinction. In 
his language, (Dacota,) his name signifies the red leaf. A 
number of young men fantastically decorated with many 
and variously coloured feathers, and their faces as oddly 
painted, advanced to greet the party. One of them, the son 
of the chief, was remarkable for the gaudiness and display 

Vol. I. 2^2 


of his dress, which from its showy appearance imparted to 
him a character of foppishness. In his hair he wore two 
or three soldiers' plumes ; his moccasins of stained buck- 
skin were tastefully puckered at the toes, and his breech- 
cloth was quite tawdry. The chief is about fifty years of 
age, but appears older ; his prominent features are good 
and indicative of great acuteness and of a prying disposition ; 
his stature is low ; he has long been one of the most influen- 
tial of the Dacota Indians, more perhaps from his talents in 
the counsel than his achievements in the field. He is repre- 
sented as being a wise and prudent man, a forcible and im- 
pressive orator. His disposition to the Americans has ge- 
nerally been a friendly one, and his course of policy is 
well spoken of. The major's party having no other in- 
terpreter than Wade, who proved less serviceable than had 
been expected, could hold but a short conversation with 
him, and therefore proceeded on their journey, and en- 
camped two miles above the village. Near this place a num- 
ber of mounds were seen, arranged in nearly a right line 
along the margin of the river ; they were of inconsidera- 
ble height, but covered a large surface. Indian remains 
were observed, in great plenty, for the ensuing two days, 
extending along the banks of the Mississippi, and espe- 
cially near the shores of Lake Pepin, along which the land 
party travelled on the 30th. These mounds and remains at- 
test, of course, theformer existence of a very dense popula- 
tion along the lake. It must have been a stationary one, for 
these works could not have been executed in a short space 
of time. We are, likewise, led to believe that they were 
erected by the same nation that constructed the fortifi- 
cations described by Carver as existing on the bank of 
the Mississippi a little below Lake Pepin. The latitude of 
the encampment, near the lower extremity of the lake, was 


found, by observations made on the evening of the 29th of 
June, to be 44° 18' 37" north. 

Having travelled twenty-two miles along its western 
shore, Major Long arrived on the evening of the 30th at 
an Indian village, which is under the direction of Shakea, 
(the man that paints himself red;) the village has re- 
tained the appellation of Redwing, (aile rouge,) by which 
this chief was formerly distinguished. The provisions of 
the party being almost consumed, and the boat having been 
seen the preceding day at a short distance below the land 
party, Major Long thought it more prudent to wait here 
the arrival of the other division, in order to get a fresh sup- 
ply of provisions. About ten o'clock, on the morning of 
the first of July, the boat appeared in sight of the village, 
and signals having been made, the gentlemen landed. The 
whole party being again united, the chief invited them to 
his lodge, with a view to have a formal conversation with 

Shakea is one of the most distinguished of the present 
leaders of the Dacotas. It does not appear, however, that 
he is entitled by birth to rank as a chief; but the influence, 
which he has attained, is founded altogether upon his great 
military attainments ; it is said that he has never been 
defeated, although he has shared in more actions than al- 
most any other Indian. The respect with which he is treat- 
ed, which far exceeds that usually paid to a partisan chief, 
has induced him to assume an importance and a formality, 
seldom to be met with among the Indians of the present day. 
As a compliment to the party, the United States' flag was 
hoisted over his cabin, and a deputation of some of his 
warriors waited at our encampment to invite us to his 
lodge. We were received in due ceremony ; the chief and 
his son, Tatiunkamane, (the walking buffalo,) were seated 


next to the entrance. We took our stations near them, on 
the same bed-frame, while his warriors seated themselves on 
the frame opposite to us ; as soon as we entered, the chief 
And his son rose, and shook hands with each of us. The 
calumet of peace was placed in the centre of the cabin ; 
the bowl resting on the ground, and the stem supported in 
■an inclined position by a forked stick, planted in the ground 
for the purpose. The chief then rose, shook hands with 
the party a second time, raised the pipe from the ground, 
and holding the bowl towards himself with the stem ele- 
vated, he commenced a speech which was delivered with 
much vehemence ; the purport of it was an acknowledg- 
ment of satisfaction, at seeing a party sent by his Great 
Father, (the President,) and a general expression of good 
will and respect towards the American government; he 
inquired as to the nature of the expedition and its object. 
Very often during his speech, the commencement of a 
sentence was in the concluding terms of the preceding one; 
the warriors, at each sentence, testified their approbation 
of his sentiments, in deep-toned responses, sounding like 
the syllables ah-hah^ pronounced strongly, and in a nasal 
and guttural manner. Major Long stated, in reply, the na- 
ture and object of the expedition, the views of the govern- 
ment in sending it among the Indians, the friendly dispo- 
sition of the President towards all his red children, &c. 
With all this the chief appeared well pleased, as also with 
the presents of tobacco, powder, shot, &c. which were 
given to him ; but he stated that his warriors had been 
much distressed of late, by the loss of numerous friends and 
relatives, on which account their faces were painted black, 
that they had not a single drop of spirits to comfort them 
in their afflictions, and " hoped that their Father would give 
thejn some of their Great Father's milk to gladden their 


hearts." But they were informed that the expedition was 
totally unprovided with this article, as it was their Great 
Father's wish, that the Indians should not receive, from 
white men, liquor, the effect of which was to drive away 
their senses, make them quarrelsome and sick. Sha- 
kea assented to the truth of this, and acknowledged that 
the use of liquor was very injurious to them, but seemed, 
however, to regret that he could not make himself merry 
on the occasion of the glad tidings which he had received 
from his Great Father. Both he and his son made speeches 
which were not remarkable for the beauty or originality 
of the ideas ; these may, however, have lost their force 
through our interpreter's inelegant and unanimated trans- 
lation. But the gestures, which accompanied the words of 
the orator, were more remarkable for force, than for grace 
or significance. A young Indian who acted as pipe-bearer 
to the chief, (an office of dignity,) then lighted the pipe, 
passed it round to all, commencing with Major Long, pro- 
ceeding with our party, and concluding with the warriors 
and interpreter. The pipe-bearer supported the bowl, 
while each person present drew two or three whiffs. He 
then smoked of it himself, and, drawing out the stem, 
presented it to Major Long in token of respect. The bowl, 
which he kept, was of the red stone found on the St 
Peter ; the stem was of wood, and made in the usual man- 
ner of the Dacota pipe. Its length is about three feet, it is 
flattened, being about two inches wide, and three-eighths 
of an inch thick. It tapers a little towards the upper ex- 
tremity ; a hole is perforated through it, with a hot iron ; 
the pipe stem is painted with a blue clay, which, by long ex- 
posure to the air assumes a green colour ; the upper extremity, 
to about one-third of its length, is ornamented with por- 
cupine quills variously dyed, so as to present beautiful de- 


signs ; it is also adorned with the small feathers of birds, 
pigeons, &c. and with the hair of the deer, stained red. 
Some of these pipes are very elegant, and require a great 
deal of time in their preparation ; they are made by the fe- 
males. The chief distinction, between the Dacota and 
Chippewa pipe, is, that the latter is cylindrical and about 
an inch in diameter; while the former is, as we have just 
mentioned, flattened. Both nations use bowls of the same 
stone, which is generally red, sometimes, however, black ; 
they are often curiously carved, &c. 

The conversation concluded w^ith another general shak- 
ing of the hand. The frequency of this ceremony, during 
the interview which we had with the Redwing chief, who 
is considered as pertinaciously adhering to all their old 
customs, led us to inquire whether the practice of shak- 
ing hands originally existed among the Indians, or if it 
was not introduced among them by Europeans. An ac- 
quaintance with many nations has proved, that the modes 
of salutation varied, according to the diversity which ex- 
ists in their manners, languages, &c. It would, therefore, 
be singular, that the same practice, which prevails among 
us, and which we received from our British ancestors, 
had existed among the Indians, whose neighbours we 
have, in the course of ages, become. With a view to clear 
this point, we have collected a number of authorities, re- 
lating exclusively to the North American Indians, from 
which we have been led to believe, that the practice of 
shaking hands, was acquired by their intercourse with 
white men. 

We find that among many Indians a difierent mode of 
salutation formerly prevailed. Probably one of the most 
usual methods, for an Indian to welcome a stranger, was 
to pat his own breast, arms, and legs, and then those of the 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's rivek. 255 

stranger. We are told that the Indians on the Canada 
coast received Jacques Cartier by " feeling him and rub- 
bing his arms and breast, with their hands, according to 
their custom of caressing."* And again a chief " desired 
the captain to give him his arms that he might kiss and 
touch them, as is their practice of welcoming in the said 
land."t The practice of rubbing down the limbs of the 
stranger was, probably, first introduced for the purpose of 
relieving him from his fatigue, at least we infer it from the 
words of Father Hennepin, who says, " At the entry of the 
Captain's Cabin, who had adopted me, one of the Barba- 
rians, who seem'd to be very old, presented me with a great 
Pipe to smoak, and weeping over me all the while with 
abundance of Tears, rubb'd both my Arms and my Head. 
This was to show how concern'd he was to see me so ha- 
rass'd and fatigu'd : And indeed I had often need enough of 
two Men to support me when I was up, or raise me when 
I was down. There was a Bears-Skin before the Fire, 
upon which the youngest Boy of the Cabin caus'd me to 
lie down, and then with the Grease of Wild Cats anointed 
my Thighs, Legs, and Soles of my Feet." J This treatment 
was among the Dacotas. 

Alvar Nunez also observes, that the rubbing of the body 
was a mode of salutation with many nations, about and 
west of the mouth of the Mississippi, and indeed at a great 
distance in-land. In the account of the first expedition to 
Virginia in 1584, the narrator expresses himself thus; Gran- 

* Lescarbot, Histoire de la Nouvelle France, a Paris, 1618. p. 254. 
t Idem, ibid, p. 302. 

i; A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America, by L. Hennepin. 
London, 1698, p. 210. 


ganimeo, an Indian on the coast of what was then called 
Virginia, made " all signes of joy and welcome, striking on 
his head, and his breast, and afterwards on ours, to shewe 
that we were all one."* When they reached the north 
end of the island of Roanoak, they were eatertained by 
Granganimeo's wife, in a house that had five rooms ; their 
feet were washed in warm water.t The practice of washing 
the feet is also mentioned by Joutel, in his Account of de la 
Salle's Expedition; and the Chevalier de Tonti says, "the 
chiefs of the Nation came towards us ; we were conducted 
through a double file of armed young men, to very neat 
cabins ; the remainder of our entertainment was as grotesque 
as it was wild ; women of a dark complexion, but very 
well formed and half naked, washed our feet in wooden 
troughs."! Different practices prevailed among other na- 
tions. The Clamcoets near the Bay of St. Bernard some- 
times saluted a stranger by rubbing his breast and arms 
with their hands, sometimes by blowing in his ear ;§ 
while the Cenis, who reside on their northern limit, had a 
different usage. Twelve old men, with the right hand raised 
to the head, ran up with loud cries and embraced the French.j| 
In Carolina the practice of scratching the shoulder probably 
prevailed. " At noon," says Lawson, " we stay'd and re- 
fresh'd ourselves at a Cabin, where we met with one of their 

• Account of a " Voyage of Captains Amadas and Barlowe to part of 
the countrey now called Virginia," (in Hackluyt's collection.) London, 
1589, p. 729. 

f Idem, ibid, p. 731. 

:(: Relations de la Louisianne et du fleuve Mississipi. Amsterdam, 
1720, being Vol. 5, of a " Recueil de Voyages," &c. 

§ Journal historique du dernier Voyage de M. de la Salle, par Joutel. 
Paris, 1713, p. 74. 84. 

11 Idem, ibid. p. 220. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 257 

War-Captains, a Man of great Esteem among them. At his 
Departure from the Cabin, the Man of the House scratch'd 
this War-Captain on the Shoulder, which is look'd upon as 
a very great Compliment among them ;"* and again, " They 
are free from all manner of Compliments, except Shaking of 
Hands, and Scratching on the Shoulder, which two are the 
greatest Marks of Sincerity and Friendship, that can be 
shew'd one to another."! Of the Esquimaux we find the 
following related, in the account of Davis's first voyage in 
1585 ; ''At length one of them, poynting up to the Sunne 
with his hande, would presently strike his brest so hard 
that we might here the bloAve."J When John Ellis imi- 
tated their action the Esquimaux approached with confi- 
dence. In a tribe of Esquimaux discovered by Captain 
Ross, the practice of pulling noses is said to exist. " Sac- 
heuse called to us to pull our noses, as he had discovered 
this to be the mode of friendly salutation with them."§ 
This was in latitude 75° 55' N. and longitude 65° 32' W. 

The practice of shaking hands is, however, related of 
several Indians ; Du Pratz states it to exist among the 
Natchez in particular, and Indian nations generally, refer- 
ring however to those on the Mississippi. || Miantonimo, a 
Narraganset chief, after a conference with the Governor, 
gave him his hand for the absent Magistrates ;** but this 
was subsequent to 1637. The habit of embracing or kiss- 
ing is alluded to more frequently. At Ilochelaga, now 

* A new Voyage to Carolina, by John Lawson, Gent. London, 1709, 
p. 42. 

■j-Idem, ibid, p. 201. 

± Ilackluyt's Collection, p. 778. 

§ Ross' Voyage, London, 1819, p. 86. 

II Histoire de la Louisianne, par Du Pratz, a Paris, 1758. Tome 2, 
p. 237. 

•» Hubbard's Narrative of Indian Wars, Braltleborough, 1814, p. 54 
Vol. I. 33 


Montreal, the French were welcomed by the women who 
kissed their faces.* In the fourth voyage made to Vir- 
ginia in 1587, it is said that the Indians of the island of 
Croatoan, (on the coast of North Carolina,) " threwe away 
their bowes and arrowes, and some of them came unto us, 
embracing and entertaining us friendly."t So also of the 
Esquimaux in Davis's second voyage in 1586 ; " they came 
running to mec and the rest, and embraced us with many 
signes of hartie welcome. "| Wherever the Spanish authors 
are consulted, we find that, in addition to the ceremony of 
embracing generally, they mention the kissing of hands 
and prostrating themselves; thus, although it is stated, 
that the chief Muscogo welcomed Juan Ortiz who fled to 
him for protection by embracing him and kissing his 
face,§ yet we find, that when the same chief went to the 
Spanish camp, he kissed De Soto's hands. || The Cacique 
of Casqui, (on the Mississippi,) is also stated to have pros- 
trated himself before De Soto.** Garcilaso de la Vega men- 
tions, as a mode of salutation, prostration and kissing of 
the hands ; but these were probably to superiors, and in 
token of veneration. The following practice, observed at 
Kecoughtan, (near Chesapeake Bay,) is a curious one, but 
whether used as a mode of salutation or not, we are unable 
to tell. " Landing at Kecoughtan, the Savages entertained 
them," (the voyagers,) " with a doleful noyse, laying their 
faces to the ground and scratching the earth with their 

* Lescarbot, ut supra, p. 327. 
•j- Hackluyl's Collection, ut supra, p. 767. 
i Idem, ibid, p. 781. 

§ La Florida del Inca, en Madrid, 1722. p. 28. 
11 Idem, ibid, p. 33. 

•* Narrative of De Soto's Invasion, written by a gentleman of Elvas, 
and translated by Ilackluyt. London, 1609, p. 96. 
ffPurchas his Pilgrimage, London, 1614, p. 768. 


From the instances which we have cited, and we might 
have adduced many more, we are led to believe that, wher- 
ever the practice of shaking hands has been observed, it had 
probably been received from the English ; for the only three 
instances which we have mentioned are those from Hub- 
bard, Du Pratz, and Lawson. The first of these authors 
states it of the New England Indians ; the second is com- 
paratively a modern writer, his book having been publish- 
ed as late as 1 758 ; and Lawson's authority, though generally 
very good, is less decisive in this instance, because, being 
himself an Englishman, he might be more ready to ascribe 
this practice to the Indians, than any other, and because he 
speaks of Indians who had already some acquaintance with 
the English ; besides we find that he describes twice the 
practice of scratching the shoulder, as a mark of great re- 
spect, from which circumstance, we are led to believe, 
that this was the original practice of the Carolina Indians. 
The practice of kissing hands and of prostration, being 
only mentioned by Spanish writers, was probably the con- 
sequence of an intercourse with Spaniards. That of embrac- 
ing appears more general, but it is also restricted chiefly to 
French authors, or to those who treat of Indians that had been 
in habits of intercourse with the French. One exception pre- 
sents itself, however, to our recollection, it is in the first recep- 
tion of Captain Lewis by the Shoshonees. " The three men 
leaped from their horses, came up to Captain Lewis, and em- 
braced him with great cordiality, putting their left arm over 
his right shoulder and clasping his back, applying at the 
same time their left cheek to his, and frequently vociferating 
ah-hie ! ah-hie ! * I am much pleased, I am much rejoiced.' 
The whole body of warriors now came forward, and our 
men received the caresses, and no small share of the grease 


and paint of their new friends."* Notwithstanding this 
instance, we consider the practice of embracing as not ori- 
ginal with the Indians in general, but probably in most 
cases derived from the French. Indeed we have ourselves 
heard the Indians ridicule the frequent kissing, which 
they observed among the Canadians, and consider it as 
unworthy of men. 

The Redwing chief is, at present, very much superan- 
nuated, but he is still respected on account of his former 
distinguished achievements. When Major Taliaferro, the 
Indian agent, visited him, not long since, with Morga n 
the principal war chief of the Sauks, the latter told Tatun- 
kamane to his face, when shaking hands with him, that he 
considered him as a very unimportant personage, and that 
he only took him by the hand, out of respect to his father, 
who had been, to them, so brave and active an enemy. 
The Sauks will long remember the injury this chief did 
them. Some of the warriors, whom we saw in the chief's 
cabin, were very fine looking men. One of them, whose 
face was covered over with charcoal, bore so strong a re- 
semblance to the portraits of Napoleon, that all our party 
were struck with it. It was rather to Bonaparte as first 
consul, than as emperor, that the resemblance was great, 
for he had not the corpulence which the ex-emperor had 
acquired. Not only his features, but even the conforma- 
tion of his head, shared in the general resemblance. We 
could not learn that he was a distinguished man in the na- 

Among the many Indians whom we saw at the village, one 

* History of the Expedition under the command of Captains Lewis 
and Clarke, Philadelphia, 1814, vol. 1, p. 363. 


of those, who frequented our company most, was an old man, 
by the name of Wa-ze-ko-ta, (Shooter from the pine-top,) 
who was an intolerable beggar. He professed much friend- 
ship for us, was very fond of showing his knowledge of 
our language by the frequent repetition of the English- 
monosyllable of Indian John in the Spy. This, together 
with a few of the most common expressions, such as how 
d'ye do, good bye, &c. completed his whole stock of Eng- 
lish words. This man's name bears a striking analogy to 
that of the principal chief of the Issati or Nadouessis whom 
Hennepin met on the Mississippi, and whom he calls 
" Ouasicoude, (that is to say the Pierc'd Pine,")* He ac- 
companied Major Long on part of his journey in 1817, 
but scarcely recollected the circumstance, being at present 
very old. These Indians were much pleased with the sight 
of our travelling map ; they displayed great intelligence on 
the occasion, understanding it immediately ; tracing several 
rivers with their fingers ; mentioning their names ; pointing 
to the portages, &c. Wazekota laid his finger upon the Falls 
of St. Anthony, which he called Halmwotepa. They appear- 
ed quite suprized to find that so large a district of country 
could be represented on so small a compass, and at the 
same time be so distinct. The magnetic needle and the 
mercury, likewise attracted their notice ; they expressed 
much surprize on observing that iron floated upon this fluid, 
with the same buoyancy that cork would upon water. 
They considered all these things as mysterious. 

Three Menomone Indians were here on a visit, havino* 
just returned from the St, Peter, where they had been 
hunting. It is supposed that sixty or seventy warriors of 

• Father Hennepin's Works, ut supra, London 1698, p, 217, and 
Relations de la Louisianne, &c. p. 292. 


their nation will unite with Redwing's band, although the 
principal of the three, a fine looking stout man, thought 
proper to apologize for this band, saying to us, that the 
Sioux were hogs and beggars, destitute of food, and ignorant 
of the duties of hospitality ; but that when we should arrive 
among the Chippewas, we would be received as strangers 
should be ; a subsequent experience has by no means satis- 
fied us of the superiority of the Chippew^as over the Da- 
cotas. The complexion of these Menomones was lighter 
than that of any Indians we saw on the journey ; one of 
them spoke French ; the principal one had abundance of 
wampum about his neck, together with a necklace of Cow- 
ries, (Cypraea moneta.) We afterwards learned from the 
Indian agent at St. Anthony, that this is an eminent war 
leader, and that, when his party unite with Redwing's, he 
will be recognised as the principal war chief. This Me- 
nomone told us, that the tumuli observed back of the vil- 
lage were artificial, and ancient cemeteries. Tommo, and 
the Sioux, whom we consulted on the subject, all consi- 
dered them as natural elevations. As they do not bury 
their dead, but dispose of them on scafiblds, they seem to 
be unacquainted with the ancient practice of interring. 

After a very interesting visit to this village, the gentle- 
men again separated. Major Long's party, being provided 
with a proportion of the boat's provisions, which were 
becoming scanty, continued their journey by land that af- 
ternoon, and reached Fort St. Anthony the next evening 
without meeting with any accident. The route from the In- 
dian village was off from the river, it was rolling", less hilly 
than had been previously travelled ; the tumuli increased in 
number, exceeding in abundance any that the party had ever 
seen before, at times upwards of one hundred of them wei'e 
in view. A stream about thirteen yards wide, which they 


crossed a short time after leaving the village, is called by the 
Indians E&mozind^ta, (High rock,) from a white pyramidal 
rock which rises to a considerable height near this stream, a 
few miles above the place where they crossed it. Being 
aware of its existence, and knowing that it would not 
lengthen the journey much, they were anxious to pass near 
it; but, whether from superstitious motives or not, Tommo 
seemed unwilling to guide them in that direction. This 
man was not one of the pleasantest that the party could have 
had to accompany them ; although he was selected as one 
of the best in the vicinity of Prairie du Chien, he was not 
agreeable. He was a listless, indifferent kind of man ; an 
incessant smoker ; his pipe, which was connected with his 
tomahawk, was in constant use ; it was made in the form 
of a shingling hatchet. The part which corresponded with 
the hammer was hollowed out for the bowl, and the 
handle was perforated so as to serve as the stem of the 
pipe. He adverted to the pipe as the Indian's only so- 
lace in hunger. This man had a curious specific when un- 
well ; it was to climb a tree, cut the top so that it would 
bend, and then let himself drop down from it to the 

The first boulders which had been seen from Rock 
river, were observed by Mr. Colhoun at about seven 
miles from Fort St. Anthony ; they consisted of granite. 
A very great change in the country above Lake Pepin 
was visible. The bluffs were not so high, they were more 
frequently interrupted, and gave a neAV character to the 
scenery of the river. The distance, by land, from Prairie 
du Chien to the St. Peter, is two hundred and eleven miles ; 
it was travelled in eight days, hence at an average of 
twenty-six and a half miles per day. This may be consi- 
dered as the first section of our journey ; the whole dis- 


tance from Philadelphia to this place, was near thirteen 
hundred miles, which were travelled in sixty-four days, 
stoppages included. This affords an average of twenty 
miles per day. 

Having followed Major Long's division from the Prairie 
to this place, we shall take a hasty glance at the observa- 
tions made by the other division, during their progress up 
the river. 

This division consisted of Messrs. Say, Keating, and 
Seymour, with Roque, (the interpreter.) The boat was 
manned by the corporal and eight soldiers, under the 
command of Lieutenant Scott. They were provided 
with an eight oar barge with a sail, or rather their tent 
fly, which was used as a substitute for one. After parting 
with Major Long, on the west bank of the river, the barge 
proceeded up the Mississippi, but had not been long on its 
course before symptoms of misconduct broke out among 
the men ; and Mr. Scott then discovered that, while the 
whole party were conversing with Major Long, on the river 
bank, the men had broached the keg of liquor and helped 
themselves to its contents so bountifully as to be soon affected 
by it. As soon as they were heated by the exercise of rowing, 
the effects of the whiskey became but too evident. They 
lost all respect for their officer, and but for the firm stand 
which he took upon the occasion a mutiny would inevita- 
bly have broken out; but having called for his pistols and 
loaded them in their presence, he assured them that the 
first man who attempted a mutiny must do it at the risk of 
his life ; the crew being, however, too much affected by 
the liquor to be able to stem the strong current of the Mis- 
sissippi, the boat was orderetl to the shore, and the party 
lay by for a few hours. 

In the' evening the men being a little sobered, they re- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 265 

sumcd their journey, and encamped at night above the 
Painted Rock river, on the west bank of the Mississippi. 
The distance travelled that day did not exceed nine miles. 
The bluffs, which appear to be limestone, (but we were at 
too great a distance to determine the fact with certainty,) 
continue on both sides of the river, and rise to a considera- 
ble height. In one place the rock is very steep and ap- 
parently inaccessible ; the difficulty of the undertaking was 
probably the motive which induced the Indians to attempt 
to climb it; and having succeeded, they wished to perpe- 
tuate the recollection of their success by painting upon it, 
with red colours, a few grotesque figures. It is said that, 
when these are effaced by time or washed away by the rain, 
they are soon replaced by other sketches left there by the 
Indians who are constantly passing up and down the river. 
The Painted Rock, like every frail attempt to distinguish, 
by artificial means, those things which nature, in her wild 
designing, has clothed with an uniform garb, seizes more 
powerfully upon the imagination of the trading voyager 
on our western streams, than the finest natural features of 
their splendid scenery ; it has become, therefore, as it were, 
a landmark which assists the traveller in tracing his pro- 
gress through these desert regions. The weather was fair 
and warm ; the wind slight but adverse, so that the sail 
was not hoisted. This first day's voyage on the Missis- 
sippi was delightful to those who had never been on that 
river before ; the magnificence of the scenery is such, 
its characters differ so widely from those of the land- 
scapes which we are accustomed to behold in our tame re- 
gions, its features are so bold, so wild, so majestic, that 
they impart new sensations to the mind ; the very rapidity 
of the stream, although it opposes our ascent, delights us : 
it conveys such an idea of the extensive volume of water 
Vol. I. 34 


which this river ceaselessly rolls towards the ocean. The 
immense number of islands which it imbosoms, also con- 
tributes to the variety of the scenery by presenting it con- 
stantly under a new aspect. 

On the 26th of June the wind was fair, and starting 
early, the party proceeded up with considerable speed ; 
the country and its scenery presenting pretty nearly the 
same characters as on the preceding day. In the course 
of the morning, they saw the appearance of a cavern in the 
rocks, and landed to explore it, but found it to be mere- 
ly a small excavation of no account; this however gave 
Mr. Keating an opportunity of observing that the bluff 
consisted of limestone, which in the upper parts became 
very loose, and assumed the characters of the asche as 
mentioned in the preceding chapter. Fragments of a beau- 
tiful oolite were observed below it ; they were loose and 
angular, some of them of a large size. No doubt could 
exist that they were in the immediate vicinity of their 
original sites, but the necessity of taking advantage of the 
fair wind, did not permit a search after the rock itself. 
On the left bank of the river, a small stream was observ- 
ed to put in ; at its mouth two Menomone lodges were 
situated ; but they were closed, the inhabitants having 
doubtless gone on their summer hunts. At some distance 
beyond this they passed, on the right bank, the mouth of 
the lawa, a river celebrated in Indian warfare as the spot 
of a bloody rencounter between the Sioux and Sauks. 
At forty-five miles from Fort Crawford there is a Winne- 
bago village of a few huts ; it was surrounded by hand- 
some cornfields. At the mouth of Bad-Axe river, a little 
beyond this, the party exchanged a few words with two 
Menomone Indians who were descending in a canoe. Two 
remarkable capes or points were observed on the right 
bank of the Mississippi below lawa river ; the lower one 


is designated by the name of Cape Puant, because at a 
time when the Sioux and Winnebagoes, (Puants,) were 
about to commence hostilities, a party of the latter set out on 
an expedition to invade the territory of the Sioux and take 
them b)f* surprise; but these being informed of the de- 
sign, collected a superior force, and lay in ambush near this 
place, expecting the arrival of their enemies. As soon 
as the Winnebagoes had landed, the Sioux sallied from 
their hiding places, pressed upon them as they lay col- 
lected in a small recess between the two capes, drove 
them into the river, and massacred the whole party. Gar- 
lic cape, just above this, strikes the voyager by the sin- 
gularity of its appearance. In shape it represents a cone 
cut by a vertical plane passing through its apex and base ; 
its height is about four hundred feet. The peculiarity of 
its appearance has made it a celebrated landmark on the 
Mississippi. Mr. Seymour, whose pencil was frequently 
engaged in sketching the beautiful features of the Missis- 
sippi, took a hasty view of this as the boat passed near it. 
The valley is, in this part, almost entirely filled by the 
river which laves the base of the bluffs on both sides. The 
river spreads in some places to the width of three or four 
miles ; its channel being very much interrupted by num- 
berless islands, which render the navigation difficult. The 
bluffs are generally from four hundred to five hundred feet 
high, intersected with numerous ravines, and exhibiting 
signs of being the commencement of a hilly and broken 
inland country. 

One of the soldiers was this day very sick of mania 
apotu. At times he was perfectly insane, probably from 
having suddenly given up the use of strong liquor, in 
which he had previously indulged himself very freely. 
He continued sick during the rest of the voyage up 


the Mississippi. It was a horrid sight, in a small 
boat, not more than thirty feet long, in which the par- 
ty were much cramped for want of room, to behold a 
man affected with occasional fits of raving, and these of 
the most distressing kind ; he made frequent attempts to 
throw himself overboard, which at last induced Mr. Scott 
to have him secured to the mast; he was very loquacious 
in his insanity, replying as he thought to the voice of his 
officers at Prairie du Chien, whom he fancied he heard 
calling him ; at times he became ironical, bursting into 
a wild and convulsive laughter, then launching out into 
profane and abusive language ; in fine, exhibiting all 
the workings of a disordered imagination. At one of the 
encampments, he broke his bonds and wandered near a 
swamp ; men were sent after him who were out a long time 
before they overtook him ; he was for a while given up 
for lost, and it was by the most fortunate chance that he 
was at last discovered by one of the men wading through 
a swamp ; had he proceeded much further he must have 
perished in this fen. Mr. Say having administered to him 
the proper remedies, he gradually recovered, but finding it 
agreeable to abstain from work, feigned sickness, and his 
insanity was observed apparently increasing while the 
other symptoms indicated a general improvement in his 
health ; suspecting that he was playing the old soldier, Mr. 
Say prescribed the use of an oar as a sudorific, by which 
he soon recovered the use of his lost senses. 

The party had encamped for the night on a prairie, be- 
tween Raccoon and Bad-Axe rivers, but the mosquitoes, 
which had hitherto proved very tormenting, becoming 
still more so, they determined, at eleven o'clock at night, 
to resume their journey. If a sleepless night was to be 
spent, it was better to pass it in the boat, in the middle of 

SOURCE or ST. Peter's river. 269 

the stream, where at least they would be relieved from 
the torment of the mosquitoes. The breeze, which was fa- 
vourable, allowed the barge to proceed with considerable 
rapidity for three hours, when the wind increased into a gale, 
which rendered the navigation dangerous. After having at- 
tempted, for a time, to continue, in despite of the violence of 
the storm, they were obliged to draw near the shore. A very 
heavy rain fell for several hours, to which they remained 
exposed in the boat, having no protection but that afforded 
them by their blankets. Notwithstanding the comfortless 
situation in which they found themselves, there was an 
irresistible interest in the scene. A storm is at all times 
one of the most splendid phenomena in nature ; but when 
experienced in the gloomy forests of the Mississippi, in 
the midst of a solitude, with no companions but a few fel- 
low sufferers, standing in a shivering attitude in a small 
boat, it receives an additional interest; every flash of 
lightning displays a scene which the painter would wish 
to fix upon the canvass. The loud peals of thunder resound 
more forcibly when reverberated by the rocky bluffs, 
which border upon the river, and they contrast sublimely 
with the low but uninterrupted muttering of the rolling 
waters. About sunrise the storm ceased, the weather clear- 
ed up, the party resumed their journey, and continued it 
until breakfast time, when they were gratified to stop and 
make a fire to dry their clothes and repair the damage oc- 
casioned by the storm. While at their encampment of the 
preceding evening, the attention of the party was sud- 
denly roused by the faint and indistinct sounds of a human 
voice, singing at a distance. It was soon evident that the 
words were English, and the air a familiar one to all the 
party ; after a while the noise of a paddle was distinctly 
heard, and by hailing they brought to the shore a canoe 


that was gliding; down the river, with two discharged sol- 
diers from Fort St. Anthony. The country which l)orders 
upon the river ahounds in rattlesnakes, the party killed 
several during their journey to Lake Pepin, ahove which 
it has been said that they are never seen. In examining 
the head of this serpent, Mr. Say's thumb was punctured by 
several of the small acute teeth, while it pressed upon the 
roof of the mouth ; and on laying open the vesicle of poi- 
son, a portion of the fluid flowed under the thumb and 
found its way into one of the punctures, and although the 
quantity must have been very small, it gave rise to much 
pain and numbness in the part ; it however soon subsided, 
producing but little swelling. 

The travelling on the 27th was not very rapid owing to 
a head wind, but no time having been spent on shore, the 
party reached the Prairie de la Crosse in time to encamp 
there ; this has been incorrectly called the Cross, (crux,) 
prairie. The name of this spot is derived from a game 
very much in favour among the Indians ; it is played with 
a ball, and is probably not very unlike some of the games 
of white men. This prairie being very level and fine, is 
admirably well calculated for this purpose ; and was for- 
merly much frequented by the Indians. There were a 
few remains of Indian encampments upon it, of one of 
which the party took possession, for the purpose of shel- 
tering themselves during the night. Within a few yards 
of their encampment they discovered several graves, over 
which flags were hanging, indicating that the deceased had 
been men of some consequence. The party proceeded, 
early the next morning, and passed the mouth of Black 
river, one of the most important tributaries of the Missis- 
sippi ; it is much resorted to for the purpose of obtaining 
timber, as the forests, which grow upon its banks, are 


much finer than those on the Mississippi. Not only does 
it supply the fort at Prairie du Chien, but even, as we are 
informed, much of the " pine timber, used at St. Louis, is 
cut here."* The voyagers have remarked that the number 
of islands, in this part of the Mississippi, is so great, that 
there are but few spots where both banks of the river can 
be seen at the same time ; this is, however, the case, at a 
short distance, above the mouth of Black river ; and one 
mile above this place the bluffs, on both sides of the river, 
approach within eight hundred yards of each other. The 
wind being ahead, and strong, the progress of the boat was 
slow. On the evening of the 28th, the party reached the 
spot which has been described, by all travellers, as a great 
natural curiosity, though, in fact, it presents nothing extra- 
ordinary. It is termed, by the voyagers, the Montagne 
qui trempe dans Veau. This, which we understand to be 
but the translation of the Indian name for it, means " the 
mountain that soaks in the water." It is a rocky island 
corresponding with the adjoining bluffs, and separated from 
the left bank of the river by a narrow sluice. This insu- 
lated portion of highland appears, when seen from a dis- 
tance, to stand in the middle of the stream, and its base is 
washed by the water; but on approaching towards it, it is 
found to be very near the east bank of the river ; and as 
well as the party could judge from the opposite bank, along 
which they were coasting, there was at that time but lit- 
tle or no water between the " mountain" and the left 
bank. Pike has, in his journal, stated its height at about 
two hundred feet ; from a trigonometrical admeasurement 
of it, made in 1817, Major Long estimates its elevation at 
five hundred feet ; although his instruments did' not allow 

• Major Long's MS. 1817, No. 2, folio 4. 


him to take his measurements with the greatest accuracy, 
yet this must be very near the true height; since the 
island is as elevated as the adjoining bluffs, which are 
among the highest that are to be seen above the Wisconsan. 

Mr. Schoolcraft has been led into error, in his account 
of it, when he represents the island, on which it stands, as 
being four or five miles in circumference. Mr. Scott, who 
travelled down the Mississippi a week after we ascended 
it, measured it, and found it to be only about a mile in cir- 
cumference. Neither can we agree with the same author 
when he states that it " divides the river into two equal 
halves, and gives an immense width to the river."* Per- 
haps the most remarkable feature about this mountain is 
that " it is the third island of the Mississippi from the 
Gulf of Mexico to this place that has a rocky foundation 
similar to that of the neighbouring bluffs, and that rises 
nearly to the same height as these."t The other islands 
in this river are merely formed by the alluvion collected 
by the stream, and are chiefly sandy; many of them are 
covered with a fine vegetation. 

