Henry R. Schoolcraft
Travels in the... Mississippi Valley
1825, NYC: Collins and Hannay
COMPRISING OBSERVATIONS ON ITS
MINERAL GEOGRAPHY, INTERNAL RESOURCES,
AND ABORIGINAL POPULATION.
[Performed under the Sanction of Government, in the Year 1821.]
BY HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT, U.S.I.A.
HON. MEMB. OF THE AMERICAN GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY; MEMB. OF THE
AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY; HON. MEMB. OF THE NEW
YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY; CORRESP. MEMB. OF THE
NEW-YORK LYCEUM OF NAT. HISTORY; CORRES-
PONDENT OF THE ACADEMY OF NATURAL
SCIENCES AT PHILAD., &c.
PUBLISHED BY COLLINS AND HANNAY.
J. &. J. Harper, Printers.
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INTRODUCTION.General Objects of the Journey. Route. Mode of Travelling.
CHAPTER I.Departure. Scenery along the Detroit River. Encounter a Gale on Lake Erie. Enter Maumee Bay. Notices of Natural History. Native Lead. Tide in the Lakes. Maumee River. Fort Maumee. Anecdote of its Reconnoisance by General Wayne. Fort Meigs. Facts respecting its Siege. Maumee Village. Dudley's Defeat. Mineralogy. Historical Observations on the Indian Wars. Gen. Barmer's Campaign and Defeat.
CHAPTER II.Farther Account of the Indian Wars. Expeditions of Generals Scott and Wilkinson. St. Glair's Campaign and Defeat. General Wayne is appointed to succeed him. His Campaigns and Victory. Anecdote of the Chief Little Turtle. Treaty of Greenville. Secret History. Sketch of Presque Isle. Notices of Mineralogy. Settlements: Climate: Timber. Roche de Bout. Trait of Hospitality in the Indians. A Night in the Woods. River Scenery. Characteristic Anecdote.
CHAPTER III.Fort Defiance. Fort Winchester. Events of the late War, Notices of Scenery and Natural History. Anecdote relating to the Building of Fort Defiance. Ride to Fort Wayne. Wild Turkey. Honey Dew. Notice of Fort Wayne. Visit an Indian School. Captain Riley. Wiltshire. Junction of the St. Joseph's and St Mary's. Conchology. Silk Worm. A Sketch of the Geology of Maumee Valley.
CHAPTER IV.Proceed across the Portage between the Maumee and Wabash. Difficulties caused by the low State of Water. Pass a Night in an Indian Wigwam. An Indian Breakfast. Dumb Boy. Proceed on Horseback in the Forks of the Wabash. Notice of the Soil and Productions. Indian Village. Synoptical View of the present State of the Indians living within the United States. Cannibalism.
CHAPTER V.Leave the Forks of the Wabash. Notices of Natural History and Scenery. Mississinniwa Village, -- its Capture during the late war. Indian Mills. Fire Hunting. A nocturnal Visit from a Party of Pottowattomies. Village of Winnemac. Geology. Conglomerate. Calcareous Tufta. Assault and Robbery of the Canoe, containing Indian Goods.
CHAPTER VI.Reach the Mouth of Toppecano River. Facts respecting the Battle of Tippecano. A Biographical Sketch of the Life of Tecumseh. Notices of Natural History. Reach Settlements on the Wabash. Village of Clinton.
CHAPTER VII.Proceed down the Wabash. Fort Harrison. Terre Haute. Notices of Natural History. Reach Merom. Trait of National Character. Pass the Biundary between Indiana and Illinois. Reach Vicennes. Anecdote. Conchology. Pass White River. Notices of Mineralology. Incrusted Shells. Scarlet Insect. Pass the Bonpas. Birbeck's Settlement. Harmony.
CHAPTER VIII.Remarks on the Prints of Human Feet in Rock. Bone Bank, Tornadoes. Enter the Ohio River. Reach Shawneetown. Scenery of the Ohio Valley. Battery Rock. Intermitting Spring. Cross the Shawanee Mountains. Illinois Lead Mines.
