1850  - 1859

Shared leadership, a form of democracy is the political norm for most Indians


  INDIAN HISTORY 1860 - 1869

INDIAN HISTORY Return to INDIAN 1700 - 1999  INDEX



George Simpson said if the destruction of the Indian Race is necessary or desirable, 
the withdrawal of the protection received from the Hudson Bay Company 
would be the readiest means of arriving at that end.


Crazy Horse (1850-1877) is born of the Lacota clan of the Dakota.

Treaties signed this decade gave 20 Washington tribes half the States harvestable salmon and shellfish.

The Ojibwa Nation had evolved from five Totems, Clans or Dodaim in 1450 to some 21 this year.

    Crane (Ujejauk) originally Businassee
    Catfish (Manumaig) originally Awause
    Bear (Mukwah) originally Noka
    Marten (Waubishashe) originally Monsone
    Wolf (Maheengun) originally Dakota (**)
    Loon (Mong) originally Ahahwauk

These above noted clans represent 8/10th's of the total Ojibwa Nation.

    Reindeer (Addick) originally Mousoneeg but absorbed into the Monsone
    Merman (Nebaunnaubay) originally Awause
    Pike (Kenoushsy) originally Awause
    Lynx (Besheu)
    Eagle (Megizzee) originally Businassee
    Rattlesnake (Cheshegwa)
    Moose (Mous) originally Mousoneeg but absorbed into the Monsone
    Black Duck or Cormorant (Mukudashib) * originally Ahahnauk
    Goose (Nekah) * originally Ahahnauk
    Sucker (Numabin) * originally Awause
    Sturgeon (Numa) * originally Awause
    White Fish (Udekumaig) * originally Awause
    Beaver (Amik) *
    Gull (Gyaushk) *
    Hawk (Kakaik) *

* Very rare totems at this time, not generally known by many Lake Superior Ojibwa and are mostly located north of the lake.

(**) The water spirit or Merman Clan of the Dakota Sioux is traced to Ojibwa who intermarried into the Dakota Nation.

The Businassee (Crane) claims chieftainship over the other clans of the Ojibwa, the Awause claimed this chieftainship through their pre-eminence at Councils, the Ahahwauk claimed this chieftainship as a royal family (inspired by the French).  These claims find their origin in European tradition not native tradition.  The Ojibwa historically practiced a form of shared leadership.
The hunting leadership differed from the war leadership, differed from the treaty leadership as an example.  Europeans could not understand this democratic system and arbitrarily created chieftainships to meet their own foolish needs.  Unfortunately many of the People claimed to be chief to satisfy various needs.  Every family leader had become an Indian Chief.

This year on orders of Alexander Ramsey a sub Indian agency of La Pointe is removed to Sandy Lake.

Loon-Foot an Ojibwa from the Fond Du Lac Band claims an ancestry back to about 1490 using 1 generation = 40 years;

    1490  #1 Gijigossekot
    1530  #2 Miskwandibagon
    1570  #3 Mitiguakosh
    1610  #4 Schawanagitik
    1650  #5 Wajki
    1690  #6 Wajawadajkoa
    1730  #7 Matchinaijan
    1770  #8 Bajasswa
    1810  #9 Kadawibida
    1850 #10 Loon-Foot

The chieftainship among the Red Lake and Pembina bands was in conflict. The Government wanted to recognize Wa-wan-je-guon but he was not of high influence with his band nor is he of the hereditary families of chiefs. Wa-wush-kin-ik-a (Crooked Arm) was the hereditary chief at Red Lake and was said to be much respected by his fellows. It is noteworthy that hereditary chiefs is an European tradition not an Indian tradition. The Governments forced the Indians into accepting an European form of Government to replace their democratic process of governing.

Historical rules defined Indians as both born and by adoption into that culture and had no relationship to land, creed or color.  This year the Government restricted only those with a proper bloodline could occupy Indian reserve lands.  This is no different than enacting a law that says only persons with an aboriginal blood line can occupy Canada.  This change in law is based upon economic considerations not of what is right, equitable or just. 

The Wishosk of the coast of Northern California were exterminated by the white American settlers.  Those few who escaped became wanderers and lived without government support.  These Algonkin speaking people might represent the ancestors of the Canadian Wishosk.