Early on the 29th, the boat reached Wapasha's village ; 
the gentlemen landed, and were disappointed on being in- 
formed that they had failed in seeing Major Long's party by 
about an hour. Being anxious to become better acquaint- 
ed with an Indian, who is held in such high esteem among 
the powerful and extensive nation of the Dacotas, as Wa- 
pasha is, they gave the old chief an invitation to enter in- 
to their boat, which he readily accepted, but declined ac- 
companying them up to Fort St. Anthony, as his band 
had heard, that morning, of the approach of their enemies, 

• Narrative Journal of Travels, &c. by H. R. Schoolcraft, p. 335. 
j Major Long's MS. No. 2, folio 5. 


the Chippewas, on the river of the same name ; he had 
sent out some of his warriors to scout, and thought it in- 
cumbent on him to remain and watch over his band ; but 
as our party was ascending in the direction in which his 
warriors had gone, he said he would proceed with us 
that far. The gentlemen were interested by the apparent 
calmness with which he spoke of the approach of his ene- 
mies. No consternation prevailed in the village; the men 
were, it is true, all painted, as for war, and a number of 
them were absent ; but the old chief was lying down with 
the greatest unconcern ; his preparations for departure 
were, however, soon made, and he accompanied the party 
in the boat ; his son-in-law and another Indian paddling 
his canoe in the rear. Wapasha spoke of the advantages 
of the arts and agriculture ; of his wish to see them in- 
troduced ; he expressed his desire to accept the invitation, 
given him by the Indian agent, to accompany him to the 
seat of government, as he was anxious to see how every 
thing was managed among white men. One of the ob- 
jects of which he spoke with the greatest rapture was the 
steam-boat, which had ascended the river in the spring, 
and which he considered as a wonderful invention. We 
were told that when this boat had come up, he was taken 
on board, and the machine was exhibited to him ; he ap- 
peared to take great interest in the explanations of it, which 
were given to him. During Major Long's visit to Wapa- 
sha's village in IS 17, he witnessed part of a very interest- 
ing ceremony known by the name of the bear dance. " It 
is usual to perform it when a young man is anxious to 
bring himself into notice ; and it is considered as a sort of 
initiation into the state of manhood. On the ground, where 
it was performed, there was a pole supporting a kind of 
flag, made of a fawn's skin dressed with the hair on ; upon 
Vol.. I. 35 


the flesh side of it, were drawn certain figures indicative 
of the dream which the candidate had enjoyed ; for none 
can go through this ceremony, who has not been favoured 
with dreams. To the flag a pipe was suspended as a sa- 
crifice ; two arrows were stuck up at the foot of the pole ; 
and painted feathers, &c. were strewed upon the ground 
near it. These articles aj^pertained to the religious rites, 
whicii accompany the ceremony, and which consist in be- 
wailing and self mortifications ; the object of these is that 
the Great Spirit may be induced to pity them and assist 
them in the undertaking. At two or three hundred yards 
from the flag there is an excavation which they call the 
bear's hole, and which is prepared for the occasion ; it is 
about two feet in depth, and has two ditches, each one 
foot deep, leading across it at right angles. The candi- 
date places himself in this hole to be hunted by the rest 
of the young men, all of whom, on this occasion, are 
dressed in their best attire, and painted in their neatest 
style. The hunters approach the hole, in the direction 
of one of the ditches, and discharge their guns, which 
were previously loaded with blank cartridges, at the 
youth, who acts the part of the bear; whereupon he leaps 
from his den, having a hoop in each hand, and a wooden 
lance ; the hoops serving as forefeet to aid him in charac- 
terizing his part, and his lance to defend him from his as- 
sailants. Thus accoutred, he dances round the plain, exhi- 
biting various feats of activity, while the other Indians 
pursue him and endeavour to trap him, as he attempts to 
return to his den ; to efiect which, he is permitted to use, 
with impunity, any violence that he pleases against his as- 
sailants, even to taking the life of any of them. This part 
of the ceremony is performed three times, that the bear 
may escape from his den and return to it again, through 


three of the avenues communicating with it. On being 
hunted from the fourth, or last avenue, the bear must make 
his escape through all his pursuers, if possible, and fly to 
the woods, where he is to remain through the day. This, 
however, is seldom or never accomplished, as all the young 
men exert themselves, to the utmost, in order to trap him. 
When caught, he must retire to a lodge prepared in the field 
for his reception ; there he is to be secluded from all so- 
ciety during the day, except that of one of his particular 
friends, whom he is allowed to take with him, as an at- 
tendant. There he smokes and performs various other rites 
which superstition has led the Indian to consider as sa- 
cred ; after this ceremony is ended, the youth is considered 
as qualified to act any part, as an efficient member of the 
community. The Indian who has had the good fortune to 
catch the bear and overcome him, when endeavouring to 
make his escape to the woods, is considered a candidate 
for preferment, and is, on the first suitable occasion, ap- 
pointed a leader of a small war party, in order that he may 
have a further opportunity of testing his powers, and of 
performing some essential service in behalf of his nation. 
It is accordingly expected that he will kill some of their 
enemies, and return with their scalps."* 

Wapasha informed the gentlemen in the boat, that the 
Chippewa Indians had been very troublesome, frequently 
descending the river that bears their name, and cutting off 
small parties of the Dacotas that were hunting. He spoke 
also of the advantages of having a mill built at the rapids 
of Chippewa river, as had been promised to them by 
the American government ; finally, after a few hours' con- 
versation, he left the boat, and crossed over in his canoe 
to the spot where his out-posts were supposed to be. The 

• Major Long's MS. 1817, No. 2, folio 6. 


party encamped that evening on a sandbar in the Missis- 
sippi, opposite to the mouth of Buffalo river. The next 
morning, a head wind detained the boat a long while, but 
it afterwards shifted, and the party ascended so rapidly, 
that early in the afternoon they found themselves within 
a few miles of the lower extremity of Lake Pepin; 
they were very desirous of visiting the fortifications des- 
cribed by Carver as being on the Mississippi, "some miles 
below Lake Pepin." Mr. Schoolcraft states, upon the au- 
thority of a Mr. Hart, a trader, that they are on the west 
bank of the river, a circumstance not mentioned by Car- 
ver. We spoke with the oldest traders in the country ; 
with those who had been all their lifetime in the habit of 
encamping in that vicinity, but met with none who had 
ever seen them or heard of them. Mr. Rolette, a part- 
ner in the American Fur Company, mentioned that he 
supposed the most probable place was at a well-known 
spot on the river, called the " Grand Encampment," situ- 
ated a few miles south of Lake Pepin. This gentleman, 
who had encamped there very frequently, had, however, 
never observed any thing like fortifications. On drawing 
near to the bank at this place, a regular elevation of the 
ground, parallel to the water's edge, struck us as an artifi- 
cial embankment; but on landing, and inspecting it, the 
gentlemen of the party unanimously agreed, that there 
was here no appearance of ancient works, but that the 
features observed were natural. The next question was, 
whether this was the place visited and described by Car- 
ver, and whether he had seen artificial works, or mistaken 
for them the natural peculiarities of the surface; upon 
this point there was a difference of opinion. Messrs. Say and 
Scott thought that the description of the locality, given by 
Carver, was sufficient to identify it with this spot, and that as 
it was impossible that they should not have observed fortifi- 


cations covering near a mile of ground, upon a prairie that is 
not more than two and a half miles wide, it was probable 
that this traveller had mistaken a natural for an artificial 
embankment. Agreeing in the fact that there were no ar- 
tificial works here, Mr. Keating considered this as proof 
that the Grand Encampment was not the spot alluded to 
by Carver; for although the general description agrees 
with that given by the traveller, yet the same might be 
said of many other spots ; the minuteness of the descrip- 
tion which Carver gives of these remains, precludes, as he 
thought, the opinion that he had mistaken a natural era^ 
bankment. Although no gentleman of the party would 
be willing to ascribe to Carver a scrupulous adherence to 
truth, (personal observation having convinced them all of 
the many misrepresentations contained in his work,) yet 
the description of these mounds appeared to one of them 
entitled to more credit, because, as it is believed to be 
the first which was given by travellers in America, 
it cannot be supposed to have been copied from others; 
because the authority of Mr. Hart's testimony seems to 
be on that side of the question, as well as that of General 
Pike, who probably saw the spot mentioned by Carver, as 
we find in his journal this observation: " Stopt at a prairie 
on the right bank descending, about nine miles below Lake 
Pepin ; went out to view some hills, which had the ap- 
pearance of the old fortifications spoken of, but I will speak 
more fully of them hereafter."* Whether these were simi- 
lar to those which he describes as having seen oh the 
Prairie de la Crosse,t we have not been able to ascertain. 
But the strongest argument in favour of the existence of 

* An account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi, &c. 
by Major Z. M. Pike, Phihick-lphia, 1810, p. 98. 
t Idem, p. 18. 


the fortifications described by Carver, is the circumstance 
of the many mounds and remains observed by Major 
Long and Mr. Colhoun, between Wapasha's village and 
the St. Peter, many of which were seen near the southern 
extremity of Lake Pepin. Although it does not appear 
that they met with any parapets, yet as these were found 
near the Wisconsan, in connection with the mounds, there 
is reason to believe that they may likewise have been erected 
in this vicinity. Taking all these facts into consideration, Mr. 
Keating was led to the conclusion, that Carver had really 
seen the works which he has described, but that they pro- 
bably were not at the Grand Encampment.* The party 
landed at another place above this, which appeared to cor- 
respond with the description of the locality, but their 
search here was likewise unsuccessful. At a late hour in 
the afternoon they reached the southern extremity of 
Lake Pepin, and proceeded until sunset, when the weather 
appearing stormy, they encamped upon a sandy point that 
projects about six miles above its southern extremity. 
They had not been there many hours before a high nor- 
therly wind began to blow, which proved the propriety of 
their encamping there ; for the navigation of this lake is re- 
presented as very dangerous whenever the wind blows fresh. 
Le lac est 'petit, mais it est malin, was the reply of the 
interpreter to a question as to the propriety of continuing 
our course during the night. The next morning the wea- 
ther was fair and calm, we resumed our journey through 
the lake, with great ease, until we came within about 
three miles of its upper extremity, when the wind increas- 
ed; we were soon satisfied, by our own observation, that 

" vide Three years Travels through the Interior parts of North 
America, 8<c. by Captain Jonatlian Carver, Philadelphia, 1796, p. 35. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 279 

the slightest breath of wind will produce a heavy swell 
upon this lake. From this circumstance, it is usual, with 
the voyagers, on the river, to cross it, if possible, at night; 
experience having satisfied them that it is generally calmer 
then, than during the day. The lake is about twenty-one 
miles long, and its breadth, which varies from one to three 
miles, may be averaged at about two and a half. Towards 
its southern extremity the valley widens considerably, 
from the circumstance that Chippewa river unites with the 
Mississippi at this place. That river is about five hundred 
yards wide, at its mouth, and is navigable at all seasons 
of the year by pirogues for fifty miles; and in time of 
freshes they can proceed much further up. Lake Pepin, in 
most places, fills nearly the whole of the valley between 
the contiguous bluffs. In two spots, however, a handsome 
piece of meadow land is observed, which will offer great 
inducements for the establishment of farrns. The general 
direction of the lake is from west-north-west to east-south- 
easL The scenery along its shores contrasts strongly with 
that of the river. Instead of the rapid current of the Mis- 
sissippi winding around numberless islands, some of which 
present well-wooded surfaces, while others are mere sand- 
bars, the lake presents a smooth and sluggish expanse of 
water, uncheckered by a single island, and whjose surface 
at the time we first observed it, towards the close of the day, 
was unruffled ; nothing limited the view but the extent of 
the lake itself; the majestic bluffs, which enclose it, extend 
in a more regular manner, and with a more uniform ele- 
vation than those along the river. When seen from the 
top of one of these eminences, the country is found very 
different from that in the vicinity of the mountain island, 
passed on the 2Sth of June, for it is rather rolling than 
hilly ; and the quantity of timber upon it is comparatively 


small, especially lo the west, where it assumes the general 
characters of an elevated prairie land. About half way up 
the lake, its eastern bank rises to a height of near four hun- 
dred and fifty feet, of which the first one hundred and 
fifty are formed by a perpendicular bluff, and the lower 
three hundred constitute a very abrupt and precipitous 
slope, which extends from the base of the bluff to the edge 
of the water. This forms a point, projecting into the lake, 
and bounded by two small basins, each of which is the es- 
tuary of a brook that falls into the lake at this place. The 
wildness of the scenery is such, that even the voyager, 
who has gazed with' delight upon the high bluffs of the 
Mississippi, is struck with uncommon interest on behold- 
ing this spot. There is in it what we meet with on no other 
point of the far-stretching valley of the Mississippi, a high 
projecting pointj a precipitous crag resting upon a steep bank 
whose base is w^ished by a wide expanse of water, the calm- 
ness of which contrasts with the savage features of the lands- 
cape ; but this spot receives an additional interest from the 
melancholy tale which is connected with it, and which casts 
a deep gloom over its brightest features. Cold and callous 
must be the heart of the voyager who can contemplate un- 
moved and uninterested the huge cliffs that enclose this 
lake, for " wild as the accents of lovers' farewell are the 
hearts w^hich they bear, and the tales which they tell." 

" There was a time," our guide said, as we passed 
near the base of the rock, " when this spot, which you 
now admire for its untenanted beauties, was the scene 
of one of the most melancholy transactions, that has 
ever occurred among the Indians. There was, in the 
village of Keoxa, in the tribe of Wapasha, during the 
time that his father lived and ruled over them, a young 
Indian female whose name was Winona, which signi- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 281 

fies "the first born." She had conceived an attachment for 
a young hunter who reciprocated it ; they had frequently 
met, and agreed to an union in which all their hopes 
centred ; but on applying to her family, the hunter was 
surprised to find himself denied ; and his claims super- 
seded by those of a warrior of distinction, who had sued 
for her. The warrior was a general favourite with the na- 
tion ; he had acquired a name, by the services which he had 
rendered to his village when attacked by the Chippewas; 
yet notwithstanding all the ardour with which he pressed 
his suit, and the countenance which he received from her 
parents and brothers, Winona persisted in preferring the 
hunter. To the usual commendations of her friends in fa- 
vour of the warrior she replied, that she had made choice 
of a man who, being a professed hunter, would spend his 
life with her, and secure to her comfort and subsistence, 
while the warrior would be constantly absent, intent upon 
martial exploits. Winona's expostulations were, however, 
of no avail, and her parents, having succeeded in driving 
away her lover, began to use harsh measures in order to 
compel her to unite with the man of their choice. To all 
her entreaties, that she should not be forced into an union 
so repugnant to her feelings, but rather be allowed to live 
a single life, they turned a deaf ear. Winona, had at all 
times enjoyed a greater share in the affections of her fa- 
mily, and she had been indulged more, than is usual with 
females among Indians. Being a favourite with her bro- 
thers, they expressed a wish that her consent to this union 
should be obtained by persuasive means, rather than that she 
should be compelled to it against her inclination. With a 
view to remove some of her objections, they took means 
to provide for her future maintenance, and presented to 
the warrior all that in their simple mode of living an In- 
VoL. I. 36 

382 ExrjiDiTiON TO the 

dian might covet. About that time a party was formed to 
ascend from the village to Lake Pepin, in order to lay in a 
store of the blue clay which is found upon its banks, and 
which is used by the Indians as a pigment. Winona and her 
friends were of the companj^ It was on the very day that 
they visited the lake that her brothers offered their presents 
to the warrior. Encouraged by these, he again addressed her, 
but with the same ill success. Vexed at what they deemed 
an unjustifiable obstinacy on her part, her parents remon- 
strated in strong language, and even used threats to com- 
pel her into obedience. " Well," said Winona, " you will 
drive me to despair; I said I loved him not, I could not 
live with him; I wished to remain a maiden; but you 
would not. You say you love me ; that you are my father, 
my brothers, my relations, yet you have driven from me 
the only man with whom I wished to be united ; you have 
compelled him to withdraw from the village ; alone, he 
now ranges through the forest, with no one to assist him, 
none to spread his blanket, none to build his lodge, none 
to wait on him ; yet was he the man of my choice. Is this 
your love ? But even it appears that this is not enough ; 
you would have me do more ; you would have me rejoice 
in his absence ; you wish me to unite with another man, 
with one whom I do not love, with whom I never can be 
happy. Since this is your love, let it be so; but soon 
you will have neither daughter, nor sister, nor relation, 
to torment with your false professions of affection." 
As she uttered these words, she withdrew, and her parents, 
heedless of her complaints, decreed that that very day 
Winona should be united to the warrior. While all were 
engaged in busy preparations for the festival, she Wound 
her way slowly to the top of the hill ; when she had reach- 
ed the summit, she called out with a loud voice to her 


friends below; she upbraided them for their cruelty to 
herself and her lover. " You," said she, " were not satisfied 
with opposing my union with the man whom I had chosen, 
you endeavoured by deceitful words to make me faithless 
to him, but when you found me resolved upon remaining 
single, you dared to threaten me ; you knew me not if you 
thought that I could be terrified into obedience ; you shall 
soon see how well I can defeat your designs." She then 
commenced to sing her dirge ; the light wind which 
blew at the time, wafted the words towards the spot where 
her friends were; they immediately rushed, some to- 
wards the summit of the hill to stop her, others to the 
foot of the precipice to receive her in their arms, while 
all, with tears in their eyes, entreated her to desist from 
her fatal purpose ; her father promised that no compulsive 
measures should be resorted to. But she was resolved, and 
as she concluded the words of her song, she threw her- 
self from the precipice, and fell, a lifeless corpse, near her 
distressed friends. Thus," added our guide, " has this spot 
acquired a melancholy celebrity ; it is still called the Mai- 
den's rock, and no Indian passes near it, without involun- 
tarily casting his eye towards the giddy height, to contem- 
plate the place, whence this unfortunate girl fell a victim 
to the cruelty of her relentless parents." 

In the annals of civilized life, the sad tale of Winona's 
adventures has been but too often realized ; and the evi- 
dences of the powerful influence of feeling over women 
are too well known to produce any sensation of surprise 
at their recurrence. But it is seldom that the wild 
inhabitant of the forest is admitted to possess the same 
depth of feeling. Judging of both sexes from the in- 
stances which have been related of the apathy, assumed 
or real, of the Indian warrior, too many are induced to be- 


lieve, that the uncivilized condition of the savage deprives 
him of, or stifles in him, all passion ; but In is is not the case. 
The fate of Winona has many parallels, which are not all 
equally well known. There were in the circumstances of 
this case, several conditions which tended to impart to it 
a peculiar interest ; the maid was one who had been a fa- 
vourite in her tribe ; the warrior whom her parents had 
selected was one of note ; her untimely end was a public 
one: many wxre the witnesses to it; it was impressive in 
the highest degree; the romantic situation of the spot, 
which may be thought to have had some influence over the 
mind of a young and enthusiastic female, who found 
herself at that time " perplex'd in the extreme," must have 
had a corresponding efiect upon those who witnessed it. 
Wazecota, who was there at the time, though very young, 
appeared to have received an indelible impression from it, 
and when relating it to Major Long in 1817, the feelings 
and sensations of his youth seemed to be restored ; he lost 
the garrulity of age, but spoke in a manner which showed 
that even the breast of the Indian warrior is not proof 
against the finest feelings of our nature. Had Winona, in- 
stead of taking the fatal leap, put an end to her existence 
in the midst of a forest, by suspending herself to a tree, as 
is generally practised by those Indian women whom distress 
impels to suicide, her fate would still have been unknown 
to us ; a few of her friends might have wept over her un- 
timely lot, but the traveller would have passed over the 
spot where she had ended her woes, without having his 
sympathies awakened, as they now are, by the recital of 
this terrible catastrophe. While the circumstances of this 
tale were related to us, Mr. Seymour was engaged in 
sketching this interesting spot. We have introduced his 
view of it here, (Plate IV.) as it gives a correct idea of 


the scenery of the upper part of the Mississippi, which 
has never, we think, been accurately represented. We re- 
gretted that it was not possible to reduce, to the proper 
size, a fanciful delineation of the tragic event which we 
have related. Mr. Seymour painted one of this kind, in 
which the landscape was represented with the most faith- 
ful accuracy, but which he animated and enlivened by the 
introduction of a numerous party of Indians, in whom the 
characteristics of the Dacotas were strikingly delineated. 
The unfortunate Winona was represented at the time when 
she was singing her dirge, and the various groups of In- 
dians below indicated the corresponding effect upon the 
minds of the spectators. 

The first European that ever reached this lake was Fa- 
ther Hennepin, who saw it in the month of April, 1680, 
and who gives the following description of it: "About 
thirty Leagues above Black river we found the Lake of 
Tears, which we named so, because the Savages, who took 
us, as it will be hereafter related, consulted in this place 
what they should do with their Prisoners ; and those who 
were for murthering us, cryed all the night upon us, to 
oblige, by their Tears, their Companions to consent to our 
Death. This Lake is formed by the Meschasipi, and may 
be seven Leagues long and five broad. Its Waters are almost 
standing, the Stream being hardly perceptible in the mid- 
dle." We have not been able to discover the origin of 
the name which the lake now bears, it is evidently a French 
name. While ascending the lake, we observed floating 
upon the surface, a large fish which had been wounded 
with a harpoon or lance ; we caught it, and found it to be 
a Paddle-fish.* This fish is distinguished by a protu- 

• Platirostra Edentula, (Lesueur.) Vide Appendix I. B 


berance or rostrum, which extends from the nose about 
fourteen inches, and which from its resemblance to the 
form of a paddle, has obtained for it the common appella- 
tion of Paddle-fish. The Mississippi unites with the up- 
per extremity of the lake by three channels, which are 
separated by islands. Upon one of these we landed, and 
found the passenger pigeons to be very numerous, so that in 
a few minutes a number of them were killed. We likewise 
saw here a rattlesnake, which disproves the assertion of 
some authors that this animal is not found above Lake 
Pepin. It is probable, however, that they are scarce above 
this place, as this was the last one seen by our expedition. 
Mr. Schoolcraft states, that Governor Cass' expedition like- 
wise met with it above Lake Pepin, and he even observes 
that it exists as high on the Mississippi as the Falls of St. 
Anthony. One of the guides, Joseph Reinville, whom we 
shall have occasion to mention hereafter, informed Mr. 
Colhoun that he had killed them on Big Stone Lake, which 
is near the head of the St. Peter. 

About four miles above the lake is the site of Redwing's 
village, at the mouth of Cannon river. Immediately below 
the village there is a singular hill, which, from its form, 
which is supposed to resemble a barn, has been called the 
Grange, it is about three quarters of a mile long, and four 
hundred feet high. Its acclivity on the east or river side 
is very abrupt, on the west or prairie side it is quite ver- 
tical ; it stands insulated from the rest of the highlands. 
Immediately upon the highest point of the Grange, Major 
Long, who ascended it in 1817, observed an artificial 
mound, whose elevation above its base was about five feet. 

Having left the Redwing village early in the afternoon 
of July 1st, the party continued to ascend the river; the 
current had again become very strong; they proceeded 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 287 

that evening to a place below the St. Croix river; this 
stream enters the Mississippi on its left bank ; at its mouth 
it is about one hundred yards wide, but immediately above it 
expands to a breadth of from three-fourths to two miles, and 
forms what is called St. Croix Lake. Pike, in his journal, 
describes the Mississippi, for a considerable distance below 
the St. Croix, as of a reddish appearance in shoal water, 
but black as ink in deep.* The red colour is owing to the 
sand seen at the bottom, which is of that complexion ; the 
dark colour is no more than what is common to deep wa- 
ter that is moderately limpid. 

On the 2d of July we passed what is termed the nar- 
rowest place on the Mississippi below the Falls of St. An- 
thony ; the river is here clear of islands, and not more than 
one hundred or one hundred and twenty yards broad. 
Piket states that his men rowed across in forty strokes of 
the oar, but Major Long found in 1817, that his "boat 
crossed it, from a dead start, in sixteen strokes."^ A great 
change in the scenery of the river is perceptible ; instead of 
running between two parallel walls of considerable altitude, 
the river there passes through a rolling prairie country, 
where the eye is greeted with the view of extensive undu- 
lated plains, instead of being astonished by the sight of a 
wild and gigantic scenery. At the St. Croix the bluffs sel- 
dom rise to two hundred feet above the water level. The 
valley, through which the river runs, is more uniform in 
its breadth, but the river is crooked and its channel im- 
peded by sandbars, the current rapid so that the progress 
of the boat was slow. The party landed, for a few minutes, 
to examine a stone which is held in high veneration by 

• Pike, ut supra, p. 24. f Idem, ibid, 

^ Major Long's MS. 1817, folio 12. 


the Indians ; on account of the red pigment with which it 
is bedawbed, it is generally called the painted stone. They 
remarked that this was the first boulder of primitive rock, 
which they had seen to the west of Rock river, and this 
place corresponds well with that at which these boulders 
were first observed by Mr. Colhoun while travelling by 
land. It is a fragment of sienite, which is about four and 
a half feet in diameter. It is not surprising that the In- 
dians should have viewed this rock with some curiosity, and 
deemed it wonderful, considering that its characters difier 
so materially from those of the rocks which are found in 
the neighbourhood. A man who lives in a country where the 
highest hills are wholly formed of sandstone and secondary 
limestone, will necessarily be struck with the peculiar cha- 
racters of the first specimen of granite that comes under 
his notice, and it is not to be wondered at, that one who 
"sees God in all things," should have made of such a stone 
an object of worship. The Indians frequently offer pre- 
sents to the Great Spirit near this stone ; among the offer- 
ings of their superstition, the party found the feather of an 
eagle, two roots of the " Pomme de Prairie," (Psoralea es- 
culenta, Nuttall.) painted with vermilion ; a willow branch 
whose stem was painted red, bad been stuck into the 
ground on one side, &c. The gentlemen broke off a frag- 
ment of this idol, to add to the mineralogical collections, 
taking care, however, not to leave any chips, the sight of 
which would Avound the feelings of the devotee, by con- 
vincing him that the object of his worship had been vio- 
lated. The party landed at a short distance above, to visit 
the cemetery of an Indian village, then in sight. The ce- 
metery is on the banks of the river, but elevated above the 
water's level ; it exhibits several scaffolds, supporting cof- 
fins of the rudest form ; sometimes a trunk, (purchased 

soTTRCi; OF s>T. peter's kiver. 289 

from a trader,) at other times a blanket, or a roll of bark, 
conceal the bodies of the deceased. There were, also, several 
graves, in which are probably deposited the bones, after all 
the softer parts have been resolved into their elements, by 
long exposure to the atmosphere. Returning to the boat, the 
party ascended and passed an Indian village consisting often 
or twelve huts, situated at a handsome turn on the river, about 
ten miles below the mouth of the St. Peter ; the village is gene- 
rally known by the name of the Petit Corbeait, or Little Ra- 
ven, which was the appellation of the father and grandfather 
of the present chief He is called Ch^-taH-w&-k6-a-m&-ne, (the 
good sparrow hunter.) The Indians designate this band by 
the name of K^apo'ja, which implies that they are deemed 
lighter and more active than the rest of the nation. As 
the village was abandoned for the season, we proceeded 
without stopping. The houses which we saw here were 
differently constructed from those which we had previously 
observed. They are formed by upright flattened posts, im- 
planted in the ground, without any interval except here 
and there some small loopholes for defence ; these posts 
support the roof, which presents a surface of bark. Before 
and behind each hut, there is a scaffold used for the pur- 
pose of drying maize, pumpkins, &c. The present chief 
is a good warrior, an artful, cunning man, remarkable 
among the Indians for his wit, and, as is said, for his cour- 
tesy to white men, endeavouring, as far as he can, in his 
intercourse with the latter, to imitate their manners. 

Above this village, there is a cave which is much visit- 
ed by voyagers ; we stopped to examine it, although it 
presents, in fact, but little to admire ; it is formed in the 
sandstone, and is of course destitute of those beautiful ap- 
pearances, which characterize the caverns in calcareous 
rock. It is the same which is described by Mr. School- 

VoL. I. 37 


craft, whose name, as well as thuse of several of Governor 
Cass' party we found carved on the rock. In his account 
of it, Mr. Schoolcraft states it to be the cavern that was 
visited by Carver, but adds that " it appears to have un- 
dergone a considerable alteration since that period." It 
appears from Major Long's MS. of 1S17, that there are two 
caves, both of which he visited, the lower one was Carver's; 
it was in 1817 very much reduced in size from the dimen- 
sions given by Carver ; the opening into it was then so low, 
that the only way of entering it was by creeping in a pros- 
trate position. Our interpreter, who had accompanied Ma- 
jor Long, as a guide, told us that it was now closed up ; 
it was probably near the cemetery which we have men- 
tioned. The cavern which we visited, and which Mr. 
Schoolcraft describes, is situated five miles above ; it was 
discovered in 1811, and is called the Fountain cave ; there 
is a beautiful stream running through it, whose tempera- 
ture, as observed by Major Long on the 16th of July, was 
46° (F.) and by Mr. Schoolcraft, on the 2d of August, 47°. 
The temperature of the atmosphere, the day that Major 
Long made his observation, was 89°. From these results, 
as well as from several others which we obtained, we have 
been led to adopt about 46° as the average temperature of 
springs in this latitude, and in this district of country. 

At a late hour, in the night of the 2d of July, the boat 
entered the St. Peter, and proceeded up the river opposite 
to the fort ; but it being too late to approach the works, the 
gentlemen spent the night on the south bank of the river, 
preferring to lay out in the open air, than to share with a 
Frenchman and his Indian family the shelter of a hovel. 
The distance, by water, had always been estimated at about 
ninety leagues or two hundred and seventy miles. In Mr. 
Schoolcraft's journal it is estimated at two hundred and 
sixty-five miles. It was measured on the ice in February, 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 291 

1822, by Sergeant Heckle, of the garrison, who reduced 
the distance to two hundred and twelve miles ; his mea- 
surement was made by means of a perambulator of his own 
invention ; be is said to have made allowance for the crook- 
ed channel followed by voyagers ; from the time which we 
consumed in ascending, making a due allowance for the 
speed of the opposing current, we should have estimated 
the distance at two hundred and twenty miles. The time 
required for this journey varies from eight to twenty and 
twenty-five days, according to the wind ; for it is impos- 
sible to row against the current with a strong head wind.. 
Our boat made the trip in seven days and a half, which 
was considered the shortest that had been known of at the 
fort. In 1817, Major Long ascended in eight days to the 
falls, which are nine miles higher. Pike was eighteen days 
in reaching the same spot. Mr. Scott, who returned to 
Prairie du Chien the next day after his arrival at the fort, 
reascended the river, completing his voyage to and from 
the Prairie in nine days and a half, a speed hitherto un- 
known. The average passage down the river is tlu^ee days ; 
it has been performed in forty-eight hours. 

The streams that enter the Mississippi between the Wis- 
consan and the St. Peter are numerous, but for the most part 
unimportant. Those which alone deserve to be mentioned 
are, on the west side, the Cannon, Root, and lawa rivers ; on 
the east side, the St. Croix, Chippewa, and Black rivers. Of 
these the St. Croix and Chippewa head near some of the 
streams tributary to Lake Superior. It was the Chippewa 
river that Carver ascended after having visited the Falls of 
St. Anthony, and thence descending one of the neighbour- 
ing streams, probably the Montreal river, reached Lake Su- 
perior. The St. Croix rises near the head waters of the Bois 
Brule, which also falls into the Lake ; there is a portage of 
two miles between these streains. This is one of the routes 


upon which most trade has been carricil on. Lake St. Croix 
extends thirty miles, beyond which the river continues na- 
vigable for about twenty miles, when its navigation is said 
to be obstructed by a rapid ; but above this, the stream is 
a very pleasant one to travel, and sufficiently deep for 
loaded canoes. 

Game seems to be disappearing very rapidly from the 
face of the country. Bufl'aloes of the largest size were for- 
merly found here; a few were still to be seen in 1817, on 
the river that bears their name, and that discharges itself 
into the Mississippi below Lake Pepin ; but since the es- 
tablishment of the garrison at Fort St. Anthony, they have 
all been destroyed or have removed further west. The 
party that travelled in the boats, saw abundance of pigeons, 
but with the exception of these, no other kind of game ; 
the only animal observed beside these was the rattlesnake, 
(Crotalus horridus,) of which they killed four or five. 

The land party, although provided with an excellent 
hunter, killed but a few pigeons ; some of them saw a large 
herd of Elks. Game will be judged to be very scarce 
where two parties travelling by land and by water can kill 
but two or three dozen of birds upon a distance of upwards 
of two hundred miles. 

The river abounds in turtles, (Testudo [Trionyx] ferox, 
Linn., and T. [Emys] geographica, Lesueur,*) at least 
judging from the great number of eggs which our men 
picked up in the sand ; it appears that the animal deposits 
her eggs on the sand islands, which abound in the river, 
generally at a distance from the water, she covers them up 
with sand, and abandons them ; the heat of the sun sup- 
plies the place of incubation. The men collected them in 
great number, and appeared to be very fond of them. 

•Journal Acad, of Nat. Sciences, vol. I. p. 86. pi. 5. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 293 


The mineralo^ical observations were unfortunately pre- 
rented by the circumstances under which the party tra- 
velled. Hastening^ towards the St. Peter, and apprehen- 
sive lest a delay on shore might deprive them of the ad- 
vantage of a fair wind, they landed near the bluffs but sel- 
dom, and never for any length of time. Their usual stop- 
pages were on sandbars, and even there but for a short 
time; they frequently travelled late at night, and some- 
times even the whole night. Under these circumstances, 
the only feature that could be observed, was that the coun- 
try was formed of limestone and sandstone; that the for- 
mer was, in one instance at least, oolitic and pulverulent; 
that the sandstone was white, loosely aggregated, and ho- 
rizontally stratified, but its connexion with the limestone 
was never determined ; the sandstone prevails above Lake 
Pepin, the limestone below it; and probably to this we 
may attribute the difference observed in the characters of 
the stream and its banks after we had passed the lake. The 
sand appears to be chiefly formed by the detritus of the 
sandstone; it not unfrequently contains cornelians, agates, 
jaspers, &c. which present characters analogous to those 
observed on the Rhine below Oberstein, and in ScotlancJ, 
where they are distinguished by the name of Scotch peb- 
bles. They bear evident marks of having been washed 
away from a secondary trap formation. We shall have 
occasion to observe, at a future period, that a formation 
of this kind was traversed by the expedition. In one or 
two instances, while examining the sand with the micro- 
scope, a white transparent topaz was extracted from it ; it 
is probable that had more time been taken, on land, many 
would have been found. Although much rubbed, still the 
form of the prism of the topaz, with its dihedral summit, 
eould be well made out. 


The party in the boat experienced much fatigue, during 
this portion of the journey, from the want of rest at night, 
and the cramped situation in which they were in the boat, 
but a stay of a few days at Fort St. Anthony refreshed 
them, and prepared them to resume their journey. 

Fort St. Anthony is situated on the high bluff which 
rises on the right bank of the Mississippi and the left of 
the St. Peter, at the confluence of the two streams. Al- 
though this spot had been visited and described by Pike 
in 1806, and subsequently by Major Long in 1817, who 
in his report to the War Department recommended the 
establishment of a permanent post at this place, it was not 
until the summer of 1819, that military works were com- 
menced here. Col. Leavenworth, with part of the fifth 
regiment, arrived here in August, 1819, and all that has 
been done here was subsequent to this period. The fort is in 
the form of a hexagon, surrounded by a stone wall ; it stands 
on an elevated position which commands both rivers. The 
height of the half-moon battery which fronts the river is 
one hundred and five feet above the level of the Missis- 
sippi. It is not, however, secure from attacks from all 
quarters, as a position within ordinary cannon shot of it 
rises to a greater elevation ; but as long as we have to op- 
pose a savage foe alone, no danger can be apprehended 
from this. If a resistance against a civilized enemy pro- 
vided with artillery, were required, possession might be 
taken of the other position, which would command the 
country to a considerable distance, and protect the present 
fort, which is in the best situation for a control of the two 

The. garrison consists of five companies of the 5th infan- 
try, under the command of Col. Snelling. The great acti- 
vity, which has been displayed by the officers and men. 


has already imparted to this place, situated as it is at an 
immense distance from civilization, many of the comforts 
of life. The quarters are well built, and comfortable. 
Those of the commanding officer are even elegant, and 
suitable for the principal military post to the north-west. 
There were, at the time we visited it, about two hundred 
and ten acres of land under cultivation, of which one hun- 
dred were in wheat, sixty in maize, fifteen in oats, fourteen 
in potatoes, and twenty in gardens, which supply the table 
of the officers and men with an abundant supply of whole- 
some vegetables. 