CHAPTER IX.Outlines of the Oshawano Mountains. Some Account of their Mineral^ Productions. Fluor Spar. Illinois Saline. Antiquities raised in the Search for Brine Springs. Illinois Prairie. Bison,
CHAPTER X.Cross the River Au Vase. Improved Qualities of the Soil. Indian Convicts. Pass the Kaskaskia River. Proposed Canal. v Geological Transformations^ Belleville. Mounds. Cross the Mississippi.
CHAPTER XI.St. Louis Missouri Question. Self- Emancipation^ Geological Character of the Western Banks of the Mississippi,^ Cup-Shaped Concavities, Cross the Marameg. Herculaneum. Biographical Sketch of Mr. Austin. Visit the Lead Mines.
CHAPTER XII.Observations on the Geological Structure of the Missouri Mine Cormtrv ,• Of the Granite Formation."^ Of the Inferior Limestone. * Of the Crystalline White Sandstone.^« Of the Compact, or Superior Limestone.
CHAPTER XIII.Summary of Observations. Remarks on the Alluvia), or Unconsolidated Strata. *^0f the Promiscuous, or Upper SoiU-' Of the Metalliferous Red Marl. Mineralogy .'Present State of the Mines.
CHAPTER XIV.Return to St. Louis. Objects of Curiosity. Mounds. Enigmatical Fruits. Gov. Clarke's Museum. Depart for Chicago. Pass the Mouth of the Missouri. Portage Des Sioux. Enter the Illinois River. Mauvais Terre. Pass the Sangamo. Putrifying Vegetation. Enter Peoria Lake. Fort Clarke. Observations on the Comparative advantages of Settlement in Illinois.
CHAPTER XV.Peoria Lake. Indian Village. Traits of the Pottowattomics, — Stature, — Beards. Reach the VermUlion. Rapids of the Illinois. Rock Fort. Indian Fortifications. Fox River. Scenery. El Dorado. Petrified Tree/ Face of the Country on the J)cs Plaines. Mount Joliet. Cross the Ford of the Des Plaines. Remarks on the contemplated Cnnal .. Chicago.
CHAPTER XVI.Proceedings of a Treaty with the Indians.**' Proposition submitted by the United States Commissioners. Reply of the Pottowattomies. Answer by the Commissioners. Council breaks up, and meets again on the 22d of August. Speeches of Topinabee and Metea, in which they allege the Non-performance of a former Treaty. Reply of GOv. Cass. The Ottowas give their Assent. Historical Speech of Keewaygooshkum.
CHAPTER XVII.Farther Account of the Proceedings. The Chippewas also yield their Assent. The Effect of these Steps upon the Pottowattomies. Evening Council on the 22d. Council held on the 23d. Speech of Metea. Conclusion of the Treaty,— Its Terms and Provisions.
CHAPTER XVIII.Observations interspersed with Anecdotes, illustrative of Indian Manners and Character.
CHAPTER XIX.Some Observations and Translations, attesting the Existence of Imaginative Tales, and Oral Poetry among the Chippewas.
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I N T R O D U C T I O N.
Very little was known, until within the last few years, of the finely diversified country which forms the peninsula of Michigan ; and we believe the remark may be freely made, that, even at the present time, the knowledge of this valuable portion of country, is nearly confined to the enterprising individuals who have made a personal examination of it. It is only, in fact, since the conclusion of the late war, that public attention has been fully awakened to this hitherto neglected section' of the national domain, and that emigrants have been led to entertain a just appreciation of its fine soil and equable climate. The tract under consideration, embraces upwards of four degrees of latitude, extending north of about 41 degrees 30minutes, and equal in surface to, perhaps, three-fourths of England. If the shape of this peninsula be compared to a garment, the comparison improves by observing, that during the whole period of its colonial subjection to the French and British governments, the hem only was known. With
the single exception of the ancient settlement of Detroit, very little more was known of the agricultural capacities of this territory, at the commencement of the war in 1812, than at the commencement of the seventeenth century. And it is among the anomalies of its history, that a country deemed so inaccessible from swamps in 1818, as to be unfit to be given in bounty lands to the soldiers of the late army, should, within six years thereafter, be found to possess qualities of so different a nature, as to attract crowds of emigrants from the fertile banks of the Genesee, and to divert, in a measure, the current of migration from the Wabash and the Illinois. Time, better means of comparison, and the spirit of exploration, which characterizes the present era, without showing the advantages of other parts of the western country to be less than has been claimed for them, have, at the same time, shown the advantages of Michigan Territory, to be in many respects equal : — while its vicinity to the parent settlements, and the ease and cheapness of access, together with the quality of the land, and the permanent benefits anticipated from the completion of the Erie canal, give it, in the minds of many, a superiority.
