Red Lake centennial, 1889-1989

1889 - Minnesota Chippewa Commission
"Indian copy" of Red Lake transcripts provided to Red Lake General Council by the Minnesota Chippewa Commission


First and second council at Red Lake - June 29th, 1889

    page 1 - "The Indians having assembled, the members of the Comission proceeded to the school building in which the council was to be held ..."

    page 2 - "... before it two different bills; there was one bill presented by the white people who live here in the neighborhood of the Indians, who want to get their lands so as to make use of them, as they are now lying usless.  This bill was framed perhaps more for the benefit of the white people than for the benefit of the Indians ..."

    page 3 - "... use of them.  This bill is like the net or the fish-hook to take the fish out, so the Indians will have plenty and be well off.  As it is, your pine lands are burning; a great many pines are stolen; your property is getting less all the time and you have no benefit from it all ..."

    page 4 - "As the Act is very long, we propose to give you until Monday morning, at nine o'clock, to consider ..."

Third council at Red Lake - July 3, 1889

     page 5 - "The council was called to order by the Chairman at 1 p.m., after which Bishop Marty offered prayer.
          "MR. RICE:- We told you that we would give you all the time necessary to deliberate.  You have fixed three different times to meet us; you did not keep any of the appointments ..."

     page 6 - "MR. RICE: - My friends, we have heard the answer that you wish us to send back to the President.  For the last ten years, in consequence of your poverty, the Government of the United States has sent you over $10,000., every year, as a present.  You have a mistake in saying that you have had no voice ..."

     page 7 - "[All along the track we came lies the blackened pine, falling to the ground, groan-]ing out its dissent that it should be thus destroyed.  From this burnt district, the moose and the deer flee for safety.  Each year these great fires are driving your game further and further, and each year there is less for them to subsist you.  If the moose, and the deer, and theother game is destroyed by fire, what are you to live upon? ..."

     page 8 - "... happy and prosperous, able to care for you in your old age, and with horses and cattle, and wagons and mills, everything that civilization will bring you?  So with only blackness and sorrow and distress on the one hand, you may on the other hand go upward and onward in the bright sunlight of future prosperity ... "

     page 9 - "[GAY-BAY-GAH-BOW:- ]  ... listened attentively.  They are words of great wight, but although they are words of weight, and although we must respect them as we respect our Great Father, we do not believe, it is to our interest to comply with their request.  We call upon the Master of Life to see the righteousness of our intentions, and God will help us because we are in the right ... "

     page 10 - "MAY-DWAY-GON-ON-IND:- When I went down to St. Paul lately, in passing Mrs. Warren's place, there was a fire raging to the West of the road.  The woman told me that there was not an Indian in the country; that the fire had been set by settlers.  We never set fire to our pine.
     "WAY-ME-TE-GO-ZHEENCE:- We are blamed for anything that is destroyed - on what we consider our own - this Reservation ..."

     page 11 - "... to you.  You evidently have not condiered the propositions.  If you have, you have trifled with them; you have trifled with us.  All that you have told us is to take back the words of the President and throw them in his face; I can assure yo that we will do it, and you must take the consequences."

     page 12 - "... The second thing is: That the rest of the land, which is now being used up, stolen from you or burnt off, will be taken hold of by the Great Father, for his children.  He will sell your pine ..."

     page 13 - "BISHOP MARTY:- Every one is to speak for himself; we have to get the signature of every Indian.  We want to know as to each one, whether he is reasonable or not, and those who give a reasonable answer will be helped by the President, and those who are not reasonable, need not expect any help hereafter. ..."

      page 14 - "[PUS-SE-NOUS:- There are none here who are owned by any one; each one] owns himself, and is master of his own ideas.  We own the land in common; when a visit is made by us to the Great Father, we will tell him what land we will cede."