On the 6th of July we walked to the falls of St. Anthony, 
which are situated nine miles, (along the course of the river, 
seven by land,) above the fort. The first glimpse which 
we caught of the fall was productive of disappointment, 
because it yielded but a partial view, but this was amply 
redeemed by the prospect which we obtained of it when 
the whole fall opened itself before us. We then discovered 
that nothing could be more picturesque than this cascade. 
We had been told that it appeared like a mere mill dam, 
and we were apprehensive lest a fall of sixteen feet would 
lose all its beauty when extended upon a breadth of seve- 
ral hundred yards: but we soon observed that this was by 
no means the case. The irregular outline of the fall, by 
dividing its breadth, gives it a more impressive character. 
An island, stretching in the river both above and below the 
fall, separates it into two unequal parts, the eastern being 
two hundred and thirty yards wide, and the western three 
hundred and ten. The island itself is about one hundred 
yards wide. From the nature of the rock, which breaks 
into angular and apparently rhomboidal fragments of a 
huge size, this fall is subdivided into small cascades, which 
adhere to each other, so as to form a sheet of water, unrent 


but composed of an alternation of retiring and salient 
angles, and presenting a great variety of shapes and shades ; 
each of these forms in itself a perfect cascade, but when 
taken together in one comprehensive view, they assume a 
beauty of which we could have scarcely deemed them 
susceptible. We have seen many falls, but few which 
present a wilder and more picturesque aspect than those 
of St. Anthony. The vegetation which grows around them 
is of a corresponding character. The thick growth upon 
the island, imparts to it a gloomy aspect, contrasting 
pleasingly with the bright surface of the watery sheet 
which reflects the sun in many differently-coloured hues. 
The force of the current above the fall is very great, but, 
as we were told that it could be forded, wc determined to 
attempt to cross immediately above the fall. The place at 
which we forded was within a few yards of the edge of the 
rock, and as we passed we could not repress a feeling of ap- 
prehension at the danger which we were incurring. The 
water never, it is true, rose above two feet and a half, but 
the rock upon which we were treading was very smooth, 
and the force of the current such that we were frequently 
exposed to slip; while at the same time we were con- 
vinced that if we made but a single false step, we must in- 
evitably perish, as it would have been impossible to regain 
a foothold had it once been lost. We crossed over to the 
island, and having gone round it to the eastern part of the 
fall, Messrs. Say and Colhoun forded over from this to 
the left bank of the river ; in this they experienced even 
greater difficulty than before, as the water was deeper and 
its current more impetuous. Mr. Keating attempted it, 
but found himself unable to accomplish it, being at the 
time considerably debilitated by a fever, which he had had 
for the two or three preceding days; finding himself 


alone upon the island, and being apprehensive that his com- 
panions would not return in that direction, but would 
cross below the fall, he determined to regain the western 
bank ; in this he met with great difficulty. Twice he at- 
tempted to cross, but before he had reached the middle of 
the stream, finding his strength failing, he was compelled 
to return to the island ; at last, the recollection that he 
would not recover it by a longer stay there, and the con- 
viction that the waters of the stream would probably con- 
tinue to roll on undiminished to the end of time, induced 
him to make a final effort to reach the shore, in which he 
succeeded. Some time after, Messrs. Say and Colhoun 
were seen returning with difficulty, and one of the stoutest 
of the soldiers went over and assisted them ; their strength 
was nearly exhausted at the time they reached the bank. 
However fatiguing this excursion may have been, it was 
very gratifying, as it afforded them a fine view of the fall 
under all its aspects. None of the party had seen a water- 
fall for some time past, and to this may probably be attri- 
buted the great pleasure which they derived from it; for 
it bears no comparison to many which they subsequently 
met with. Concerning the height of the fall and breadth 
of the river at this place, much incorrect information has 
been published. Hennepin, who was the first European 
that visited it, states it to be fifty or sixty feet high. It 
was this traveller that gave it the name which it now 
bears, in honour of St, Anthony of Padua, whom he had 
taken for the protector of his discovery. He says of it, 
that it " indeed of itself is terrible, and hath something 
very astonishing." This height is, by Carver, reduced to 
about thirty feet; his strictures upon Hennepin, whom he 
taxes with exaggeration, might with great propriety be re- 
torted upon him, and we feel strongly inclined to say of 
Vol. I. 38 

298 j,xi'] ruj'joN 10 'iiiE 

him, as he said of liis predecessor, " the good father, I fear, 
too often had no other foundation for his accounts than report, 
or at least a slight inspection." Pike, who is more correct 
than any traveller whose steps we have followed, states the 
perpendicular fall at sixteen and a half feet;* Major Long 
measured it in 1817 with a plumb line, from the table 
rock from wliich the water was falling, and found it to be 
the same. Mr. Colhoun measured it while we were there, 
with a rough water level, and made it about fifteen feet. The 
difference of a foot is trifling, and depends upon the place 
where the measurement was made ; but we cannot account 
for the statement, made by Mr. Schoolcraft, that the river 
has a perpendicular pitch of forty feet, and this as late as 
fourteen years after Pike's measurement. The same au- 
thor states the breadth of the river, near the brink of the 
fall, to be two hundred and twenty-seven yards, while 
Pike found it to be six hundred and twenty-seven yards, 
which agrees tolerably well with a measurement made on 
the ice. Messrs. Say and Colhoun obtained an approxi- 
mate admeasurement of five hundred and ninety-four yards ; 
this resulted from a trigonometrical calculation, the angles 
having been measured with a compass that was small and 
not nicely graduated, and the base line having been ob- 
tained under unfavourable circumstances. Below the fall, 
the river contracts to about two hundred yards; there is a 
considerable rapid both above and below; a portage of two 
hundred and sixty poles in length is usually made here ; 
the whole fall, or difference of level between the place of 
disembarking and reloading, is stated by Pike to be fifty- 
eight feet, which is probably very near the truth; the 
whole fall to the foot of the rapids, which extend several 
miles down the river, may be estimated as not far short of 
one hundred feet. 

*Pike, ut supra, App. to Part 1, p. 51. 


Two mills have been erected for the use of the garrison, 
and a sergeant's guard is kept here at all times. On our re- 
turn from the island we recruited our strength by a copious 
and palatable meal, prepared for us by the old sergeant ; 
whether from the exercise of the day, or from its intrinsic 
merit, we know not, but the black bass, (Chicla oenea, Le- 
sueur,*) of which we partook, appeared to us excellent. 

The vegetation consists of oak, hickory, walnut, pine, 
birch, linden, cotton-wood, &c. 

This beautiful spot in the Mississippi is not without a 
tale to hallow its scenery, and heighten the interest which, 
of itself, it is calculated to produce. To Wazekota, the 
old Indian whom we saw at Shakea's, we are indebted for 
the narration of the following transaction, to which his mo- 
ther was an eye-witness. An Indian of the JJacola nation 
had united himself early in life to a youthful female, whose 
name was Ampato Sapa, which signifies the dark day ; with 
her he lived happily for several years, apparently en- 
joying every comfort which the savage life can afford. 
Their union had been blessed with two children, on whom 
both parents doated with that depth of feeling whicli is 
unknown to such as have other treasures besides those 
that spring from nature. The man had acquired a repu- 
tation as a hunter, which drew round him many families, 
who were happy to place themselves under his protection 
and avail themselves of such part of his chase as he needed 
not for the maintenance of his family. Desirous of strength- 
ening their interest with him, some of them invited him 
to form a connexion with their family observing, at the 
same time, that a man of his talent and importance requir- 
ed more than one woman to wait upon the numerous 
guests whom his reputation would induce to visit his 
lodge. They assured him that he would soon be acknow« 
• Journal Acad. Nat. Sci. vol. II. p. 214, plate. 


ledged as a chief, and that, in this case, a second wife waj 
indispensable. Fired with the ambition of obtaining higli 
honours, he resolved to increase his importance by an 
union with the daughter of an influential man of his tribe. 
He had accordingly taken a second wife without having 
ever mentioned the subject to his former companion ; be- 
ing desirous to introduce his bride into his lodge in the 
manner which should be least offensive to the mother of 
his children, for whom he still retained much regard, he 
introduced the subject in these words : " You know," said 
he, " that I can love no woman so fondly as I doat upon 
you. With regret, have I seen you of late subjected to toils, 
which must be oppressive to you, and from which I would 
gladly relieve you, yet I know no other way of doing 
so, than by associating to you in the huubehuld duties 
one, who shall relieve you from the trouble of entertain- 
ing the numerous guests, whom my growing importance 
in the nation collects around me. I have therefore resolv- 
ed upon taking another wife, but she shall always be sub- 
ject to your control, as she will always rank in my affec- 
tions second to you." With the utmost anxiety, and the 
deepest concern, did his companion listen to this unexpect- 
ed proposal. She expostulated in the kindest terms, en- 
treated him with all the arguments which undisguised 
love and the purest conjugal affection could suggest. She 
replied to all the objections which his duplicity led him 
to raise. Desirous of winning her from her opposition, 
the Indian still concealed the secret of his union with 
another, while she redoubled all her care to convince him 
that she was equal to the task imposed upon her. When 
he again spoke on the subject, she pleaded all the endear- 
ments of their past life ; she spoke of his former fondness 
for her, of his regard for her happiness and that of their 
mutual offspring ; she bade him beware of the consequences 


of this fatal purpose of his. Finding her bent upon with- 
holding her consent to his plan, he informed her that all 
opposition on her part was unnecessary, as he had already 
selected another partner ; and that if she could not see his 
new wife as a friend, she must receive her as a necessary 
incumbrance, for he had resolved that she should be an 
inmate in his house. Distressed at this information, she 
watched her opportunity, stole away from the cabin with 
her infants, and fled to a distance where her father was. 
With him she remained until a party of Indians with 
whom he lived went up the Mississippi on a winter hunt. 
In the spring as they were returning with their canoes 
loaded with peltries, they encamped near the falls. In the 
morning as they left it she lingered near the spot, then 
launched her light canoe, entered into it with her children, 
and paddled down the stream singing her death song; too 
late did her friends perceive it 5 their attempts to prevent 
her from proceeding were of no avail ; she was heard to 
sing in a doleful voice, the past pleasures which she had 
enjoyed, while she was the undivided object of her hus- 
band's affection ; finally her voice was drowned in the 
sound of the cataract ; the current carried down her frail 
bark with an inconceivable rapidity ; it came to the edge 
of the precipice, was seen for a moment enveloped with 
spray, but never after was a trace of the canoe or its pas- 
sengers seen. Yet it is stated by the Indians that often in 
the morning a voice has been heard to sing a doleful ditty 
along the edge of the fall, and that it dwells ever upon 
the inconstancy of her husband. Nay, some assert that 
her spirit has been seen wandering near the spot with her 
children wrapped to her bosom. Such are the tales or 
traditions which the Indians treasure up, and which they 
relate to the voyager, forcing a tear from the eyes of the 
most relentless. 



Geology of the Mississippi. The Expedition ascends the 
St. Peter. Character of the Country. Arrival at 
Lake Travers. 

THE country about the fort contains several other water 
falls, which are represented as worthy of being seen. One 
of them, which is but two miles. and a half from the garri- 
son, and on the road to St, Anthony's, is very interesting. 
It is known by the name of Brown's Fall, and is remark- 
able for the soft beauties which it presents. Essentially 
different from St. Anthony's, it appears as if all its native 
wildness had been removed by the hand of art. A small, 
but beautiful stream, about five yards wide, flows gently 
until it reaches the verge of a rock, from which it is pre- 
cipitated to a depth of forty-three feet, presenting a beau- 
tiful parabolic sheet, which drops without the least devia- 
tion from the regular curve, and meets Avith no interrup- 
tion from neighbouring rocks, or other impediments, until 
it has reached its lower level, when it resumes its course 
without any other difference, than that produced by the 
white foam which floats upon its surface. The spray, 
which this cascade emits, is very considerable, and when 
the rays of the sun shine upon it, produces a beautiful Iris ; 
upon the surrounding vegetation the effect of this spray is 
distinct ; it vivifies all the plants, imparts to them an in- 
tense green colour, and gives rise to a stouter growth than 
is observed upon the surrounding country. On the neigh- 
bouring rock the effect is as characteristic, though of a 
destructive nature; the spray striking against the rock, 
which is of a loose structure, has undermined it in a 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 303 

curved manner, so as to produce an excavation, similar in 
form to a Saxon arch, between the surface of the rock and 
the sheet of water ; under this large arch we passed with no 
other inconvenience than that which arose from the spray. 
There is nothing sublime or awfully impressive in this cas- 
cade, but it has every feature that is required to constitute 
beauty ; it is such a fall as the hand of opulence daily at- 
tempts to produce in the midst of those gardens upon 
which treasures have been lavished for the purpose of imi- 
tating nature; with this difference, however, that these 
falls possess an easy grace destitute of the stiffness which 
generally distinguishes the works of man from those of na- 
ture. The stream that exhibits this cascade falls into the 
Mississippi about two miles above the fort ; it heads in a 
lake situated a few miles above. A body of water, which is 
not represented upon any map that we know of, has been 
discovered in this vicinity within a few years, and has re- 
ceived the name of Lake Calhoun, in honour of the Secre- 
tary at War. Its dimensions are small. Another lake of a 
much larger size is said to have been discovered about 
thirty or forty miles to the north-west of the fort. Its size, 
which is variously stated, is by some supposed to be equal 
to that of Lake Champlain, which, however, from the na- 
ture of the country and the knowledge which we have of 
the course of the rivers, appears scarcely possible. 

An object, which had appeared to us worthy of inquiry 
long before we visited the Indian country, was to ascer- 
tain whether the natives, who are accurate observers of 
every natural occurrence, had any tradition or recollection 
of having witnessed the fall of meteoric stones. Since the 
fact of the fall of these heavy bodies from the atmosphere 
has been proved to the satisfaction of the most sceptical, 
numerous observations, recorded by jmcient bistoriaijs, 


have been collected to prove that the occurrence is much 
more frequent than one would at first be led to expect. On 
being informed of the existence of a painted stone, which 
was held in great veneration by the Indians of the Mis- 
sissippi, we entertained a hope that it might prove of this 
nature ; we experienced therefore no slight degree of dis- 
appointment in finding it to be merely a boulder of sienite. 
We have, as we think, in our intercourse with the Indians, 
been able to trace an indistinct notion on the subject of me- 
teorites. The following belief, which is common to several 
nations, but which principally prevails among the Sioux, 
appears to bear upon this point. They state that whenever 
a tree is affected by lightning, a stone of a black or brown 
colour may be found at its foot ; it is said to be very heavy, 
and to have been, in some cases, picked up while hot ; 
several of our guides stated that they had seen them, and 
had owned some of them. These stones are held in some 
esteem, as being uncommon, but no supernatural or mys- 
terious property is attached to them. We think it proba- 
ble, from the respectable sources from which we received 
this report, that the Indians may have mistaken the phe- 
nomena which attend the fall of these aerolites for the 
effects of lightning, and having in a few instances observ- 
ed these stones and picked them up while still hot, been 
led to consider them as the usual attendants upon lightning. 
There seems to be reason to believe that an aerolite fell 
a few years since at St. Anthony ; but all attempts to find 
it proved fruitless.* We have, with a view to obtain fur- 

* Col. Snelling has kindly communicated to one of the party, the cir- 
cumstances observed on that occasion ; and we have his permision to 
insert the annexed letter on the subject. 

" Fort St. Anthony, July 8th, 1823. 

" STR — On the evening of Sept. 20th, 1822, while crossings the parade 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 305 

ther information on the subject, examined every stone 
which we observed as having been held in veneration by 
the Indians, but in no case have we been able to detect any 
meteoric appearance in them. 

ef this post, from the store to my own quarters, I was startled by a 
brilliant light in the atmosphere, and looking «ip, saw a meteor passing 
in a direction nearly from north-west to south-east, and as well as I 
could judge at an angle of about fifty degrees with the horizon ; it ap- 
peared of uncommon magnitude, and passed so near me that I distinct- 
ly heard its sound, which resembled that of a signal rocket ; in its de- 
scent my view of it was intercepted by the Commissary's store, but I 
heard it strike the ground, when it sounded like a spent shell, though 
much louder. I went immediately to the sentinel at the corner of the 
store, and asked him if he had seen any thing extraordinary ; he re- 
plied that a large ball of fire had passed very near him and struck in 
the public gaMen which borders the river St. Peter ; he appeared 
much agitated ; after requesting him to mark the spot where it fell, I 
proceeded to the other sentinels, whose accounts, as far as their sta- 
tions allowed them to judge, agreed with liis. The next morning I 
went early to the spot where the meteoric stone was supposed to have 
fallen, but could not find it ; the ground is alluvial and much broken 
into holes or hollows. I continued my search until the breakfast hour; 
but my ordinaiy avocations called off my attention, and I did not look 
for it again ; which I have since regretted, as I think it might have 
been found by going to a greater depth in search of it. The evening 
was uncommonly fine, and the concurring testimony of all the persons 
who saw it, with my own observation, I presume, will be sufficient evi- 
dence that it was no illusion. 

" I have communicated this incident, as the question whether me- 
teoric stones do or do not fall from the atmosphere lias recently ex- 
cited much interest, and it may be deemed in some measure of im- 
portance in support of the affirmative proposition. 
" Respectfully, 

" I am, sir, your obedient servant, 


" Wm. H. Keating, Esq. Col. U. S. Army. 

" Extract from Dr. Purcell's meteorological register, Sept. 20, 1822. 
Thermometer at 7 A. M. 54° ; at 2 P. M. 70° ; at 9 P. M. 56°. Wind 
X. W. weather clear — hght fresh wind." 

Vol. I. 39 


A singular appearance was observed in the heavens, be- 
tvvecn three and four o'clock on the morning of the 9th of 
July. The night had been stormy, much rain had fallen, 
and frequent flashes of lightning had been observed, but 
at that time the heavens presented to the north a vivid 
sheet of light of a yellowish hue, and brighter than the 
most intense lightning we recollect witnessing. Although 
the light was constant, it was not a steady one ; frequent 
coruscations were observed, they were rather of the na- 
ture of the beams, than of the arches described by Captain 
Franklin.* The light which it produced was such, that the 
reflection of it from the parade ground awoke us, though 
our windows opened to the south-west. The effect was the 
same as if the whole row of barracks had been on fire. 
This light continued without interruption for about fifteen 
-minutes; during the first five minutes, the rain fell with 
an impetuosity which we do not recollect to have ever seen 
surpassed. It might truly be said to fall in torrents ; loud 
peals of thunder were occasionally heard. After the phe- 
nomena had continued about a quarter of an hour, the light 
vanished, and sunk into the dark gray usually observable 
of a misty morning before sunrise. The atmosphere ap- 
peared to be very highly charged with electric fluid, but 
we were unfortunately not prepared to observe the influ- 
ence of this Aurora upon the magnet, &c. The heat had 
been great the day before ; the wind was high all night 
and from the south-south-west. 

The bluff upon which the fort is built, offers a good op- 
portunity of observing the geological structure of the coun- 
try. It consists of several strata, all disposed in parallel 
and horizontal superposition. On the surface of the ground, 

♦Narrative of a journey to the Polar Sea, by John Franklin, Captain, 
-B. N. London, 1823. 


Blocks of limestone are found, which appear to be the re- 
mains of a stratum that has in great measure disappeared ; 
these are in most cases of a compact and earthy texture, 
destitute of any organic remains, exhibiting occasional 
specks of a crystalline nature, which are observed to be 
calcareous, as, notwithstanding their small volume, they 
present a distinct rhombohedral cleavage. The first stra- 
tum which is observed is about eight feet thick, it is form- 
ed of limestone, presenting a very distinct slaty structure. 
The texture of the rock is compact, its fracture splintery 
and uneven ; organic remains abound in it. These are, as 
far as we saw, exclusively Producti, they lie in the rock 
as thick as possible ; a small vacant space is generally ob- 
served between the inner and the outer casts of the shell. 
This is however generally filled up with a crystallization 
of calcareous spar; the form of the crystals cannot be made 
out on account of their extreme tenuity. The colour of 
this limestone, as well as of the loose blocks found upon 
it, is a light grayish-yellow. This stratum rests upon ano- 
ther calcareous bed, which differs from the preceding, in 
the total absence of organic remains, and in its colour, 
which is of a light blue. Its structure is more compact, so 
is its fracture; its horizontal stratification is distinct, but 
the stratum being thicker, it is more susceptible of being 
used in building. It produces, in fact, an excellent stone, 
which admits of being hewn, and which is the chief ma- 
terial used in the construction of the fort ; this bed is from 
fifteen to twenty feet thick. When examined with the 
microscope, the rock presents very general signs of crys- 
tallization, its texture becomes subsaccaroidal, and veins 
of calcspar, of an inconsiderable thickness, traverse it in 
every direction. There are also cavities in which crystals 
of carbonate of lime, (the cubo'ide ? of Haiiy,) are distinctly 


seen. In this bed the workmen state that they find sub- 
stances resembling their catfish, (Silurus, Linn.) and 
which they consider as petrifiictions of the same ; we saw 
nothing of the kind, neither could they discover any at 
the time we were there. We at first, however, thought 
they had probably observed icthyolites, but a subsequent 
and more minute description of the objects observed by 
the workmen, satisfied both the naturalists, that they were 
probably not organic remains, but mere accidents of frac- 
ture, or lusi naturse. Independent of the building stone 
which it yields, this bed is likewise valuable, as producing 
the best lime of any found in the vicinity. Immediately 
under this bed of limestone, in parallel stratification, we 
observed the sandstone which constitutes the principal 
mass of the bluff, being about sixty feet in thickness. It is 
a very friable stone, and in some cases the grains, of which 
it is formed, are so loosely united, that it appears almost 
like sand. Every fragment, if examined with care, seems 
to be a regular crystal, and we incline much to the opinion 
that this sandstone must have been formed by a chemical 
precipitation, and not by mere mechanical deposition. 
The process of its formation may have been a very rapid 
one, such as is obtained in the manufacture of fine salt, 
and to this may be attributed the circumstance of its loose 
texture. The grain is very fine ; its colour is white, some- 
times a little yellowish, in which case, it resembles in tex- 
ture, colour, &c. the finer varieties of Muscovado sugar. 
The loose texture of the rock is probably the cause of its 
presenting but few indications of stratification. The rock 
which we have just described, rests upon a slaty limestone, 
which has a striped aspect; the stripes or zones are curved. 
This limestone appears to be very argillaceous, and is a 
little softer than the preceding; its structure is quite 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 309 

earthy ; it effervesces strongly in nitric acid ; its colour is a 
light yellow. The thickness of this bed is about ten feet. 
Below this another stratum of limestone is found, which im- 
beds small black pebbles of quartz, and assumes, therefore, 
in a slight degree, the characters of a pudding stone or 
conglomerate. Its grain is more crystalline than that of 
the preceding stratum. It i3 filled with small cavities, pro- 
bably the result of a contraction during the consolidation 
of the mass. Its colour varies from a bluish to a yellowish- 
gray. This stratum is about seven feet thick. It rises but 
four feet above the level of the water, and the only rock 
visible under it, is another variety of limestone which dif- 
fers from the preceding, inasmuch as its grain is much 
finer and its texture more earthy. It is only visible for 
four feet; the bed of the river appears to be excavated, 
near the fort, in this stratum of limestone. Neither of 
these limestone formations under the sandstone contain any 
traces of organic remains. If we consider the three infe- 
rior beds of limestone, as being modifications of the same 
formation, as we doubtless ought to do, then we shall find 
this bluff to be composed of three different formations ; a 
superior one of limestone, with abundant impressions of 
shells in one of its beds: an intermediate one of sandstone; 
and an inferior calcareous formation, without any organic 
remains. The latter certainly bears some resemblance to 
the limestone found on the Wassemon, though we are un- 
willing to pronounce upon their identity. 

The river runs upon a bed of sandy alluvion, resulting 
from the destruction of the bluffs, but in many places the 
rock is laid bare. These observations upon the geology of 
the blufi" upon which the fort is erected, correspond with 
those made at the Falls of St. Anthony, with this excep- 
tion, that at the latter place our observations are limited 


to the three superior strata, viz. the slaty limestone with or- 
ganic remains, the blue limestone destitute of these, and the 
sandstone with a loose texture. The falls are occasioned by 
the fissures which occur in the superior limestone, and which 
allow the water to penetrate through this bed to the sand- 
stone, which, being of a loose texture, is soon washed 
away: in this manner thick plates of limestone are left 
unsupported, and soon fall by their own gravity. This 
process is constantly causing the fall to recede towards its 
source. What time has been required, what lapse of cen- 
turies has been consumed, in bringing the falls to their 
present situation, it is not in the power of man to decide ; 
but we may well see that it must have been immense. The 
difference of level between the head of the fall, and the 
level of the river at the fort, being, as we have stated, es- 
timated at about one hundred feet, and the strata running 
in a horizontal position, we can readily account for the 
additional strata observed under the sandstone at the fort, 
and which are concealed at the falls. 

It would remain for us, in order to complete this view 
of the geology of the falls, to inquire whether the lime- 
stone, observed at the falls, corresponds with that superior 
to the sandstone south of the Wisconsan, and if that, found 
near the level of the river at the fort, be analogous to that 
observed under the sandstone, between the Wisconsan and 
Wassemon. We shall not affect a degree of certainty 
which we do not possess, but we may be permitted to ad- 
vance an opinion that the sandstone is probably of analo- 
gous formation, and that, therefore, the strata of limestone, 
which we found at the falls, correspond with that stratum 
of whose existence at a former period, between the Was- 
semon and the Wisconsan, we think we have evident 
proofs. Wc have in our possession, specimens taken i» 


botli places, filled with apparently the same organic re- 
mains, and exhibiting characters in the rock which cor- 
respond as well as could be expected from pieces, collect- 
ed at three hundred miles distance from each other. We 
must regret that the circumstances under which we as- 
cended the Mississippi have not enabled us to offer a more 
conclusive opinion upon this point, or upon the identity or 
difference between the limestone inferior to the sandstone 
at the fort, and that observed previous to our arrival at 
Prairie du Chien. 

To one fond of the pleasures of hunting and fishing, a 
residence at Fort St. Anthony would offer an opportunity 
of enjoying these occupations. Catfish has been caught at 
the falls weighing one hundred and forty-two pounds. 
Among the birds, observed by Mr. Say, were the Wood- 
cock,* the House Wren,t the Flecker,^ the Hairy Wood- 
pecker,§ the Towhee bunting, &c. &c. 

The soldiers, that had accompanied us from Fort Craw- 
ford, having proved unequal to the fatigues of the journey, 
and the term of enlistment of some of them having almost 
expired, Col. Snelling ordered them back to their garrison, 
and furnished us with a guard consisting of a sergeant, two 
corporals, and eighteen soldiers, selected from his com- 
mand. Lieut. Scott was appointed to conduct the detach- 
ment to Prairie du Chien, and return with all convenient 
speed, and Lieut. St. Clair Denny, of the 5th Infantry, re- 
ceived the command of the new guard, until Mr. Scott 
should overtake the expedition ; after which he had the 
option of continuing with the party, or returning to Fort 
St. Anthony. 

• Scolopax minor, Gmelin. fCerthia familiaris, Linn, 

i Picas auratus, Linn. § Picus villosus, Linn. 


Provided with this new and more efficient escort, the 
party left Fort St. Anthony late in the afternoon of the 
9th of July. They had exchanged their interpreter for 
another, Joseph Renville, a half-breed of the Dacota na- 
tion, who undertook to act both as interpreter and guide. 
The very able manner in which he performed these du- 
ties; the valuable information which he communicated 
concerning this nation of Indians, and the universal sa- 
tisfaction which he gave to every member of the expe- 
dition, requires that something should be stated of this 
man, whose influence among the Sioux appears to be very 

Joseph Renville was the son of a French trader on the 
Mississippi, probably the same mentioned by Pike. His 
mother being a Sioux resident at the village of the Petit 
Corbeau, he was brought up among the Indians, and de- 
prived of all education excepting such as his powerful 
mind enabled him to acquire, during his intercourse with 
white traders ; it was, therefore, rather an education of 
observation than of study. We have met with few men 
that appeared to us to be gifted with a more inquiring and 
discerning mind, or with more force and penetration than 
Renville. His mother being connected with an influential 
family among the Indians, he was early brought into notice 
by them ; his object appears to have been, from his first en- 
trance upon the pursuits of life, to acquire an ascendancy 
over his countrymen. This, he knew, could not be obtain- 
ed except by the most daring and persevering course of 
conduct ; and, accordingly, we have it from respectable 
authority, that he never desisted from any of his preten- 
sions, and that whatever he had undertaken, he never fail- 
ed to achieve. As a trader, he was considered active, in- 
telligent, and faithful to his employers ; his usefulness de- 
pending, in a great measure, upon the influence which he 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 313 

possessed over the Indians. When, at the commencement 
of the late war, the British government determined to use 
the Indians as auxiliaries, Col. Dickson, to whom the 
ehief direction of this force had been entrusted, selected 
Renville as the man upon whom he could place most 
dependence; to him, therefore, was the command of the 
Sioux given, with the rank, pay, and emoluments of a cap- 
tain in the British army. In this new situation he distin- 
guished himself not only as an active, but as a humane offi- 
cer ; to him the Americans are, we doubt not, indebted for 
the comparatively few injuries done by the Sioux ; he re- 
pressed their depredations, and prevented them from shar- 
ing in those bloody and disgusting transactions which dis- 
graced the conduct of the Chippewas, the Potawatomis, 
Miamis, Otto was, &c. 

After the war, he retired to the British provinces, re- 
taining the half-pay of a captain in the line ; he then en- 
tered the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, for 
whom he traded several years at the head of Red river. 
Being dissatisfied with their employ, he left them, and 
finding it impossible to retain his pension as a British offi- 
cer, unless he continued to reside in the British territory, 
he voluntarily relinquished it, and returned to his old 
trading post towards the sources of Red river. This be- 
ing within the territory of the United States, he, with seve- 
ral of the former agents and clerks of the British traders, 
established a new company under the name of the Colum- 
bia Fur Company. Of this Renville may be considered as 
being the principal prop, as it is to his extensive acquaint- 
ance with the Indian character that they are indebted for 
the success which has hitherto attended their efforts. 

Renville's character has not been exempt from the 
obloquy which always attends those who take decisive and 

Vol. I. 40* 


independent measures. It has been thought that, having 
been born on the JNIississippi, and therefore within the ac- 
tual limits of the United States, he ought not to have join- 
ed the British during the late war. In extenuation, it ought 
to be remembered, that he was of Canadian origin ; that all 
the French traders have uniformly considered themselves 
as British subjects; and that the trade upon the upper 
Mississippi was entirely in their hands. His separation 
or, as it has been termed, his desertion from the Hudson 
Bay Co.'s service has also been objected to ; but we be- 
lieve there were grounds of complaint on both sides, and 
having heard him commended by those who were inte- 
rested on neither side of the question, we are unwilling to 
believe that any blame attaches to him in this transaction. 
We found him uniformly faithful, intelligent, and as vera- 
cious as any interpreter we ever had in our company. 

Mr. Joseph Snelling, son of the Colonel, volunteered 
to accompany the expedition as an assistant guide and in- 
terpreter; for which situation he had qualified himself by 
a winter's residence among the Indians ; his services were 
accepted. Thus reinforced, the party amounting in the 
aggregate to thirty-three persons, took leave of the officers 
of the garrison by whom they had been kindly received ; 
by none more so, than by Colonel Snelling and Lieutenant 
Nathan Clark ; who hospitably entertained the party during 
their stay at the fort. In order to examine both the river 
and the adjacent country, the party was divided ; Major 
Long ascended in a boat with Messrs. Keating, Seymour, 
and Renville. A corporal, twelve soldiers, and the black 
boy accompanied them. The men were divided into four 
canoes, in which the bulk of the stores and provisions was 

♦An Italian whom we met at Fort St. Anthony attached himself to 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 315 

The land party consisted of Messrs. Say, Colhoun, and 
Lieut. Denny, with a sergeant, a corporal, seven soldiers, 
and a boy, Louis Pellais, hired as a Chippewa interpreter. 
It was determined that the two divisions should as far as 
practicable keep company together, and encamp every 
night, if possible, at the same place. 

At the point where we embarked, which may be consi- 
dered as the mouth of the St. Peter, this stream is about 
ninety yards wide ; it lies in latitude 44° 53' 49" north, 
longitude 93° 8' 7" west. The magnetic variation amounts 
to 10° 28' 40" east. These result from a series of observa- 
tions made by Mr. Colhoun during our stay there. The 
river is called in the Dacota language Wat^paii Men^esota, 
which means " the river of turbid water." The term Wa- 
tapan, which in that language signifies river, is always pre- 
fixed to the name of the stream ; thus the Mississippi is called 
Watapan Tancha, (the hody of rivers, because all the other 
streams are considered as branches or limbs, this being the 
trunk,) the Missouri is termed Watapan Mene Shosh'A, 
"the river of thick water." In the Potawatomi, Sauk, 
and other languages of Algonquin origin, the substantive 
follows the adjective, as Mese Sepe, Pektannon Sepe, &c. 

The name given to the St. Peter is derived from its tur- 
bid appearance, which distinguishes it from the Missis- 
sippi, whose waters are very clear at the confluence. It has 
been erroneously stated by some authors to signify clear wa- 
ter. The Indians make a great difference, however, between 
the terms sota and shosha; one of which means turbid. 

the expedition and accompanied us to Pembina. He has recently pub- 
lished a book entitled, " La Decouverte des Sources duMlssissippi," &c. 
which we notice merely on account of the fictions and misrepresenta^ 
tions which it contains. S. H. L. 


and the other muddy. At the mouth of the St. Peter 
there is an island of considerable extent, separated from 
the main land by a slough of the Mississippi, into which the 
St. Peter discharges itself. The Mississippi is here, ex- 
clusive of the island, about 250 yards wide. In ascending 
it, particularly in low water, boats pass through this slough, 
as it affords a greater depth than the main branch on the 
east side of the island. It was probably, as Carver suggests, 
this island which, being thickly wooded and lying imme- 
diately opposite to the mouth, concealed the St. Peter from 
Hennepin's observation. No notice of this river is to be 
found in any of the authors anterior to the end of the 17th 
century. Indeed, it is only by close research that we have 
been enabled to trace the discovery of this river so far back. 
Charlevoix states,* that le Sueur was sent by M. d'lber- 
ville to make an establishment in the Sioux country ; and 
to take possession of a copper mine that he had there dis- 
covered, (que le Sueur y avait dtcouverte ;J he ascended 
the St. Peter forty leagues to " la Riviere Verte," which 
comes in on the leftt Though only the last of September, 
the ice prevented him from ascending that river more than 
a league. He therefore built a fort and spent the winter 
at that spot; in April, 1702,^ he went up the Riviere 
Verte to the mine, which was only three quarters of a 
league above his winter establishment. In twenty-two 
days they got out more than thirty thousand pounds of 
ore, Cde matiere,) of which four thousand pounds were 
selected and sent to France. The mine was at the foot of 
a mountain ten leagues long, that seemed to be composed 

* Charlevoix, Histolre de la nouvelle France, a Paris, 1744, tome 4> 
p. 165 and 166. 

\ As he ascended, right bank? 
± This ought probably to be 1701. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 317 

of the same substance. After removing a black burnt crust 
as hard as rock, the copper could be scraped with a knife. 
Several reasons, but particularly the want of pecuniary 
means, prevented le Sueur from following up the disco- 
very. This account corresponds in part with that contain- 
ed in a very interesting manuscript belonging to the Ame- 
rican Philosophical Society, and which appears to have 
been written with considerable care and accuracy. We 
find it therein stated, that the said " le Sueur arrived at 
the mouth of the Mississippi with M. d' Iberville in Dec. 
1699; that he brought over with him thirty workmen. He 
had been," says the author of the MS. " a famous traveller 
from Canada, and was sent by M. L'Huillier, a principal con- 
tractor, (fermier general,) under government, in order to 
form an establishment near the source of the Mississippi. 
The object of this enterprise was to obtain from that place, 
an ore of green earth which that gentleman had discover- 
ed ; the following was the origin of this undertaking, in 
1695. M. le Sueur, by order of the Count de Frontenac 
Governor General of Canada, caused a fort to be erected 
on an island on the Mississippi, upvvards of two hundred 
miles above the Illinois ; in order to keep up peaceful re- 
lations between the Sioux and Chippewa nations, which 
reside on the shores of a lake upwards of five hundred 
leagues in circumference, which lake lies one hundred 
leagues east of the river; the Sioux reside upon the upper 
Mississippi. In the same year, according to his orders, he 
descended to Montreal with a chief of the Chippewa, named 
Chingouabe, and a Sioux, called Tioscat^, who was the 
first of his nation that ever was in Canada ; and as they 
expected to draw from his country many articles valuable 
in trade, the Count de Frontenac, the Chevalier de la Cail- 
liere, and de Champigny, received him very amicably. 


Two days after their arrival, they presented to the Count 
de Frontenac, in a public assembly, as many arrows as 
there were Sioux villages, and they informed him that all 
those villages entreated him to receive them among his 
children, as he had done to all the other nations which 
they named one after the other; which favour was granted " 
to them. M. le Sueur was to have reascended the " Missis- 
sipi" as early as 1696, with that Sioux chief who had only 
come down upon an express promise that he should be taken 
back to his country ; but the latter fell sick in Montreal, 
and died after thirty-three days disease. M. le Sueur, 
finding himself thus released from his pledge to return 
into the Sioux country, where he had discovered mines of 
lead, copper, and earth, both blue and green, resolved upon 
going over to France, and asking leave of the court to open 
those mines; a permission to this effect was granted to 
him in 1697. About the latter end of June in the same 
year, he embarked at la Rochelle for Canada : as he was 
crossing Newfoundland banks he "was captured by a Bri- 
tish fleet of sixteen ships, and by them taken to Ports- 
mouth ; but peace having been soon after concluded, he 
returned to Paris to obtain a new commission, as he had 
thrown his overboard, lest the English should become ac- 
quainted with his scheme. The French court directed a 
new commission to be issued to him in 1698. He then 
went over to Canada, where he met with various obstacles 
which compelled him to return to Europe. During this 
interval of time, part of the men whom he had left in 
charge of the forts which he had erected in 1695, being 
without intelligence from him, abandoned them, and pro- 
ceeded down to Montreal."* 

• " Journal historlque concernant I'etablissement des Francais a Vi 
Louisianue, tir6 des menaoires de Messrs. d'lberville & de Bienville 

•SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 319 

Thus it appears from this manuscript, that le Sueur's 
discoveries of blue earth were made in 1695, but that all 
further operations were interrupted until 1700; we find 
in the same manuscript, under the date of the 10th of Fe- 
bruary, 1702, that le Sueur arrived at the mouth of the 
Mississippi that day with two thousand cwt. (quintaux,) 
of blue and green earth. An extract from a narrrative of 
his voyage is then given from the time that he left the 
Island of Tamarois, (12th July,) unto the 13th December, 
1700. From this extract, which is fraught with interest, 
as it is the first account we can find, in which St. Peter's 
river is mentioned, we gather that he reached the mouth 
of the Missouri on the 13th of July, 1700, and the mouth 
of the Wisconsan on the first of September ; and that, on 
the 14th, he passed Chippewa river, on one of the branches 
of which, he had, during his first visit to the country, 
found a piece of copper weighing sixty pounds. He next 

commandans pour le Roi au dit pays, et siir les decouvertes et re- 
cherches de M. Benard de la Harpe, nomme au command ement de 
la Baye St. Bernard ; par M. Benard de la Harpe," MS. This is stated 
to be a copy of the original, which was, in the year 1805, In the pos- 
session of Dr. Sibley, as appears from a note, annexed to it, certifying 
it to be a true copy, and dated Natchitoches, October 29th, 1805. 
From the manuscript it appears that M. de la Harpe was on the lower 
Mississippi, in the early part of the 18th century, and that he conti- 
nued there until the commencement of the year 1723. His appoint- 
ment to the command of St. Bernard's Bay, was made in the year 1721. 
He appears to have proceeded to it at that time ; but owing to the 
weakness of his garrison, he found himself unable to continue his post 
there. His journal throws considerable light upon the history of the 
discoveries of the French on the lower Mississippi, and is closed with 
a memoir upon the importance of the colony of Louisiana, and upon 
the situation of that colony in 1724 ; together with some observations 
upon the best passage to the Western Ocean, and upon the origin of 
the Indians of Aniericai 


entered Lake Pepin, which is designated by that name in 
the manuscript, although Hennepin had, in 1680, called it 
the Lake of Tears, and notwithstanding the appellation of 
Lac de Bon Secours, which Charlevoix applies to it. On 
the 16th he passed the St. Croix, so called from the name 
of a Frenchman, who was wrecked at its mouth. Finally, 
on the 19th of September, he left the Mississippi, and en- 
tered the St. Peter's river, which comes in from the west 
bank. By the first of October, he had ascended this river 
forty -four and a quarter leagues, when he entered the Blue 
river, the name of which is derived from the blue earth 
found on its banks. At the mouth of this river he made 
an establishment, situated, as la Harpe states, in latitude 
44° 13' north. He met with nine Sioux, who informed him 
that this river had its course through the lands of the 
Sioux of the west, the Jiyavois, (lawas,) and the Otoetata, 
who lived further back. We infer that these were the same 
streams which he had ascended in 1695, from the circum- 
stance that they are mentioned as well known, and not as 
recently discovered ; and more especially from the obser- 
vation of la Harpe, that the eastern Sioux having complain- 
ed of the situation of the fort, which they would have 
wished to see at the confluence of the St. Peter and Mis- 
sissippi, M. le Sueur endeavoured to reconcile them to it. 
" He had foreseen," says la Harpe, " that an establishment 
on the Blue river would not be agreeable to the eastern 
Sioux, who are the rulers of all the other Sioux, and of 
the other nations which we have mentioned, because they 
were the first with whom the French traded, and whom 
they provided with guns; nevertheless, as this undertak- 
ing had not been commenced with the sole view of trading 
for beavers, but in order to become thoroughly acquainted 
with the quality of the various mines which he had pre^ 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 321 

viously discovered there, he replied to the natives that he 
was sorry that he had not been made sooner acquainted 
with their wishes, &c. but that the advanced state of the 
season prevented his returning to the mouth of the river." 
No mention is made, in this narrative, of the stream being 
obstructed with ice, a circumstance, which, had it really 
occurred, would, we think, have been recorded by de la 
Harpe, who appears to have been a cai-eful and a curious 
observer, and who undoubtedly saw le Sueur's original 
narrative. On the 14th of October the works were com- 
pleted and were named Fort L'Huillier. 

