History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan: A Grammar of Their Language, and Personal and Family History of the Author

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Ypsilantian job printing house, 1887 - Ojibwa Indians - 128 pages
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Blackbird (Mack-e-te-be-nessy) was an Ottawa chief's son who served as an official interpreter for the U.S. government and later as a postmaster while remaining active in Native American affairs as a teacher, advisor on diplomatic issues, lecturer and temperance advocate. In this work he describes how he became knowledgeable about both Native American and white cultural traditions and chronicles his struggles to achieve two years of higher education at the Ypsilanti State Normal School. He also deals with the history of many native peoples throughout the Michigan region (especially the Mackinac Straits), combining information on political, military, and diplomatic matters with legends, personal reminiscences, and a discussion of comparative beliefs and values, and offering insights into the ways that increasing contact between Indians and whites were changing native lifeways. He especially emphasizes traditional hunting, fishing, sugaring, and trapping practices and the seasonal tasks of daily living. Ottawa traditions, according to the author, recall their earlier home on Canada's Ottawa River and how they were deliberately infected by smallpox by the English Canadians after allying themselves with the French. Blackbird finds Biblical parallels with Ottawa and Chippewa accounts of a great flood and a fish which ingests and expels a celebrated prophet. He includes his own oratorical "Lamentation" on white treatment of the Ottawas, twenty-one moral commandments of the Ottawa and Chippewa, the Ten Commandments and other religious material in the Ottawa and Chippewa language, and a grammar of that language. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft appears in the narrative in his role as an Indian agent.

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Page 101 - Ah, could we but once more return to our forest glade and tread as formerly upon the soil with proud and happy heart! On the hills with bended bow, while nature's flowers bloomed all around the habitation of nature's child, our brothers once abounded, free as the mountain air, and their glad shouts resounded from vale to vale, as they chased o'er the hills the mountain roe and followed in the otter's track.
Page 11 - Wau-gaw-naw-ke-zee.) which is sixty years ago, there was nothing but small shrubbery here and there in small patches, such as wild cherry trees, but the most of it was grassy plain; and such an abundance of wild strawberries, raspberries and blackberries that they fairly perfumed the air of the whole coast with fragrant scent of ripe fruit. The wild pigeons and every variety of feathered songsters filled all the groves, warbling their songs joyfully and feasting upon these wild fruits of nature;...
Page 105 - If thou shouldst observe all these commandments, when thou dicst thy spirit shall go straightway to that happy land where all the good spirits are, and shall there continually dance with the beating of the drum of Tchi-baw-yaw-booz, the head spirit in the spirit land. But if thou shouldst not observe them, thy spirit shall be a vagabond of the earth always, and go hungry and will never be able to find this road, " Tchi-bay-kon," in which all the good spirits travel.— " Ottawa and Chippewa Indians...
Page 9 - However it was a notable fact that by this time the Ottawas were greatly reduced in numbers from what they were in former times, on account of the smallpox which they brought from Montreal during the French war with Great Britain. This small pox was sold to them shut up in a tin box, with the strict injunction not to open the box on their way homeward, but only when they should reach their country; and that this box contained something that would do them great good, and their people! The foolish...
Page 101 - O, my father, thou hast taught me from my infancy to love this land -of my birth; thou hast even taught me to say 'It is the gift of the Great Spirit.' O, my father, our happiest days are gone into lasting oblivion and never again shall we enjoy our forest home. The eagle's eye could not discover where was once thy wigwam and thy peaceful council-fires. Ah, could we but once more return to our forest glade and...
Page 50 - New Year's eve, every one of the Indians used to go around visiting the principal men of the tribe, shooting their guns close to their doors after screaming three times, " Happy New Year," then bang, bang, altogether, blowing their tin horns and beating their drums, etc.
Page 103 - Thou shalt not commit any crime, either by night or by day, or in a covered place; for the Great Spirit is looking upon thee always, and thy crime shall be manifested in time, thou knowest not when, which shall be to thy disgrace and shame. 3...
Page 103 - Thou shalt not mimic or mock any mountains or rivers, or any prominent formation of the earth, for it is the habitation of some deity or spirit of the earth, and thy life shall be continually in hazard if thou shouldst provoke the anger of these deities. 6th Honor thy father and thy mother, that...
Page 99 - ... allowed to have some employment among the whites, in order to encourage them in the pursuits of civilization and to exercise their ability according to the means and extent of their education, instead of being a class of persons continually persecuted and cheated and robbed of their little possessions. They should have been educated amongst the civilized communities in order to learn the manners and customs of the white people. If this method could have been pursued in the first instance, the...
Page 102 - ... with bended bow, while nature's flowers bloomed all around the habitation of nature's child, our brothers once abounded, free as the mountain air, and their glad shouts resounded from vale to vale as they chased o'er the hills the red deer and followed in the otter's track.

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