[editor's note: Bah-se-nos's great-grandson, Wub-e-ke-niew, comments that: "Bah-se-nos told the Commissioners that the
Ahnishinahbæótjibway could not and would not sell our land, but the Chippewa Creole in which the meetings were being interpreted was a hierarchical trade pidgin in which it was impossible to communicate Ahnishinahbæótjibway concepts. ... We cannot sell our philosophy or our religion, our identity our our relations who share the Earth with us.  We cannot sell land; the idea was sacreligious then and it still is now."]

     page 15 - "[MAY-DWAY-GON-ON-NIND:- ... You know] that we have been at peace all the time; we never do anything to wrong each other.  ..."

     page 16 - "[BISHOP MARTY: - ... ]  As soon as we begin to talk, we see that we understand each other very well.  You may be sure that I did not come to take any land away from you.  I want you to have plenty of it, and your children ..."

     page 17 - [AH-NUH-NE-AY-GE-SHIG:- ... It is on the same principle that you have property; you get the worth of your property; you are not going to share with a neighbor] what you get for your own property.  That is the way we want to do with this ..."

     page 18 - "MAY-DWAY-GON-ON-IND:-  My friends, (you will not forget that we use that appellation in sincerity) as there is no amusement whatever tomorrow we might as well mett.  You blame us for not keeping our engagements, but none of us have watches, and we could not tell the time if we had."

Fourth Council at Red Lake - July 4th, 1889

19 - "The Council was called to order by the Chairman at 2.30 P.M., after which prayer was offered by Bishop Marty.
     "MR. RICE:- We expect to-day to hear your objections to the propositions made to you by the Government.  After hearing you, it may ..."
     page 20 - "...poverty just the same as we are; that is a serious objection.  We have heard from the explanation of how the money was to be expended; we have not a clear insight into it. ..."

     page 21 - "[The reservations of the Leech Lake, Win-]nebegoshish and Cass Lake Indians are known to you, and you know how well they are situationed.  There is another reservation that goes nearly around theirs; which belongs to the Chippewas of the Mississippi. ..."

     page 22 - "The Mille Lacs Reservation has large and valuable tracts of pine upon it, but I do not wish to say anything about that, for there is a controversy, as to its termination we have no knowledge.  It is my opinion however, and the opinion of my assoicates here, besides that of a good many other men who are familiar with these reservations, that by this consolidation, you will be benefited. ..."

     page 23 - "... only six weeks since I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing Mr. Rice, but from the first moment we met, we became very good friends.  He found that I was a friend of the Indians, and I found that he was a friend of the Indians. ..."

     page 24 - "... that the Chippewas were all poor, and if so, they ought all to help each other; if they are against each other, they will always be poor.  We are all childre of one Father, who is in heaven, and ..."

     page 25  - "speeches of the other Indians, -we have not said a word,- my brother and myself, Moose Dung,- and I concluded to express the feeling of these people, as we understand it."

     page 26 - "... of Life; that is where I get my lessons, and I am very happy to hear your remarks.  When I pray, I pray that I may reach that life that I am taught we shall go to, if we live well.  I also encourage learning and school teaching.  that is the reason that I would not take any remorks derogatory of what you have said, on account of those who are ignorant ..."

     page 27 - "[Me-GUAN-AH-QUOD:-  By observation over there among the Pillagers you will] find that I have spoken the truth; I know what they will do."

     page 28 - "AH-NUH-ME-AY-GE-SHIG: - There was no answer made to what I asked yesterday."

     page 29 - "... in their hands.  We have not been paid a sufficient sum of money for the cutting of logs upon our land by the lumber camps - let along the thefts and depradations committed along the line; we will never see a cent of that.  I was the man selected by the bands to go around the line of the reservation, and you would be surprised to see the amount of depradation that has been committed ..."

     page 30 - "GAY-BAY-GAH-BOW:- I want to know if you would like to reply to what Leading Father has said."

     page 31 - "[... What you do not receive in cash, will be spent in your midst in making improvements, which will give work for all your young men, so that the money will reach your pock-]ets, and employment is what you require more than anything else; 'An idle head is the devil's workshop.' ... "

     page 32 - "... I take this pipe, and make a comparison; we are called upon to deliberate something that is useful, not whast is bad.  That is all I have to say."