On the 26th, M. le Sueur went to the mine with three 
canoes, which he loaded with green and blue earth ; it was 
taken from mountains near which are very abundant mines 
of copper, of which an assay was made in Paris by M. 
L'Huillier in the year 1696. This is the last historical 
fact of any interest contained in the extract from le Sueur's 
journal. M. de la Harpe observes, " la suite des memoires 
de Monsieur le Sueur n'a point paru," which would seem 
to imply that the former part had been published ; yet we 
find no notice taken of this traveller's memoirs in any of 
the catalogues of works on America, to which we have 
had access. It is not mentioned in the " Bibliothecae Ame- 
ricanse Primordia," published by a member of the Society 
for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, Lon- 
don, 1713; nor in the " Bibliotheca Americana, or Chro- 
nological Catalogue of curious Books in print or manu- 
script on the subject of North and South America," in 
London, 1789; nor in the "Catalogue of Mr. Warden's 
Books on America, Paris, 1820," from which circumstance 
we are induced to doubt whether it was ever made public. 
We even find no account of de la Harpe's manuscript, whence 
we suppose that it has not yet been brought into notice. 

Vol. I. 41 


The river St. Peter is found traced on some of the old 
maps of Louisiana ; for instance, on that which accompa- 
nies the Rectieil de Voyages, published in Amsterdam in 
1720, upon which Fort L'Huillier is marked. Upon this 
map a coal mine is also designated, as existing about ten 
leagues up tbe St. Peter. If this be not purely ideal, it 
must have resulted from mistaking lignite for that mineral, 
as this is not a coal country. 

Coxe, whose general accuracy entitles him to considera- 
ble praise, and who appears to have taken great pains to 
collect information on the subject of the discoveries made 
in Louisiana, has, by a strange oversight, left out St. Pe- 
ter's river, and introduced on his map, the Riviere Longue, 
the Lake of Thoyago, and all the fables of Lahontan, 
in whom he seems to place much confidence. This is 
the more remarkable, as the Carolana, published in 1741, 
was twenty years later than the Amsterdam Recueil. The 
St. Peter is mentioned in an incidental manner by Charle- 
I'oix in his Journal Historique, but he attempts no descrip- 
tion of it* We have sought in vain for the origin of the 
name; we can find no notice of it; it appears to us at pre- 
sent not unlikely, that the name may have been given by 
le Sueur, in 1795, in honour of M. St. Pierre de Repan- 
tigni, to whom Lahontan incidentally alludes, as being in 
Canada in the year 1789.t This person may have accom- 
panied le Sueur on his expedition. It has been, we know 
not upon what authority, suggested that the French name 
of this river, St. Pierre, was a corruption of the term Sans 
pierres, (without stones,) said to have been given to it, 
because no stones occur along its banks for a considerable 
distance from its mouth. It is very strange, that notwith- 

• Ut supra, pages 110, 295, and 296. f Laliontan, vol. I. p. 136. 

SOURCE OP ST Peter's river. 323 

>tanding the great importance which seems to have been 
attached in France to le Sueur's discoveries, so little 
should have been said by other authors, concerning this 
explorer and the regions which he discovered. 

Carver is the only traveller who states that he visited this 
river, merely from motives of curiosity ; but a close perusal 
of his book, has satisfied us that he professes too much. He 
asserts that he " proceeded upon the river about two hun- 
dred miles, to the country of the Naudowessies of the plains, 
which lies a little above the forks formed by the Verd and 
Red Marble rivers." He states that he resided five months 
among the Naudowessies, and that he acquired their lan- 
guage perfectly. We are inclined to doubt this ; we believe 
that he ascended the Mississippi to the Falls of St. An- 
thony, that he saw the St. Peter, and that he may even 
perhaps have entered it ; but had he resided five months 
in the country, and become acquainted with their lan- 
guage, it is not probable that he would have uniformly 
applied to them the term of Naudowessies, and omitted 
calling them the Dacota Indians, as they style themselves. 
It is probable that Carver derived his name from the source 
from which the other travellers received that of Nadiou- 
sioux, from which Sioux has been derived by abbrevia- 
tion. This is the term given to strangers by some of 
the North American Indians, (the Iroquois, as we believe,) 
and with them is synonymous with that of enemy. The 
term Dacota, by which the Sioux call themselves, signi- 
fies in their language the united or allied, because the 
whole nation consists of several allied tribes. In his ac- 
count of the river St. Peter, Carver attributes to it a 
breadth of nearly one hundred yards for two hundred 
miles, whereas at the distance of one hundred and thirty 
miles it was but seventy yards wide, and was found to be 


rapidly diminishing in size. He also ascribes to it " a 
great depth," which is not the case at any distance above 
its mouth. 

We saw no branch of the river coming in from the 
north but a few small tributaries not entitled to notice. 
Carver's river, which had been inserted on most of the 
maps made since the publication of his book, has therefore 
been omitted on that which accompanies this work. It is 
scarcely possible that if Carver had ascended the St. Peter 
two hundred miles, he would have reported without con- 
tradicting them, the exaggerated accounts of the great ex- 
tent of this river, or attributed to it a rise near the Shining, 
(Rock)'",) Mountains ; but besides these inaccuracies, some 
of which may perhaps be partly accounted for by his hav- 
ing seen the river at a time when it was unusually high, 
and when a mere brook may have been so much swollen 
as to be mistaken for a small branch of the river, yet we 
cannot place any confidence in him on account of the many 
misrepresentations contained in his work. Almost all that 
he relates as peculiar to the Naudowessies, is found to ap- 
ply to the Sauks, or some other nation of Algonquin ori- 
gin. Thus on reading to Renville, Dickson, (the son of 
the late Colonel Dickson,) and to several other of the half- 
Indian interpreters whom we saw on the St. Peter, that 
part of chapter 12th of his work, in which he relates that 
" the Naudowessies have a singular method of celebrating 
their marriages which seems to bear no resemblance to 
those made use of by any other nations that he passed 
through," these men all exclaimed that it was fabulous, 
that such a practice had never prevailed among any of the 
Dacotas, though they believed it to be in use with some 
of the Algonquin tribes. The practice of having a totem 
or family distinction, exists, as we have already stated, 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 825 

among the Sauks, &c. but it is quite unknown to the Sioux, 
to whom it is attributed by this writer. It is, we believe, 
clearly proved at present, that the land which he claimed 
by virtue of a grant from the Indians, was never conveyed 
to him by them. Attempts were made in 1817, by two 
of his grandsons, to have the claim recognized by some of 
the Indians now living ; they ascended the river at the 
same time that Major Long did, but were not successful. 
An instrument purporting to be the original treaty was af- 
terwards sent to Canada, and placed in Renville's hands by 
those who had an interest in the claim ; he was requested 
to show it and explain its nature to the Indians, and to en- 
deavour to obtain a confirmation of it from them ; but, as 
he informed us, he could find no individual among them, 
who had the least recollection or tradition of this convey- 
ance, or even of the names which are purported to have 
been affixed to the deed ; the Indians have no hesitation 
in asserting that there never were among them any Dacota 
chiefs of the name. When chapter 5th of Carver's work 
was read to Renville and the oLher men, they denied the 
truth of its contents ; but immediately recollected the de- 
signs of a snake and a tortoise, which were affixed to the 
treaty, no doubt to make it tally with the account of their 
family distinctions contained in that chapter of his travels. 
His vocabulary appears certainly to have been taken from 
the Dacota language ; it may have been obtained from the 
Indians along the banks of the Mississippi, but was more 
probably copied from some former traveller, for a refer- 
ence to old works will prove that Carver derived much of 
his information from them, though no credit is given to 
their authors for it. A comparison of his account of the 
manners of the Indians with that given by Lahontan, 
shows that he was familiar with that author. His state- 


merit of the division of the year by the Indians into twelve 
moons, with the addition at the end of the thirtieth, of 
what they term the lost moon, &c. is extracted, and in 
some places copied almost verbatim, from Lahontan's ; 
his account of the qualifications of men is undoubtedly 
drawn from the same author ; and a comparison of chapter 
12th of Carver's Description of the Indians, with Lahon- 
tan's "Account of the amours and marriages of the Sa- 
vages," will show too close a coincidence to consider it as 
merely accidental. Yet no reference is made by Carver to 
the work of his predecessor. We have introduced these 
observations upon the work of Carver, because as he was 
the only traveller that published an account of the St. 
Peter, he has been frequently quoted as an authority. We 
might have enlarged the list of errors, whether wilful or 
unintentional, into which this author has fallen, but we 
have said enough to show that his statements cannot be re- 
lied upon as correct. 

Major Long's party ascended the river five and a half 
miles, and stopped for a few moments at a village called 
^Oainoska., (which signifies the great avenue or stretch,) situ- 
ated on the right bank ; they then proceeded about one mile 
higher up, where they lay by in a deserted cabin on the left 
bank. The cabin having been carefully closed in order to 
secure it against injury from wild animals ; they took down 
the skins which hung at the door, and made themselves 
comfortable in it. While at supper, they received a visit 
from an old squaw, who came from the village below, to 
see what they were doing. The lodge, as she informed 
them, was her's, but as the men had all gone out hunting, 
she had removed down to live with her daughter. Having 
observed a fire near her cabin she was apprehensive that 
some injury would be done to it ; they however satisfied 


her that their intentions were friendly ; and Renville in- 
formed the gentlemen that no offence could be taken at 
their intrusion in the house, as they were travelling in an 
official capacity, but that if other Indians, or voyagers that 
were not known, had taken that liberty, it would have 
been held highly improper. There was something grati- 
fying and yet melancholy in the recollection that we had 
thus for awhile bid adieu to civilization, and that before 
us we had none but a wide and untravelled land, where no 
white men resided except such as had forsworn their coun- 
try and the friends of their youth ; who either out of aver- 
sion from society or for the sake of lucre had withdrawn 
from its social circle, to dwell in the midst of the unci- 
vilized tenants of the forest. It was while indulging in these 
reflections, by the light of a few embers, that we received 
this unexpected visit from the owner of the lodge. Her 
wrinkled brow, her decrepid mien, her slovenly appearance, 
gave her a somewhat terrifying aspect, as seen by the un- 
certain light that played upon her haggard features ; her 
shrill voice contributed also to heighten the awfulness of 
this untimely visitor ; but our interpreter having explain- 
ed to us the object of her visit, we had leisure to observe 
her companions, who were two of her grand-daughters ; 
these were as handsome and as good looking as Indian fe- 
males can probably be ; they were young, about fifteen or 
sixteen ; their complexion was so light that we could 
scarcely credit the assertion of our guide that they were 
full-blooded Indians; their features were regular; the large 
dark eye which distinguished the elder would have been 
deemed beautiful any where ; their forms, which were 
good, were perhaps taller than those which we usually 
found among Indian women. But what added most to 
their charms, was the gay, good-humoured appearance 


which brightened their eye and animated their features. 
While the old hag was muttering her discontent, they 
were smiling, and as she extended her bony hand to re- 
ceive the present offered her, the damsels burst out into '9. 
laughter which displayed a beautiful set of teeth. Their ob- 
servations upon our party seemed to afford them as much 
gratification as we derived from the examination of theirs, 
and the merriment which it occasioned them was display- 
ed in the most unreserved manner. After a visit of about 
half an hour they all withdrew, leaving us to the undis- 
turbed occupancy of the lodge. This visit offered us food 
for conversation until we retired to enjoy, what had been 
for the last two months the object of our anxious anticipa- 
tions, a night's rest upon the secluded banks of the St. 
Peter. We this day met Major Taliaferro going doAvn 
the river in a canoe. In order to afford us an opportunity 
of studying the manners of the Indians in council, he had 
kindly undertaken to ascend to the village of the Sisiton 
band of the Sioux, for the purpose of holding a council 
with them in our presence, and with this view had left the 
fort that morning ; but being informed on the river thai 
they had all dispersed on their summer hunts, he return- 
ed the same evening.* 

The next day we travelled about thirty-five miles; at six 
miles from the night's camp, we passed the small village 
of Tetankatane ; all the men were absent on their hunts. 

* Swarms of an insect of the Linnean genus Ephemera, were observ- 
ed by the party, along the banks of the river. It has been described 
by Mr. Say under the name of Baetis bihncata, S. (Appendix I. Ento- 
mology.) The surface of the river was in many places absolutely co- 
vered with the remains of these insects, who, having gone through their 
short-lived existence, fell upon the water and were carried dov-'n tbe 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 329 

We proceeded up the river, and, at a distance of about 
twenty miles, Mr. Say was spoken tO on shore. Instruc- 
tions were sent through him to the land party, to meet 
Major Long, at a village two miles higher, in order to take 
advantage of the canoes, for the transportation of the bag- 
gage across the river, as the right bank becomes here bet- 
ter for travelling than the left. The flotilla reached this 
village about twelve o'clock, and waited five hours, during 
which the land party did not join them; men were sent 
out in various directions and guns fired, but no answer be- 
ing returned, we concluded that they had proceeded higher 
up the river. We re-embarked and ascended ten miles to 
a small wood, where we encamped for the night. The vil- 
lage at which we had expected to meet the other party, is 
called Tao^pa ; it consists of fifteen large bark lodges, in 
good order; they were arranged along the river. Some of 
them were large enough to hold from thirty to fifty per- 
sons, accommodated as the Indians usually are in their 
lodges. The ground near it is neatly laid out, and some 
fine corn-fields were observed in the vicinity. There were 
scaffolds annexed to the houses, for the purpose of drying 
maize, &c. ; upon these we were told that the Indians sleep 
during very hot nights. 

The river banks had thus far been low, and covered 
with a fine rich vegetation ; the trees attained a large size 
near the river, but they were not found far into the interior 
of the country. Near Fort St. Anthony there is a fine piece 
of bottom, exposed to occasional inundations. The line 
of bluffs, which borders upon the Mississippi, does not ex- 
tend far from that stream, but gradually sinks in height, 
until it finally disappears near the village of Oanoska. The 
soil along the river is of the best quality. After ascending 
about thirty miles, the bluffs reappear, and rise to an ave- 

Vol. L 42 


rage height of seventy-five feet on the left bank. In the 
bottoms, the elm forms the principal growth of the coun- 
try, and thrives. In the rear of the village of Taoapa, a 
swamp extends, and divides it from the bluffs. The grass 
grows in some places to the height of six feet, as was prin- 
cipally observed, east of the village, by some of the party 
who undertook to walk down to the place where Mr. Say 
had been spoken to. We saw about the village no stones 
of any kind, but, on the right bank, Major Long observed a 
number of fragments of primitive rock, and also some secon- 
dary limestone, which appeared to him to be in situ. There 
were some scaffolds upon which several corpses were rais- 
ed. In the midst of the corn-fields a dog was found sus- 
pended, his head decorated with feathers, and with horse- 
hair stained red ; it was probably a sacrifice for the protec- 
tion of the corn-fields, dui'ing the absence of the Indians. 
On the right bank Major Long observed numerous ancient 
tumuli or artificial mounds, some of which were of a large 
size. They occupy a considerable extent of the prairie 
upon which they are situated. In one part, they formed a 
line of about half a mile, in a direction parallel to the river, 
from which they were distant about three hundred yards. 
The mounds were erected at a distance of from twelve to 
fifteen yards asunder, and when observed from one end of 
the line, presented the appearance of a ridge or parapet. 

Proceeding early the next morning, the land party was 
found encamped six miles above the village, on a fine 
piece of rising ground, which the voyagers have called the 
Little Prairie. They had not been able to reach the village 
from the inexperience of their guide, who had kept them 
in the rear of the swamp. The river was observed to 
widen much at places; it was here about seventy yards 
broad; its current, which had always been inconsiderable. 


compared with that of the Mississippi, increased as we ad- 
vanced. The cause of this is, that the great volume of wa- 
ter, which the Mississippi rolls down, backs up the waters 
of most of its tributary streams, and produces a real pond 
at their mouth. This is no doubt the cause of the lake 
formed by the St. Croix, &c. 

Our flotilla assisted the land party in crossing the river, 
after which we again separated ; and the boat, having as- 
cended a few miles, came to rapids formed by two bars of 
sandstone, which extend across the river, producing a fall 
of about four feet within twenty yards. The water in the 
river, at the time we ascended, was of an average height, 
remarkable neither for its abundance nor scarcity ; and at 
this stage we found at the falls just water enough to float 
our boats and canoes, with the baggage and stores in them, 
the crew and passengers walking alongside and dragging 
them up the rapid. A shoal below, had likewise required that 
our canoes should be lightened. Another rapid about half 
a mile above, proved more diflicult to pass. There being 
a sufficient depth of water, we ascended in the boat and 
canoes ; one of the latter missed the channel, which is nar- 
row, and in which there is a rapid current; the canoe drift- 
ed down against the rock, and fears were entertained that 
it would be lost ; but with considerable labour, and after 
about half an hour's detention, it was at last brought up 
safe. The aggregate fall of the two rapids is seven feet. 
At a short distance above this we stopped for an hour j 
this gave us an opportunity of observing the nature of the 
country. The stream is there incased by a vertical bank, 
about ten or twelve feet high, the base of which is washed 
by the river. Ascending this bank we find a level Valley, 
which is about a quarter of a mile wide ; this is limited by 
a steep and rugged bank, of about twenty feet in height. 


Having ascended this bank, a beautiful prairie, apparently 
very extensive, displayed itself to our view. The steep 
bank, which exposes the disposition of the rock, shows it 
to be a sandstone formation, in a horizontal stratification, 
and of a fine crystalline grain ; the colour varying from 
white to yellow ; this sandstone is, in every respect, simi- 
lar to that found at Fort St. Anthony. Six miles above the 
rapids, there is a small Indian settlement, called W6aka6t^. 
It was deserted, but consisted of two lodges and the ruins 
of a third, near which there were two scaffolds. On these 
scaffolds, which are from eight to ten feet high, corpses 
were deposited in a box made from part of a broken ca- 
noe. Some hair was suspended, which we at first mistook 
for a scalp ; but our guide informed us that these were locks 
of hair torn from their heads by the relations, to testify their 
grief. In the centre, between the four posts which support- 
ed the scaffold, a stake was planted in the ground ; it was 
about six feet high, and bore an imitation of human figures ; 
five of which had a design of a petticoat, indicating them 
to be females, the rest, amounting to seven, were naked^ 
and were intended for male figures. Of the latter, four 
were headless, showing that they had been slain ; the three 
other male figures were unmutilated, but held a staff in 
their hand, which, as our guide informed us, designated 
that they were slaves. The post, which is an usual accom- 
paniment to the scaffold that supports a warrior's remains, 
does not represent the achievements of the deceased, but 
those of the warriors that assembled near his remains, 
danced the dance of the post, and related their martial ex- 
ploits. A number of small bones of animals were observed 
in the vicinity, which were probably left there after a feast 
celebrated in honour of the dead. The boxes in which the 
corpses were placed are so short that a man could not lie 


in them extended at full length, but in a country where 
boxes and boards are scarce, this is overlooked. After the 
corpses have remained a certain time exposed, they are 
taken down and interred. Our guide, Renville, related to 
us, that he had been a witness to an interesting, though 
painful circumstance, that occurred here. An Indian who 
resided on the Mississippi, hearing that his son had died 
at this spot, came up in a canoe, to take charge of the re- 
mains, and convey them down the river to his place of abode ; 
but, on his arrival, he found that the corpse had already 
made such progress towards decomposition, as rendered it 
impossible for it to be removed. He then undertook, with 
a few friends, to clean off the bones; all the flesh was 
scraped off and thrown into the stream; the bones were 
carefully collected into his canoe, and subsequently carried 
down to his residence. 

The two parties having exchanged a few words at this 
place, continued their journey. The boats proceeded but 
three miles beyond this to an encamping ground. The na- 
vigation had been an easy one except at the rapids. In a 
few places, however, snags were seen, which partly im- 
peded the main channel. The next day they were found 
more numerous, as were also the sandbars, which some- 
times rendered the navigation of the river troublesome. 
The skiff, which had been obtained for Major Long and 
the gentlemen's use, as more pleasant than a canoe, was 
found very inconvenient, being leaky and slow of motion, 
so that the party gladly embraced the opportunity of ex- 
changing her for a fine canoe belonging to a trader whom 
we met returning to Fort St. Anthony. The forests, which 
had principally consisted of cotton-wood, birch, &c. were 
observed to become more luxuriant, and to be replaced by 
a heavy growth of oak and elm. The soil appeared ex- 


cellent and deep, the roots extending sometimes three feet 
under ground. The sandbars and small islands are cover- 
ed with groves of willow. A few hills, composed princi- 
pally of loose sand, w^ere observed during the journey of 
the 12th ; one of which, distant about half a mile east from 
the encampment, was estimated at about one hundred and 
fifty feet in height. The latitude of the camp on the even- 
ing of the 12th of July was observed to be 44° 33' 59" N. 
which shows that the general direction of the river thus 
far is south of west. We reached the extremity of the 
forest the next morning, and found on the prairie a small 
party of Indians encamped. We were told that the prin- 
cipal of these was the old chief who formerly resided at 
Weakaote. He has thirty or forty warriors under his com- 
mand, who intend to remove from their old residence to 
this spot, as the other place is considered unhealthy ; by 
white men it is called Fever Sandbar. 

Notwithstanding these circumstances, the St. Peter is 
generally deemed very healthy, and in despite of the unfa- 
vourable name applied to the sandbar, it is said to be free 
from intermittent fevers. Our party continued all in health 
except one of the soldiers, who had a few chills and fits of 
fever, which were soon checked. It was supposed that he 
had brought the seeds of it from the Mississippi. 

Prairie land was again observed to border upon the 
river, the number of islands increased, and the navigation 
became extremely tedious. At one of the landing places, 
we observed a block of granite of about eighty pounds 
weight; it was painted red and covered with a grass fillet, 
in which were placed twists of tobacco offered up in sacri- 
fice. Feathers were stuck in the ground all round the 

In the afternoon, one of the canoes was unfortunately 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 335 

upset ; the men who were in it regained the shore with 
some difficulty, but much of the cargo was lost or damaged. 
Among the articles lost, the most important was a keg of 
tobacco, which was intended for presents to the Indians, 
and a considerable part of our ammunition, which, getting 
wet, became either totally unfit for use, or very much da- 
maged. We had scarcely repaired, as much as lay in our 
power, the bad effects of this accident, when we observed 
the heavens overcast with dark clouds portending an ap- 
proaching storm. We immediately landed with a view to 
shelter our stores and our persons against the rain. About 
seven in the evening, the storm broke out with more vio- 
lence than usually happens in our climates. The precau- 
tions which we had taken proved of but little or no avail. 
The stores, which had been carefully packed up in a canoe 
and covered up as well as our means permitted, were 
much damaged by the water which half filled the canoe. 
Among them was our biscuit, coffee, sugar, &c. The tent 
had been pitched in as favourable a spot, with respect to 
the trees, as the ground would admit of, but not sufficient- 
ly so to render it either safe or comfortable. Several trees, 
in the vicinity of the tent, were struck with lightning, and 
the wind blew with such force that the crash of falling tim- 
ber was frequently heard during the night. The rain con- 
tinued to pour down with great abundance until morning, 
when we were pleased to observe the sun rise fair, and af- 
ford us a chance of drying our baggage and stores. That 
spot being inconvenient for the purpose, we proceeded a 
few miles higher up, to an old wintering camp of the 
traders ; we remained there several hours ; our canoes be- 
ing occupied in transporting the baggage of the land party to 
the left bank of the river. The St. Peter is here fordable for 
horses. During our stay at this place Major Long found 


that the combined effects of the two calamities, experienced 
within the last twenty-four hours, had required a change in 
our mode of travelling. The navigation of the river had 
been very slow, since we had advanced but about one hun- 
dred and thirty miles in six days ; and it threatened to be- 
come still more tedious on account of the increasing shal- 
lowness of the water. Our provisions were not sufficient 
to support so large a party ; and the country being desti- 
tute of animals, afforded us no supply. The only game 
killed from the time that the party left the fort were two 
ducks. Our guide further informed us, that if we conti- 
nued to ascend the St. Peter in canoes, we should lose much 
precious time, arrive on Red River after the buffalo had 
left it, and find it, probably, impossible to reach the head 
of Lake Superior before the winter season had com- 
menced ; in which case we should be compelled to winter 
somewhere west of the lakes. As this comported neither 
with Major Long's wishes, nor with the instructions which 
he had received from the War Department, it induced him 
to relinquish the plan of ascending in canoes, and to send 
back nine soldiers, retaining but twelve men as a guard, 
which in the present dispersed state of the Indians pro- 
mised sufficient protection. By proceeding all in one party 
on land, much time would necessarily be saved, and the 
bends of tlie river need not be followed Although this 
plan did not afford us as good a prospect of becoming ac- 
quainted with the nature of the country as the mode we 
had heretofore followed, yet in the present state of our af- 
fairs it was judged to be the only one that could be adopt- 
ed with pi'udence ; and as this modification in our manner 
of travelling required a corresponding change in the ar- 
rangement of our baggage, we proceeded a few miles 
higher up, to a fine prairie, where we found good pasture 


for eur horses. The spot, upon which we encamped, 
has received the name of the Crescent, from a beautiful 
bend which the river makes at this place. The two par- 
ties having united here, a day was spent in drying the 
baggage, and separating the damaged provisions from those 
that were still fit for use. The acetous fermentation hav- 
ing commenced in our biscuit, such parts of it as were not 
too much injured were roasted over the fire. 

As this was the highest spot on the St. Peter which we 
reached in canoes, it may be well to recapitulate the ge- 
neral characters of this stream, as we observed it from 
its mouth to the Crescent, a distance of one hundred and 
thirty miles by water. 

The breadth of the river varies from sixty to eightjr 
yards, but averages about seventy ; its depth is such that it 
cannot be forded for about forty -five miles from its mouth. 
At Fort St. Anthony the St. Peter is said to be about six- 
teen feet deep. The depth diminished rapidly as we pro- 
ceeded up the river, and in some places our canoes had 
barely water enough to float them ; yet the river was not 
considered very low at that season. In times of floods it 
can be ascended much higher, without inconvenience, by 
loaded canoes. The current, which is almost imperceptible 
at Fort St. Anthony, increases, and in some places is quite 
rapid ; during the three last days it was found to average 
about one mile and a half an hour. The bed of the river is 
chiefly sand, arising from the destruction of the sandstone 
in which it is excavated. The banks usually rise to about 
twelve or fifteen feet, and are chiefly, if not altogether, 
composed of sandstone. On the last day, we saw a bluff 
that rises to sixty or eighty feet; it consists of white 
sandstone, and is called the white rock; limestone is, 
however, found in the country in various places. The gra- 

VoL. I. 43 


nitic boulders, which appear to be quite deficient in the 
lower part of the river, are found tolerably abundant after 
passing the village of Taoapa. In some cases they assume a 
very large size; one of them was of an elliptical form; it 
was twelve yards in periphery, and five feet high ; it is 
evidently out of place, and forms a conspicuous object in tlie 
prairie. The designs made upon it by the Indians, consisting 
of thick lines divided by intermediate dots, prove that it 
was with them an object of veneration. There are likewise 
amphibolic boulders scattered over the country. The bed 
of the river presents but few islands below the rapids, but 
above these it is checkered with numerous small sandy 
islands, which change the direction of the channel, and 
contribute to the rapidity of the current. The largest 
of these islands does not exceed three hundred yards in 
length, and thirty in breadth. The river is a very mean- 
dering one ; so much so, that the canoes were seldom steer- 
ed for five minutes at a time in the same direction. The 
courses of the river varied from south-west to north-east, 
and in some cases even were south-east. The situation of 
Camp Crescent was estimated, by Mr. Colhoun, from ob- 
servations taken under unfavourable circumstances, to be 
about latitude 44° 21' 27" north, longitude 94° 15' west; 
so that, during our progress up the St. Peter, we had made 
but 65' of westing, and 32' 22" of southing. The river re- 
ceives in this extent no tributary of any importance ; a few 
small rivulets, not exceeding ten or twelve in number, enter 
it occasionally from the right or left bank. Those only 
which deserve any mention are. Elk, which enters from 
the right bank, about twenty miles above the fort ; and the 
small rivulet which comes in from the left bank about 
forty miles above the fort, and which is probably the same 
as Carver's river ; at abovt twenty-five miles below the 


Crescent, a shallow stream six yards wide enters from the 
left bank. 

In our description of the observations recorded by the 
party in the canoes, we have included those made upon 
the nature of the river, &c. by the land party, and it may 
suffice to mention that the difficulties which they experi- 
enced were very great, owing to the nature of the country 
over which they travelled. At times it was so marshy, that 
they could not proceed without much danger to themselves 
and their horses ; and in one or two instances, the ground 
was so soft, that they were obliged to construct causeways 
or bridges, to enable their horses to pass over it. The fo- 
rests which they traversed, consisted chiefly of maple, 
white walnut, hickory, oak, elm, ash, linden, (Tilia Ameri- 
cana,) interspersed with grape-vines, &c. The absence of 
the black walnut on the St. Peter, and near Fort St. An- 
thony, was particularly observed. The rosin plant was not 
seen after leaving Prairie du Chien. The yellow raspberry 
was abundant in many places and ripe at the time the 
party passed through the forests. The course of the party 
was generally in the valley of the St. Peter, not far from, 
and frequently in sight of, the river, which offered them 
some fine water scenery, presenting, however, a great de- 
gree of sameness ; its principal defect is the want of ob- 
jects^to animate the scenes ; no buffalo ranging across the 
prairie, no deer starting through the forests, no birds in- 
terrupting the solemn stillness which uniformly reigns 
over the country ; the St. Peter rolls in silence its waters 
to the Mississippi ; where game is scarce, the Indian of 
course finds no inducement to hunt, and hence the party 
frequently travelled for whole days, without seeing a liv- 
ing object of any kind. This appeared, however, to be the 
track of Indians going out on their hunts, and accordingly 


traces were occasionally observed upon trees. In such places 
the trees were generally barked to a proper height ; in one in- 
stance, four adjoining trees bore the representation of an In- 
dian with wings, painted with red earth ; a number of trans- 
verse lines were also drawn across the tree. This design was 
intended to convey the information that the Redwing chief 
had passed in that direction with a party, the strength of 
which was designated by the number of transverse streaks. 
From the numerous tumuli observed along the river, they 
were confirmed in the belief, that this scarcity of game has 
not always prevailed in this part of the country, but that 
this stream was once inhabited by as extensive a popula- 
tion as can be supported by game alone, in the most fa- 
voured regions. 

On the 15th of July, the party, reduced in number to 
twenty-four, left the Crescent. They were provided with 
twenty-one horses, two of which were disabled. Nine were 
allotted to the officers and gentlemen of the party ; the re- 
maining ten being required as pack-horses to convey the 
provisions and baggage, the soldiers were all obliged to 
walk ; which, however, as the country was fine prairie, and 
the days' march short, was not considered a very hard duty. 
We proceeded across some fine rolling prairies, in a course 
south of west, for about nine miles, when we saw the re- 
mains of Indian habitations; they were deserted. Upon a 
scaffold, raised eighteen feet above the ground, and situa- 
ted upon an elevated part of the prairie, the putrefying 
carcass of an Indian lay exposed to view. It had not been 
enclosed in a box, but merely shrouded in a blanket, 
which the wind and atmospheric influence had reduced to 
tatters. Fifteen horizontal black marks, drawn across one 
of the posts that supported the scafibld, designated, as we 
were informed by Renville, that as many scalps had been 


offered in sacrifice to the deceased, by those who danced 
at the funeral. 

Our guides told us, that the mouth of the Terre Bleue 
River was about six leagues to the south-east of this spot. 
This is the principal tributary of the St. Peter, and is said 
to furnish about two-thirds as much water as the main 
branch of the river which retains the name of St. Peter. It 
enters from the right bank, and rises in the " Coteau des 
Prairies," a highland that stretches in a northerly direction 
between the Missouri and the St. Peter, and of which we 
shall have occasion to speak hereafter. By the Dacotas it 
is called Mikito ^OsA Watapa, which signifies " the river 
where blue earth is gathered." We never were nearer to 
this river than at this place, and we regretted that circum- 
stances prevented our visiting it in order to acquire some 
knowledge of its character. We were unsuccessful in our 
attempts to obtain some of the blue earth from the Indians, 
an object which appeared to us of some importance, in or- 
der to determine its composition by analysis. It is evi- 
dent that this is the same thing that was worked by le Sueur 
at the close of the 17th century, for a copper ore. From 
its colour, we are inclined to consider it as more probably 
a phosphate of iron ; but we have had no means of ascer- 
taining its nature. Our guides informed us, that had we 
proceeded in our canoes it would have required two days 
to reach the mouth of the Blue Earth river, on account of 
the great bend which the river makes at the Crescent, but 
by the route which we pursued we avoided the bend. It 
has been stated, that the locality of this blue earth, as well 
as that of the red stone used for pipes, were considered as 
neutral grounds, where the different nations of Indians 
would meet and collect these substances without appre- 
hension of being attacked ; but we have not heard this re- 


port confirmed. Tlie mouth of the Blue Earth river is the 
chief residence of a tribe of the Dacotas, who call themselves 
the Mi&k^cli^k^'s^a, and who are generally known by the 
traders by the name of Sisitons. They are a warlike and 
powerful band, and at that time were considered as un- 
friendly to the Americans on account of the government's 
having arrested, and sent to St. Louis for trial, one of their 
tribe who had killed a wdiite man. It was chiefly from 
them that hostilities had been apprehended, and the force 
which we had taken at Fort St. Anthony was intended to 
protect the party against an attack from them ; but in order 
to evince a friendly disposition on the part of our govern- 
ment, Major Taliaferro had intended to hold a council with 
them at the same time. The news of their being dispersed 
on their summer hunts, was the principal reason which in- 
duced Major Long to desist from his intention of visiting 
the mouth of the Terre Bleue, and which determined him 
to order back part of our escort. 

In the evening, the party encamped on the bank of a 
small pool, which forms one of a group of ponds, dignified 
with the appellation of the Swan Lakes, on account of the 
abundance of these birds said to exist in their neighbour- 
hood. The Indian name is Miiilifi tankaota nienda, wdiich 
signifies the lake of the many large birds. Observations 
were made by Mr. Colhoun to determine the longitude of 
this place ; although taken at a time when the sun was very 
low, they served to correct the observations made at the 
Crescent, These lakes are more properly marshes, the 
quantity of water in them varying according to the sea- 
sons. We had passed several of them during the day ; in 
one of these marshes our pack-horses were several times 
exposed to much difficulty ; and the mule that carried the 
biscuit having stumbled, part of our provisions were wet 


and damaged. Proceeding the next day on our course, we 
struck the St. Peter about noon, and found its current 
very rapid, but its size reduced to nearly one-half of that 
which it presented at the Crescent. This confirmed the 
report of our guides, that the Terre Bleue almost equals 
the St. Peter in the quantity of its waters. We had been 
able to trace the course of the river during the morn- 
ing, by the line of woods which skirts it, and by the bluffs 
which border upon its right bank, rising to a height of 
from sixty to eighty feet; on the left bank, the bluffs are 
neither so high, nor so abrupt. The country, however, al- 
most every where discovers its horizontal stratification by 
the steep acclivities which it forms even in the prairies ; 
the country presenting rather the appearance of steppes 
than of the rounded swells which generally characterize 
prairie land. At a small distance from our course, we ob- 
served horizontal ledges of rock, which we were inclined 
to consider as the limestone that overlays the sandstone. 
Animals of every kind still continued very scarce. A gar- 
ter-snake was killed near Swan Lake, upon which our 
guides took occasion to inform us that the rattlesnake had 
sometimes been found near these lakes, but never to the 
north of them ; this appearing to be their northernmost 
limit in this direction. The botany of the country was 
diversified by the reappearance of the Gerardria, a plant 
which we had not seen since leaving Chicago. Near Swan 
Lake two elevations were observed, which appeared to be 
artificial tumuli. Some depressions were also seen, and 
these were by Renville called forts, but by whom they 
were scooped out, if indeed they be artificial, he could not 
inform us. 

