History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan: A Grammar of Their Language, and Personal and Family History of the Author
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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Alvin Coe animate Arbor Croche Au-nish Au-pe-tchi Au-zhe Au-zhe-gwaw bark beaver Blackbird boat brother called canoe Chippewa Indians Chippewa languages council cousin deep deity Detroit dians earth Emmet County father feast fire fish forest Government Grand Traverse Harbor Springs heard inanimate Indian Agent Indian youths Iroquois Island kauie Kaw-be-naw Ke-go kettle killed Ko-maw Lake land legends Little Traverse living lodge look Mackinac Mackinac Island Mau-tchi maw-got Memo mission morning murder Mush-co-desh Muskegon River Ne-naw-bo-zhoo never night nouns object Odjebwe Ottawa and Chippewa Ottawa Island Ottawa language Ottawa tribe person pewas pronoun race river Saw-ge-maw seen shore Spirit Stockbridge Indians Straits Straits of Mackinac sugar Tchish-pin Tense—I Thou shalt thought told tradition says treaty tree tribe of Indians verb village warpath warriors we-ok-won Wenebagoes wigwam word young Ypsilanti