The Michigan Constitution read :Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime, shall be tolerated in this state."  Some believe they didn't realize this constitution legalized slavery until 1963 when it was finally revoked.

The 1850's witnessed bands of California miners and vigilantes murder Indians with impunity.


During the winter of 1850-51 famine visited the Ojibwa of Red Cass, Leech and Sandy Lakes as they had only received partial treaty payment last fall.  Many died and a reports of cannibalism surfaced.

Various estimates of the number of bison (buffalo) vary from 75 million to 100 million and by 1900 there is less than 1,500 animals throughout the U.S.A. Of all the big game that has roamed the earth within recorded history, no species has ever equaled in numbers the animals that are known as Bison or Buffalo.

Governor Ramsey, Dr. Thomas Foster (Secretary of the Indian Commission), and Hugh Tyler, special agent and acting Commissary left St. Paul August 18 to conclude a Treaty with the Red Lake and Pembina Ojibwa. They were to purchase 5,000,000 acres of land in the Valley of the Red River of the North for $230,000. Thirty thousand of this was to be paid to the half breeds and $2,000 annually for agricultural and educational purposes. This treaty was not confirmed by the Senate at this time. The Ojibwa on the north side of Red Lake number some three hundred. The Red Lake and Pembina bands often join the Red River half-breeds on the bison (buffalo) hunt west of the Red River. The bison (buffalo) are still plentiful at this time. The Red Lake and Pillager bands claimed, by right of conquest and actual possession, a large tract of land lying west of the Red River.

California passed a law to allow settlers to keep Indians as slaves for 15 years.

July:  At Traverse des Sioux the eastern Sioux signed away all their lands in Iowa and Minnesota except for a 20 mile wide reservation along the Minnesota River.  The treaty was a fraud as the Sioux got almost nothing from Minnesota for their lands.  Some consider this the most tragic interlude in Minnesota's history.


Katimin a village of the Karok People on the banks of the Klamath River about a mile from the mouth of the Salmon River in California is burned by the white people.  The Karok believed this location was the center of the earth and was a very sacred area.  It was the scene of many yearly ceremonies.


HMS Investigator the first ship to sail the westernmost leg of the Northwest Passage was abandoned this year in pack ice at Mercy Bay.  It was discovered July 2010 in 30 feet of water exactly where is was abandoned.  The crew spent three winters in the arctic before being rescued.  They are believed to be the first Europeans to travel the passage (by ship, foot and sled) from end to end.  The boat was well-preserved.  The graves of three unlucky seamen were also found who died of scurvy.  They never did find the two ships Erebus and Terror, they were sent to find..


During August a Morman party in transit along the North Platte River, in Wyoming, lost a cow and erroneously reported, in Fort Laramie, that it is stolen by the Indians.  This incident escalated and Lieutenant John J. Gratten insisted on the arrest of the innocent High Forehead.  Gratten led an ambush force of thirty men with two cannon to the Brule Village.  They open fired a howitzer into the village killing many women and children.   Chief Conquering Bear, one of the spokesmen of the Dakota Sioux Nation is mortally wounded in the first unprovoked howitzer volley.  Enraged at this barbaric attack the natives launched a counter attack in which they completely destroyed the detachment, killing Grattan and his 30 soldiers plus the interpreter.  Mahtoiowa a Brule Teton Sioux chief led his men on to attack Fort Laramie in Wyoming where he is killed.  Little Thunder however continued the war.

One of the largest hunting party for pleasure is funded this year by a wealthy Irishman Sir George Gore who spent a half a million dollars on the hunt. They departed St. Louis and covered 6,000 miles over the next three years. He had 40 servants and a number of scientific companions. They traveled in great luxury bringing their own milk cows. The hunted beyond Fort Leavenworth and pushed deep into the Northwest. At Fort Laramie he engaged Jim Bridger alias Old Gabe a mountain man as a guide into Yellowstone and the mountains. They then hunted Rosebud and into the Black Hills. This party killed 2,000 bison (buffalo), 1,600 deer and elk, 105 bears and endless prairie hens and other wild fowls. This destructive expedition caused great resentment among the People of the northern plains. They complained to the officials in Washington, but it did them little good. The Government often assigned high ranking Army officers and detachments of cavalry to assist the pleasure hunters. Army soldiers on frontier outposts often went on drunken bison (buffalo) hunting parties.