We crossed the St. Peter, at noon, immediately above a 
ripple ; our horses sank to their girths in the water ; one 


mile further, we passed a small stream about fifteen yards 
wide, and eighteen inches deep, having a white sandy bot- 
tom ; it is designated by the name of the liiviere aux 
Licn^s, (Cottonwood,*) from the abundance of this tree 
on its banks ; by the Indians it is called W^rhoju Wa- 
tapa. A bloody fray is stated to have occurred at the junc- 
tion of the Aux Liards and St. Peter ; it arose between two 
tribes of Sioux, who met there with traders. The latter 
having furnished them with liquor, the Indians drank to in- 
toxication, quarrelled among themselves, and killed seven 
of their number. In travelling through an Indian country, 
many places are pointed out that have acquired a similar 
melancholy celebrity, and that tend to confirm the travel- 
ler in the conviction of the heavy responsibility which at- 
taches to those who have introduced, and still persist in 
canying, liquor among the Indians. 

Our journey during the afternoon was continued along 
the valley of the St. Peter, which was observed to be from 
one to one and a half mile wide. The adjacent prairie is 
elevated about eighty feet above the level of the river. A 
feature which struck us was the abundance of fragments of 
primitive rocks which were strewed in this valley. They 
were for the most part deeply imbedded in the ground, and 
bore but few traces of attrition : their bulk was very large. 
For a while we doubted whether we were not treading 
upon the crest of a formation of primitive rocks, which 
pierced through the superincumbent formations, but a close 
observation evinced such a confusion and diversity in the 
nature of the primitive blocks, as well as such signs of fric- 
tion, as satisfied us that these were out of place, still they 
appeared to warrant the geologist in his prediction, that 

• Popalus angulata. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 345 

the party was approaching to a primitive formation, and 
that certainly the valley of the St. Peter had been one of 
the channels through which the primitive boulders had 
been removed from their original site. This assertion 
was fully substantiated two days afterwards by the disco- 
covery of the primitive rocks in situ. A very considera- 
ble swell between the river and the right bank of the val- 
ley, was supposed to be formed by the primitive rocks 
rising to a greater level than usual. If it be occasion- 
ed by an accumulation of fragments and boulders, as the 
nature of its surface might lead to believe, it is a very in- 
teresting feature in the valley. 

We passed soon after two Indian lodges, in one of which 
was the chief Wamendetanka, (War Eagle,) generally 
known by the name of the Black Dog. He rules over the 
small village of Oanoska, situated near the mouth of the 
St. Peter. He is not a man of note, neither is he acknow- 
ledged as an independent chief, but being the head of an 
extensive family, he separated from his tribe some years 
ago ; he leads about forty warriors. We stopped but a 
short time at his lodge, to exchange a few words with him ; 
we admired much the appearance of his sons and daugh- 
ters, who are tall, graceful, and well-formed. He is about 
fifty years of age, and has much dignity in his appearance. 

The journey of the 18th of July, being across the prairie, 
offered but little interest. The monotony of a prairie coun- 
try always impresses the traveller with a melancholy, 
which the sight of water, woods, &c. cannot fail to remove. 
During that day we enjoyed no view of the river, and the 
great scarcity of springs, and wood for cooking, made the 
ti'avelling uncomfortable ; to these we must add a tempera- 
ture of about 94°, exhibited by the thermometer when in the 
shade, and protected against all radiation of heat. But the 

Vol. I. 44 


greatest annoyance, which we had to encounter, was the 
mosquetoe, which arose in such swarms, as to prove a 
more serious evil than can be imagined by those who have 
not experienced it. We never were tormented at any pe- 
riod of our journey, more than when travelling in the vi- 
cinity of the St. Peter. The mosquetoes generally rose all 
of a sudden about the setting of the sun. Their appearance 
was so instantaneous, that we had no time to prepare our- 
selves against them ; whenever we had the good fortune to 
encamp previous to their sallying from their hiding places, 
our great object was to complete our evening meal, before 
they commenced their attack, for this we found ourselves 
unable to resist; and we have not unfi-equently been so 
much annoyed by these insects, as to be obliged to relin- 
quish an unfinished supper, or to throw away a cup of tea, 
which we could not enjoy, while stung on all sides by 
countless numbers of mosquetoes. When a high wind re- 
duced their numbers, we found some relief from remain- 
ing in a dense cloud of smoke ; but even this proved of no 
avail, when, from the calmness or heat of the atmosphere, 
their numbers were undiminished. In such cases, our only 
alternative was to endure their stings, or to smother under 
the weight of a blanket in which we wrapped ourselves 
up, covering our faces, hands, &c. To protect our feet and 
legs, we were obliged to lie with our boots on. The an- 
noyance continued until sometime after sunrise, when the 
increasing heat of the day, drove them back into their re- 
cesses. The sleepless nights which we frequently passed, 
when exposed to this torment, rendered this part of our 
journey the most fatiguing. Our horses fared even worse, 
for they were exposed like us, during the night, to the 
sting of the mosquetoe, and during the day the big horse- 
fly proved equally noxious. 


The soil of the prairies is not uniform in quality ; in some 
instances it was remarkably fine, and of an intense black co- 
lour ; the grass, consequently, grew to a considerable size, 
was luxuriant, and of a rich green hue. In other parts the 
soil is sandy, grayish, and appears to be of an inferior quali- 
ty ; its produce then presents a similar inferiority ; the 
blades of grass are scattered, short, of a yellowish and 
sickly aspect. The earth appears dry, and scorched with 
the heat of the sun. 

The party had frequent opportunities of remarking the 
difficulty which exists, to determine with accuracy the 
nature or size of objects seen at a distance. Sand-hill cranes, 
seen on the prairie, were by some of the company mistaken 
for elks. 

Among the birds observed on the prairie, besides the sand- 
hill crane, are the reed-bird, black-bird,* yellow-headed 
black-bird,t the black-breasted tern ; J the last of which was 
very abundant. Mr. Say shot the female of the Mergus cucul- 
latus, and a blue-winged teal. Among the reptiles, besides 
the common garter-snake,§ there was one with lateral red 
spots. II A coluber, like the melanoleucus, but spotted, and 
similar to that found on the Missouri, was killed on these 
prairies. In several of the marshes, the huts of the musk- 
rat were found very abundant. The herbarium was en- 
riched by the addition of a beautiful specimen of the Li- 
lium Philadelphicum, which was still seen flowering, though 
it had nearly ceased to bloom. Another great ornament 
of the prairies is the Lilium Superbum. The Gerardria was 
still occasionally seen. This plant is, as we were inform- 
ed, considered by the Indians to be a specific against the 

• Orlolus, [Zanthornus, Cuvier,] phoeniceus, 

f Oriolus, [Zanthornus, Cuvier,] icterocephalus. t Sterna. 

§ Coluber ordinatus. || Coluber parietalis. 


bite of the rattlesnake ; the root is scraped and the scrap- 
ings applied to the wound ; it is said that if used upon a 
recent wound, a single application will suffice. The boul- 
ders, which are so common in the valley of the St. Peter, 
are but seldom seen on the prairies. 

After proceeding another half day on the prairie, the 
party found itself on the banks of the Ch^nshayape wa- 
tapa, or the stream of the " tree painted red." This is a 
beautiful rivulet, which was about eight yards wide where 
we crossed it. It runs in a wide and romantic valley. The 
bluffs which rise on both sides, are formed of a fine white 
sandstone. We stopped for a few moments on the edge of 
the bank, previous to descending into the valley, to enjoy 
the beautiful and refreshing scenery which offered itself to 
our view, and which formed a pleasing contrast with the 
burned and blasted appearance of the prairie. The junc- 
tion of the valley of the St. Peter with that of its tribu- 
tary, about two miles below the place where we stood, oc- 
casioned an expansion of both valleys at that spot. The 
beautiful and diversified vegetation, springing luxuriantly 
on the banks of both streams, the rapid current of the wa- 
ters rushing to one common point, formed a landscape, 
which, at that time, appeared to us as smiling and as beau- 
tiful as any we had ever beheld. But it is probable that 
much of its charms arose from the contrast which it pre- 
sented, with the wearisome views of the boundless prairies. 
Perhaps, also, we found ourselves in better spirits to enjoy 
the scener)'^, from perceiving, near these banks, the first 
trace of the buffalo, whence we drew prospects of a speedy 
change in our fare, together with hopes of soon sharing 
in the sports of an active and interesting chase. Though 
narrow, the Redwood, whose course is a long one, has its 
sources in the Coteau des Prairies. Red pipestone is said 


\o exist on its banks, at three days' journey from its 

At the confluence of these two valleys, a very interest- 
ing fragment of rock was observed ; it was evidently out 
of place ; its mass was enormous ; it was of an irregular he- 
mispherical form, about forty or fifty feet in circumference ; 
it had been cleft, as we thought, by lightning. The rock 
was blackened, and a few bushes and trees near it, bore 
signs of having been on fire. The conflagration does not 
appear to have spread to a distance ; and from its situation, 
the fire could scarcely have been made by a traveller. We 
searched in vain, during the short time that we stopped near 
it, for traces of fusion upon the rock. This mass is granitic, 
and presents very distinctly the appearance of a formation 
in concentric shales. Rocks were observed at some distance 
which, from their white colour, were presumed to be sand- 
stone. Above the junction of the rivulet with the St. Pe- 
ter, a rapid occurs in the river, called Patterson's rapid. 
We were too far to see it, but it is not very considerable. 
We were, from observations made higher up on the river, 
induced to consider the rocks which occasion it, as pri- 

On the evening of the 18th of July, we encamped on 
the banks of the river. When descending into the valley 
from the prairie, with a view to select a suitable spot for 
our evening's camp, our attention was suddenly called to 
the new features which it displayed. High rocks of a 
rugged aspect arose in an insulated manner in the midst of 
the widened valley, through which the St. Peter winds its 
way. We improved the rest of the afternoon in examin- 
ing them, and experienced no little satisfaction in finding 
them to be primitive rocks in situ. The pleasure we ex- 
perienced sprang not from the mere associations of home, 


connected with the view of a primitive formation which 
we had not seen since the first five days of our journey j 
but it resulted also in a great measure from the certainty 
that we had at last arrived at what we had long been look- 
ing for in vain. We had traced those scattering boulders, 
which lay insulated in the prairies, from the banks of the 
Muskingum to this place. We had seen them gradually 
increasing in size and number, and presenting fewer signs 
of attrition, as we advanced further on our journey. Two 
days before, their number, size, and features, had induced 
the geologist of the party to predict our speedy approach 
to the primitive formations, and it was a pleasing confir- 
mation of his opinions to find that these rocks had really 
been seen in situ, within thirty miles, in a straight line, of 
the place where he had made this assertion. The charac- 
ter of these rocks was examined with care, and found very 
curious. It seemed as if four simple minerals, quartz, feld- 
spar, mica, and amphibole, had united here to produce al- 
most all the varieties of combination which can arise from 
the association of two or more of these minerals ; and these 
combinations were in such immediate contact, that the 
same fragment might, as we viewed one or the other 
end of it, be referred to different rocks ; while in some 
places granite was seen perfectly well characterized, va- 
rying from the fine to the coarse-grained ; in others, a 
gneiss, mica slate, greisen, (quartz and mica,) compact 
feldspar, (Weisstein of Werner,) sienite, greenstone, and 
the sienite with addition of quartz, forming the amphibolic 
granite of D'Aubuisson, were equally well characterized. 
The only rock composed by the union of two of these 
principles which we did not observe, but which may per- 
haps exist there, is the graphic granite, (Pegmatite, Haiiy.) 
These rocks are not very extensive ; the circumference 


of the largest probably does not exceed one quarter of 
a mile; they rise to about thirty-five feet above the level 
of the water. Their form is irregular ; their aspect rug- 
ged and barren compared with the fertile bottom of the 
valley ; their general colour is of a dark gray ; they appear 
to be the summit or crest of primitive rocks which under- 
lay this valley, and which protrude at this place through 
the superior strata. As the adjoining prairies are elevated 
about fifty feet above the level of the river, these primi- 
tive rocks are observable only in the valley ; they doubt- 
less constituted at one time a continuous ridge, but have 
been divided into insulated masses by the corroding action 
of the stream, whose very circuitous bed winds between 
them. They extend upon a distance of about six miles in 
the direction of the valley. After having examined al- 
most every one of these masses, we feel unwilling to de- 
cide with certainty, which of the primitive combinations 
predominates ; for the passage of the one into the other is 
more constant and more sudden than in any other primi- 
tive formation that has ever come under our notice. In- 
deed we know of none with which to compare it, except 
it be that which we observed at a subsequent period of the 
expedition, between Lake Winnepeek and the Lake of the 
Woods ; but even there the features were somewhat dif- 
ferent, for they were on a larger scale. The passages, which 
we there observed, were sometimes to be traced only upon 
large masses ; whereas on the St. Peter, it would have been 
difficult to break off a fragment of a cubic foot in size pre- 
senting an uniform character of composition. It is, how- 
ever, probable, as far as our observations extended, that gra- 
nite is the predominating rock. These masses bear very evi- 
dent signs of a crystalline origin, but the process must have 
been a confused one. Tourmaline is found disseminated 


throughout the rock, yet in no great abundance. In one 
or two spots where the mass assumed a more slaty appear- 
ance than in other places, a faint tendency to a stratifica- 
tion, directed from north-north-east to south-south-west, 
with a dip towards the south, was observed. Viewing the 
insulated masses from the prairie, they appeared to be di- 
rected in a transverse line through the valley, and in a 
north-easterly course, so that this may be the remains of a 
dike which existed across the valley, but which was finally 
broken. This observation was, however, a partial one, 
and it would be improper to attach much weight to it. 
When calling the attention of our guide to the difference 
between these rocks and those observed below, he appear- 
ed to have been aware of it himself, and stated that rocks 
similar to these extended down the valley, to about four 
miles below Redwood rivulet ; it was partly from thi: cir- 
cumstance that we inferred that Patterson's rapids were 
probably formed by a bar of these rocks rising across the 
bed of the river. This appeared to us to be the more pro- 
bable from the circumstance that a rapid, known by the 
name of the Little Falls, occurs just above the place of our 
encampment of the 18th, and that it is occasioned by a 
ledge of granitic rocks, over which the river passes at this 
place. In the examination of this spot two points appear- 
ed to us chiefly to deserve our attention, in order to avoid 
all source of error ; the first was to ascertain that the rocks 
were really in situ ; the second, that they were primitive 
and crystalline, not conglomerated or regenerated rocks, 
such as are sometimes observed. But upon these two points 
we think that not the least doubt can be entertained. The 
immense mass of these insulated rocks, the uniform 
height to which they attain, the uniform direction in which 
they lie, prove them to be in place ; while an attentive in- 


spection of their nature shows them to be really crystal- 
line. There is a gradual though rapid passage of the gra- 
nite into the sienite, which proves them to be of contem- 
poraneous formation, and which precludes the idea that 
the rock is formed by the union of fragments of granite, 
sienite, &c. cemented together. 

The discovery of this granitic formation here appeared 
to us the more interesting, that its small extent might 
easily have prevented us from observing it, had not chance 
brought us to the river at tliat place ; for if we had been 
travelling on the prairie, within half a mile of the edge of 
the bank, the greater height of the bluff would have con- 
cealed these rocky islands from our view. We feel there- 
fore unable to decide whether they do not recur at some 
of the other bends of the river, which we avoided ; yet from 
the character of the stream itself, we doubt it; for we find 
that as soon as these rocks protrude into the valley, they 
occasion rapids and falls in the river, while otherwise its 
course is smooth. Had we not seen the " Little rapids," which 
we passed on the 11th, we might have been induced to con- 
sider them as resulting from the appearance at the surface of 
primitive rocks, but having examined with care the sand- 
stone rocks, by which they are produced, and having as- 
certained that no other rapids are found in the St. Peter, 
between these and the Patterson falls, we arc induced to 
believe that this is the only place where the granite may 
be seen in situ. In attempting to connect this primitive 
formation with those observed elsewhere, we find that it 
lies in a direction about west-south-west, at a distance pro- 
bably not exceeding eighty miles, of the "granitic and horn- 
blende rocks," which Mr. Schoolcraft states as having seen, 
'' occasionally rising in rugged peaks and beds," on the 

Vol. T. 45 


]\lississippi.* Wc feel, however, disposed to consider all 

this section of our country as underlaid with this granite, 
and we entertain but little doubt of its identity with the 
sienitic granite, observed at a later period of our journey, 
and which we first struck near Fort Alexander, at the 
mouth of Winnepeek river. 

The latitude of our encampment on the banks of the St. 
Peter, that evening, was determined by observations, to be 
44° 41' 26" north. The variation of the compass at this 
place was 12° 21' 20" east. 

From the interesting features which the valley display- 
ed at this spot, the geologist felt desirous that the party 
should ascend along the banks of the river, with a view to 
examine these granitic masses, should they recur ; but this 
was deemed impracticable, on account of the length of 
time which would be consumed in following the bends of 
the river. The reports which we had previously received 
of the abundance of game, had not been confirmed ; we 
had, on the contrary, found none at all, and our stores were 
wasting away too fast to permit any delay. It was then 
proposed to divide the party, and while the main body 
proceeded with the necessary expedition towards the trad- 
ing establishments at the head of the river, to allow the 
geologist, with one or two companions, to continue his 
route in the valley. But this Major Long did not deem 
prudent, for in the present dissatisfied disposition of the 
Sisitons, the division of the party must necessarily expose 
it to be cut off by them, should they fall in with it. The 
regret which tliis occasioned was, however, dissipated, on 
observing that the primitive rocks did not continue long 
in the valley ; for having been allowed to travel along the 

♦ Schoolcraft's Narrative, ut supra, p, 288, 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 355 

banks of the river for half a day, Mr. Keating saw the last 
of them, at about four miles above the little falls ; and he 
was assured by his guide that they did not recur for a con- 
siderable distance. We had, nevertheless, an opportunity 
of seeing from a distance, in the bed of the river, a rocky 
island, which appeared to us to bear the character of the 
primitive rocks near Patterson's rapids. Our guides in- 
sisted that it was a sandstone. We have generally found 
them to be such accurate observers of natural objects, that 
we wished to visit the rock, and see how far their reports 
could be depended upon, but that would have required se- 
veral hours ; a waste of time which it was thought the ob- 
ject did not warrant. In the evening we again observed 
the primitive rocks in the valley, and encamped upon one 
of these knolls ; it was composed of a rock partaking al- 
ternately of the characters of micaslate and gneiss which 
appeared stratified nearly east and west. The strata being 
almost vertical. This knoll was so small, that we could 
not presume from the direction of its strata, to draw con- 
clusions as to that of the rock in general. 

The occurrence of these primitive knobs disturbs the cur- 
rent of the river, and renders the navigation difficult and ha- 
zardous. Five miles below the encampment of the 19th, there 
is a place where the boats and their loads are carried for the 
distance of a mile; from which circumstance the place is 
called the Grand Portage. By this portage the canoes avoid 
thirteen rapids; these with twenty-six other rapids, con- 
stitute all the obstructions to the navigation of the river, 
from its source to its mouth. In a good stage of the waters, 
there are, however, but two portages, of which this is one. 
Among the tributaries passed on that day, only one dc, 
serves to be mentioned ; it is called the P^jthita Z^ze Wa- 
tapan, the yellow medicine. It is about the same size as 


the Red wood, and rises, in like manner, at the base of the 
Coteau des Prairies. Nearly opposite to it a small stream 
falls in ; the Indians call it the Ch^ilba, (that hatches 
fiparrowhuwks,) the traders term it L\Eau de Vie. On 
our map we have retained the term Epervier, which, be- 
ing in use among some of the traders, and intelligible both 
to French and English travellers, appears likely to prevail. 
While riding across the prairie that day, we were met 
by two Indians, who ran towards us with great speed. 
They proved very friendly in their disposition, and in- 
formed us, that on the preceding day, they had killed a 
buffalo bull in that vicinity, and that the Indians on Lake 
Travers had already killed many, the buffalo being un- 
usually abundant that season. This news was the more gra- 
tifying to the party, that they had been for the last few 
days on short allowance. Having informed the Indians of 
the spot where we proposed to encamp, they came to it in 
the evening with their families, and pitched their tents near 
ours; they then offered us a feast, which we of course ac- 
cepted, and at which we partook of the buffalo meat, that 
had been cut into long and thin slices, about one-eighth of 
an inch thick, eight inches wide, and eighteen long. These 
had been jerked in the sun, and were subsequently boiled 
without salt, and served out to us in wooden dishes. It 
was tough and tasteless, and disappointed those gentlemen 
of the party who had never eaten of the buffalo meat, and 
who had heard it highly extolled; this disappointment 
arose, however, from the circumstance of its being jerked, 
instead of fresh meat. What remained of the feast was, 
according to the Indian usage, our proper!}', and we there- 
fore had it conveyed to our tents. Tlie feast was ushered 
in with the usual ceremonies of shaking hands;, smoking, 


The St. Peter dwindles into a very small stream, pro- 
bably not more than fifteen or twenty yards wide in any 
part, above Patterson's rapids. It is fordable every where. 
The valley presents a fine rich soil, rather swampy in 
places, and covered with high grass and wild rice ; it is 
often woody. Wherever the primitive rocks are found, 
they are bare. The trees consist principally of cotton wood 
and ash. In the prairies, Mr. Say found the spotted frog, 
(Rana halecina of Kalm and Daudin,) figured by Catesby. 
It was very plentiful near the marshes. The young whip- 
poorwill was found at that time, nearly strong enough to 
fly. The mosquetoes increased in abundance and virulence 
as we advanced. 

A short day's journey brought the party to the Lac qui 
parte, which is an expansion of the river about seven and 
a half miles long, and from one quarter to three quarters 
of ii mile wide. The name of this lake is a translation of 
the Indian appellation, M^-nda e h., but whence it has re- 
ceived it, we know not. We have not been able to disco- 
ver or to hear of any remarkable echo in its vicinity, 
which might have given rise to it. It is not, we believe, an 
uncommon naine for Indians, and we know of at least one 
river that has a somewhat analogous appellation ; it is the 
Riviere qui appelle, a tributary of the Assiniboin, and 
whose Indian name has merely been translated by the tra- 
ders. Previous to reaching Lake qui parle, we passed two 
small tributaries of the St. Peter, on the right bank ; one 
of which is called by the traders, Beaver, by the Indians, 
Watapan intapu, which signifies the "river at the head," 
as they consider the lake to be the head of the St. Peter. 
Six miles above our encampment of the 19th, a larger 
stream, called by some Chippewa river, but by the Ba- 
-rotos Me^ Wuhkun watapan, the river of the spirit banks, 


falls in from the left side. The Mea Wahkan is said to 
take its rise near the head waters of Red river, with which 
it interlocks. On Beaver rivulet, the bank, which was high 
and steep, was found to consist of loose white sand. Near 
this bank there were seven or eis^ht artificial tumuli, all 
placed on a straight line except one, which was in advance 
of the other. On the two largest, which were five feet high, 
and thirty feet in diameter at the base, recent graves of a 
kind now much used by the Indians, were observed. In 
these the corpse is deposited in a very shallow excavation, 
or more frequently upon the surface of the ground, and 
stakes placed over it, forming a sort of a roof. These stakes 
are very necessary to protect the remains of the dead 
against the rapacity of wolves, who, if they were merely 
interred, would dig them up. In this case, notwithstanding 
the great strength of the stakes, the grave had been broken 
open, and its contents scattered over the ground. The 
wolves appear to be very abundant in these prairies. We 
have frequently heard them barking in the night, and oc- 
casionally seen them Two young wolves were seen near 
Beaver rivulet, and easily caught by the soldiens, to whom 
a reward was offered if they would carry them alive to 
Mackinaw; but they both made their escape during the 
night. In the dull monotony of a journey across the prairie, 
destitute of interest, and uninterrupted by any incident, 
the capture of these wolves created such a sensation in the 
party, as will not be readily conceived by those, who have 
not experienced how eagerly man seizes the first oppor- 
tunity of being relieved from his own thoughts, when he 
has been left to the uninterrupted exercise of them for a 
certain length of time. 

We spent half a day in the vicinity of Lake qui parle ; 
our tents were pitched on an eminence near the lower ex- 


tremity of the lake, commanding an extensive prospect, 
adorned with this beautiful sheet of water. The country, 
as we advanced, evidently became more elevated, but no 
hills of any magnitude were visible except the bluffs of 
rivers and rivulets. The elevation to which they attain, 
frequently equals, and sometimes exceeds, one hundred feet. 
The precipices, to which these bluffs give rise, are the 
boundaries of extensive and undulated plains, destitute of 
woods ; trees are only seen skirting the banks of the 
water-courses. Above the lake the bluffs diminish in 
height; those along the valley of the St. Peter not exceed- 
ing forty feet ; in some cases they disappear, and gentle 
slopes blend gradually the prairie and the valley of the 
river. At the upper end of the lake, the St. Peter has lost 
all its characters ; it is a rivulet of from twenty to thirty 
feet wide ; its bed is very much obstructed with high grass 
and wild rice ; its waters are almost stagnant. Five leagues 
above this, a brook from the right bank joins with the St. 
Peter ; this is called the Hra WihkS^n, or Spirit Mountain, 
from the name of a hill near which it rises. The primitive 
rocks are again seen in place, scattered here and there 
across the valley ; one of these was remarkable for the 
beauty of its feldspar, which is very lamellar ; it has an 
easy cleavage, and is intermixed with quartz, giving it al- 
most the appearance of a graphic granite. As we advanced, 
the rocks assumed a more decided character, and were 
found to be principally either a common or a sienitic gra- 
nite. Besides those in place, vast numbers of fragments of 
primitive rocks, presenting little or no alteration, lie scat- 
tered in every direction, and attest that this has been the 
seat of a great destruction. An Indian family were met 
near the banks of the river, who stated that they had de- 
scended it in order to ascertain the prospects of the ensu- 


ing harvest of wild rice, and informed us that they were 
very promising ; the grain, they thought, would be ripe 
in the middle of August ; the weather was, in fact, very 
favourable to its growth, the temperature having kept up 
for the last few days at near 90°. We were likewise in- 
formed by them, that an inroad had been made by the 
lower Sisitons upon the lands of the Sauks on the Des 
Moines river, and that, not meeting with their enemies, 
they had attacked the lawas, killed a number, and taken 
many prisoners. 

It is interesting, as we proceed, to find that the same 
devotional spirit which we observed below still exists. 
Many rocks are used as consecrated spots, at which the 
Indian pauses to offer a sacrifice to the ruling Spirits. A 
very large block, covered with circles, crescents and 
crosses, designed with red paint, was considered sacred to 
the heavenly bodies, and these marks were held to be de- 
signations of the sun, moon, and stars. The party were like- 
wise occasionally gladdened with a view of fresh tracks of 
the buffalo. 

On the 22d, w^e reached another, and the last, expansion 
of the river. It is also improperly called a lake ; by the 
Indians it is termed E'atakek^, which has been interpreted 
" Lac des Grosses Roches," Big Stone Lake. Our view 
to the west was this day bounded by an extensive ridge or 
swell in the prairies, known by the name of the " Coteau 
des Prairies." It is distant from our course about twenty 
or thirty miles ; its height above the level of the St. Peter 
is probably not short of one thousand feet. According to 
the best information which we have obtained, this ridge 
commences about the 49th parallel of north latitude, and 
between the 9Sth and 99th degrees of west longitude, from 
Greenwich. It proceeds in a direction nearly south-south- 

SOURCE OP ST Peter's river. 361 

east, passes east of tlie group of small lakes called Devil 
Lake, divides the tributaries of the St. Peter from those of 
the Missouri, and extends southerly as far as the head of 
the Blue Earth, where it gradually widens and sinks to 
the level of tlie surrounding country. 

A second ridge or Coteau des Prairies is said to run 
in a direction nearly parallel to that which we have 
just described. It commences at the southern bend of 
Mouse river, near the 4Sth parallel of latitude, and pro- 
ceeds, in a course nearly south-east, for about eighty miles, 
when it turns to the west of south, and continues probably 
beyond the 44th, where it likewise sinks and disappears. 
In the valley between these two ridges, the Riviere de 
Jacques, or James River, runs and empties itself into the 
Missouri about the 43d degree of latitude. Thus the Co- 
teau des Prairies may probably be considered as changing 
the course of the Missouri, above the Mandan villages, 
from an easterly to a southerly direction, and as keeping 
it in that direction for nearly three hundred miles, when 
the river reassumes a course east of south, which it keeps 
until it unites with the Mississippi. It is to the vicinity 
of the Coteau to the St. Peter, on the one side, and of the 
Mississippi, on the other, that we are to attribute the small 
size of the tributaries of the St. Peter. In fact, they are 
mere brooks conveying the waters on the east side of the 
ridge ; but, probably, about the spring of the year, they 
are much swollen by the thawing of the snow and ice up- 
on the ridge ; it is in this manner that we may account for 
the water-marks found along the bluffs which enclose their 
comparatively large valleys. 

Its distance from our course prevented us from visiting 
the Coteau, which we should otherwise have done. It was 
intended that Mr. Keating should examine this remarka- 

VoL, I. 46 


ble feature in the countiy, in order to ascertain what its 
geological characters are, but as we were generally inform- 
ed that no rocks are seen at its surface, that it presents an 
uniformly smooth prairie-like appearance, the ascent be- 
ing gradual and easy on both sides, and as it would have 
taken three days to go to its summit and return, this ex- 
cursion was not made. 

The Coteau des Prairies may truly be considered as the 
dividing ridge between the tributaries of the Mississippi 
and those of the Missouri. It is probably formed by the 
elevation of the granitic or other primitive rocks, above 
the usual level of the prairies. These may have been co- 
vered in a mantle-formed manner by the secondary and 
alluvial rocks, so as to be entirely concealed from view, 
and to be made to assume the general features of prairie 
land. We cannot, however, resist the belief, that a geolo- 
gist who would follow it, in its whole course from the As- 
siniboin to the Blue Earth, would be rewarded by the dis- 
covery of the granitic formations, if not along the whole of 
its crest, at least in some of the ravines which head near 
it, and in which perhaps a superposition of secondary rocks 
might be observed. 

After having left the Big Stone Lake, we crossed a 
brook which retains the name of the St. Peter, but which 
cannot be considered as part of that river ; the St. Peter 
may, in fact, be said to commence in Big Stone Lake, and 
this to be but a small tributary from the Coteau des Prairies; 
it was less than seven yards wide. This stream soon leaves 
the main valley and turns to the west, where a lateral 
trench in the prairie, known by the name of a " Coulee," 
gives it a passage. Had we visited the Coteau, we should 
have ascended this Coulee, to trace the stream to its 
source. It divides itself, as we are informed, into two 
branches ; one of which runs in a direction west by south, 


for about twelve miles. The source of the northern and 
larger branch is in Polecat Lake, about twice that distance, 
and bearing from the point at which it leaves the main 
valley, about west by north. The length of the stream, 
following all its windings, is about forty or fifty miles. 
Polecat Lake, whose dimensions are one and a half mile 
in length by half a mile in breadth, is frequently dry, and 
the stream often conveys but little water to the Big Stone 

By the route which we travelled, the distance, from the 
mouth of the St. Peter to the head of Big Stone Lake, is 
three hundred and twenty -five miles, of which we ascended 
one hundred and thirty by water. We entertain no doubt 
that the distance, in a direct line by land, would fall short of 
two hundred and thirty miles ; and that the whole length of 
the river, including all its bends, does not exceed five hun- 
dred miles. The traders, whose estimates almost always 
exceed the truth, do not ascribe to it a length of more than 
six hundred miles. How different these observations are 
from the opinions formerly entertained of this stream, 
may be judged from the assertion of Breckenridge, that it 
is a thousand miles long. Other authors allow it twelve hun- 
dred miles. Carver states it, on the authority of the Indians, 
to take its rise in the same neighbourhood as, and within the 
space of a mile of, the source of the Missouri ; he adds that the 
northern branch rises from a number of lakes near the Shin- 
ing Mountains. But we can place no dependance upon the 
information which he gives from second hand, when we find 
it blended with such fictions as are contained in the fol- 
lowing extract. " The river St Pierre, which runs through 
the territory of the Naudowessies, flows through a most 
delightful country, abounding with all the necessaries of 


life that grow spontaneously, and with a little cultivation it 
might be made to produce even the luxuries of life. Wild 
rice grows here in great abundance, and every part is filled 
V(^ith trees, bending under their loads of fruits, such as plums, 
grapes, and apples. The meadows are covered with hops 
and many sorts of vegetables, while the ground is stored 
with useful roots, with angelica, spikenard, and ground- 
nuts as large as hen's eggs." We were not so fortunate as 
to meet with those apples, plums, and other good things, 
Avhich grew spontaneously sixt)'- years since in the country. 

The St. Peter, in our opinion, probably never can be 
made a commodious stream ; for although it flows over 
gradations, and not upon a slant, yet as these gradations 
are accumulated into the upper third of the distance 
between Big Stone Lake anil the mouth of the river, 
the expense of rendering it navigable, by damming and 
locking, would far exceed the importance of the object. 
The plan would doubtless be found very practicable, but 
the scarcity of water during the greater part of the year 
Avould render these works unavailing. From considera- 
tions upon which it is unnecessary to dwell, and the accu- 
racy of which might be disputed, though they appear tons 
to lead to correct results, we have estimated the fall in the 
river, or difference of level between the Lac qui parle and 
the mouth of the river, at about fifty or sixty feet. Accord- 
ing to this estimate, the average fall does not exceed two 
or three inches per mile. 

The river having taken a bend to the west, we con- 
tinued our route in what appeared to have been an old 
water-course, and, within three miles of the Big Stone 
Lake, found ourselves on the banks of Lake Travers, 
which discharges its v/aters by means of Swan or Sioux 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river. 365 

river into the Red river of Lake Winnepeek, whose wa- 
ters, as is well known, flow towards Hudson's Bay. The 
space between Lakes Travers and Big Stone, is but very- 
little elevated above the level of both these lakes ; and the 
water has been known, in times of flood, to rise and cover 
the intermediate ground, so as to unite the two lakes. In 
fact, both these bodies of water are in the same valley; and 
it is within the recollection of some persons, now in the 
country, that a boat once floated from Lake Travers into 
the St. Peter. Thus, therefore, this spot offers us one of 
those interesting phsenomena, which we have already al- 
luded to, but which are no where perhaps so apparent as 
they are in this place. Here we behold the waters of 
two mighty streams, one of which empties itself into Hud- 
son's Bay at the 57th parallel of north latitude, and the 
other into the Gulf of Mexico, in latitude 29°, rising in the 
same valley within three miles of each other, and even in 
some cases offering a direct natural navigation from one 
into the other. We seek in vain for those dividing ridges 
which topographers and hydrographers are wont to repre- 
sent upon their maps in all such cases, and we find a strong 
confirmation of that beautiful observation of a modern tra- 
veller, that " it is a false application of the principles of 
hydrography, Avhen geographers attempt to determine the 
chains of mountains, in countries of which they suppose 
they know the course of rivers. They suppose that two 
great basins of water can only be separated by great ele- 
vations, or that a considerable river can only change its 
direction, where a group of mountains opposes its course; 
they forget, that frequently, either on account of the na- 
ture of the rocks, or on account of the inclination of the 
strata, the most elevated levels give rise to no river, while 


the sources of the most considerable rivers are distant from 
the high chains of mountains."* 

The country which extends between the forty-fifth and 
forty-eighth parallels of latitude, and between the ninety- 
third and ninety-seventh of longitude, presents perhaps an 
example of the interlockage of the sources of rivers, which 
few, if any other spot on the surface of the earth, can equal. 
Here, no high ridge extends to divide the sources of three 
of the largest streams that are known. The mighty Mis- 
sissippi and many of its tributaries run from the same lakes 
or swamps, which supply the waters of Nelson's river and 
of the St. Lawrence. This limited tract of country includes 
the head of the Sioux river, and Red fork of Red river, of 
the grand fork of Rainy Lake river, of the St. Louis river 
of Lake Superior, of Rum river, the Mississippi proper, the 
Riviere de Corbeau, and the St. Peter. The Indian and 
the trader constantly pass in their canoes, from one to an- 
other of these rivulets, and without meeting with half the 
difficulties which they experience lower down upon the 
same streams, when swelled to the size of mighty rivers, 
for in fact the whole of that country is an immense swamp. 
Carver, who states this important feature of the country, 
destroys all the value of his information, by placing in the 
same district, the sources of the Oregan, or Great River of 
the West. 

