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some Persons (if one could be procured) up to the Mahas on the Missouri, thence to pass over by land to the River St. Peters, and thence to Prairie du Chien.
This Mission we deemed very important for several reasons:
1st. It was well ascertained that the British had been endeavoring, and with some success too, to engage the Indians of the Missouri River in the War against us. It was, therefore, necessary to prevent those machinations from eventuating in hostilities, that we should apprize the Tribes upon whom they had been practised, of the new state of relations between ours and the British Government; as there was no reason to believe that the latter would have caused any such information to be there communicated.
2ndly. By the authority and under the directions of the Governor of this Territory, with the promised co-operation of General Howard, while commanding in this District, a part of the Sioux and other Indians of the Missouri had been engaged in the War on our side, and were then at War with those Indians who had been hostile to us, several of whom they killed after our Treaty commenced; as then the War thus instigated, must have been considered as the act of our Government, good faith, in consequence of the Treaty with Great Britain, required that it should cease.
3rdly. The Government having determined to establish strong military posts high up the Mississippi River, and there then being reason to believe it would have been attempted within the past Season, it was desirable that the Indians of the River St. Peters, and others in the vicinity of Prairie du Chien, should be made acquainted with the views and intentions of our Government; as such movements, if unexplained, would naturally have excited in them fearful apprehensions, in consequence of their having been engaged in the War; and might have put it in the power of the most contemptible British Trader to have produced a serious opposition in that quarter.
4thly. Our Instructions positively required that we should give immediate information to those Tribes, of the Peace that had been concluded between The United States and Great Britain, and we saw no other practicable means of effecting it. Besides, it was not to be doubted that, by making them the communications and overtures, we were authorized to do, many good consequences would result therefrom, and an important object of Government would be effected, even if those Indians should not come down and treat with us.
We should not, however, have been able to have accomplished these objects, had not Lieut. Kennerly, (one of the disbanded Officers, equally distinguished for his bravery and enterprize) seeing the utter impossibility of our procuring any other Person, voluntarily offered to go on this Mission; in which, although he could not succeed to the extent of our wishes, in consequence of having his horses stolen from him, his services were, notwithstanding, very important, and he succeeded in sending Talks, by Indians whom he met with, to those he could not visit.
The Indians who had been hostile to our Government, generally manifested an evident backwardness to negotiate with us; attempted to temporize in every possible way, without committing themselves too far; and particularly by promising, but delaying, to send forward Deputations to treat with us; and by sending incompetent Deputations: in which conduct, we have many reasons for believing that they were influenced by unprincipled British Traders, who endeavored to dissuade them from coming to the Treaty; represented our Invitations as insidious attempts to decoy them into our power, that we might massacre them; induced them to believe that Michilimacinac would never be surrendered; and that the War between The United States and Great Britain would shortly thereafter be renewed.
Knowing that the Indians had in several instances, and in a late one in particular, refused to comply with their Treaties, because, as they alleged, those who made them had not competent power to bind the Tribes to which they belonged, we felt it our duty to enquire particularly, whether the Tribes with whom we proposed to treat were properly represented ? and in some instances, we had to send back Indians of different Tribes for more competent Deputations; in all of which cases, however, the Indians, Interpreters and Agents, admitted that those Tribes were not sufficiently represented. Owing to the disappointments and difficulties that have already been explained, we have constantly had under our charge more or less Indians, from the commencement of the Treaty till the 30th ult. when we sent off about 125, being all that then remained.
The delays that have necessarily intervened (otherwise so much to be regretted) have certainly been productive of 3 of the most important Treaties that we have made, viz. those with the Foxes, the Kickapoos, and the Ioways, which could not have been effected upon the same terms at the commencement of the Treaty, nor for some time thereafter.
Those Treaties, with all others that we have concluded, have been mentioned in our former Communications, and are herewith transmitted. *
According to our Instructions, we confined those Treaties to the sole object of Peace. But the Indians, in several instances, were extremely solicitous that they should also have embraced other subjects; and some further Negotiation with some of them, seems to be recommended by every dictate of policy.
The Piankeshaws are extremely anxious to reside in this Territory, and wish to be permitted to sell the small tract of land which they own in the Illinois Territory near the Wabash, for ploughs, horses, farming utensils, &c. which are necessary to enable them to make a new Establishment.