It is now very well understood, that the interior portions of this territory, are in most places equally fertile with its borders, and that there are no obstacles incompatible with its speedy settlement. Like those parts of it, where agriculture has long been successfully practised, a great portion of the surface is covered with an ample forest of hard wood, every where well watered by living
streams, and susceptible of being improved by the labours of husbandry, and adorned with flourishing towns.
The greater part of the newly explored lands, consists of an argillaceous soil, mellowed with sand and pebblestones, and clothed with an open growth of oaks and hickories, forming the much esteemed open oaklands; so favourable to all the staple products of temperate northern latitudes. These oaklands frequently present themselves to the eye in sloping ridges, with apparently measured interstices between the trees, and together with the larger dry prairies, are principally covered with a species of native grass, of a nutritious quality, which grows to the height of five or six feet, and is judged to be nearly equal to timothy for cattle. The intervening valleys, enriched with the alluvial wash of the hills, constitute the first-rate corn-lands, and are finely timbered with maple, beech, black-walnut, bois blanc, * and ash. The proportion of comparatively arid pine land, is quite limited ; and the whole surface of the country, as represented by those who have explored it, is agreeably diversified with small limpid lakes, grassy prairies, and pebbly-bottomed brooks,
Whose bright succession decks the varied year;
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky,
With vernal tires, that blossom but to die --
Journal of the Sbiawassa Exploring Company.
(pages 10-14 not transcribed)
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T R A V E L S, &c.
Departure. Scenery along the Detroit River. Encounter a gale on Lake Erie. Enter Maumee Bay. Notices of Natural History. -- Native Lead. Tide in the Lakes. Maumee River. Fort Maumee -- Anecdote of its Reconnoisance by General Wayne. Fort Meigs, -- Facts respecting its Siege. Maumee Village. Dudley's Defeat. Mineralogy. Historical Observations on the Indian Wars. Harmer's Campaign and Defeat.
I embarked with His Excellency Governor Cass, at the city of Detroit, on the third of July. It was a few minutes past twelve o'clock, A. M. when we quitted the shore, directing our course toward Lake Erie. The day was one of the most sultry which is experienced in this latitude, and the reflection of the sun's rays from the parched and dusty shore, united to the exercise and bustle of a departure, produced a lassitude, from which we experienced the most grateful relief, the moment we passed out into the stream, and felt the increased motion of a gentle breeze.
The wind, though light at first, very soon freshened.
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and before the prominent spires of the distant city receded from our view, we hoisted sail, and soon found ourselves to be carried with the current, at the rate of about seven miles per hour. The agreeable change from the close streets of a city, to the cool surface of the river, United to the chanting of our cauoemen, and the rapidity of our motion, produced an exhilaration of spirits, which was agreeably heightened by the constantly changing aspect of an uncommonly fine settlement on either shore.
Every person who has enjoyed a sight of the mild and impressive scenery along this stream, will preserve a lively recollection of the highly cultivated farms and large orchards; the antique French villes with their red painted Catholic chapels; and the modern seats of British and American emigrants, which are at once calculated to recall the antiquity, and the recent improvements of these opulent settlements. And there are few objects along the great chain of lakes, replete as their borders are with scenes of wild-wood freshness, and attractive coast scenery, which present so pleasurable a prospect to the eye, as the numerous verdant islands in the channel of this broad and majestic river ; which at every stroke of the paddle throws up those clear and sparkling drops, that constantly remind one of the pure and unadulterated fountains of the north, from which it draws its ample volume.