In tracing the general aspect of the country, of its ridges 
and streams, we have omitted the little incidents which 
attended our progress from Lake qui parle to Lake Tra- 
vers, and although the trifling adventures, which attend a tra- 
velling party, lose all their importance, when compared to 

•Introduction to "'Humboldt's Political Essay of the Kingdom of 
Kew Spain, translated by John Black, London, 1811," page Ixxxvi. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 367 

the constant and invariable features of the natural scenery, 
yet as this part of our route was more diversified by incident 
than any that had preceded it, we may be permitted to dwell 
upon it for a moment. While travelling over the prairie which 
borders upon that part of the St. Peter, that connects Lake 
qui parle with Big Stone Lake, our attention was aroused 
by the sight of what appeared to be buffaloes chased across 
the prairie. They, however, soon proved to be Indians ; 
their number, at first limited to two, gradually increased to 
near one hundred ; they were seen rising from every part 
of the prairie, and after those in the advance had recon- 
noitred us, and made signals that we were friends, by 
discharging their guns, they all came running towards us, 
and in a few minutes we found ourselves surrounded by a 
numerous band. They had at first been apprehensive that 
we might be enemies, and this was the cause of the difier- 
ent manoeuvres which they made previous to discharging 
their guns. The effect of these guns, fired upon the prairie 
in every direction, and by each, as soon as he had acquir- 
ed the requisite degree of certainty that the strangers werf 
friends, was really very beautiful. As they approached, 
we had an opportunity of observing that these Indians 
were good-looking and straight ; none were large, nor were 
any remarkable for the symmetry of their forms. They were, 
for the greater part, destitute of clothing, except the breech- 
cloth, which most of them wore. A few, however, and these 
adults, had divested themselves of this almost indispensa- 
ble article of dress. We were indeed surprised to see some 
old men among them quite naked, and no notice appeared 
to be taken of it by the others. Some of them, and parti- 
cularly the young men, were dressed with care and osten- 
tation ; they wore looking-glasses suspended to their gar- 
ments. Others had papers of pins, purchased from the tra- 


(lers, as ornaments. We observed that one, who appeared 
to be a man of some note among them, had a live sparrow- 
hawk on his head, by way of distinction; this man wore 
also a buffalo robe, on which eight bear tracks were paint- 
ed. Some of them were mounted on horseback, and 
were constantly drumming upon the sides of their horses 
wdth their heels, being destitute both of whip and spur. 
Many of them came and shook hands with us, while the 
rest were riding all round us in different directions. They 
belonged, as we were told, to the Walikpdtoaii, one of the 
tribes of the Dacotas. Their chief being absent, the prin- 
cipal man among them told us that they had thirty lodges 
of their people at the lower end of the lake, and invited us 
to visit them, which invitation was accepted. These In- 
dians demonstrated the greatest friendship and satisfaction 
at seeing us. As we rode towards their lodges, we were 
met by a large party of squaws and children, w4io formed 
a very motley group. These squaws had no ornament, 
nor did they seem to value themselves upon their per- 
sonal appearance. We observed that both they and the men 
had very handsome small feet and hands. The moccassins, 
which they usually wear, prevent their feet from spread- 
ing, as is the case with those w'ho walk unrestrained by 
any kind of shoe. From the use of these, as probably also 
from the habit of walking with caution, their feet retained 
a beautiful arched form. The dress of the women consist- 
ed of a long wrapper, with short sleeves, of dark calico ; 
this covered them from the shoulders to the Avaist; a piece 
of blue broadcloth wound two or three times round the 
waist, and its end tucked in, extended to the knee. They 
also wore leggings of blue or scarlet cloth. Their forms 
were rather clumsy ; their waists not very delicate ; they 
exhibited a great breadth of hips. Their motions were not 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 369 

graceful, and theii- walk reminded one of the party of the 
praise in the song of the modern Greek, as recorded by 
Dodwell, " My love walks about like a goose." 

The village, to which they directed us, consisted of 
thirty skin lodges, situated on a fine meadow on the bank of 
the lake. Their permanent residence, or at least that which 
Ihey have occupied as such for the last five years, is on a 
rocky island, (Big Island,) in the lake, nearly opposite to, 
and within a quarter of a mile of, their present encampment. 
Upon the island they cultivate their cornfields, secure 
against the aggressions of their enemies. They had been 
lately engaged in hunting buffalo, apparently with much 
success. The principal man led us to his lodge, where- 
•in a number of the influential men were admitted, the 
women being excluded ; but we observed that they, with 
the children, went about the lodge, peeping through all 
the crevices, and not unfrequently raising the skins to ob- 
serve our motions. They soon brought in a couple of large 
wooden dishes, filled with pounded buffalo meat boiled, 
and covered with the marrow of the same animal ; of this 
we partook with great delight; it was the first time that 
several of the party had tasted the fresh buffalo meat ; and 
it was the first meal made by any of us upon fresh meat, 
since we had left Fort St. Anthony. During the entertain- 
ment, Major Long made known to them the objects of the 
expedition, at which they appeared very much gratified. 
As we rose to depart, we were informed that another feast 
was preparing for us in one of the adjoining tents, of which 
we were invited to partake. We were too familiar with 
Indian manners, not to know that the excuse of having 
just eaten a very hearty meal, would not be considered as 
sufficient among them ; and so we readily resigned our- 
selves to the necessity of again testifying our friendly dispo- 
VoL. T. 47 


sition, by doing honour to their meal. In order to save time, 
we had it brought into the same lodge. It consisted of a 
white root, somewhat similar in appearance to a small tur- 
nip; it is called, by the Dacotas, t^psin, by the French, the 
" Pomme blanche or Navet de Prairie."* It was boiled 
down into a sort of mush or hominy, and was very much 
relished by most of the party ; had it been seasoned with 
salt or sugar, it would have been considered delicious. 
This was held, even by the guides, to be a great treat. As 
we were rising from this second meal, we were informed 
that a third one was preparing for us ; we begged to de- 
cline it, having a considerable distance to travel that after- 
noon ; but we were informed that this would be a great 
disappointment to him who had prepared the feast, as in 
order to outdo all others he had killed a dog, which is con- 
sidered not only as the greatest delicacy, but also as a sa- 
cred animal, of which they eat only on great occasions. 
In order to meet his wishes we deferred our journey for an 
hour, but the repast not being then prepared, we were com- 
pelled to leave the village, to the great and manifest mor- 
iication of our third host, and to the no small disappoint- 
ment of most of our party, who were desirous of tasting 
of the sacred animal. In order to make a return for the 
civilities which we had received at the hands of the In- 
dians, we informed them that if they would despatch a 
messenger with us, we should send them, from a neigh- 
bouring trader's house, some tobacco, all ours having been 
lost on the river. They gladly accepted the proposal, and 
sent two lads with us for it. In the afternoon, we reached 
a .house belonging to the American Fur Company. It is 
situated about half way up the lake. Mr. Moore, the super- 

• Psoralea Esculenta, Nuttall. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 371 

intendant, showed us every attention, and supplied us with 
as many of the articles which we required, as he could dis- 
pose of. In the vicinity of Mr. Moore's house, we saw lamb's 
quarter,* which was more than seven feet high. This plant 
was, at that time, almost too old for use, but until then it had 
proved a very valuable addition, at our meals, to the extreme- 
ly small ration of biscuit, which at that time was reduced to 
about one ounce per day for each man. At Mr, Moore's 
we ate of a very good fish, called the buffalo fish. We had 
met, on the bluff which commands his house, two Indian 
lodges, in one of which was T^t^nkS. Wechadi^ta, (the buf- 
falo man,) an Indian who claims the command of the 
Wahkpatoans. We had declined his invitation to stay at his 
lodge in the afternoon, being desirous of reaching Mr. 
Moore's house as early as possible, but we promised to re- 
turn about sunset, and he accordingly made all due prepa- 
rations to receive us. The chief, and his principal men, 
were in waiting. We entered the skin lodge, and were 
seated on fine buffalo robes, spread all round ; on the fire, 
which was in the centre of the lodge, two large iron ket- 
tles, filled with choicest pieces of buffalo, were placed. 
When the chief took his seat, he had near him a large 
pouch or bag, decorated with but little taste, although he 
seemed to have gathered up all that he could collect in the 
way of ornament. Among other things, we observed 
an old and dirty comb. He had, since our first visit, be- 
dawbed his face with white clay. Tatanka Wechacheta is 
a young man, slender, but well-formed, rather tall, with a 
wide mouth, large eyes, which, when we saw him, had an 
unusual expression of fierceness, from being remarkably 
bloodshot 5 otherwise we should judge that his appearaiice 

* Chenopodium album. 


would be prepossessing. Among the many Dacotas with 
whom we have met, few present any remarkable expression 
of cunning, still less those dreadful looks which distin- 
guished the Potawatomi partizan, Metea. Their faces are 
faithful indices to the equanimity of their souls; yet the 
action of the muscles and the bones of the face are not 
concealed, as they often are in the white man, by a load of 
flesh. This, together with his deep sunk eye, renders the 
Indian capable, on great provocation, of assuming and ex- 
hibiting the most terrific passion. On the right of the chief 
sate one who is held in high veneration by his tribe, being 
the greatest medicine or magic man among them. His 
cures are considered as miraculous •, they are wrought by 
spells as well as by herbs, with which he is considered to 
be very conversant. In his countenance it was not difficult 
to discover a mixed expression of knavery and h)'pocrisy. 
Soon after our arrival at the lodge, an Indian entered it, 
whom it required but little skill in physiognomy, to mark 
out immediately as a stranger ; his complexion was at least 
one shade darker than that of the Dacotas ; his features 
differed materially ; his face was rounder and shorter ; his 
mouth was wider ; his eyes had more of the European 
than native American character; he appeared to be very 
old ; his locks were hoary ; his face bore perhaps the cha- 
racter of an old Frenchman, more than of any other nation. 
We were informed that he was an Assiniboin, who had 
been made a prisoner many years since. He seemed to be 
kindly treated, though a sort of butt for the jokes of the 
Dacotas, whether men, women, or children. After the 
customary preliminaries of shaking of hands, smoking the 
pipe of peace, &c. we proceeded to the feast, which was 
found excellent. The buffalo meat had been selected with 
Care, the fat and lean judiciously portioned out, the whole 


boiled to a proper degree, and in fine, though our appe- 
tites were not stimulated by a long fast, this repast appear- 
to us one of the best of which we had ever partaken. Our 
hosts were gratified and flattered at the quantity which we 
ate; the residue of the feast was sent to our soldiers. In 
this, and every other instance where we have been invited 
to a feast by the Indians, we observed that they never eat 
with their guests. 

Tatanka Wechacheta is the nephew of a man of con- 
siderable distinction among the Wahkpatoan Dacotas. 
Since the death of his uncle, which took place lately, he 
has attempted to be considered as his successor; but the 
former was never duly acknowledged as chief, this title 
residing in Nunpakea, a man of considerable bravery who, 
by the influence of his family and of his talents, acquired 
that dignity, in preference to his first cousins, on the death 
of their father. 

Our host boasted of the many flags and medals which 
his uncle had obtained from our government, and whicli 
were then in his possession; these, and the influence of his 
great magician, may probably secure to him the dignity to 
which he aspires, if he has talent enough to uphold it. After 
the feast was over, our host rose, shook hands with all the 
gentlemen of our party, then resinned his seat, and delivered 
a speech, which, at the time, appeared to us very pertinent 
and interesting. It was delivered with apparent feeling, 
but not without some hesitation ; his gestures were vehe- 
ment and unmeaning. Having expressed to Renville our 
satisfaction at the speech, he immediately observed that it 
expressed too much adulation, and too much whining ; had 
Tatanka Wechacheta been the chief that he professed him- 
self to be, his tone would have been more imposing, and 


his style more dignified and decisive. We have preserved 
the following very imperfect sketch of this speech : — 

" Brothers, The subject, upon which I am to address 
you, is grievous to me ; and this grief is the motive which 
has thus far prevented me from speaking to you. Since 
the lamented death of my revered uncle, who died last 
year, I have been called upon to succeed to him, but as I 
am not endued with experience to know how to direct my- 
self, I shall follow the advice which I have received from 
him, and therefore I rejoice at seeing you, and I am grati- 
fied by your visit. 

" I regret that my followers are now all absent. This 
is not the season when we the Indians are together ; this is 
our hunting season. In the autumn, we collect in our vil- 
lages to meet the traders. Had you seen us thus collect- 
ed, you would have found me at the head of a large and 
powerful band of men ; at present I am alone ; still I am 
pleased to see you. 

"Brothers, There are two roads which we the Daco- 
tas usually travel ; my uncle trod both these paths. The 
first led him to the British, far towards the rising sun. 
From them he received both kindness and honour; they 
made him many presents, among which were flags and 
medals. The other road led him to the Americans at St. 
Louis ; this road he subsequently travelled. From them 
he, in like manner, received flags and medals. These he 
has bequeathed all to me. 

" I should have unfurled my flags at your approach, but 
I am unacquainted with the customs of your nation, and 
I am new in the duties of my rank. I am ignorant how 
to act ; but I am desirous of following the advice of my 
dying uncle, who bade me remain at peace with the Ame- 

SOURCE or ST. Peter's river. 375 

ricans, and always consider them as my friends; and as 
such I hold you. 

*' My Friends, I am poor and very destitute ; not so was 
my uncle. But I have as yet followed neither of the roads 
which he travelled. Since I have been called upon to rule 
over my people, I have dwelt among them, and have not 
been able to visit St. Louis, in order to obtain presents of 
powder and tobacco. 

" I have already told you, that my followers are absent. 
They are hunting to the north ; I have left with them my 
flags ; I know not whither you are going ; but I presume you 
may meet with them. They will exhibit to you my flags ; 
and you will know them, for they are those of your nation. 
I shall send them word of your intention to travel that 
way, and bid them, if they see you, treat you with be- 
coming respect, assist you, supply you with provisions, 
and with whatever else you may require. 

" My Friends, I am poor, and could not do much ; but 
I have prepared this little feast ; you have partaken of it, 
and it has gratified me. I am young and inexperienced in 
speaking, but I have done my best. Again, I thank you 
for your flattering visit." 

t37G E.M'KDniux TO thl 


Account of the Dacotas or Sioux Indians. Their dim- 
sions into tribes. Their numbers, language, manners 
and customs. Notice of TVanatan, principal chief of 
the Yanktoanan tribe. Description of the Columbia' 
Fur Compani/''s establishment on Lake Travers. 

WE have collected together all the information which 
we have obtained on the subject of the Dacotas. It results, 
either froni our OAvn observations, or from conversations 
with those able to communicate facts, either at Prairie du 
Chien, Fort St, Anthony, or Lake Travers. He, who has 
contributed most to it, is Renville ; we are aware that all 
the information which he has given us cannot be depend- 
ed upon. He was uneducated, not free from prejudices, not 
entirely exempt from the superstitions of his mother's 
countrymen. His opportunities of improvement, but more 
especially his inquiring mind, had made him sceptical up- 
on many points ; still upon some he appeared credulous. 
We believe it not impossible, that he may sometimes have 
attempted to give information which he did not possess, or 
to exaggerate truths into fictions,* We, at the time, care- 
fully recorded all that he told us, and have since made use 
of but such parts as appeared to us correct, endeavouring 
to omit all that may have sprung from ignorance, credu- 
lity, or a taste for the marvellous. 

The Dacotas are a large and powerful nation of Indians 
distinct in their manners, language, habits, and opinions, 
from th^ Chippewas, Sauks, Foxes, and Naheawak or Kil- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 377 

listeno, as well as from all nations of the Algonquin stock. 
They are likewise unlike the Pawnees and the Minnetarees 
or Gros Ventres. They inhabit a large district of country 
which may be comprised within the following limits : — 
From Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi by a curved line 
extending east of north, and made to include all the eastern 
tributaries of the Mississippi, to the first branch of Chippe- 
wa river ; the head waters of that stream being claimed by 
the Chippewa Indians ; thence by a line running west of 
north to the head of Spirit Lake ; thence by a westerly 
line to the Riviere de Corbeau ; thence up that river to its 
head near Otter-tail Lake ; thence by a westerly line to 
Red River, and down that river to Pembina ; thence by a 
south-westerly line to the east bank of the Missouri near 
the Mandan villages ; thence down the Missouri* to a point 
probably not far from Soldier's River ; thence by a line 
running east of north to Prairie du Chien. This tract in- 
cludes about seven degrees of latitude, viz. from the 42° 
to the 49°, and nine of longitude, viz. from 90° 30' to 99° 
30'. These boundaries, as well as all the subsequent facts 
which we shall state, do not apply to the Assiniboins, a 
revolted band of the Dacotas, who separated from them a 
long time ago, and who reside to the north of the 49th 
degree of latitude. We will have occasion to recur to 
them hereafter. 

This immense extent of country is inhabited by a nation 
calling themselves, in their internal relations, the Dicota, 
which means the allied, but who in their external relations 
style themselves the Och^nte Shakoaii, which signifies the 
nation of seven, (council,) fires. This refers to the fol- 

• According to Lewis and Clarke, they hunt on both banks of the 
Missouri and its tributaries, from the 43d to the 47th degree f f lati- 
tude, (vol. I. p.^1.) 

Vol. L 48 


lowing division which formerly prevailed among them.. 
viz: — 

1. Mende Wahkan loan, or people of the Spirit Lake. 

2. Wahkpa toan, or people of the Leaves. 

3. Sisi toan, or Mia Kcchakesa. 

4. Yank toan an, or Fern leaves. 

5. Yank toan, or descended from the Fern leaves. 

6. Ti toan, or Braggers. 

7. Wahkpako toan, or the people that shoot at leaves. 

These form two great divisions, which have been dis- 
tinguished by the traders into the names of Gens du Lac, 
and Gens du Large. Those that resided about Spirit Lake, 
and who are now principally found along the banks of the 
Mississippi ; and those that rove in the prairies ; these 
may be considered as including all the six last tribes. 

All the Dacotas speak the same language ; yet some dis- 
tinctions of the nature of dialects appear to prevail in sonle 
words, as spoken by the roving or by the stationary In- 
dians. From the circumstance of these difierences being 
trifling, we are led to believe, that the seven tribes were 
originally one, and that the name of Dacota, or allied, must 
not be considered as implying an union or amalgamation 
of different nations. We hope we shall not be accused of 
indulging in a fanciful comparison, when we observe that 
we see, in the use of this word by them, the same meaning 
as it has with us ; probably they sprung from one common 
root, divided into tribes according to their local distribu- 
tion upon the surface of the country, and then, speaking 
the same language, and having the same enemies, they 
found it convenient to unite in one confederacy for their 
mutual safety. We do not, however, profess to have a 
sufficient acquaintance with their language, or with philo- 
logy in general, to decide the question. Perhaps one 


skilled in this science could discover in their language a 
combination of several originally distinct tongues. If such 
ever existed, all recollection of it has been effaced among 

To ascertain the number of any Indian tribe has alwayg 
been considered one of the greatest desiderata, but at the 
same time one of very difficult attainment. The numbers of 
this nation have been variously stated by different travel- 
lers. We have had no opportunity of forming any opinion 
of our own on this subject ; but they have been represented 
to us by all who knew them as extremely numerous. We 
have already stated, in another place, that we had seen 
lodges large enough to hold fifty inhabitants. We have 
likewise to observe, that they chiefly subsist upon the buf- 
falo, an animal which exists in herds* of tens of thousands 
on the prairies between the Missouri and Mississippi, and 
which, within a few years past, was extremely abundant 
east of the Mississippi ; from this it may be argued, that 
the means of subsistence far exceed the consumption of a 
much larger population than has ever been ascribed to the 
Dacotas. It must likewise be remembered, that it is a cha- 
racteristic of the Indian never to destroy more than he can 
consume ; in this, differing much from the white hunter, 
who will frequently kill a buffalo for its tongue or its mar- 
row bones, leaving the rest of the animal as a prey to the 
wolves. In the destruction of the buffalo, the white man 
cannot even plead the inducements of trade, since a great 
many are killed whose hides are never turned to use. 
With these observations we will offer a census of the popu- 
lation of the Dacotas, as furnished to us by Renville, re- 

*The term band, as applied to a herd of buffalo, has almost become 
technical, being the only one in use in the west. It is derived from 
the French term baiide. 


marking, however, that it is usually considered as ex- 

Names ofvlllages or parties of Dacotas. No. of lodges. Warriors. Souls. 
Gens dii lac, or Jlfendewahkantoan. 

1. Keoxa, (Wapasha's, &c.) - - 40 70 400 

2. Eanbosandata, (Red Wing\s,) - 10 25 100 

3. Kapoja, (Petit Corbeau's,) - 30 70 300 

4. Oanoska, (Black Dog's,) - - 30 40 200 

5. Tetankatane, 10 30 150 

6. Taoapa, 30 60 300 

7. Weakaote 10 10 50 

Geiis dii large, or roving Dacotas. 

8. Miakechakesa, (or Sisitons,) - 130 260 1000 

9. Wahkpakota, 100 200 800 

10. Wahkpatoan, ----- 120 240 900 

11. Kahra, (a band of the Sisitons,) 160 450 1500 

12. Yanktoanan, 460 1300 5200 

13. Yanktoan, 200 500 2000 

14. Tetoans, 900 3600 14,400 

Adding for stragglers - - - 100 200 800 

2330 7055 28,100 
StrengthoftheHohaor Assiniboins, 3000 7000 28,000 

Total force of the Dacota, (before ^ , 

,.,... ^^ S- 5330 14,055 56,100 

their division,) - _ - - ^ 

Previous to their division the Assiniboins belonged to 
the Yanktoanan tribe. 

The above estimate falls somewhat short of that which 
Renville made some time before, when he was in the ser- 
vice of the Hudson's Bay Company. He then visited all 
the Dacota villages, camps, &c. and by a close calculation 
Estimated the number of warriors, exclusive of the Assini- 


boins, at 7600. This band having always been estimated 
at very nearly the same number as all the other Dacotas, 
will give an aggregate, (according to these data,) of 15,000 
warriors. Admitting the proportion of one-fourth the na- 
tion able to bear arms, which is probably very near the 
truth, it would give as a total 60,000 souls; who would oc- 
cupy about 6000 lodges. In counting the lodges we allude 
-to the skin tents which contain from eight to ten indi- 
viduals, young and old ; for the permanent cabins on the 
Mississippi contain from three to ten families each, and it 
is said that one cabin has, in some cases, furnished from 
fifteen to twenty warriors. 

As almost every traveller, who has visited the Dacotas, 
has given a different enumeration of their divisions ; some 
reckoning but seven, while others admit as many as twenty- 
one tribes ; it may be well to observe that this distribution 
into fifteen parties is merely introduced with a view to 
facilitate a better acquaintance with the nation. We believe 
that there are but seven tribes among the Dacotas, as their 
name of Ochente Shakoan implies; the divisions which we 
have admitted in the Mende Wahkantoan, are probably 
not very important, and we know that similar ones exist 
among the several tribes of roving Dacotas ; we have no 
doubt that the Tetoans are divided into many parties, such 
as the Tetons of the Burnt wood, the Tetons Okandandas, 
Tetons Mennakenozzo, Tetons Saone, &c. as enumerated by 
Lewis and Clarke. If we have not made use of any of these 
divisions in most of the other tribes, it is because we could 
not obtain them so accurately ; and also because they are less 
important; a hunter, who has no fixed residence, will wil- 
lingly pass from one party of Indians to another, belong- 
ing to the same tribe as he does, and this he will be ready 
to do at any time ; but he who has his lodge, his cornfields;, 


&c. is much more inclined to attach himself to the village 
in which he lives; and, accordingly, we find that the resi- 
dences of the Dacotas, on the Mississippi, &.c. are still, for 
the most part, kept up in the same places, where Carver 
saw them in 1766. 

The population of the Dacotas varies, according to the 
different travellers. Carver estimates the Naudowessies of 
the plains, (independant of those of Spirit lake,) at up- 
wards of two thousand ; but as he includes in these the 
Shiennes and Omawhaws, who, at present at least, form 
distinct nations, it is evident that we can draw no conclu- 
sions from his statement. Lewis and Clarke establish their 
numbers at about two thousand five hundred and fifty war- 
riors, which, upon the data of one warrior to four souls, 
admits a population of about ten thousand, but this is un- 
doubtedly far under the truth. Pike states their population 
at twenty-one thousand six hundred and seventy-five, in- 
cluding three thousand eight hundred and thirty-five war- 
riors. We believe the aggregate which he gives is nearly 
correct, but that he allows too few warriors. Among such 
Indians as have partially acquired habits of civilized life, 
the proportion of one warrior in five souls may be very 
nearly true ; but among the roving bands, which constitute 
the majority of the Dacotas, we would not admit the ratio 
to be less than one to four; for the number of children and 
old men is proportionally much smaller. Youths are, at a 
very early age, counted as warriors ; probably every male, 
above the age of sixteen, may, in reality, be enumerated as 

From these observations we are led to admit, that the 

• Vide Carver, ut supra, p. 50. — Lewis and Clarke, vol. 1, p 60. — 
Pike, appendix to Part I. p. 66. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 383 

population of the Sioux nation cannot be under twenty- 
five thousand souls, and that it includes at least six thou- 
sand warriors. 

The following synopsis of the usual residence of the Da- 
cotas, and of the actual state of the villages or parties above 
alluded to, may be of use as a term of comparison for future 

1. Keoxa. Their chief is Wapasha ; they have two vil- 
lages on the Mississippi, (one on lawa river, the other near 
Lake Pepin ;) they hunt on both banks of the Mississippi, 
near Chippewa river and its tributaries. The chief holds 
his situation by hereditary tenure ; his father was a great 
warrior ; the present chief is a wise man, addicted to agri- 
culture. Keoxa signifies " relationship overlooked," be- 
cause they unite or have connexion between nearer rela- 
tions than the other Dacotas ; first cousins, uncles and 
nieces, and even brothers and sisters intermarry. 

2. Eanbosandata means " vertical rock," from a rock 
on Cannon River. Their chief is Shakea, who has always 
been considered as dependent upon Wapasha ; he rose to 
his station by military talents. They have two small vil- 
lages, one on the Mississippi, the other on Cannon river ; 
they hunt on the head waters of that stream. 

3. Kapoja, means "light;" they are supposed to be 
more active than the other Dacotas. Their present chief 
is a very distinguished man, and belongs to one of the 
oldest families of chiefs among the Dacotas, he being the 
fourth of his family in direct line. At a meeting of many 
Indian nations, which took place at Lake Travers about 
four or five years ago, there were present, besides some 
men from all the tribes of Dacotas, many from the Assini- 
boins, Mandans, Minnetarees, lawas, and other nations, 
who all addressed him by the name of " Father," acknow- 


ledging thereby not only his superiority over all the other 
Dacota chiefs, but even that of the Dacota nation over 
theirs. At this meeting, they exchanged and renewed 
pledges of friendship, &c. The festivities, which lasted 
about a fortnight, consisted of dances, songs and repasts ; 
the principal feast was celebrated on the 25th of June. 
Buffaloes were then very abundant in the country, and a 
great number were killed. The chief to whom the flat- 
tering distinction of Father was thus applied, is the same 
that is generally called Petit Corbeau by the traders, Che- 
tanwakoamane by the Dacotas.* Renville interpreted for 
this Indian at the time when he visited Drummonds island, 
in 1815. He reproached the British government for the 
situation in which they left the Indians. When told by Col. 
M'Coy, the Indian agent for the British, that he acted in 
compliance with one of the stipulations in the treaty with 
the United States, the chief replied, that the British go- 
vernment had deceived them ; they were at peace with the 
Americans in 1812; but they had been excited to acts of 
hostility ; at the time that he spoke, they were at war with 
the United States, having been instigated to it by the Bri- 
tish, who then deserted them. He could not believe that 
it was on account of their stipulations ; he summoned them 
to fulfil their promises, or he must charge them with fraud 
and cowardice. When he was invited to settle in Canada, 
and assured of support and maintenance for himself and 
his band, he indignantly replied, that he required none of 
their support; he would fight, and himself obtain peace for 
his nation, and they would support themselves upon their 
own lands. The Kapoja Indians have but one village, 

■♦This chief formed one of the deputation who visited -the City of 
Waslungton in July, 1824. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 3S5 

which is on the Mississippi, below the St. Peter; they 
hunt on the St. Croix river. 

4. Oanoska signifies great avenue. Wamendetanka, 
(War Eagle,) their chief, was formerly a dependant on 
Petit Corbeau. He has but one village on the St. Peter ; 
he hunts on the Mississippi, above the Falls of St. An- 

5. Tetankatane, (old village.) This is the oldest vil- 
lage of the Dacotas. At the time when Wapasha's father 
ruled over the nation, there were four hundred lodges 
there. Wapasha formerly lived in that village, but hav- 
ing removed from it with the greater part of his warriors, 
a few preferred remaining there, and chose one of their 
number as a leader. His son, Takop^peshen^, (dauntless,) 
now rules over them. He is considered a dependant 
of the next following chief ; he has but one village on the 
St. Peter, three miles above its mouth ; he hunts on this 
river and the Mississippi. 

6. Taoapa. The chief of this party is called Shakpa, 
which means six. He inherited his station, and is a dis- 
tinguished man, ranking in the nation third only to Wa- 
pasha and Petit Corbeau. He has but one village ; it is 
situated on the St. P^ter, between which river and the 
Mississippi he hunts. 

7. Weakaote. a small band which is dependant up- 
on the preceding. 

8. Meakechakesa derives its name from a point in the 
river, which has been cut off and forms an island. Their 
chief is called Wahkanto, or " blue spirit ;" he rules by 
right of his family. His tribe has no fixed villages, no mud 
or bark cabins like all the preceding tribes ; they reside all 
the year round in skin lodges, which they shift from place 
to place. Their chief rendezvous is on the Blue Earth 

Vol. L 49 


river; they hunt upon that stream in winter; during the 
Summer season they pursue the buffalo as far as the Mis- 

9. Wahkpakota, or the " Shooters at leaves," which 
they mistake for deer. Their last leader was Shakeska, 
(white nails,) who died in 1822. This tribe has a very bad 
name, being considered to be a lawless set of men. Sha- 
keska rose to his station by his military talents. They 
have a regular hereditary chief, Wiahuga, (the raven,) who 
is acknowledged as such by the Indian agent, but who, dis- 
gusted by their misbehaviour, withdrew from them and 
resides at Wapasha's. This measure would have been dis- 
approved of in ordinary cases, but, owing to the bad name 
which they have, he is considered as justifiable in desert- 
ing his tribe. They have no fixed villages; they inhabit 
skin lodges, and rove near the head of Cannon and Blue 
Earth rivers. Their hunting grounds are in that vicinity 
and west of it. 

10. Wahkpatoan, means "the people beyond those 
that shoot at leaves," because they live higher up on the 
river. Nunpakea, (twice flying,) is the name of their chief. 
One of the deeds, by which he has acquired respect as a 
warrior, was achieved at the age of twenty. He was, with 
a party of Dacotas, on the lands of the Chippewas, and was 
encamped on the edge of a lake ; an island opposite to his 
camp was occupied by a considerable party of Chippe- 
was ; in the middle of the night, he swam over alone to 
the island, killed one of the enemies, scalped him, and re- 
turned unobserved to his friends with the scalp of his ene- 
my. This tribe hunts near Ottertail Lake, one of the sources 
of Red river. 

11. Kahra, (Wild rice.) These Indians dwell in very 
Jarge and fine skin lodges. The skins are well prepared 

SOURCE OF ST. Peter's river, 387 

and handsomely painted. They have no permanent resi- 
dence, but frequently visit Lake Travers. Their hunting 
grounds are on Red river. They follow Tatankanaje, (the 
Standing Buffalo,) who is a chief by hereditary right, and 
who has acquired distinction as a warrior. 

12. Yanktoanan, (the Fern leaves.) This is one of the 
most important tribes, as its population amounts to one- 
fifth that of the whole nation. They have no fixed resi- 
dence, but dwell in fine skin lodges, well dressed and de- 
corated. Their hunting grounds are very extensive, spread- 
ing from Red river to the Missouri. They frequent, for 
purposes of trade. Lake Travers, Big Stone Lake, and the 
Shienne river. Their principal chief is Wanotan, (the 
Charger,) of whom we shall speak hereafter. 

13. Yanktoan, (descended from the Fern leaves,) are 
in every respect similar, and probably separated from thg 
last mentioned. Their leader, Tatanka Yuteshene, (he who 
eats no buffalo,) is distinguished both as an hereditary chief 
and as a warrior. They frequent the Missouri, and generally 
traffick with the traders upon that river. Their hunting 
grounds are east of, and adjoining to, the Missouri. 

14. Tetoans, (Braggers.) According to Renville, this 
tribe includes one-half of the Dacotas, and it is probably 
here that his calculations are most likely to be erroneous. 
They reside in skin lodges, and are constantly roving be- 
tween the St. Peter and the Missouri. They trade on both 
rivers, and are held to be very hostile to white men ; they 
are great boasters, and hence their name. They are not 
considered braver than the other tribes. Their chief, 
ChantApeta, (Heart of Fire,) is a very powerful warrior. 

We may add of the Assiniboins, whom the Dacotas call 
the Hoha, (revolted,) that they formerly belonged to the 
tribe of the Yanktoanan. They boast of having upwards of 


3000 skin lodges, of which Renville once saw three hun- 
dred pitched in one place. Their grounds are north of Pem- 
bina towards the Assiniboin river, and west of Lake Win- 
nepeek. They are at war with the Blackfeet Indians, and 
are said to send war parties every year, as far as the Rocky 
Mountains. They have been fighting the Dacotas ever 
since their separation ; but there seems to be at present a 
mutual tendency to a reunion. Their present chief rose by 
his military achievements ; his name is Minayoka, Knife 

The cause of the separation of the Assiniboins from their 
former friends is variously related. The following has ap- 
peared to us to be the prevalent tradition on this subject. 
It is said that, about fifty years* ago, a quaiTel arose be- 
tween two influential families of the Yanktoanans, at the 
time that they were hunting in the vicinity of Lake Tra- 
vers. A young man, belonging to one of these families, se- 
duced the wife of one of the warriors of the other family, 
and conveyed her to his camp. The injured husband pur- 
sued them, and, in his attempt to rescue his wife, was him- 
self slain. His father and two brothers, accompanied by two 
of his uncles, went to the seducer's camp, with a view to 
obtain the corpse of their deceased relation. On their way 
to the camp, they met with a party of the friends of the 
murderer ; a quarrel ensued, and three out of the five pe- 
rished, without having succeeded in killing one of their 
opponents. The distressed parent survived this conflict, 
and, swearing that he would avenge his losses, he betook 
himself to a camp of his friends, stated his wrongs, and ob- 

* The separation probably occurred at a much earlier period. Dates 
are soon forgotten by Indians. Hennepin mentions a nation of the Assini^ 
polls, who probably are the same. Charlevoix calls thera Assiniboils. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 38.9 

tained a party of sixty warriors who marched out with him. 
They proposed to the aggressor's friends to compromise 
the matter, by delivering over two of their party to the pa- 
rent, so that he might offer them as propitiatory victims to 
the spirits of his four departed kinsmen. This offer having 
been rejected, a battle was fought, in which the seducer lost 
twenty of his party ; his opponents lost but five. It would 
be needless to go through the long list of engagements 
fought, or to relate how each party, as often as it was van- 
quished, swore revenge against its enemies, and recruited 
itself among its friends. Suffice it to say, that the breach 
widened ; the nation was divided ; a long and bloody 
civil war ensued ; the aggressor and his friends withdrew 
to the north, ceased to pay any allegiance to the confederacy, 
and formed a new nation, to which the term Hoha, which 
means revolted, was applied by the Sioux. The Chippe- 
was, who call the Dacota nation Boines, distinguished the 
insurgents by the term of Assini Boines, which, accord- 
ing to some interpreters, means revolted Boines, but which, 
by the greater number, is supposed to be derived from the 
Chippewa word Assin, which signifies stone. Ever since 
this band has been known under the name of Assiniboin, 
or of Stone Indians. Whence the Chippewa derived this 
last appellation, we know not ; but we believe we have 
been told, that it was from the frequent use of stones, as a 
weapon of defence by the Hohas. Henry describes the 
instrument and the manner of using it. 

The Dacotas have no tradition of having ever emigrated, 
from any other place, to the spot upon which they now re- 
side ; they believe that they were created by the Supreme 
Being on the lands which they at present occupy. Of the 
origin of white men they have no idea, having never re- 
flected upon the subject; they have preserved a faint tra- 


dition of their first meeting with a white man, but who 
this was, and when it took place, they are unable to telL 
They believe that he was a Frenchman, and that he was 
first discovered by a party of Mende Wahkan toan ; as 
soon as the Dacotas saw him they were much surprised at 
his dress and complexion ; they took him prisoner, secured 
him, and brought him to their camp. He had in his hand 
a gun. By means of signs they asked him the use of that 
instrument; he pointed out to them that with it he could 
take away the life of any object he pleased ; they then 
placed a man before him, challenging him to the proof of 
what he had advanced, ; upon his refusal to do it, they 
placed a dog before him, which he immediately shot and 
killed. Terrified at the report of the gun, they all ran oflf, 
considering him as the spirit of the thunder ; as he remain- 
ed there, they returned to him, called him by the name of 
Thunder, and held him in great awe and veneration. 

Their first discovery by white men is referred by Cliar- 
levoix* to the year 1660, when he states that they were 
met by two Frenchmen proceeding west from Lake Su- 
perior. Father Hennepin's visit to the Falls of St. An- 
thony, did not take place till upwards of twenty years af- 
ter this. Previous to Charlevoix's writings, the Dacotas had 
been referred to a Chinese origin. This idea is supported 
by Carver, but upon such weak analogies of language as must 
surprise us, when advanced by one who certainly was not 
destitute of judgment and observation. Pike ascribes to 
them a Tartarean origin, on the ground of " their guttural 
pronunciation, their high cheek bones, their visages and 
distinct manners, together with their own traditions, sup- 
ported by the testimony of neighbouring nations." 

*Hist. de laNouv. France, torn. 2, p. 98. 