The Ioways are very desirous of coming more closely under the protection of The United States; and for that purpose, wish to cede a part of their lands in order to obtain annuities, like the rest of the neighboring Indians. As this is a spontaneous offer on their part, and as the land would be a valuable acquisition on many accounts, and particularly so in the event of future hostilities, it might be very
advisable to accede to their proposition. The Pattawatimies now occupy, and assert a right to, the land on the Illinois River, which is contained in the Cession made by the Sacs and Foxes in 1804,** and it is certainly to be apprehended that without some adjustment of the dispute the Surveyors appointed to survey the military land within the Illinois Territory, will meet with some serious opposition.
The Chippewas, Menomenees and Winnebagoes, who were all invited to send Deputations to meet us at Portage des Sioux did not send a single Man, nor assign any reason for their not doing so.
The Sacs of Rock River, not only most explicitly refused to treat with us, but manifested without disguise, their opposition to the views of our Government, and committed many of the most wanton depredations upon the Frontier, even after the Treaty commenced. Their conduct has been so outrageous and improper, that, for the sake of example to others, and to produce a proper respect for our Government, good policy requires that they should be compelled to make some retribution at least: and if it shall be thought proper that our duties shall be resumed in relation to them, we should indeed be very desirous of some particular Instructions upon the subject.
*See Page 401. (Appearing in original text.) **See Page 412. (Appearing in original text.)
The Indians about Prairie du Chien, are represented by Mr. Boilvin (the Agent at this place) and several other Persons who have lately returned from thence, as being in a state of the greatest commotion, occasioned by their divisions with regard to Peace with The United States; all of which, together with the conduct of the Sacs, and the failure of the Winnebagoes, Menomenees and Chippewas to meet us, is thought by the most intelligent White Men who have been in that Country, as well as by some of the most respectable friendly Indians, to be the result of the immense presents which the British Governments have lately distributed, and the constant intrigues of British Traders, who certainly have a greater quantity of merchandise on the Mississippi at present, than they have ever had in any former year. Indeed, from accounts from various quarters, it appears that they are making the greatest possible efforts to retain their influence over the Indians, and to engross the whole of their Trade.
Lieutenant Kennerly informs us, that while among the Indians of the Missouri, he received information that British Traders were among the Mandans; where, it was supposed, they were making an Establishment, as they had invited the Sioux to visit them at that place. This Establishment is doubtless to be supplied from Hudson's Bay, or by the Northwest Company of Canada; and, if permitted to mature itself, will enable them to engross the whole of the Trade of the upper parts of the Missouri River, while equal exertions will be made by them to draw the Trade of the upper parts of the Mississippi down the Red River of Lake Winnipec, between which rivers the portage is very inconsiderable, and communication easy.
Having treated with a part of the Indians above Prairie du Chien, it might be desirable, for the purpose of removing all jealousies (too easily excited among them at any time,) and cultivating a good understanding with them, to treat with the rest. But that, in the present year, is totally impracticable.
On our first meeting, our attention was confined exclusively to those Indians who had been engaged in the War against us; we, however, afterwards had the honor to receive a Letter from the Honorable A. J. Dallas, of the 11th of June last, which, with its Enclosure, enlarged our Powers, and directed our attention to new objects, which have occupied a considerable portion of our time.
In conformity to our latter Instructions, we endeavoured to keep ourselves constantly informed of the dispositions and intentions of the Indians, and the conduct of the British Traders among them; the general result of which is already communicated.
We also gave Invitations to, and were invited by several of the Tribes who had remained firm in the interest of The United States, the good consequences of which were very apparent; and, indeed, if we had not been authorized to do so, the jealousies and discontents of those Tribes would have been great and serious.
The Shawanees and Delawares of this Territory, made known to us at Portage des Sioux, certain grievances of which they complain, in Talks delivered by 2 of their Principal Chiefs, which at their request we have the honor herewith to transmit for the information of the President.
It not having been made our particular duty to investigate the causes of complaint, as alleged by them, we can only say, that as at present advised, we think them well founded. And being well acquainted with the uncommon sobriety and general good conduct of those Indians; the attachment which they have evinced towards our Government; their confidence in its justice; the alacrity with which they afforded their co-operation with us in the late War; the progress of civilization among them, &c. we feel it our duty to recommend them to the benevolence, as well as to the justice of our Government.
The Cherokees of Arkansaw, complain bitterly of the intrusion of the White People, who they say, destroy their game, settle among them without their consent, and act in such a manner as to produce disorders, discord, and confusion.