Fifth Council at Red Lake - July 5th, 1889

     page 33 - "The Council was opened with a prayer by the Bishop.
          SHAW-WUN-AH-CUMIG-ISH-KUNG:- My friends, I salute you all, and also the Indians.  We wish to ask a question - although we have asked a great may - about our line running from Thief River, directly south; Moose Dung knows it was established from Thief River to Rice River ..."

     page 34 - "... of country.  When one desires to buy, the question is generally asked, 'who does this property belong to?'  One man does not say to another, whether or not you own this property, will you sell this?  If they had tried to find the owner of that land, they would have found him here.  We claim that land is still ours.  Our signatures do not appear on any paper as to the sale of those lands.  We want to know who ceded those lands, and in what State they are. ..."

     page 35 - "SHAW-WUN-AH-CUMIG-ISH-KUNG:- Why does the President object to seeing us about this matter, this bargain that it is proposed to make?  The person selling is generally called, and the bargain maid with the most interested, that is what the white man does."

     page 36 - "BISHOP MARTY:- There will be a good deal more distributed if you accept what the President now sends.  It is easier for three men to come here, than for three hundred men to go to Washington. ..."

     page 37 - "[WAY-WAY:- ... You see how tall I am, if I should stand in the midst of the money, of the value of the damages,] what had been stolen from us, it would go over my head.  That is why I cannot come to a conclusion about the papers yo present.  I am working to arrive at the amount taken from our reservation. ..."

38 - "[... Now we wish you to weigh your words well; we came here to serve you, but if you are not ready to listen, and will not send back a respectful answer to the President, all we have to do is to] return and tell him that the Indians of Red Lake would not listen to his words."

     page 39 - "[If he finds there are not enough wise men on your reservation, to manage it, and to meet his] agents properly, he will conclude that you are not capable of caring for yourselves; that he will have to do so for you, and treat you as children."

     page 40 - "... instead of their friends. It is easy to lead them wrongly, and difficult to lead them right.  For the whites and the Indians, I have the heart of a father.  It is my calling, which made me, all these days, have patience with you, but I can well understand that a gentleman like Mr. Rice, would not like it ..."

Sixth Council at Red Lake - July 6th, 1889

     page 41 - "This was the largest council held here up to this date, all interests on the Reservation being represented.  The Council was opened with prayer by Bishop Marty ..."

     page 42 - "[NAH-GAUN-E-GWON-ABE:-  ... It is wrong to act on the impulse of the moment;  one has to ponder for himself to come to a right conclusion.  We, as ignorant people,] have crooked guns; even if we take sight over them, we miss the mark.  We are trying to straighten our guns ..."

     page 43 - "... fathers have done; I must look to my grand-children and their children's grand-children,- I must look after the benefit of all.  I shall be dead when you receive the benefits of this work.  If it pleases the Master of Life that this shold be a blessing to us, it will be because we follow the advice of those who are sent to us, and who say, they are our special friends ..."

     page 44 - "[MR. RICE:- ... We certainly have not come here to do injustice to the Indians.  This Commission believe that your rights] are amply protected by the carrying out the provisions of this Act. ..."

     page 45 - "[... This is the only proposition ever made to you, which] guarantees your security, definitely fixing what shall belong to you and your children, and when you retire at night you will know that your home cannot be disturbed.
     "I am afraid you may not have understood the this word 'consolidation' in its true meaning..."

     page 46 - "[Two years ago Congress passed an Act, by which it was decided that you should al take allotments in severalty.  It applies not only to this reservation, but to all in the United States.  That Act provides, that after the President shall notify you, you shall select your land ..."

     page 47 - "MR. RICE:- We consent most cheerfully to the request made by your chief, and we hope that by two o'clock you will have settled this matter between yourselves.  This is the most important point of all ..."