SOURCE 0^ ST. Peter's river. 391 

The Dacotas have a very simple system of religion. 
They believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, and of 
a number of subordinate ones, whose powers, privileges, and 
attributes vary much. The Supreme Being is by them called 
Wahkan Tanka, or Great Spirit. They worship him, consi- 
dering him as the Creator of all things that exist, and as the 
Ruler and Disposer of the Universe ; they hold him to be the 
source of all good, and the cause of no evil whatever. The 
next spirit in respect to powei', is the Wahkan Shecha, or 
evil spirit ; his influence is far less extensive than that of 
the Wahkan Tanka, and it is exclusively exerted in the 
performance of evil. He is co-eternal with the former, in- 
capable of doing any good, the promoter of all wars, strifes, 
&c. Although partially under the control of the Great 
Spirit, yet it is not in the power of the latter entirely to 
check him. Their third divinity is the Thunder, for which 
they have the greatest awe. They fix its residence to the 
west, and some believe it to dwell upon the summit of the 
Rocky Mountains. It is almost unnecessary to add, that 
all thunder storms in that section of the country, proceed 
from the west. To each of these spirits they extend their 
worship. It has been incorrectly stated of the Dacotas that 
they do not worship the Supreme Being, thinking it un- 
necessary to supplicate an all-bountiful power. On the 
contrary, they offer sacrifices to the Great Spirit, in grati- 
tude for favours received. In sacrificing to the evil spirit, 
their object is to propitiate him, to induce him to avert his 
anger from them, or to extend to them his support in war. 
But it is the Thunder which is considered as the main 
agent in warlike operations, and to it do they chiefly 
apply for victory. Sacrifices to these three powers are of- 
fered nearly in the same manner. They begin by elevat- 
ing a pipe towards the spirit. He who gives or ordains the 


sacrifice, after having addressed the being to whom it is 
offered, takes up the calumet, and raises the stem upwards 
towards the sky, if it be intended for the good spirit; if 
for the evil deity, he points the stem towards the south ; if 
for the thunder, the pipe is directed to the west. When it 
is intended that the object sacrificed shall remain exposed 
to the atmosphere, it is fastened upon a stake, which is ele- 
vated or inclined in like manner. Human sacrifices are not 
known to have ever been resorted to, except in one in- 
stance about forty years ago. The Sioux had destroyed 
several Chippewa lodges, and taken a few women and chil- 
dren. Wamendetanka's father, who was a partizan war- 
rior, expressed his belief that the sacrifice of a child would 
ensure him good luck. Accordingly he offered one to the 
evil spirit to obtain success in w^ar. The child was fixed 
upon a pole, which was inclined towards the south ; the 
death of the victim was procured by tying a rope round 
its neck. In addition to these three principal deities, the 
Dacotas acknowledge many subordinate ones ; a female spi- 
rit, for instance, resides in the sun, a male inhabits the moon ; 
both these are connected ; they are considered as benevo- 
lent beings. No particular doctrine prevails, as to the na- 
ture of the stars. The sacrifices of the Dacotas are accompa- 
nied with prayers, but not with dances. If one of the nation 
should observe any object elevated by another on a pole, as 
a saci'ifice to a spirit, and he be at that time in need of 
the same, he will not hesitate to take it, substituting some 
tobacco or other offering in its place. This is, however, 
practised only with the offerings to the inferior spirits ; for 
no Dacota would dare to remove that consecrated to the 
Supreme Being. 

The ideas of the Dacotas, respecting a future state, dif- 
fer but little from those of other Indians : and we mav re- 


ceive them with less diffidence, as they have had but little 
intercourse with missionaries, whether Catholic or other- 
wise ; still, in some of their credences, as related to us, it 
was impossible not to discover a few of the doctrines of 
Christianity, which had probably crept in unnoticed by 
them. The Dacotas admit that there are in man two dis- 
tinct essences, to which they respectively apply the terms 
of Wanari and Wahk&n, which our interpreters translate 
by soul and spirit. They believe that after death the souls 
go to the Wanare Tebe, or dwelling place of the souls. 
That in order to reach it, they have to pass over a rock, 
the edge of which is as sharp as that of a knife ; those who 
fall off go to the region of the evil spirit, where they are 
kept constantly chopping wood, carrying water, &c. being 
frequently flogged by their relentless master. 

Those, on the contrary, that have passed safe over the 
rock, have a long journey to travel; and as they proceed, 
they observe the camping places of the souls that have 
preceded them ; at these spots fires are ready made for 
their accommodation ; finally, they reach the habitation of 
the Wahkan Tanka, or Great Spirit. There tliey find many 
villages of the dead ; they meet with some spirits there, 
who point out to them the way to the residence of their 
friends and relations, with whom they are reunited. Their 
life is an easy and a blissful one, they hunt the buffalo, plant 
corn, &c. It is believed, that when children are on the 
point of death, their departed relations return from the 
land of souls in order to convey them thither. Women 
are liable to go to either of the places, but all are entitled to 
a situation in the land of the blessed, except such as have 
violated their chastity, committed infanticide or suicide. 

Their system of Ethics is as simple. Men are held to 
go to the residence of the Great Spirit if they be good and 

Vol. I. 50 


peaceable, or if they die by the hand of their enemy. If 
they perish in a broil with their own countrymen, their 
souls are doomed to the residence of the Evil Spirit. Sui- 
cide is with them attended with the same penalty as with 
women, but it is of very rare occurrence. Women are, in 
their opinion, bound at all times, whether single or mar- 
ried, to be chaste. If an unmarried female prove other- 
wise, she usually endeavours to conceal her shame by pro- 
curing abortion ; this is held to be highly criminal ; but it 
is the cause and not the act of abortion which is censured ; 
for married females frequently obtain miscarriages with 
the knowledge and consent of their husbands, and to this 
no objection is made. Widows, that prove with child, 
seldom resort to the same means, but they endeavour to 
conceal the birth of their offspring; and this is consi- 
dered as equally criminal. Suicide is very common 
among the Dacota women ; they are impelled to it by 
extreme sorrow and affliction ; but it is held dishonourable. 
As most women inflict it upon themselves by hanging,' 
they are said to go to the regions of the wicked, dragging 
after them the tree to which they were suspended. This 
fact has already been recorded by Bradbury, who adds, 
that they are doomed for ever to drag this tree, and that for 
this reason they always suspend themselves to as small a 
tree as can possibly sustain their weight. 

The Dacotas repel the charge of cannibalism with great 
horror ; they assert that they have never been guilty of it, 
but charge their neighbours with the crime. Renville 
states, as a circumstance for which he is willing to vouch, 
that he was present at the siege of Fort Meigs, in the year 
1813. The fort was besieged by general Proctor, at the 
head of the British army, attended by a corps of about 
three thousand Indians, consisting of Dacotas, Potawato- 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 395 

mis, Miamis, Ottowas, Wolves, Hurons, Winnebagoes, 
Shawanese, Sauks, Foxes, Menomonies, &c. They had 
all shared in the battle except the Dacotas, who had not 
yet engaged against the Americans, and who were then on 
their way to Quebec. While Renville was seated, one af- 
ternoon, with Wapasha and Chetanwakoamane, a deputa- 
tion came to invite them to meet the other Indians, the 
object of the meeting not being stated ; the two chiefs 
complied with the request. Shortly after, Frazier, (an in- 
terpreter,) came and informed Renville that the Indians 
were engaged in eating an American, and invited him to 
walk over to the place. He went thither, and found the hu- 
man flesh cut up, and portioned out into dishes, one for each 
nation of Indians. In every dish, in addition to the flesh, 
there was corn. At that moment they called upon the 
bravest man in each nation, to come and take a portion of 
the heart and head ; one warrior from each nation was al- 
lowed a fragment of this choice morsel. In the group of 
Indians present, there was a brave Dacota, the nephew of 
Chetanwakoamane, known by the name of the " Grand 
Chasseur." They invited him to step forward and take 
his share, and among others a Winnebago addressed him, 
and told him that they had collected their friends to partake 
of a meal prepared with the flesh of one of that nation that 
had done them so much injury. Before the Sioux warrior 
had time to reply, his uncle arose and bade his nephew 
rise and depart thence ; he then addressed himself to 
the Indians : " My friends," said he, " we came here, not 
to eat Americans, but to wage war against them ; that will 
suffice for us ; and could we even do that if left to our 
own forces ? we are poor and destitute, while they possess 
the means of supplying themselves with all that they re- 
quire ; we ought not therefore to do such things." His com- 


rade, Wapasha, added, " Wc thought that you, who live near 
to white men, were wiser and more refined than we are who 
live at a distance; but it must indeed be otherwise if you 
do such deeds " They then rose and departed. Renville 
is positive that he could not have been deceived, for it was 
the head, heart, both hands and feet of a man that he saw 
in the dishes ; and he saw some of the warriors partaking 
of them. The British officers were in their camp, and not 
aware of the transactions that were going on among the 
Indians. When informed of them they expressed great dis- 
satisfaction. Col. Dickson, having sent for the Winnebago 
who had first set this thing on foot, asked him what could 
impel him to such horrid deeds, when he coolly replied, 
that it was better for him to do as he did, than to behave 
as the Americans had done, who had burnt his house, 
killed his wife and daughter, and mutilated their corpses. 
Col. Dickson then bade him depart, and never again ap- 
pear in his presence. Gen. Proctor gave him the same 
directions. It appears that the victim of this feast, whose 
name we could not ascertain, was a prisoner of the Win- 
nebagoes, who killed him with a view to prepare the en- 
tertainment. It was not done for want of provisions, for 
at that time the camp was plentifully supplied ; neither 
does it appear that, in this case, it w^as fondness for the 
taste of human flesh, but, doubtless, a desire to vent their 
rage and spleen upon their prisoner, which induced them 
to prepare and partake of this disgusting repast. The Da- 
cotas have always spoken of such deeds in terms of the 
highest reprobation ; and we heard of one case only as hav= 
ing happened among them ; it occurred in the year 1811, 
during a very general famine, three women partook of the 
flesh of a man who had previously died of hunger ; but even 
in this ease where they w^ere urged by a necessity which 


probably no white man could have resisted, their conduct 
was generally blamed ; and two of them having died a 
short time afterwards, their death was supposed to have been 
brought on by this food. The third still lives; she is re- 
garded with horrour by the rest of the nation, who also 
consider her present state of corpulence as produced by 
that fatal food ; they state it, as their opinion, that she will 
die choked with the fat of the man of whom she ate. 

We have heard some cases of cannibalism related of 
them by their neighbours, but none appeared so well sub- 
stantiated as to be entitled to belief, especially as the opi- 
nion which we have adopted, is supported by the uniform 
testimony of all the travellers who have visited them, from 
Hennepin to the present day.* 

The treatment of their prisoners, by the Dacotas, has ge- 
nerally been considered as kind ; and we find that even as far 
back as the visit of that traveller, they deserved that cha- 
racter. Hennepin, who certainly was much addicted to ex- 
aggeration, and who might have been alarmed at innocent 
gestures, the intention of which he might mistake, has 
given such an account of the treatment which he receivec^ 

*It appears that Tommo, (the Dacota who guided Major Long's 
party from Prairie da Cliien,) told Mr. Colhoun that he had eaten of 
a Chippewa, called Hahatong; he spoke of it without any repug- 
nance, pointed to his breast, saying that he had found that part 
to be the most delicate. This appears to be a solitary instance, 
and we only mention it because we wish to avoid the charge of 
concealing any fact that may affect our general position, that the 
Dacotas do not imitate their neighbours in this gratification of a de- 
praved appetite. Otherwise, we should have taken no notice of the 
fact, as the only interpreter at that time was George Wade, a youth 
whose qualifications in that capacity, both as to the knowledge of the 
language and integrity, we strongly suspect. 


from them, as fully confirms our statement. Their ene- 
mies seem to place great confidence in this virtue of theirs, 
as is manifest from the following transaction, which hap- 
pened about thirty years ago. A battle had been fought on 
Knife Lake between the Chippewas and Dacotas ; two hun- 
dred warriors of the latter had surprised and cut up about 
fifteen of the former, killed their wives and children 
amounting to about forty, and taken eight or ten prisoners. 
They then withdrew to the village of Tetankatane on the St. 
Peter, which at that time consisted of about three hundred 
lodges. They were engaged in celebrating their victory and 
dancing the scalp dance ; on looking round, one of the party 
was surprised to behold a warrior painted all over with 
black, and marked with ten streaks of vermilion which 
covered fresh wounds. He was immediately recognised to 
be a distinguished Chippewa chief, called in his own lan- 
guage, Keche Wabesches, by the Sioux, Natapa Hecha, 
both which terms signify the Big Martin ; it was the same 
chief who commanded the small party, the defeat of which 
they were then celebrating. Under cover of a blanket he 
had approached thus near undiscovered, passed through the 
village, and it was only when he found himself in the pre- 
sence of the warriors, that he dropped his mantle. In his 
left hand he held a calumet of peace, his right was raised 
to the heavens, as if calling for mercy. But his attitude 
was firm, his manner imposing and undismayed. He was 
immediately seized, and made to sit down; the warriors 
formed a circle to protect him against the insults of the 
women and children, the weak and the coward, who are 
generally prone to triumph over the unprotected. The in- 
trusion of an enemy, while they were engaged at their sa- 
cred rites, was by many considered a mortal offence ; those 
disposed to spare him sent word to Renville's father and 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 399 

some other French traders, who were encamped on the 
opposite side of the river ; by the influence of the traders 
he was permitted to go over to their camp until his fate 
should be decided. After some deliberation, they deter- 
mined upon sparing him ; they formed a large ring of war- 
riors convened in council and, having summoned the chief, 
they asked him what had induced him to venture among 
them ; he replied that, having searched the field of battle 
after their departure, he had not discovered the body of 
his young daughter, who was but five or six years of age, 
and concluding that she was a prisoner, he had resolved to 
come and claim her from them; the black colour, with 
which he was painted, was a symbol of his mortification ; 
his wounds were still fresh. The Dacotas having agreed to 
release her, the prisoners were all brought up ; he immedi- 
ately recognised his daughter, wept over her, and embrac- 
ed her. He remained two days among them, and was much 
feasted, the Dacotas expressing the greatest admiration of 
his valour. On his departure, they loaded his canoe with 
presents, and one hundi^ed of them accompanied him as a 
protection, as far as Rum river. During his stay he ob- 
served the scalps of his wife, brother, and other relations, 
and pointed each out. When asked by the warriors why 
he had not fought with the same desperate courage to re- 
sist their attacks, which he had manifested when he sur- 
prised them on the St. Croix river? he replied, it was not 
his courage, but his strength which had failed, he had 
fought until he fell senseless, being wounded in many places 
both by arrows and fire-arms. 

Instances exist, however, in which the Dacotas have 
killed their prisoners of war, and in some cases, long after 
they had been taken. Thus, for example's sake, it is re- 


lated of the mother of Takopepcshencj that she once killed 
a young Chippewa girl whom she had adopted as her 
daughter four or five years before. This she did to avenge 
the death of her nephews, who had been killed by the 
Chippewas; this occurrence took place in 1807; and some 
of the circumstances attending the engagement between the 
two nations, exhibit the great animosity which prevails 
between the Chippewas and Dacotas. The latter had, it is 
said, ascended Chippewa river on a hunting excursion, un- 
der the command of Shakea, the Redwing chief, when 
their leader informed them that he had dreamed of the 
near approach of their enemy. This prediction was un- 
heeded, but the subsequent night, at about two o'clock, the 
camp was assaulted by the Chippewas, who gained some 
advantage over the Dacotas ; finding them, however, more 
numerous than they had anticipated, the Chippewas with- 
drew, leaving the field to them. The Dacotas pursued and 
overtook them on an island covered with aspen ; they fired 
the woods ; the conflagration spreading over the island^ 
many of the Chippewas perished. It is stated that the 
Sioux boys afterwards amused themselves in cutting oft 
the lower joint of the fingers of the slain, as well as strips 
of skin fi'om their arms, and of these they made necklaces> 

The difficulties, misfortunes, and ill-treatment which at- 
tend prisoners among Indian nations, as well as the equa- 
nimity and perseverance which they manifest in order to 
effect a rescue, appear almost incredible to those who are 
unacquainted with the Indian character, yet there can be no 
doubt in the minds of those who have made a study of it 
The following narrative of the perils and adventures of a 
Yankton woman, whom we saw near Lake Travers, ha? 


been related to us under circumstances, which have al- 
most banished scepticism, although it at first appears mi- 

Her name was Sh^n^nska, or the White Buffalo Robe. 
When we saw her, she was about seventy years of age. 
She relates that, in her youth, while yet under twenty, she 
was taken captive by a party of Chippewas ; the man to 
whose lot she fell was cruel and relentless ; among other 
hardships, he obliged her to walk naked, for three days, be- 
fore the whole party ; and whenever, from fatigue, she 
slackened her pace, she was scourged by her captors. At 
last, on the third day, they reached a streanx where, fan- 
cying themselves secure from all pursuit, they prepared to 
sojourn some time, and that evening she was doomed to 
undergo a still more barbarous treatment, when a Chippe- 
wa warrior came in, whose mind was more generous than 
that of the others ; he declared himself her protector, an-d 
said he would adopt her as his daughter. Whether from 
his influence as a brave man, or from his decisive manner, 
or from some other motive she knows not, but she was re- 
linquished, though reluctantly, by her former master; and 
her adopted father conveyed her to his family, which was 
far to the north. In the autumn they returned towards 
the Dacota lands in pursuit of buffalo. Although the treat- 
ment which Shenanska had received from her adopted fa- 
ther was mild, yet her life was rendered unpleasant by 
his wife, who used her in an unfeeling manner. Con- 
sidering the infant child of the Chippewa mother to be, in 
part at least, the cause of her troubles, Shenanska deter- 
mined to destroy it, and on one occasion, while both parents 
were away, she stabbed it in the side with a moccassin 
awl. The infant immediately expired ; she replaced it in 

Vol. I. 51 


its cradle. When, on her return to the lodge, the mother 
saw her child in the cradle, she inquired if it had been 
long sleeping, Shenanska replied in the affirmative. 
Having gone nearer to the infant and discovered that it 
was dead, although she did not observe the wound, the 
mother instantly seized an axe, and struck a blow on She- 
nanska's head, who fell into a swoon. The blow was not a 
mortal one, she soon recovered from the effects of it, and 
having determined to make her escape, succeeded in leav- 
ing the lodge unobserved. She travelled towards the 
lands of her countrymen, and after eleven days of a fati- 
guing march, during which, she at one time suffered so 
much from hunger, that she was forced to feed upon bits 
of skin and leather, collected at a deserted encampment, 
she found herself in sight of her native Coteau, and was flat- 
tering herself with the hope of soon meeting with a party of 
her friends, when she fell in with a band of Assiniboins, 
mortal enemies to her tribe. From these she would have 
met with instant death, had not their chief interfered in 
her favour. By him she was treated kindly, but after re- 
maining a day in his camp, he advised her to make 
her escape, as otherwise she must fall a victim to the re- 
sentment of the party. He supplied her with provisions, 
a horse, and every thing she might require for the route. 
Again she started on a solitary journey, which lasted forty 
days, when she met her friends. On approaching their 
camp, her appearance was so much altered that they knew 
her not. Her own father hesitated in recognising her as his 
daughter ; at last, when she spoke and mentioned her name, 
her friends all collected around her, while she related to 
them her adventures ; after she had finished her narrative, 
her father seized his knife and stabbed himself, in testimony 


of the grief he experienced at all she had suffered. A 
mode of expressing sympathy for past troubles which, 
however, is not common among Indians. 

The Dacotas appear to take but little pains in the edu- 
cation of their children ; they follow no regular system. 
What the children learn, on the subject of their religious 
opinions and traditions, is collected gradually, and alto- 
gether in the course of unpremeditated conversations. The 
only attention which they receive is towards the develop- 
ment of those qualifications, both of mind and body, which 
shall enable them to make active hunters and dauntless 
warriors. To rise early, to be enured to fatigue, to hunt 
skilfully, to undergo hunger without repining, are the only 
points to which the Dacota thinks it important to attend in 
the education of his children. Corrections are never re- 
sorted to, they are never flogged ; indeed, with the excep- 
tion of occasionally throwing cold water upon them, to 
make them rise in the morning, they never resort to any 
authoritative measures, all which they consider as cruel 
and unnatural. Their fondness for their children is ex- 
treme, especially that of mothers for their daughters. It is 
not an uncommon thing, to see a mother carry water, hew 
wood, and undergo much fatigue, to spare it to her daugh- 
ters. This is especially the case with the mothers of those 
young Indian females, whom the traders take as their com- 
panions. It does not appear that the daughters feel the least 
compunction at the trouble which their parents undergo ; 
they consider it all as a matter of course, being doubtless 
prepared to go through the same drudgery for their chil- 
dren when they shall require it. 

No event appears of more importance to a Dacota pa- 
rent than the bestowing of a name upon his offspring. It 
is attended with much ceremony ; a large feast or sacrifice 


is prepared ; the relations and friends are invited. The 
name which is given is generally one derived from some 
visible object in the heavens or earth. The infant is made 
to support a pipe, the stem of which is directed towards 
the object from which the name is taken ; a sacrifice is 
offered to the spirit which is supposed to reside in that 
object. These sacrifices are extensive and costly, they 
consist of dogs and other animals, of skins, of scarlet cloth, 
tobacco, &c. It appears to us well established that this 
was originally an Indian institution, and not, as we at first 
apprehended, a mere imitation of the rejoicings which 
among some Christian sects attend the ceremony of naming 
a child. We are told of some Indian nations endeavour- 
ing to stimulate their youths into dreams, visions, &c.* but 
this has not appeared to us to be the case with the Dacotas ; 
when dreams do occur they are held to be favours, and 
much importance is attached to them, but no attempt is 
made to give rise to them. 

Polygamy is allowed, and no regulations whatever exist 
upon this subject ; it appears to be rather tolerated than en- 
couraged ; every man follows his inclination upon that 
point, and is esteemed neither more nor less on account of 
the number of his wives, or children. It is probable that 
most men have more than one, though few have many wives. 
The Dacotas destroy neither their children nor their old 
relations ; to the latter their conduct is perhaps not as kind 
and attentive as it ought to be ; but they make up for it by 
their attachment to their children, who receive care and 
kind treatment in proportion to their wants. The practice 
of shaping the heads of infants is unknown to them. 

* Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee of the Ame- 
rican Philosophical Society. Philadelphia, 1819, vol. I. p. 238. 


The Dacotas have prophets among them, but none that are 
so distinguished as those of the Shawanese. They are always 
prepared to oppose the incredulous with several stories, or 
anecdotes, to which they assert that they were in most 
cases witnesses. It would be vain to attempt to convince 
them of their error on this point, probably because they 
are pleased with it, and are in no manner desirous of be- 
ing convinced that it is but a delusion. Even the half- 
breed interpreters share in this belief; at least they profess 
themselves unable to account otherwise for the success that 
attends those prophecies. In relating two or three of these 
stories, we deem it unnecessary for us to premise them, by 
stating that we are not believers in them, as Carver ap- 
pears to have been in the prophecies of his friend, the 
Chief Priest of the Killistinoes, but that we merely recite 
them in order to show how far credulity will extend. 

About twenty years ago, a large party of Indians, col- 
lected near Lake Travers, were quite destitute of tobacco ; 
not knowing how to procure any, they applied to Tatan- 
kanaje, (Standing Buffalo,) a prophet of some distinction, 
and the uncle of the present chief of the Kahras. This 
man usually carried about him a little stone idol, carved 
into a human shape ; this he called his little man, and to 
it he always applied when consulted in the way of his 
profession. Tatankanaje being requested to advise the best 
means of obtaining tobacco, made answer to them, that 
if they would go to a certain place, which he pointed out 
to them, they would find his idol, and by examining it 
they would observe in its hand a piece of tobacco. They 
did as he bade them, and found in the little fellow's hand, 
a piece about four inches long ; this was brought to the 
camp, and was thought to redound much to the credit both 
of the prophet and the idol ; but Tatankanaje then observ- 


ed, that he would consult the little man, and ascertain 
where he had found the tohacco, and how he came by it. 
This he did by putting interrogatories to him, to which he 
pretended that audible answers were returned, though of 
the many present, not one heard them beside himself. 
The purport of these answers, however, as he subsequent- 
ly informed them was, that at a spot on the St. Peter, near 
to Redwood river, there was a boat, loaded with goods ; 
that her commander, a French trader, having been mur- 
dered by the Sioux, the crew had been alarmed, and had 
run awa)^, leaving the boat unguarded, together with her 
cargo, consisting principally of tobacco ; that the little man 
had seen her, and finding a piece of tobacco on a keg, had 
brought it up. The prophet having invited them to seek 
for it, they repaired to the spot, found the boat, took the 
tobacco, and returned the rest of the goods to the first 
French traders that passed up the river. This event hap- 
pened, as we were informed, in the presence of Renville 
and Frenieres, two French traders of reputation, both con- 
sidered as intelligent and enlightened men ; they were the 
fathers of the two half-breed traders with whom we were 
acquainted. The story is given with all the particulars 
that might be wished for ; the name of the owner of the 
boat was Benjamin La Goterie, a name well known in that 
country. The story has been current ever since. The 
traders, who appear to credit it, state that it was impossi- 
ble for the prophet to have visited the spot and returned 
without his absence being known, as the distance exceeds ♦ 
one hundred miles ; from whom he received his intelli- 
gence they never knew. As to the Dacotas themselves, 
they never considered it possible that it might be a knavery 
of the prophet's, but attributed it altogether to his " mys- 
tic lore.'' 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 407 

Oil another occasion, Tatankanaje acquired great re- 
putation in consequence of a prediction that he would lead 
a war party ; that on the day which he appointed, and at a 
particular spot, which he described, he would fall in with 
a camp of fifteen Assiniboin lodges, that he would attack 
and defeat them, kill a certain lumber of the enemy, and 
make a stated amount of prisoners ; he predicted in like 
manner the loss of lives, which would attend this victory. 
The event justified, as it is said, the prediction ; not only, 
as to the general results, but even as to the circumstances 
of time, place, number of killed and wounded on both 
sides, and amount of prisoners taken from the enemy. Of 
course, so valuable a prophet was constantly resorted to, 
for the recovery of stolen property, or of goods that were 
lost, for a knowledge of the fate of persons that were tra- 
velling, for the cure of diseases, and for all such other im- 
portant points, upon which the credulity both of civilized 
and savage man induces them to lend a willing ear to the 
impositions of knaves. Of his talent in recovering pro- 
perty, we regret that we can only mention a circumstance 
in which the object at stake was very trifling. Some one 
had ventured to steal away the prophet's bridle ; it was 
concealed in a lodge that formed one in a camp of one hun- 
dred lodges. The prophet took a mirror in his hand and 
walked round the village, until, as he said, he saw the lost 
bridle reflected in his mirror; he entered the adjoining 
lodge and recovered his property. 

Not only they prophecy, but they perform tricks of 
legerdemain, all which they ascribe to the success of their 
incantations. We are indebted to Mr. Charles Hess, a 
French trader, with whom Mr. Say had sever-al confer- 
ences at Fort St. Anthony, for the account of a trick per- 
formed by an Assiniboin. The magician asserted, in INIr. 


Hess' presence, as well as in that of many Indians, that 
he could cause water to flow into an empty keg, though he 
might, at that time, be upon a dry prairie, and at a dis- 
tance from any spring or stream. Mr. Hess having told 
him that he did not believe him, but that, if he succeeded, 
he would give him a keg of whiskey, the Indian offered to 
repeat the trick. He exhibited to them his keg, which 
they examined, and all judged to be empty. The bung was 
removed, the cask turned over, and no liquid issued from 
it. The Indian then commenced his incantations, raising 
his keg towards the heavens, dancing and performing 
many unmeaning gestures ; after which he presented it to 
the Indian chief that was present, bidding him to drink of 
the water which it contained; the latter drank of it, found 
it very good, and passed it to his neighbour; the cask was 
circulated, to the great satisfaction of all the Indians who 
drank of its contents, and even Mr. Hess was convinced 
that the keg really held pure water. He was, however, un- 
able to detect the deception, but supposed, that a bladder 
lilled with water had been fastened within the keg, and 
that, owing to the agitation communicated to it, the blad- 
der had been burst by means of spikes di'iven into the 
ends of the keg, for that purpose ; and that in this manner the 
water had been diffused throughout the keg. The magi- 
cian claimed and obtained his reward; but when alone 
with him, Mr. Hess charged him with being an impostor, 
and told him the manner in which he suspected that the 
trick had been performed. The magician confessed the 
truth of Mr. Hess' statement, but begged that he would not 
disclose it to the Indians. 

The person who communicated this fact to us, is one of 
the most respectable traders whom we have seen ; at the 
time that we met with him he was in great disti'ess, owing 


to the recent loss of part of his family, aggravated by a 
very painful calculous disease under which he was then la- 
bouring, and which had induced him to visit the fort in 
hopes of obtaining relief from the surgeon of the garri- 

Having always traded with the Chippewas, married 
among them, and been considered as connected with them, 
he had entertained great apprehensions of the Dacotas ; for 
the Indians generally extend to those that trade with their 
enemies the same animosity which they bear to those na- 
tions. About a year before the time when we saw him, he 
was residing at Pembina on Red river. Provisions became 
so scarce at that place, that the settlers were reduced to 
live upon lettuce seasoned with salt; about one hundred 
and fifty of them had gone out to hunt buffalo, and he at 
last resolved to go and join them, with four of the settlers 
and his family, consisting of two daughters. They had tra- 
velled five days across the prairie, killing game enough 
for a bare subsistence, and keeping a constant guard for 
fear of being surprised by the Yanktons, who rove over 
those prairies. The extent to which he carried his pre- 
cautions shows the deep presentiment which oppressed him 
at the time ; often, as he informed us himself, after his 
party had passed over the top of a gentle swell or little 
elevation in the prairie, he would cause them to halt, while 
he would turn back, and crawl along the ground to the top of 
the hill, then, raising his head above the surface, concealing 
it at the same time behind a little grass which he had cut 
for the purpose, observe whether there were Indians to be 
seen in any direction. His friends ridiculed his fears, and 
two of them separated from him, but the event proved 
how well-founded his apprehensions were. On the 6th day 
his horse having broken the halter by which he was fastn 

Vol. I. 52 


ened, Mr. Hess left the camp in search of him, and soon 
caught him ; his companions, at that moment, observed two 
buffaloes on the prairie, and, as his horse was the fleetest, 
they called out to him to chase them ; he did so, and was 
for a while separated from his party. In leaving the en- 
campment, the anxious parent advised them to be watch- 
ful, and it was with the utmost reluctance that he separat- 
ed from them. While he was killing the buffalo, a dog 
came up to him ; this excited his suspicions ; he followed 
the dog back, and, after a long ride across the prairie, came 
to a small valley where he observed his cart, and flattered 
himself with meeting with his famil)-. On approaching, his 
consternation was extreme, when he saw one of his com- 
panions feathered with arrows, scalped, and his feet sepa- 
rated from his legs. A little further lay his daughter, mur- 
dered, and with a knife still lodged in her breast; with 
streaming eyes, he withdrew it, but it was too late, she 
was lifeless. He in vain rode three times round the place, 
in search of his other daughter, he could find no trace of 
her. At some distance he discovered the corpse of his other 
companion likewise pierced with arrows. 

The distracted parent remained for a while unable to re- 
solve in his mind what course he ought to pursue ; he at- 
tempted to dig a grave for the unfortunate victims, but be- 
ing only provided with a knife, he soon gave up this at- 
tempt as a vain one ; he then determined to leave his dog 
to watch the corpses, and to return to Pembina for assist- 
ance. We cannot dwell upon the sad particulars of the 
feelings and sufferings of the agonized father, as he left the 
body of one of his daughters, swearing that he would fol- 
low, even into the camp of his enemies, his other offspring 
who, he still hoped, might have survived this calamity. 
After three days and nights spent in travelling on foot, 


without either rest or food, he at last reached Pembina. 
On hearing his sad tale, the inhabitants were so much pa- 
nic-struck, that none at the settlement would venture with 
him in the prairie to inter his fjiends, and remove his cart 
and other property. Hearing, however, that his surviving 
daughter was in one of the Yankton villages, he set out 
with the desperate resolution of recovering her or perish- 
ing in the attempt. At the termination of another arduous 
journey across the prairie, he reached the camp and was 
met by many Yanktons, one of whom, a tall athletic man, in- 
quired of him whether he was a friend or foe ; " You know 
me," said Charles Hess, " as your foe ; you know me by 
the name of the Standing Bull; you know you have kill- 
ed one of my daughters and taken the other prisoner." 
The Indian stepped backwards and pointed his arrow at 
him ; Mr. Hess levelled his gun at his opponent. The Da- 
cota seeing this, relaxed his bow and extended his hand to 
him. The Indians all complimented him upon his valour; 
they invited him to feast at most of the lodges. He saw 
his daughter; she informed him that she had been kindly 
treated, and that her master was unwilling to part with 
her. Two horses were offered for her release by some In- 
dians of a neighbouring nation, who were passing that way, 
and who were friendly to Hess ; these were refused ; four 
horses were in like manner offered and refused. At last 
her master consented to release her for the following ran- 
som, viz. two fathoms of scarlet cloth, two white blankets, 
two fathoms of blue strouding, a chief's coat, a tin kettle, 
two guns, one pair of fine pistols, a framed looking-glass 
and a paper one, two knives, six double handfuls of gun- 
powder, two hundred bullets, and a quantity of blue beads. 
So high a ransom fell heavy upon this poor man, who 
had lost his little all at the same time that his daughter was 


bken prisoner; he had to resort to the other traders for 
assistance ; and they bestowed it upon him with that gene- 
rous sympathy which is more easily found among rude and 
uncivilized men than among the more refined. They sup- 
plied him with goods on a long credit; with these, he re- 
turned to the camp, and ransomed his daughter, who, while 
he was relating this sad tale to us, was sitting by, engaged 
in decorating a piece of leather with porcupine quills, a 
work in which the Chippewas excel. A circumstance 
which we believe added to the distress of the parent, was 
that he found some difficulty in prevailing upon his daugh- 
ter to leave the Yanktons ; she had been so kindly treated 
that she cared but little about returning to her own father. 
We have not learned in what light she was considered, 
whether as a prisoner, or as an adopted daughter. 

The uniform but laborious life, which these Indians lead, 
protects them against many of the diseases incident up- 
on civilization, though it at the same time exposes them 
to some direful complaints, which their total ignorance of 
the healing art, and their superstitious confidence in their 
magicians, prevent them from curing. Among the dis- 
eases which are said to be unknown to the Dacotas, may 
be ranked the following, viz. intermittent fevers in the 
prairies which are distant from the Mississippi, and proba- 
bly even in those which border upon that river above the 
Falls of St. Anthony, Plica Polonica, baldness, (?) nym- 
phomania, spina bifida and St. Vitus's dance, scurvy, coup 
de soleil, chlorosis, and leucorrhoea. Among those which 
are known, but which are of very rare occurrence, we will 
mention jaundice, decayed teeth, and tooth-ache ; in denti- 
tion children suffer much ; in such cases the gum is never 
cut, but the children are allowed smooth stones and other 
hard substances to rub against their gums. As a palliative 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 413 

for tooth-ache the root of the Gerardria is not unfrequently 
applied. Hydrophobia is prevented by cutting out the 
wounded part. Dysentery is not common ; it is cured by 
the free use of sassafras. Deafness is rare, and deaf and 
dumb cases are exceedingly scarce. Their most prevalent 
disease is hepatitis, which is hereditary and very frequent. 
They use for its cure the oil of rattlesnakes and of other 
serpents, they say with some benefit ; but Renville informed 
us that he had never seen a person affected with it, that 
was cured. Frozen limbs are common, and are sometimes 
lost. They have been cured by the use of a plant known 
by the traders under the name of the Vinaigrier, or Vinegar 
Plant The Dacotas resist cold much better than white 
men. Hypochondriasis is very common ; it affects them 
as it does white men ; they attempt no other remedy but 
songs and dances. A woman, that was once affected with 
it, imagined that nothing would relieve her but cold water; 
she jumped into a stream where the water was only two 
feet deep, and she was drowned. Hernia is known, but 
not cured. Hysteria is also known. For dropsy they 
have no remedy. Diseases of the breast are very common, 
and are attributed to their constant smoking. Rickets occur 
in children, in which case they receive a great deal of 
nursing. Syphilis appears to have been communicated 
to the Dacotas by white men, and through the women 
who had intercourse with them ; this disease was to- 
tally unknown to those residing on the St. Peter, previ- 
ous to the establishment of the garrison at Fort St. An- 
thony ; and it is generally believed, that the first case 
among them was that of Tommo, (our guide,) who was in- 
fected with it at Prairie du Chien. The small-pox was 
in like manner originally unknoAvn to them, but it has 


proved very destructive, at different times, since their in- 
tercourse with white men ; it exerted its influence very 
fatally about fifteen years ago ; among the many instances 
of its baneful extension, it is related that, at that time, of 
forty or fifty individuals who resided in five lodges, only 
one survived this plague. The Dacotas appear to enter- 
tain no prejudice against the use of the vaccine matter ; 
they have in many cases applied it when offered to them ; 
the absence of the surgeon from his post at St. Anthony, 
at the time that we passed through, prevented our ascer- 
taining the success which he had met with among them ; 
all the surgeons of our frontier posts ought to be abun- 
dantly supplied with the virus, and their stock of it occa- 
sionally renewed, until its increased consumption by the 
Indian will enable them to obtain from them fresh virus, 
as often as they may require it. The Dacotas have no 
mode of curing the small-pox, and almost every person af- 
fected with this disease falls a victim to it. 

Venesection is resorted to by the Sioux in cases of con- 
tusions, head-aches, and pains in the breast. To a wooden 
handle they fix a small blade of flint, w^hich is covered 
with sinew except at its point ; they apply it to the vein, 
which is then cut open by a slight fillip of the finger. They 
also draw blood by scarifying, and by suction. Poisoned 
weapons are used by them in their wars ; Mr. Cameron, a 
trader, was poisoned by an Indian, who administered to 
him some of the plant used for that purpose. 

The steam bath is prepared by them as by other In- 
dians ; but is not so usually practised as a remedy ; it being 
resorted to for the purpose of obtaining good luck, and as 
a religious ceremony, in the manner which Dr. Richard- 
son describes, as having seen practised by a Crec, (Kil- 


iistino,) at Carlton House.* It is, however, sometimes used 
to cure rheumatism, which disease is not a very common 
one among them. To cure swellings they rub the skin 
with roots and plants ; and sometimes use aromatic herbs, 
to impart to their bodies a pleasant odour. When the pain 
is internal, they very frequently make incisions in the 
skin and suck up the blood, accompanying the operation 
with songs. It is probable, from the relief which they de- 
rive from this operation in certain cases, that they have 
been led to expect the same abatement to their grief, or 
disease of the mind, by resorting to a similar remedy, and 
hence the practice of lacerating their arms, thighs, legs, 
breast, &c. after the death of a friend. They generally, 
however, accompany this with lamentations, which they 
consider as affording great relief. In such cases they also 
resort to liquor when they can get it, in order to drown 
all care. Colonel Snelling mentioned to us, that when a 
Dacota in the vicinity of his garrison loses any of his rela- 
tions, he generally repairs to him with a note from the 
Indian agent, desiring that he may receive a bottle of 
whiskey. When asked by the Colonel what is the use 
of the liquor on so melancholy an occasion, the Indians 
uniformly answer, that it is to produce a flow of tears, for 
indeed, without it, they are unable to cry. 