Four thousand Chippewa met at La Pointe (Wisconsin) September 30 to consider treaty.  Eighty-five chiefs eventually signed the treaty.  The American Government for treaty purposes recognized the Chippewa (Ojibwa) as four distinct clans.

    Chippewa of Lake Superior - Kechegummewininewug (Men of the Great Water)
    Chippewa of the Mississippi - Kechesebewininewug (Great River men)
    Chippewa of the Pillager - Mukmedunwininewug (Pillagers)
    Chippewa of Red Lake and Pembina - Betonukeengainubejig (those who sit on the borders, Red Lake & Pembina bands).

The Ojibwa had finer destinations that separated the Munominikasheenhug (Rice Makers on St. Croix River), Wahsuahgunewininewug (Men of the Torches who live on the Head Waters of the Wisconsin and the Ottawa Lake men who occupy the headwaters of the Chippeway River) and Sugwaundugahwininewug (men of the Thick Fir Woods or Bois Forts (hardwoods)).

Little Thunder a chief of the Brule Sioux who was in command of the battle of Gratten near Fort Laramine, Wyoming was in fact six feet six inches tall.

Alexander Ward led 21 emigrants into the Boise Valley, Idaho and are killed by the Snake River Indians.

August:  The commissioner of Indian Affairs George W. Manypenny directed agent Henry C. Gilbert of Detroit to arrange a treaty council with the Chippewa of Lake Superior.


The Chippewa established reservations around their historic Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin.  To the North of Bayfield a reserve called Red Cliff, east on Madeline Island and to the southeast the Ban River Reservation.  Reverend Leonard H. Wheeler had a mission complex at Bad River (Wisconsin) south of Madeline Island.  The Bay Mills Reserve near the historic Ojibwa town of Sault Ste Marie is also established.

Americans relentlessly seeking more and more of their territory by repeatedly cheating and defrauding them surround the Santee Dakota Sioux on the Minnesota River.  A group of four young braves forced the issue by killing five settlers.  Little Crow, a Santee Chief who previously argued for peace took up the cause of war.  He had been refused credit with the following words; "as far as I am concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass."  This became the rallying cry for all the Santee factions.  In September 3,000 troops out of Fort Kearny, in Nebraska, under General William Harney swarmed over a Brule Village at Blue Water.  They massacred 85 of the scattering Dakota Sioux taking 70 women and children captive.

Governor Isaac Steven of the Washington Territory attempted treaty with the Nez Perce (Chopunnish) of Oregon.  Ole Joseph of the Wallowa Valley would not sign warning his people not to take presents from the whites or they will claim that you have accepted pay for your country.  The Nez Perce raised horses and cattle, lived in fine lodges and took pride in maintaining friendly relationships for the past 75 years with the white people.

July 31:  Detroit, in the State of Michigan, Treaty with the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan, parties to the treaty of March 28, 1836. 

August 24:   George William S. Harney, called the American Butcher, said; by God, I'am for battle, no peace, as he marches out of Fort Kearny, Nabraska to slaughter some Dakota Sioux.  

September: near Ash Hollow, Wyoming George William S. Harney thinking to avenge the 1854 killings near Fort Laramie by the massacre of over 200 innocent Brule Indians.  This resulted in a general state of war.  He was given the title of The American Butcher as a result of this stupidity.


It is reported that George Simpson had written to John Ross saying if the destruction of the Indian Race is necessary or desirable, the withdrawal of the protection received from the Hudson Bay Company would be the readiest means of arriving at that end.  The Indians are standing in the way of the Hudson Bay Company policy of selling land to white settlers and it is believed as the fur business declines the Natives will become a liability to the Company.

Leschi died February 19, 1857 chief of the Nisqualli and Yakima led an army of 1,000 men against Seattle, Washington.  They were driven off by a warship in the harbor.  Leschi was captured and hanged. 


The British House of Commons passed a law called "An Act for Gradual Civilization."  That law on behalf of the Canadian Colonies was to encourage Indians (First Nations People) to relinquish their lands, language, culture and existing rights in exchange for full British Citizenship.  It is noteworthy that future English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish would be asked to give up some of their rights for European Citizenship.