Seventh Council at Red Lake - July 6th, 1889

     page 48 - "The Council was opened with a prayer by Bishop Marty.
          "MR. RICE:- The Council will please come to order.  It is proper that htose who live at a distance should ..."

     page 49 - "[MAY-DWAY-GON-ON-IND:- ...The boys have drawn the lnes of what they think will be the proper reservation for them to retain.  They have made it include some pines becaues they are thinking of their posterity,-] of their grand-children, and of those who will live after them, their great grand-children; we think they should be provided for.
          "It is our wish that the children be educated so that they make take care of themselves; it is our sincere wish that our children, our grand-children and our great grand-children should have the advantage of learning from books,- that they should know how to read and write.  Another thinkg, thes emen of prayers, and the other men of prayers - two different sects - they are the kind that we like here ..."

[editor's note: the May-dway-gon-on-ind who was present at these 1889 sessions was a Christian mixed blood; he was not the same person as the hereditary head chief at the 1863 treaty negotiations, who died in 1874.]

     page 50 - "... We wish to guarantee to our posterity some security; that is why we demand the reservation we have outlined on that paper.  ... We want the reservation we now select to last ourselves and our children forever ..."

     page 51 - "... for grazing land.  The time may come when we will be called upon to locate some of our people who may wish to cast their lot withus.  We must think, not only of the Red Lake Indians, but also of others in this matter.  ..."

     page 52 - "MAYS-CO-CO-NO-YAY:- My friends, I shake hands with you all.  The young men submitted that outline for our consideration.  We are with the young  men, and I hope you will grant their request.  ... "

[editor's note: Under Article 9 of the "Treaty with the Chippewa - Red Lake and Pembina Bands," October 2, 1863 [ratified March 1, 1864, Proclaimed May 5, 1864] Mays-co-co-no-yay (George Sumner)'s family was granted "a reservation of (640) six hundred and forty acres near the mouth of Thief River..."]

     page 53 - "PUS-SE-NAUS:- My friends, I salute you.  I wish to allude to what was said before the Commissioners and the others came in.
          "It is seventeen years since this matter was agitated here.  Those who are dead, of course, cannot be present.  I am the only one of that lot. ..."

     page 54 - "[MR. RICE:- ... the lumbermen ... When they commence running pine into the Lake and making the rafts in order to ship it below, there will be work for a large number of ] men.  If they are compelled to work in the midst of your women and children, some troble will come which will be greatly to the detriment of the tribe.  We propose, after talking among ourselves, to give you all the good land, and as much of the bad as we can.  We will consult a moment and see if we can change the line ..."

     page 55 - "NAH-GUAN-E-GWON-ABE:- It is our sincere wish, after these papers are signed, that a statement of the progress of the collection, or accumulation of the revenue from this arrangement, shall be furnished to us every six months ... "

     page 56 - "[The white man is very strong, the Indian is very weak.  The white man is high, the Indian is very low.  When an agreement is made the white man always knows how to construe it, but the Indian cannot help himself.]  My friends, take my remarks as friendly.  If the truth is promulgated, these people will thank you very much; and we know it will be promulgated by men of truth and the friends of the Indian ..."

     page 57 - "But it is not enough for the Indian to have money in order to become well off; something else isneeded; he must know how to make good use of money. ..."

     page 58 - "... who served the country in the last war, has held many high positions since, and filled them to the satisfaction of the whites.
          "According to the arrangement we are making with you, you will receive the Ninety Thousand Dollars, already in the Treasury for distribution, giving every man, woman and child among you about Nine Dollars apiece ..."

     page 59 - "[SHAW-WUN-AH-CUNIG-ISH-KUNG:- There are some Indians not here, who are living outside of the Reservation, on ceded lands, at the Lake of the Woods, they may be more or less, I don't know their numbers, what shall we do] in that case?  One was taken off and his improvements taken from him."

     page 60 - "SHAW-WUN-AH-CUNIG-ISH-KUNG: - I will not be in the way of those who want to sign ..."

     page 61 - "BISHOP MARTY:- You may ..."

transcripts courtesy of Melvin Lawrence
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