Sterility among women is by no means uncommon, nei- 
ther is it disreputable. It frequently happens, that a wo- 
man, reputed barren, will bear children if she change her 
husband. Menstruation commences later among the Daco- 
tas than among the Potawatomis, for, with the former, it 
seldom comes on before the age of fifteen or sixteen, while 

* Franklin's Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, 
Philadelphia, 1824, p. 67. 


the latter menstruate at fourteen; this difierence is easily 
accounted for by the more severe climate which the Dacotas 
inhabit, and by their greater exposure to privations of every 
kind ; they have various emmenagogues. Women are fre- 
quently liable, during pregnancy, to lethargy and sick-sto- 
mach, and we are informed that the Dacota women have 
their faces covered with spots, in the same manner as white 
women. Being hardened to exercise, they attend to their 
usual occupations even in the last stages of gestation. This 
has frequently been brought up as a proof that the deli- 
cacy of white women, in that situation, was rather the result, 
than the cause, of the great care which they take of them- 
selves ; but it appears to us very probable, that the pro- 
portion of accidents, which occur to Indian women during 
the period of pregnancy, is greater than among white wo- 
men ; and that this would be much diminished if they 
were permitted to take the same care to avoid the causes 
of accidents, as is common among civilized nations.. The 
process of parturition is generally easy, though in some in- 
stances the labour has lasted from two to four days. They 
administer medicines in such cases, and among these the 
rattle of the rattlesnake, in doses of one segment at a time. 
Inflammation and abscess of the breast are known, but are 
not of very common occurrence ; for these the only reme^ 
dies are singing and sucking. A custom, which has been 
improperly ascribed to all Indian women, is that of bathing 
in cold water immediately after parturition ; we have al- 
ready stated that it does not exist among the Potawato- 
mis; but the Dacotas adhere to it very pertinaciously. We 
have heai*d of an instance of a very delicate female who 
resides at Prairie du Chien. Her mother is a Dacota, but 
her father being a white man, she was educated among ci- 
vilized women, and has acquired their habits. She marri- 


ed a respectable inhabitant of the place, and having been 
delivered of a child, she was confined to her room with the 
precautions usual among white women ; her mother, who 
was absent at the time, hearing of her situation, came 
to see her, and finding her in bed, chided her severely, 
asked her if she* was going to imitate all the nonsensical 
tricks and fashions of white women, and then dragged her 
out of bed to the astonishment of her husband and of all the 
by-standers, and ducked her in the Mississippi, according 
to the manners of her nation. We have not heard that any 
accident resulted from this harsh treatment ; nor that any 
evil arises from the practice which prevails among them of 
breaking the ice in winter, in order that both mother and 
child may bathe immediately after parturition. 

Among the Dacotas thei-e are professed midwives, but 
the women are sometimes delivered by their husbands, 
brothers, sisters, &c. ; the medicine man is generally pre- 
sent but never operates, his only business is to sing, and 
to assist by his prayers and incantations. They never bleed 
during labour. Children are suckled for a long while; 
from two to five years, generally until a new pregnancy in- 
terrupts the secretion of milk. When the mother's milk 
fails, the child is suckled by another. 

We have said that there exists among the Sioux no 
marriage ceremony, properly speaking. When a white 
man wishes a wife, as it is usual for all the traders to take 
Indian women, he has only to express his wish to the pa- 
rents and relations, who always consent to it, stipulating 
the amount of the presents which he shall make to them. 
One of the gentlemen of the Columbia Fur Company in- 
formed us, that he had given for his wife, to her brother a 
keg of rum, and to her mother a complete dress ; but he 
calculated that the presents which he was obliged to make 

Vol. I. 53 


to the relations, amounted annually to sixty or seventy 
dollars in goods, worth about thirty dollars in cash. To an 
Indian it does not of course cost so much, as less is expect- 
ed from him than from a trader. Our informant added that 
it was always better to make these presents, because other- 
wise the wife would make gi'eater ones, as it would 
be impossible for her to resist the importunities of her 
friends, and particularly of her mother. 

According to the best information which we have ob- 
tained, the number of cinaedi is very small among the Da- 
cotas. We heard of but two, one in the village of Keoxa, 
the other among the Miakechakesa ; there are probably a 
few others, but the number is certainly very small, and 
they are held in the utmost contempt. 

What struck Lewis and Clarke most, among the Sioux, 
" was an institution, peculiar to them and to the Kite Indians, 
from whom it is said to have been copied. It is an association of 
the most active and brave young men, who are bound to each 
other by attachment, secured by a vow never to retreat before 
any danger, or give way to their enemies."* Of this inte- 
resting institution we have collected the following features. 
It constitutes what is called the " Dance of the Brave,'* 
or more properly perhaps, " those who perform the Dance 
of the Brave." There exists in some of the bands of the 
Dacotas, and probably also among some of the other Mis- 
souri Indians, an association called the Naiipash^'n^^, those 
who never fly or retreat. A society of this kind originates 
in an union of two friends, who, when a warlike expedi- 
tion is projected, propose to form an association. They 
send for a third warrior, and these three appoint the whole 
number, which seldom exceeds thirty or forty. When 

• Vol. I. p. 60. 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's RivEn. 41!) 

they are all collected, the two founders state to them that 
the object of the meeting is to form a company of " the 
Dauntless," and they advise them to prepare their dresses, 
which generally requires about a fortnight. In the mean- 
while, the two founders prepare the lodge of the association, 
which none but its members are suffered to enter. 

When all the members are collected together, they com- 
mence their songs and dances, and their fasts which last 
three days, during which time they reside in the lodge, 
but occasionally sally out to sing and dance in the camp. 
This fast is of the most strict nature, as they dare take nei- 
ther food nor drink during the three days. One of the 
most striking features of the association is, that it is limit- 
ed in its duration, and that its activity is suspended by the 
death of any one of its members. The duty which it en- 
joins is not destruction to its enemies, but the rushing into 
danger with songs and dances. It matters not whether 
they inflict any injury upon the enemy at the time. In- 
deed, as long as the association is in activity, they cannot 
kill one, for it is one of their obligations to go out unarm- 
ed. A society of this kind sometimes continues actively 
employed for a whole year, during which time its mem- 
bers cannot provide themselves with food or drink, but 
they must wait until it is offered to them by their friends. 
When a person once enters into the Nanpashene, he is 
bound to it for life ; for although its duration is limited, yet 
it may be renewed at the call of any of its members, in 
which case all are bound to join in ; but during the term 
of its suspension, each may act for himself as he pleases. 
It is not always that an Indian is willing to enter into this 
society, for though it is held in high honour, yet it requires 
a more than usual courage to expose one's self passively to 
the greatest dangers, under a strict obligation,, which none 


flare violate, never to retreat from it. In the commence- 
ment of the association, the two founders having selected 
a third, and this one nominated a fourth member, these 
meet in the lodge appropriated to their purpose, and as soon 
as they have entered it, and smoked the pipe of war, they 
cannot retract. These four assume the appropriate dress, 
and issue out of the lodge singing and dancing; they se- 
lect such of the warriors, as they think will be good mem- 
bers of the band, and convey them, whether willing or not, 
to their lodge. If the warrior enter it, even but for a mo- 
ment, he is bound to the association and cannot withdraw ; 
but if he succeed in effecting his escape before he enters 
the lodge, he is free. Vacancies in their body are never fill- 
ed ; the association continues until it is annihilated by the 
death of all its members, when a new one may be formed. 
They have occasional meetings for feasts and sacrifices. 
Their fasts are both frequent and rigid. It is difficult to 
determine, with precision, what the object of the institu- 
tion is, but it seems to be to convince the enemy, that there 
are, in their band, a number of men so heedless of danger, 
that they will rush into it, under a solemn pledge never to 
retreat, and also without the usual motive of selling their 
lives at a high price, by the number of the enemy whom 
they will have previously destroyed. It must be admitted 
that the passive courage, which this association requires of 
its members, presents perhaps the highest degree, which 
man has ever manifested ; for they are not even animated 
by a religious or a superstitious feeling; they do not be- 
lieve that this self-devotion will ensure success to their 
party. They, it is true, entertain the opinion that it is 
more difficult to kill them than other warriors ; yet this 
does not detract in the least from their merit, as they know 
they must, sooner or later, fall victims to the dangers to 

sotiRCK OF ST. Peter's river. 421 

which they expose themselves. The great divinity to 
which this association looks up for support, is the thunder, 
to which frequent sacrifices are offered, especially by the 
two founders who are its leaders. The sacrifices are made 
at the door of the lodge, and consist of pieces of meat stuck 
upon a wooden fork, and inclined to the west. The mem- 
bers of this association have a costly and splendid dress, 
made of antelope's skin ; they wear feathers upon their 
heads. Every band of the Sioux has not an association of 
this kind ; some have tw^o or three societies, one of which 
has alone the title of the brave ; the others being called the 
soldiers, the buffalo, &c. The object of these appears to be 
different, as they are not bound to that passive exposure 
to danger, w^hich characterizes the Nanpashene. 

The Dacotas that reside along the Mississippi and St. 
Peter, raise maize in tolerable abundance ; they also cul- 
tivate beans, pumpkins, and other vegetables ; some of them, 
such as Wapasha, appear to be aware of the advantages 
which attend agriculture, but all are not equally so ; and 
the occasional supplies of these articles which they receive 
from the Indian agents and officers of our government, 
whenever they are in want of food, no doubt tend to en- 
courage their lazy habits. Col. Snelling once offered a 
chief the use of a plough, and of a person to teach him the 
manner of working it, in order that his band might raise 
potatoes. The chief made no answer for some time, but 
continued to smoke his pipe with great deliberation ; when 
this was exhausted, and he had carefully laid it aside, he 
rose, advanced towards the colonel, shook his hand, and 
observed that he had taken the offer into consideration, and 
had concluded, that he would be a great fool were he to 
accept of it, when he recollected that his father always 
supplied him with provisions as often as he was in need of 


them. The Dacotas do not profess, as the Potawatomis 
do, to have been acquainted with the preparation of sugar 
from the sap of the maple tree previous to their intercourse 
with white traders. Their food is usually prepared by 
boiling it in iron pots, which they procure from the traders, 
and as far as we have observed, they appear to prefer their 
meat well done. In their degree of cleanliness they vary 
much, some being far more particular than others. The 
Dacotas may upon the whole be considered as not very un- 
cleanly ; and, as far as relates to their persons, they attend 
much to this particular. They had no substitute for ardent 
spirits, and were completely unacquainted with intoxica- 
tion previous to their intercourse with Europeans. 

Of their divisions of time it is difficult to obtain correct 
information. The interpreters, even the most intelligent, 
are so prone to connect their own opinions with those of 
the Indians, that they can scarcely be trusted in this parti- 
cular. We have not been able, however, to trace among 
them any idea of the lost moon, ascribed to them by Car- 
ver. The following division of the year was furnished by 
Renville, and is added, though we place but little confi- 
dence in its accuracy, at least as having been in use among 
the Indians previous to their intercourse with white men. 
They are said to divide the year into twelve moons, com- 
mencing with the September one, and distinguishing them 
as follows. (We signifies moon.) 

September, Wajopi we, Commencement of wild rice. 

October, Siushtaupi we, End of wild rice. 

November, Takehuha we. Rutting deer. 

December, Tahechapshon we, Deer shedding its horn. 

January, We tarhe. Hard moon. 

February, Wechata we, Raccoon. 

March, Wishta wasa we. Sore-eye. 


April, Mahahahandi we, Hunting. 

May, Mahahakanda we, Oviparous game. 

June, Wajustechasha we. Strawberries. 

July, Tschanpasha we, Cherries. 

August, Tatanka kehowa we. Rutting buffalo. 

Among the Indians whom we saw at Fort St. Anthony, 
there was one who was called the fool. His countenance 
had a gi-eat appearance of simplicity, heing totally devoid 
of expression ; his face was long, his eyes downcast and 
vacant ; his person was much ornamented ; the upper part 
of his face was painted with bright vermilion, the lower 
part was black, leaving but a narrow strip along the upper 
lip which was of the natural colour ; his ornaments were 
more childish and toyish than those which the Indians 
usually wear. This man was formerly gifted with a com- 
mon share of intellect, but he has, through the wantonness 
of some Indians, been reduced to his present state of idiocy. 
He was a long time since taken prisoner by his enemies, 
who with a view to amuse themselves with his fears, tied 
him to a stake, and tlireatened to burn him alive ; a little 
fire was kindled, so as merely to scorch him; but when he 
was loosened, his intellect was disordered, and has conti- 
nued so ever since. In some instances, however, he still 
displays his natural sagacity. He is a good hunter; being 
at one time very poor, he made a sort of pike, with which 
he went out to hunt, and was very successful, particularly 
in killing raccoons ; the skins which he sold on his re- 
turn enabled him to purchase a gun, blanket, &c. He is 
much trusted by the officers of the garrison, and had just 
returned from Prairie du Chien with despatches, having 
travelled the distance on foot in four days. 

Like all the Indian nations with whom the white man 
has come into contact, the Dacota presents to us at this 


day but a noble ruin. No longer united for purposes 
of common defence, they have long since ceased to meet 
at the same council fire ; their alliances with other nations 
are now mere mockeries ; their wars have dwindled into 
petty conflicts. Instead of marching as they formerly did 
by hundreds, they now issue forth in small detachments, 
presenting rather the character of a band of marauders than 
of an expedition of warriors. When they lighted the com- 
mon calumet at the General Council Fire, it was always 
among the Mende Wahkantoan, who then resided near 
Spirit Lake, and who were considered as the oldest band 
of the nation ; their chiefs being of longer standing than 
those of the other tribes ; among themselves they use the 
appellation of brothers. They are related with the Shiennes, 
and with the Arricaras, and by marriages they are connect- 
ed with the Pawnees, Osages, &c. ; but to these nations 
they only apply the term of friend. With the Omawhaws 
they wage a deadly warfare. We were told that the 
lawas were formerly a band of the Dacotas, and that they 
were distinguished by the term of the Titatons, but that 
they separated long since, and that their language had been 
so much altered as to be unintelligible to the Dacotas. But 
this information is probably incorrect, for Governor Clarke, 
during his late visit to the seat of government, with a de- 
putation of Indians from many nations, informed Mr. Col- 
houn, that the lawas, Winnebagoes, and Otoes, appeared 
to him to be of common descent, and to speak dialects of 
the same language, and he expressed his opinion, that an 
inquiry into the matter would result in determining them 
to be of that nation, which, as we learn from Mr. Jeffer- 
son's "Notes," emigrated from Ocoquan. Mr. Joseph 
Snelling, who accompanied that deputation, likewise in- 
formed Mr. Colhoun, that in a speech made by the lawa 

SOURCE or ST. Peter's river. 4:i5 

chief while in the city of Washington, the former union of 
the Winnebagoes and Otoes with his nation, was distinct- 
ly asserted. This confirms the information obtained by 
Mr. Say on the former expedition, (Vide Account of an 
Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. I. p. 338, 339, 
and 342,) and disproves the assertion that the lavvas were 
ever connected with the Dacotas. It may likewise be 
questioned, whether the Omawhaws, whom Carver con- 
nects, as well as the Shiennes and Arricaras, with the Nau- 
dowessies of the plains, were not descended from a differ- 
ent stock. 

Of the history of the Dacotas very little is known ; they 
have been engaged from time immemorial in a destructive 
war against the Chippewas. All the efforts of our govern- 
ment have tended to produce but temporary suspensions 
of arms, which have been in all cases violated within a 
short time after they had been made. Lahontan informs 
us, that they defeated a party of Iroquois, on an island of 
the Mississippi, prior to the year 16S8. In 1697,* they 
destroyed a party of Miamis, on the southern coast of Lake 
Michigan, between St. Joseph and Kikalemazo rivers; 
and Charlevoix states that in 1701,t the Sauks, Winne- 
bagoes, Menomonies, Foxes, Potawatomis, and Kicka- 
poos, assembled at Green Bay to go to war with them, 
but that they were dissuaded from it by a French emis- 
sary. The Chippewas informed Carver, in 1767, that a war 
had continued without any interruption between them and 
the Dacotas for upwards of forty winters. They appear to 
have no tradition or knowledge of the Lenni-Lenape^ 

• Charlevoix's Hist, dela Noyv. France, torn. 3. p,310. 
t Ibid, p. 405. 

Vol. I. 54 



Aligawi, or other nations that were found east of the Al- 
leghanj^ Mountains, In speaking of the early impression 
made by the Dacotas on Europeans, Charlevoix observed, 
that they were considered to have a better conception than 
any other Indians of the attributes of the Supreme Being. 

Our visit to Lake Travers having been announced to the 
gentlemen of the Columbia Fur Company, by a messenger 
sent to them from Big Stone Lake, the party were receiv- 
ed on their arrival with a national salute ; and other de- 
monstrations of friendly hospitality were manifested, not 
only at that time, but also during the few days which 
they spent there. 

The Columbia Fur Company was created in 1822 ; it 
consists of but few individuals, who being all practically 
acquainted with the Indian trade, in which they had pre- 
viously been engaged in the service of the Hudson's Bay 
or North-West Company, resolved after the consolidation 
of these two companies into one, to establish themselves 
on the United States' territory, and to trade with the In- 
dians south of the boundary line, under licences granted by 
the Indian agent at the mouth of the St. Peter. Their capital 
is not very large, but being all active, intelligent, and expe- 
rienced, they will, we doubt not, succeed. Their principal 
establishment is at Lake Travers; its situation is judicious- 
ly selected, as it is at the head of the navigation of the St. 
Peter and Red Rivers, in the midst of a country which 
abounds in buffalo, so that they can lay in ample stores of 
provisions for their wintering parties. By extending their 
excursions to the head waters of the Mississippi, and as 
far on the Missouri as the Indians will permit, they will 
be able to obtain large supplies of beaver and other valua- 
Ible skins, and as their object appears to be merely to trade 
with the Indians, and not to hunt upon their lands, they 



will, it is to be hoped, continue on amicable terms with 

The following statement of the amount of furs formerly 
packed up by the British companies, and produced alto- 
gether by the trade on Red River and its tributaries, has 
been communicated to us by the gentlemen of the Colum- 
bia Fur Company. As this statement is restricted to the 
value of the fur trade on the South side of the boundary 
line, we think there can be no impropriety in publishing 
it. All that relates to the British territories, and that we 
have been able to collect from our own observations, or 
which has been kindly communicated to us in the course 
of conversations with the officers of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, we have no wish to publish, and we would con- 
sider it highly censurable so to do, but as this relates to a 
trade in which they can have no further interest, no ob- 
jection can we trust be taken to it. 

Names. No. of packs. No. of skins, or Value of pack. Total. 

wt. of each pack. 


- 10 

- 100 lbs. Wt. - 




- 20 

12 skins 




- 400 

10 skins 




- 10 

- 100 lbs. 




- 10 

- 100 lbs. 




- 25 





- 40 

16 skins 




- 10 




Carried over 525 

; 46,950 

* This item we find stated in our notes at $ 450 per pack, but we ap- 
prehend that the statement is very much overrated, although it is said 
to refer to the finest quality. Six dollars per skin is probably a fair price. 


Brot. forward 525 $ 46,950 

- ^200 8000 

280 5600 

60 120 

8 32 

SO 1600 

Muskrat, - 


500 skins 


20 ■ 




60 skins 



400 skins 

Wolverine - 


400 skins 

Cowskins, ") 
(dressed,) 5 


16 skins 

Wolves, - 
















The above prices are, we believe, those of the Montreal 
market. This statement establishes the average value of 
the packs at about one hundred dollars, and if we exclude 
the buffalo robes, which are sold at forty dollars a pack, 
the other furs will average upwards of two hundred dol- 
lars. The amount of the less valuable furs, such as those 
of wolves, wolverines, rabbits, &c. might be increased if 
there were a market for them. 

In addition to these, the country supplies annually one 
thousand bags of pounded buffalo meat, (Pemmican,*) va- 

* Pemmican is the meat of the buffalo, prepared for preservation in 
tJie following manner : The flesh is cut into thin slices, which are 
jerked in the sun or smoke, the latter being preferable ; it is then dried 
before the fire until it becomes crisp, after which it is laid upon one 
stone, and pounded witli another fixed into a wooden handle ; after it 
has been reduced into as fine a powder as possible, which is, however, 
far from being very minute, it is mixed up with an equal weight of buf- 
falo grease, or marrow fat poured on when hot and liquid. Before the 
mixture cools, it is introduced into skin bags, and well shaken, so that 
it may settle into a compact mass. Sometimes, in order to give it a 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 429 

lued at four thousand dollars. The Columbia Fur Company 
can, if it be active, share this trade with the American Fur 
Company ; these are the only associations that trade at pre- 
sent with the Indians in that part of the United States. In- 
dependent of this the trade of the Missouri and its tributa- 
ries may probably prove very valuable. It will be the in- 
terest of both the companies to keep on amicable terms. 
The practice which has too often prevailed among Indian 
traders to endeavour to increase their business by injuring 
the interests or the reputation of their competitors is as 
injudicious, as the means which they adopted were fre- 
quently criminal. They lower the character of the white 
man in the opinion of the Indians, and excite them to deeds 
at which they would otherwise revolt. 

The principal interest which we experienced in the 
neighbourhood of Lake Travers, was from an acquaintance 
with Wanotan, (the Charger,) the most distinguished chief 
of the Yanktoanan tribe, which, as we were informed, is 
■subdivided into six bands. He is one of the greatest men 
of the Dacota nation, and although but twenty-eight years 
of age, he has already acquired great renown as a warrior. 
At the early age of eighteen, he exhibited much valour in the 
war against the Americans, and was wounded several times. 
He was then inexperienced and served under his father, 
who was the chief of his tribe, and who bore a mortal en- 
mity to the Americans. Wanotan has since learned to 
form a better estimate of our nation. He is aware that it 

pleasant taste, it is mixed with a sort of wild cherry, which is pounded 
and introduced, stone and all. The Pemmican forms a wholesome and 
strong food, whicli, when prepared with care, and from good mate- 
rials, is very palatable. It has the advantage that it may be eaten with- 
out any preparatory cooking. Sometimes it is heated in a pan, and is 
equal to the best hashed meat. 


is the interest of his people to remain at peace with us, 
and would, probably, in case of another war between the 
United States and England, take part with the former. 
Those, who know him well, commend his sagacity and 
judgment, as well as his valour. He is a tall man, being 
upwards of six feet high; his* countenance would be es- 
teemed handsome in any country ; his features being re- 
gular and well-shaped. There is an intelligence that beam^ 
through his eye, which is not the usual concomitant of In- 
dian features. His manners are dignified and reserved ; his 
attitudes are graceful and easy, though they appear to be 
somewhat studied. When speaking of the Dacotas, we 
purposely postponed mentioning the frequent vows which 
they make, and their strict adherence to them, because, 
one of the best evidences which we have collected on this 
point, connects itself with the character of Wanotan, and 
may give a favourable idea of his extreme fortitude in en- 
during pain. In the summer of 1822 he undertook a jour- 
ney, from which, apprehending much danger on the part 
of the Chippewas, he made a vow to the Sun, that, if he 
returned safe, he would abstain from all food or drink, 
for the space of four successive days and nights, and that 
he would distribute among his people all the property 
which he possessed, including all his lodges, horses, dogs, 
&c. On his return, which happened without accident, he 
celebrated the dance of the sun ; this consisted in making 
three cuts through his skin, one on hi» breast, and one on 
each of his arms. The skin was cut in the manner of a loop, 
so as to permit a rope to pass under the strip of skin and 
flesh which was thus divided from the body. The ropes be- 
ing passed through, their ends were secured to a tall ver- 
tical pole, planted at about forty yards from his lodge. He 
then began to dance round this pole, at the commencement 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. 431 

of his fast, frequently swinging himself in the air, so as to 
be supported merely by the cords which were secured to 
the strips of skin cut off from his arms and breast. He 
continued this exercise with few intermissions, during the 
%vhole of his fast, until the fourth day about ten o'clock, A. 
M. when the strip of skin from his breast gave way. Not- 
withstanding which he interrupted not his dance, although 
supported merely by his arms. At noon the strip from 
his left arm snapped off. His uncle then thought that he 
had suffered enough ; he drew his knife and cut off the skin 
from his right arm, upon which Wanotan fell to the ground 
and swooned. The heat at the time was extreme. He was 
left exposed in that state to the sun until night, when his 
friends brought him some provisions. After the ceremony 
was over, he distributed to them the whole of his pro- 
perty, among which were five fine horses, and he and his 
two squaws left his lodge, abandoning every article of their 

As we appeared upon the brow of the hill which com- 
mands the company's fort, a salute was fired from a number 
of Indian tents which were pitched in the vicinity, from 
the largest of which the American colours were flying. 
And as soon as we had dismounted from our horses, we 
received an invitation to a feast which Wanotan had pre- 
pared for us. The gentlemen of the company informed us 
that as soon as the Indians had heard of our contemplated 
visit, they had commenced their preparations for a festival, 
and that they had killed three of their dogs. We repaired to 
a sort of pavilion which they had erected by the union of 
several large skin lodges. Fine buffalo robes were spread 
all around, and the. air was perfumed by the odour of sweet 
scenting grass which had been burned in it. On entering 
the lodge we saw the chief seated near the further end of 

43,'4 liXfEDlTION TO TUB 

it, and one ol" his principal men pointed out to us the place 
"which was destined for our accommodation ; it was at the 
upper end of the lodge ; the Indians who were in it taking; 
no further notice of us. These consisted of the chief, his 
son, a lad about eight years old, and eight or ten of the 
principal warriors. The chief's dress presented a mixture 
of the European and aboriginal costume ; he wore moccas- 
sins and leggings of splendid scarlet cloth, a blue breech- 
cloth, a fine shirt of printed muslin, over this a frock coat 
of fine blue cloth with scarlet facings, somewhat similar to 
the undress uniform coat of a Prussian officer; this was 
buttoned and secured round his waist by a belt. Upon his 
liead he wore a blue cloth cap, made like a German fatigue 
cap. A very handsome Mackinaw blanket, slightly orna* 
mented with paint, was thrown over his person. His son, 
whose features strongly favoured those of his father, wore a 
dress somewhat similar, exceptthat his coat was party-colour- 
ed, one-half being made of blue, and the other half of scarlet 
cloth. He wore a round hat with a plated silver band and 
a large cockade. From his neck were suspended several 
silver medals, doubtless presents to his father. This lad ap- 
peared to be a great favourite of Wanotan's, who seems to 
indulge him more than is customary with Indians to do. 
As soon as we had taken our seats, the chief passed his 
pipe round, and while vve were engaged in smoking, two 
of the Indians arose and uncovered the large kettles which 
were standing over the fire, they emptied their contents into 
a dozen of wooden dishes which were placed all round the 
lodge. These consisted of bufialo meat boiled with tepsin, 
also the same vegetable boiled, without the meat, in buffalo 
i;;rease, and finally, the much-esteemed dog meat, all which 
were dressed without salt. In compliance with the esta- 
■ blished u?age of travellers to taste of every thing, we all 


partook of the latter with a mixed feeling of curiosity and 
reluctance. Could we have divested ourselves entirely of 
the prejudices of education, we should doubtless have un- 
hesitatingly acknowledged this to be among the best meat 
that we had ever eaten. It was remarkably fat, was sweet and 
palatable. It had none of that dry stringy character, which 
we had expected to find in it, and it was entirely destitute 
of the strong taste which we had apprehended that it pos- 
sessed. It was not an unusual appetite, or the want of good 
meat to compare with it, which led us to form this favour- 
able opinion of the dog, for we had, on the same dish, the 
best meat which our prairies afford ; but so strongly root- 
ed are the prejudices of education, that, though we all un- 
affectedly admitted the excellence of this food, yet few of 
us could be induced to eat much of it. We were warned 
by our trading friends that the bones of this animal are 
treated with great respect by the Dacotas ; we therefore 
took great care to replace them in the dishes ; and we are 
informed that, after such a feast is concluded, the bones are 
carefully collected, the flesh scraped off from them, and 
that after being washed, they are buried in the ground, 
partly, as it is said, to testify to the dog species, that in 
feasting upon one of their number no disrespect was meant 
to the species itself, and partly also from a belief that the 
bones of the animal will rise and reproduce another one. 
The meat of this animal, as we saw it, was thought to re- 
semble that of the finest Welsh mutton, except that it was 
of a much darker colour. Having so far overcome our re- 
pugnance as to taste of it, we no longer wonder that the 
dog should be considered a dainty dish by those in whom 
education has not created a prejudice against this flesh. Ii> 
China it is said that fattened pups are frequently sold in 
the market place ; and it appears that the invitation to a 
Vol. I. 55 


feast of dog meat is the greatest distinction that can be of- 
fered to a stranger by any of the Indian nations east of the 
Rocky Mountains. That this is not the case among some 
of the nations west of those mountains, appears from the 
fact that Lewis and Clarke were called, in derision, by the 
Indians of the Columbia, Dog Eaters. 

In the Dacota's treatment of his dogs, during life and 
after death, we observe one of those strange inconsisten- 
cies which so frequently prevail in the character of man, 
whether civilized or savage. While living, the dog is a 
beast of burden, and as such exposed to undergo much fa- 
tigue and ill-treatment; it is at the same time a most va- 
luable animal. The traders, who have imitated the Indians 
in their use of the dog, speak of it as almost indispensable 
to them. Mr. Jeffries, one of the partners of the Colum- 
bia Fur Company, informed us, that he had the preceding 
winter transported in a log cart one thousand pounds 
weight of goods, with the assistance of six, and rarely eight, 
dogs, and that he travelled from Lake Travers to the Man- 
dan villages in eleven days. On a long journey, the allow- 
ance of load is one hundred pounds per dog. For winter 
travelling, in a country so frequently covered with snow, 
the dog is the most convenient beast of burden, as it may 
be fed either on dried meat, or on the fresh meat which is 
occasionally procured. In travelling on the snow with dog 
trains, it is usual for a man to walk ahead of the dogs, with 
snow shoes, in order to trample down the snow, in which 
otherwise they would sink. We learn from Mr. Back's 
notes,* that the feet of the dogs are sometimes very much 
injured, and that in one instance, where they were perfect- 
ly raw, he attempted to tie shoes on them, which did not 

• Franklin's Journey to the shores of the Polar Sea, ut sup. p. 251. 


succeed. Whether it be usual for the Dacotas to do so, we 
very much question ; though it would appear from Pur- 
chas' Pilgrim, that these have been used by some nations, 
and we are told by Olaus Magnus, that in the north of 
Europe, a somewhat similar practice existed as regards 
horses' feet,* and probably at the time that he visited the 
country, which was in 1518. The dogs are a great assist- 
ance to the squaws, who would otherwise be compelled to 
carry all their baggage and provisions themselves, but who 
frequently beat and abuse them. After death, the dog 
forms one of the best articles of food for the Indian, and is 
reserved for great occasions, as it is, in their opinion, in- 
vested with a sacred character, which makes it a fit offer- 
ing in sacrifices, and in feasts to strangers. The respect 
paid to the bones of the dog contrasts strongly with the ill 
usage which the animal met with during life. 

The feast, which Wanotan had prepared, seemed to be 
destined rather for one hundred than for ten persons; 
as soon as we had finished eating, the Indians requested 
that our soldiers might be allowed to come and partake of 
it, a request which was of course granted. When the sol- 
diers appeared, the dishes were placed before them, and the 
Indians, who had probably been fasting all day, made a 
violent inroad upon the meal, evidently preferring the dog 
to the bufialo meat; according to the Indian usage, it would 
have been proper for us to have waited until they had 
finished their repast, when probably some speeches would 
have been made ; but the feast appeared likely to be pro- 
longed to a late hour ; and the heat was so oppressive in the 

• " Transeunt homines et equi quasi super clypeos militares. • * * 
Crates sen arcus levi ac lato subere, seu cortice tiliano contextos, pe- 
Jibus propriis ac equorum alligant." — Olai Magni Gentium Septentrio- 
^alium Historise Breviarium. Amstelodami, 1669. L. 4. C. 13. 


lodge, owing to the season, and to the number collected 
therein, as also undoubtedly to the immense quantities of 
hot meat exposed in the dishes, that we were compelled to 
apologize to Wanotan for our sudden departure. 

Upon the whole, we were much gratified at this feast; it 
was worthy of the powerful chief who gave it; it was offer- 
ed with an open hand and a free heart ; it was served up with 
the usual ceremonies and it included abundance of their 
best and most highly prized food. 

The next day Wanotan came to pay us a formal visit ; 
he was dressed in the full habit of an Indian chief; wc 
have never seen a more dignified looking person, or a 
more becoming dress. The most prominent part of his ap- 
parel was a splendid cloak or mantle of buffalo skins, dress- 
ed so as to be of a fine white colour ; it was decorated with 
small tufts of owl's feathers, and others of various hues, 
probably a remnant of a fabric, once in general use among 
the aborigines of our territory, and still worn in the north- 
east and north-west parts of this continent, as well as in. 
the South Sea Islands ; it is what was called by the first 
European visitors of North America the feather mantles 
and feather blankets, which were by them much admired. 
A splendid necklace, formed of about sixty claws of the 
grizzly bear, imparted a manly character to his whole ap- 
pearance. His leggings, jacket, and moccassins, were in the 
real Dacota fashion, being made of white skins, profusely 
decorated with human hair ; his moccasins were variegated 
with the plumage of several birds. In his hair, he wore 
nine sticks neatly cut and smoothed, and painted with ver- 
milion ; these designated the number of gun-shot wounds 
which he had received, they were secured by a strip of red 
cloth ; two plaited tresses of his hair were allowed to hang 
forward ; his face was tastefully painted with vermilion ; in 

SOURCE OP ST. Peter's river. ^37 

his hand he wore a large fan of feathers of the turkey ; this 
he frequently used. 

We have never seen a nobler face, or a more impressive 
character, than that of the Dacota chief, as he stood that 
afternoon, in this manly and characteristic dress, contem- 
plating a dance performed by the men of his own nation. 
It was a study worthy of the pencil of Vandyke and of the 
graver of Berwick. It would require the utmost talent of 
the artist to convey a fair idea of this chief; to display his 
manly and regular features, strongly stamped, it is true, 
with the Indian character, but admirably blended with an 
expression of mildness and modesty ; and it would require 
no less talent to represent the graceful and unstudied folds 
of his mantle. However difficult the task of executing 
such a portrait, Mr. Seymour undertook it, and a plate, en- 
graved from his design, has been introduced as a frontis- 
piece to this volume ; it will impart, however, but a faint 
idea of the features and dress of this distinguished chief. 

Having requested that the warriors should favour us 
with a dance, Wanotan had one performed for us in the after- 
noon ; he apologized for the imperfection of the dancers, 
the best being then absent from the place. The dresses 
which they wore, were more carefully arranged than usual, 
and indicated that some pains had been taken for the occa- 
sion. Among the fantastic ornaments which they had as- 
sumed, a paper of pins, opened and hanging from the head- 
dress of one of the warriors, was conspicuous. In his hand 
he held a wand about ten feet long, to which was attached 
a piece of red cloth of the same length, and about six 
inches wide ; one of the edges of this band was fastened to 
the staff; the other was furnished with black and white 
feathers, closely secured to it by their quills, and forming 
a sort of fringe. This was one of the two insignia or wands 


of the Association of the Nanpashcne ; but the most singu^ 
lar dress was that of Wanotan's son, who, for the first time 
in his life, wore the distinguished national garb, in which 
he is represented in the Frontispiece plate to this volume. 
The dresses were evidently made for his father, and too 
large for him, so that they gave to his figure a stifi" and 
clumsy appearance, which strongly reminded us of the 
awkward gait of those children who, among civilized na- 
tions, are allowed, at too early an age, to assume the dress 
of riper years, by which they lose their infantine grace and 
ease. This is one of the many features in which we de- 
light in tracing an analogy between the propensities of man, 
in his natural state, and in his more refined condition. This 
lad wore a very large head-dress, consisting of feathers 
made of the war-eagle, and which in form was precisely 
similar to that of the King of the Friendly Islands, as re- 
presented in Cook's Voyages. His dress was made of 
many ermine skins, variously disposed upon a white 
leather cloak. The performers stood in a ring, each with 
the wing of a bird in his hand, with which he beat time 
on his gun, arrow, or some thing that would emit a sound. 
They commenced their singing in a low tone, gradually 
raising it for a few minutes, then closing it suddenly with 
a shrill yell ; after a slight interruption, they recommenced 
the same air, which they sang without any variation for 
near three quarters of an hour. Major Long reduced it to 
notes, and an idea of this low and melancholy, but not un- 
pleasant, air may be formed from the first tune in Plate 
5. This was accompanied by a few unmeaning words. 
Occasionally one of the performers would advance into the 
centre of the ring, and relate his warlike adventures. 
Among those who did this was a slender and active war- 
rior, not tall, but distinguished by his very thin lips and 









































nose ; he was pointed out to us as the man who had assault- 
ed Mr. Hess' party in the manner which we have ah-eady 
related. Among the many feats which this warrior enu- 
merated, he took care to omit his murders of white men. 
The dance which accompanied this had nothing particular ; 
they frequently laughed aloud, and appeared to go through 
the exercise with much spirit. After the dance had con- 
tinued some time, a few presents were divided among 
them. Upon receiving them they hastily ran away, appa» 
rently as much satisfied as we were. 



F1064.W5K4V.1 gen 

Keating, William Hy/Narrative of an expe 

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