We passed rapidly among these islands, with our thoughts employed awhile upon the deeply interesting events, to which the progress of the late war gave birth along the borders of this river; or in discriminating those places which are noted for occurrences in the civil, or localities in the natural history of the country. Sandwich, Spring-wells, Brownstown, Maiden, and Grosse Isle, with its pearly blue crystals of strontian, successively faded away in the distance; and we almost imperceptibly
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(pages 17-172 not transcribed)
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Remarks on the Prints of Human Feet in Rock. Bone Bank, Tornadoes. Reach Shawneetown. Scenery of the Ohio Valley. Battery Rock. Intermitting Spring. Cross the Shawanee Mountains. Illinois Lead Mines.
Before leaving Harmony, our attention was particularly directed to a tabular mass of limestone, containing two apparent prints or impressions of the naked human foot. This stone was carefully preserved in an open area, upon the premises of Mr. Rappe, by whom it had previously been conveyed from the banks of the Mississippi at St. Louis. Being aware of the conclusions which must result to geology from a fact of this nature, and that all former notice of the organic impressions of our species in well-consolidated strata, have been deemed apocryphal, we were induced to examine the subject with particular attention. To obtain an exact drawing of these interesting prints, we moistened a sheet of paper to a degree that permitted its being pressed by the palm of the hand into the most minute indentations. While thus pressed in, we drew the outlines in pencil. From this drawing the accompanying plate, by Mr. Inman, is a faithful transcript, on a reduced scale. We present it to the
174 TRAVELS IN THE CENTRAL PORTIONS.
public as being more minutely accurate than our own figure of the subject, published in the American Journal of Science. *
The impressions are, to all appearance, those of a man, standing in an erect posture, with the left foot a little advanced and the heels drawn in. The distance between the heels, by accurate measurement, is six and a quarter inches, and between the extremities of the toes, thirteen and a half. But, by a close inspection, it will be perceived, that these are not the impressions of feet accustomed to the European shoe; the toes being much spread, and the foot flattened, in the manner that is observed in persons unaccustomed to the close shoe. The probability, therefore, of their having been imparted by some individual of a race of men who were strangers to the art of tanning skins, and at a period much anterior to that to which any traditions of the present race of Indians reaches, derives additional weight from this peculiar shape of the feet.
In other respects, the impressions are strikingly natural, exhibiting the muscular marks of the foot with great precision and faithfulness to nature. This circumstance weakens, very much, the supposition that they may, possibly, be specimens of antique sculpture, executed by any former race of men inhabiting this continent. Neither history nor tradition has preserved the slightest traces of such a people. For it must be recollected, that, as yet, we have no evidence that the people who erected our stupendous western tumuli possessed any knowledge of masonry, far less of sculpture, or that they had even
* Vol. V. No. 2.
The carvings of pipe bowls out of stratitc, indurated clay, and other soft materials, executed by the Indians of the present day, do not, perhaps, merit the name of sculpture: but even of these, there is, we believe, no evidence that this simple art was practised before we had made them auqoainted with the use of iron.
OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. 175
invented a chissel, a knife, or an axe, other than those of porphyry, hornstone, or obsidian.
The average length of the human foot in the male subject may, perhaps, be assumed at ten inches. The length of each foot, in our subject, is ten and a quarter inches: the breadth, taken across the toes, at right angles to the former line, four inches ; but the greatest spread of the toes is four and a half inches, which diminishes to two and a half at the heel. Directly before the prints, and approaching within a few inches of the left foot, is a well-impressed and deep mark, having some resemblance to a scroll, whose greatest length is two feet seven inches, and greatest breadth twelve and a half inches.