Legislation for Indian Assimilation contained criteria few Europeans could meet, the ability to read and write English or French, free of debt and of high moral character.  If the savage is more civilized than the European he would receive an allotment of twenty hectare of reserve land, placed on a one year probation to give further proof of his being civilized and then to be given the franchise.  R. J. Pennefather, head of the Indian Department received objections from the Indians.  He replied "the Civilization Act is no grievance to you."  In short shut up its not your concern.  One Indian agent admitted that the objective for which the Indian Act of Assimilation is passed is not likely to be attained, for all practical purposes, it is a dead letter.

The Government came up with the ultimate integration tool, if an Indian got the vote, he was stripped of his Indian status, his culture and all associated rights and benefits.


The Black Robe Francis Zavier arrived Fort Simpson in August to do battle with the predatory Anglicans, the Dene Medicine Men and the Inuit Shaman, the North's indigenous spiritual priest.  The Oblate believed the children of nature, could not be civilized or Christianized until freed from a perfect net of superstitions.  Dogged persuasion usually accomplished the job, but fisticuffs are used as a last resort.

  Indian Portage Indian Portage
This painting is titled Indian Portaging Furs by Cornelious Kriegnoff.  The location is unknown.  We sometimes forget that the Native people were very actively involved in the fur trade, as Merchants, Voyagers, Explorers and Trappers.  History has not been kind to their valuable contribution in the trade.  The Indians and Metis used madumbi an Abnaki pack strap.  The leather head strap is used to carry small loads on their back, while their shoulders supported the canoe.

Juan Nepomuceno Cortina led a Texas military force to wipe out the last band of Karankawas and by 1860 they were an extinct peoples.

The Mormons of Utah are migrating north into Idaho when attacked by the Bannock People at Fort Lemhi, Idaho.  Two Mormons are killed before being drive back into Utah.

The estimated population of New Caledonia (B.C.) is 40,000 to 50,000 native Peoples.

March 13:   Twenty six Dakota Chiefs were taken to Washington to meet president James Buchanan to discuss their grievances.  They were held for four months before being told they had to move off more of their lands.  This is tantamount to an act of war by any diplomatic standards.


Peguis a Saulteaux Chief of the Indian settlement at Red River is much disturbed with the Hudson Bay Company.  He proclaimed March 21, 1859 that they never sold their lands to the company or to the Earl of Selkirk and yet the Company marked out and sold lands without our permission, and without our receiving payment for same.  I have asked the Company agent for payment and I asked Mr. McTavish last spring but still I get nothing.  We have had enough of all Fur Companies.  August 1, reports reached Red River that the Dakota Sioux had started on the warpath to avenge the recent massacre of their brethren at St. Joseph.  The Dakota Sioux threatened to swarm into Chippewa Country (Red River) and claimed support from the Chippewa, Cree and Assiniboine as already being united.  The Dakota Sioux are reported to have attacked a party of seventeen wagons on their way from Iowa to Oregon.  It is reported they killed all but two men who escaped.  Two women however are adopted into the tribe and one is eventually returned to her people.  One dog face blue coat wrote I would feel the same as John Indian does if a pack of Chippewa had scourged down on Boston common and then told me to get off the grass.

The Stony People told Doctor Hector of the Pallisar expedition that the bison (buffalo) could not be depended on as before.

H.L. Hall a cattle supervisor for the Round Valley Reservation in California took a vigilante group of men on a hunt that killed 240 Yuki in revenge for the alleged killing of a stallion.  He was never brought to justice,

July 28:  Witnessed the sale of some lands in the Lake Superior Region as witnessed by R.J. Pennefather, George Ironside, Robert Law Ogilvy, F. Assikinack, interpreter and for the Ojibwa Joseph Nabahnagoojing of Sault Ste Marie and Gourlais Bay, Edward Nabahnagoojing, Mekahdokwahnahya, Mazhukeynosh of Batchewan, Louison Nabahwagoojing, Wahbeghukwa, Sauswe Nabahagoojing, Ahpauckwaush, Robert Waubooge, Elexis Biron, Pierre Lesage, Hanaush.

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  INDIAN HISTORY 1860 - 1869

  INDIAN HISTORY Return to INDIAN 1700 - 1999  INDEX