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History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan

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A Grammar Of Their Language,
And Personal And Family History Of The Author,

Andrew J. Blackbird

Late U.S. Interpreter, Harbor Springs, Emmet County, Michigan 

     I deem it not improper to present the history of the last race of Indians now existing in the State of Michigan, called the Ottawa and Chippewa Nations of Indians.
     There were many other tribes of Indians in this region prior to the occupancy of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of this State, who have long ago gone out of existence. Not a page of their history is on record; but only an allusion to them in our traditions.
     I have herewith recorded the earliest history of the Ottawa tribe of Indians in particular, according to their traditions. I have related where they formerly lived, the names of their leaders, and what tribes they contended with before and after they came to Michigan, and how they came to be the inhabitants of this State. Also the earliest history of the Island of Mackinac, and why it is called "Michilimackinac"--which name has never been correctly translated by white historians, but which is here given according to our knowledge of this matter long before we came in contact with white races.
     I have also recorded some of the most important legends, which resemble the Bible history; particularly the legends with regard to the great flood, which has been in our language for many centuries, and the legend of the great fish which swallowed the prophet Ne-naw-bo-zhoo, who came out again alive, which might be considered as corresponding to the story of Jonah in the Sacred History.
     Beside my own personal and our family history, I have also, quite extensively, translated our language into English and added many other items which might be interesting to all who may wish to inquire into our history and language.

Andrew J. Blackbird


Chapter I
History of the Ottawa of Michigan--Preliminary Remarks in Regard to Other Histories, Concerning the Massacre of the Old British Fort on the Straits of Mackinac--British Promise to the Ottawa--Ravages of Small Pox--First Recollection of the Country of Arbor-Croche and Its Definition--Uprightness and Former Character of the Indians.

Chapter II
Cases of Murders Among the Ottawa and Chippewa Exceedingly Scarce --Ceding the Grand Traverse Region to the Chippewa on Account of Murder--Immorality Among the Ottawa not Common--Marriage in Former Times.

Chapter III
Earliest Possible Known History of Mackinac Island--Its Historical Definition--Who Resided at the Island--Massacre at the Island by Seneca--Where the Ottawa were Living at That Time--Only Two Escape the Massacre--What Became of Them--The Legends of the Two Who Escaped --Occupants of the Island Afterwards--Who Killed Warrior Tecumseh?

Chapter IV
The Author's Reasons for Recording the History of His People, and Their Language--History of His Nationality--A Sketch of His Father's History --How the Indians Were Treated in Manitoba Country One Hundred Years Ago--His Father's Banishment to Die on a Lonely Island by the White Traders--Second Misfortune of the Ottawa on Account of the Shawnee Prophet--The Earthquake.

Chapter V
The Author's Father Appointed Speaker for the Ottawa and Chippewa-- The Only Ottawa Who was Friendly to Education--Making Alphabet--Acting as School Teacher--Moving Disposition of the Ottawa--Mode of Traveling--Tradition of William Blackbird Being Fed by Angelic Beings in the Wilderness--His being Put into Mission School by His Father-- Studying to be a Priest--His Assassination in the City of Rome, Italy, Almost the Day When He was to be Ordained--Memorial Poem--The Author's Remarks on the Death of His Brother.

Chapter VI
Account of the Indians' Roving Disposition, Their Feasts and Their Customs--Saluting Arbor Croche Every Spring of the Year--How the Catholic Religion was Introduced Among the Ottawa--The Missions-- Signing of the Treaty, March 8, 1836.

Chapter VII
More Personal History--Suffering and Trials in Early Life--Missing the Opportunity to Go to School--Learning Trade as a Blacksmith--A New Start to Seek for Education--Arriving at Cleveland, O., to Find His Old Friend, Rev. Alvin Coe--Visit with Rev. Samuel Bissell, of Twinsburg, O., Principal of the Twinsburg Institute--Attending School--Returning Home--Advocating Citizenship for His People--Delegated to Detroit and to the State Legislature--His Pleasant Visit with State Authorities-- Again Delegated as Councilor to the New Treaty, 1855.

Chapter VIII
Becoming Protestant--Persecutions--Second Attempt to go to School-- Trials With Indian Agent--Governor Lewis Cass--Struggle During Education--Getting Married--Coming Home--Government Interpreter and Postmaster.

Chapter IX
Some of the Legends of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Respecting the Great Flood of the World--A Person Swallowed Up Alive Like a Prophet Jonah.

Chapter X
Traditions of the Ottawa Regarding Their Early History--Their Wars and Their Confederations With Other Tribes of Indians.

Chapter XI
The Ottawa Moving Again Towards the Setting Sun--Coming to Manitoulin, or Ottawa Island--The Names of Their Leaders--The Wenebago Warriors Coming to Ottawa Island in a Hostile Manner, Headed by O-saw-wah-ne-me- kee, "The Yellow Thunder"--Death of Kaw-be-naw, one of the Greatest Prophets and Warriors of the Ottawas--Massacre in the Country of Waw- gaw-na-ke-zhe, or Arbor Croche, Emmet County, Michigan.

Chapter XII
The Present Condition of the Indians of this State.

Chapter XIII
The Lamentation of the Overflowing Heart of the Red Man of the Forest.

Chapter XIV
The Twenty-one Precepts or Moral Commandments of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, by Which They Were Governed in Their Primitive State, Before They Came in Contact With White Races in Their Country--The Ten Commandments, The Creed, and The Lord's Prayer in the Ottawa Language as Translated by the Author.

Grammar of the Ottawa And Chippewa Language

Chippewa History | Ottawa History

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