The rock containing these interesting impressions is a compact limestone of a grayish-blue colour. It was originally quarried on the left bank of the Mississippi at St. Louis, and is a part of the extensive range of calcareous rocks upon which that town is built. It contains very perfect remains of the encrinite, echinite, and some other fossil species. The rock is firm and well consolidated, as much so as any part of the stratum. A specimen of this rock, now before us, has a decidedly sparry texture, and embraces a mass of black blende. This rock is extensively used as a building material at St. Louis. On parting with its carbonic acid and water, it becomes beautifully white, yielding an excellent quicklime. Foundations of private dwellings at St. Louis and the military works erected by the French and Spaniards, from this material, sixty years ago, are still as solid and unbroken as when first laid. We cite these facts as evincing the compactness and durability of the stone -- points which must essentially affect any conclusions to be drawn from the prints we have mentioned, and
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upon which, therefore, we are solicitous to express our decided opinion.
Geologists teach us that the character and relative age of rocks may be determined with considerable certainty, from the fossil organic remains which they disclose in the most solid parts. They infer from the shells, plants, and other traces of organic structure, now found in solid strata, that these rocks were once soft and pliable, so as to be capable of admitting these bodies. They point also to these substances, some of which are derived from the land and others from the ocean, as evidences of the dominion which the latter has formerly exercised over the surface of extensive portions of the earth, which are now dry and elevated; and as the most indubitable proofs of the physical revolutions which have, at remote periods, devastated its surface, involving these genera of shells, plants, &c. in the general catastrophe. The bones of several large quadrupeds, some of which are of extinct or non-descript species, and the osseous and enduring remains of birds, fishes, and reptiles, which are often found, not only in alluvial deposite, but also in well consolidated strata, sufficiently indicate these changes, and point to several distinct submersions; some of which were manifestly produced by salt, and others by fresh water. Most of these disturbances and reproductions of strata, have, we believe, been attributed to causes operating in a very remote period of the world. We wish only to discover the osseous or petrified remains of man, in situations similar to those in which we find the brute tribes of the creation, to bring the revolutions, to which we have adverted, down to a much later period of history. If we suppose the present marks to be genuine, we here perceive some evidences of this nature. And they are found,
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as we should naturally expect, not upon those elevated mountains of granites and mica slates, which may be supposed to be sufficiently firm and well-based to hare resisted the elemental shock; but in the central portions of a low and kindly valley, on the surface of one of those strata which are confessedly reproductions or resolutions from pre-existing species.
It is not our design to pursue this speculation into those details which it is calculated to invite. But we are naturally led to inquire; -- are these marks natural or factitious? * If genuine, at what period of the world
* This query, it will be perceived by the following letter from the Hon. Tims. H. Benton, of St. Louis, has been determined in a manner, which presupposes a high state of the arts, among the unknown race of men, who are supposed to have executed the larger mounds scattered throughout the Mississippi Valley. The letter of Mr. Benton, it will be seen, is in answer to one, which we addressed to him on the subject.
Washington City, April 29, 1823.SIR,
Yours of the twenty-seventh was received yesterday. The prints of the human feet which you mention, I have seen hundreds of times. They were on the uncovered limestone rock, in front of the town of St. Louis. This rock forms the basis of the country, and is deposited in horizontal strata, and in low water is uncovered to the extent of three miles in length on the bank of the Mississippi, and, in some places, from one to two hundred feet wide.
The "prints" were seen when the country was first settled, and had the same appearance then as now. No tradition can tell any thing about them. They look as old as the rock. They have the same fine polish which the attrition of the sand and water have made upon the rest of the rock which is exposed to their action. I have examined them often with great attention. They are not handsome, but exquisitely natural, both in the form and position -- spread-toed, and of course anterior to the use of narrow shoes. I do not think them "impressions," but the work of hands, and refer their existence to the age of the mounds upon the American bottom, and above the town of St. Louis. My reasons for this opinion are: -- 1. The hardness of the rock. 2. The want of tracks leading to and from them. 3. The difficulty of supposing a change so instantaneous and apropos, as must have taken place in the formation of the rock, if impressed
178 TRAVELS IN THE CENTRAL PORTIONS.
were they impressed? Whether by the present race of Indians, or by any other nations who have inhabited this continent during its primeval age! Have the calcareous rocks of the Mississippi Valley been in a state sufficiently soft to receive such impressions, since their original formation? Were these rocks deposited during the Noachian deluge, or at any subsequent time? If deposited at that period, is there any reason to conclude that this continent was then inhabited? Finally, were these tracks not impressed at a comparatively modern period, probably by that race of men who erected our larger mounds? May we not suppose a barrier to have existed across the lower part of the Mississippi, converting its immense valley into an interior sea, whose action was adequate to the production and deposition of calcareous strata? We do not consider such a supposition incompatible with the existence of transition rocks in this valley, the position of the latter being beneath the secondary. Are not the great northern lakes the remains of such an ocean? And did not the sudden demolition of this ancient barrier, enable this powerful stream to carry its banks, as it has manifestly done, a hundred miles into the Gulf of Mexico? We think such an hypothesis much more probable than that this remarkable prolongation of its valley, has been caused by the comparatively limited every-day deposites of recent times. We have been acquainted with the mouths of the Mississippi, like the Falls of Niagara,
when soft enough to receive such deep and distinct tracks. Opposed to this opinion are: -- 1. The exquisitehess of the workmanship. 2. The difficulty of working in such hard material without steel or iron. A block of six, or eight feet long, and three or four wide, containing the prints, was cut out by Mr. John Jones, a stone-mason in St. Louis, and sold to Mr. Rappe, of Indiana, and, under his orders, removed to his establishment called Harmony, on the left bank of the Wabash.
Very respectfully, Yours,
THOMAS H. BENTON.
H. R. SCHOOLCRAFT, ESQ.
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for more than a century; and yet its several channels, the distance from known points above, and all its essential grand features, like the cataract of Niagara, remain to all observation, essentially the same as when first discovered.
We left Harmony at one o'clock; and after a descent of about twenty miles, through a region generally characterized by its woody aspect, encamped at a late hour on the Indiana shore. Early the next morning we resumed our descent. We had taken directions for landing: on an elevated part of the shore denominated
BONE BANK.This part of the shore had been mentioned to us, as one worthy of examination, from the number of human bones, fragments of antique pottery, and other slowly decomposing substances daily exposed by the encroachments of the river. It is manifestly indebted for any peculiar features it may possess, to one of those recent mounds, which are clearly attributable to the ancestors of the present race of Indians. It has lately been undermined by the changing channel of the Wabash.
The popular disposition to magnify objects of this kind, and to clothe them with a degree of importance, which does not belong to them, is frequently a tax, no less upon the time, than upon the patience of travellers in this quarter: -- and it requires no ordinary degree of vigilance to escape the imputation of credulity. The progress of settlement is constantly disclosing some objects in the forests or prairies of the west, which are sources of wonder to those only who will not take the trouble to investigate. Bones crossed in an unusual manner in the ancient graves or tumuli, which are so common throughout this region, or collected into measured piles, and
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sometimes mixed with the more elongated joints of certain quadrupeds, afford full evidence of the giants and other monstrous or deformed creations of which we have heard. We have a recent instance of this kind in the reported discovery of the bones of a non-descript animal in the alluvial soil near Baton Rouge. This animal is described as having bifurcated black horns, and long claws, very disproportionate to a small raccoon-like body. Nature proceeds by stated, unalterable laws, and whatever contradicts them may, without much hazard, be pronounced false. If we are told of eagles with two heads, or raccoons furnished with horns, these laws teach us to disbelieve it, because it is contrary to the axioms of philosophy, and the evidence of our senses.
With regard to that class of our western mounds, which merely consist of conical heaps of earth, we think too much mystery has been thrown about the discussions. We are inclined to think, that they do not furnish sufficient evidence of that high state of the arts, among the people who raised these earthy pyramids, which has been claimed for them. Their construction does not appear to involve a greater knowledge of architecture, geometry, or mechanical skill, than we may concede to have been possessed by the ancestors of the present race of Indians. And their erection by these tribes, at an early period of their history, can scarcely be deemed as evincing a greater degree of industry, than we may suppose compatible with the habits and condition of populous, fierce, and warlike nations, engaged in constant disputes for the right of territory, and evincing a noble thirst for fame, by seeking continual opportunities of proving themselves great warriors, expert hunters, and superior men.
We have for some time entertained the opinion, that many of these mounds were erected by the tribes inhabiting the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, to defend themselves
OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. 181
against the encroachments of their enemies. We may suppose these mounds to have served as a rallying point for the tribe on the first news of an invasion, where they fought under the immediate inspection of their patriarchs, and where they were consequently excited to acts of the greatest daring. Before the introduction of fire-arms, these artificial hills, raised on a flat surface, way have been considered as places of warlike annoyance, capable of being maintained against superior numbers, and from which the most dreadful sallies may have been made into the ranks of their opponents. They must certainly have been eligible sites for casting missiles among the bands of the assailants. Here, we may conclude, the collected strength of the nation was mustered, here they staked their all on the issue of a battle in defence of their liberties, and here, if defeated, they left a monument of their bravery, drenched with the blood of their fighting men, and consecrated to posterity by their slowly decaying bones. We cannot conceive a higher effort for a brave but rude people.
There is a tradition of this kind extant among the Wyandots, and we doubt not, if proper researches were made, similar traditions would be found among the other western tribes. In the year 1802, Col. Williams, a Wyandot Chief, then on a visit at New Haven, told Mr. Calhoun, that these mounds were erected by the western Indians, to defend themselves against the confederate Iroquois. * That they were not more than two or three
* HISTORY OP THE FIVE NATIONS. The following testimony of the power and achievements of these nations, from an authentic work published in the last century, may prove interesting: -- "It is well known that a confederacy of savage tribes, whose principal residence is now to the southeast of Lake Ontario, and who were known by the name of Iroquois, or Five Nations, made themselves the most conspicuous of all the Indian powers of America, about the middle of the last century, and that they retained
182 TRAVELS IN THE CENTRAL PORTIONS.
hundred years old, and that such was the concurrent account given by the old men of the Wyandot tribe. This chief belonged to a band residing on the Maumee. He could read and write well, having been taught these branches by the French, and was a man of sense and information. Our limits do not permit us to pursue this discussion. But we think it important in the examination of these tumuli, which have been so fruitful a theme of discussion, to discriminate those which are attributable to existing tribes, from another class of ancient works which are fewer in number, more ancient in their character, and seem to have required higher efforts both of skill and of industry in their erection.
We landed a short time at the Wabash ferry. At this place the main road, upon which the mail is carried, between Vincennes and Shawneetown, crosses this stream, within about four miles of its mouth. Heavy, unvaried
their dominion and superiority through the greater part of the present. They entirely subdued all the nations upon three of the great lakes, and upon all the rivers which fall into the Mississippi. They were very near driving the French out of America, and for a long time wasted their colony of Canada with a most cruel war. But having suffered some repulses in that war, becoming perhaps jealous of the growing power of the English, and finding among the Indian Nations nothing that was capable or willing to give them any disturbance, they fell gradually into more quiet dispositions, and began to enjoy the fruit of that sovereignty they had so long and so earnestly contended for.
The historians of our colonies represent this people as originally of very pure and severe manners, But they were corrupted by an intercourse with those nations, by whose debauchery thrv were enabled to conquer them. Luxury, of which there may be a species even among the savages, by degrees enervated the fierce virtue of the Iroquois, and weakened their empire, as it has done that of so many others. Their numbers, which their frequent wars in some degree lessened, were yet more diminished in time of peace; and the renown of their name, rather than their real power, for some time preserved that high and haughty authority, which they for a long time continued to .exercise over a great part of America." -- Annual Register, for 1763.
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(remainder of text not transcribed)
VOL. XXVI. Boston, Mass., April, 1828. No. LIX.
Henry R. Schoolcraft's 1825 Travels Book
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Esq. (1793-1864)