No part of the United States is richer in the tragedy, romance and pathos of Indian history than the region included in the old Territory Northwest of the Ohio River. It might be called the empire of the Algonquian tribes within our boundaries; for although they extended far into British America; although there was a large detached tribe — the Blackfeet — in the West ; although the Lenni Lenape reached away to the Atlantic coast, most of the Algonquians of the United States were here at the earliest known period, and the Eastern tribes were thrown back here as settlement progressed. It was here that they made their last stand for their country east of the Mississippi and put the white man to his best effort to conquer them. No part of the country ever produced greater Indians than Pontiac, Tecumtha, The Little Turtle, Poch-gnt'-she-he-los, and Black Hawk.
When the French entered this region their first task was to aid the resident tribes in driving back the Iroquois, who had acquired firearms, and had almost overrun the country to the Mississippi. After this was done there was comparative peace until individual tribes undertook war against the French; but the French were always able to hold the alliance of most of the tribes, and by their aid almost exterminated the Mascoutins at Detroit in 1712, and the Foxes in northern Illinois in 1730. The French always treated the Indians well and made notable efforts for their spiritual welfare as well as for their temporal needs. It was chiefly to a missionary enterprise that Indiana's first permanent settlement was due. Father De Beaubois, the priest at Kaskaskia, and in charge of the religious interests of the Illinois settlements, desired to extend his work by the establishment of a post on the Wabash and an assembling of Indians there. He gained the approval of the Louisiana authorities, who also desired an additional supply of clergy and an establishment of nuns, of whom there were none in Louisiana at the time.
In 1725 De Beaubois was sent to France on this mission. The Chevalier de Bourgmont had collected twenty-two chiefs and representative Indians to accompany him, but just before they were to embark the ship in which they were going sank at its moorings, and this so frightened them that only half a dozen of the Indians could be induced to make the journey. Their visit in France was as notable an event in the world of fashion as the visit of Pocahontas to England, and the account of their presentation at the court and attendant celebrations fills thirty- three pages of the court journal, Le Mercure de France. De Beaubois succeeded in his undertaking and sent out to Louisiana the nuns who founded the celebrated Ursuline Convent at New Orleans, and with them Father D'Outreleau, who was to be the first "Missionary to the Ouabache." Orders were also sent for the establishment of a post. The contemplated mission did not succeed; but in the summer of 1731 Sieur de Vincennes brought a small party of soldiers and a band of Piankeshaws from the Vermillion million River and founded the post which still bears his name.
By this time the efforts of the English to get control of the fur trade had become more serious, and they, too, had enlisted Indian allies both in the north and in the south. First came the disastrous Chickasaw campaign of 1736, in which Vincennes lost his life; and after that intermittent warfare till the close of the French and Indian war. In all this the fighting was outside of our region, and not till the British sought to take possession of the Northwest was it brought back in Pontiac's war. Again there was comparative quiet until the war of the Revolution, which inaugurated the contest of the American and the Indian in this section for the occupancy of the soil. Of the period then beginning I have sought to present some authentic stories in the following pages. It would require volumes to present a full record of individual adventure, but I have aimed to give some illustrations of various phases of the contest, of battles and massacres, of hardships, of white and Indian captivity.
In doing this I have had especially in mind the preservation of the Indian names of Indiana in their proper forms and with their real meanings. This will be regarded by many as a presumptuous undertaking, and with some reason. Several months ago, in a letter to me concerning Indian place names, Gen. R. H. Pratt, of Carlisle School fame, said: "The subject has not specially interested me for the reason that, in my experience, not one in twenty of the Indian names in use could be recognized by any member of the tribe from which the name was derived. The attempts to perpetuate such names are therefore only sentimental abortion." This is very true, and true of Indiana names as well as of those elsewhere,but there is no question of perpetuating the names. They are here to stay. In the defiant words of Mrs. Sigourney — "Their name is on your waters — Ye may not wash it out."
And nobody desires to wash them out. That were a waste of energy much better directed to washing something else. The practical question is merely whether we shall continue their use without an effort to ascertain their origin and meaning. As to this, the extent of their corruption seems to me an attraction rather than an objection. Nobody cares much for a puzzle that is readily solved, in philology or in any other line. But there is at least passing interest in identifying any battered and distorted relic; and in reality our Indian names are no more corrupted than some others. Probably no Frenchman would be reminded of his native tongue by "Picketwire," but that is what the cowboys of Colorado and New Mexico have made of the Purgatoire River. Probably no Frenchman would suspect the Smackover River of Arkansas of bearing a French name, but that is what remains of "Chemin Couvert." Our own Mary Delome has rather a French air, but hardly enough to suggest that this tributary of the Maumee was named "Marais de l'Orme" (Elm Swamp). On some of our maps of Laporte County will be found "Lake Dishmaugh," which does not look much like French, but it was originally "Lac du Chemin," though Chamberlain made the guess that it had been "Lac des Moines."
Surely no Hindoo would lay claim to "Indiana" as of his language, but it is from the same root as "Hindoo" itself, for it comes from "Sindhu," the native name of the Indus —literally "the river" — whence Sindh or Scinde, the province covering the delta. This the Persians perverted' to "Hindu"; the Greeks made it "Indos"; the Romans "Indus," and from them it passed to the various European forms. When Columbus discovered America he supposed it was India; hence, he called the natives "Indios" ; and the name has abided. At the treaty of Ft. Stanwix, in 1768, the Indians ceded a tract of land in western Pennsylvania to certain traders, whose goods they had taken or destroyed; and for this tract and for the company organized to exploit it, the name "Indiana" was evolved by the English owners. It is constructed on the same principle as Florida, Georgia, Virginia, etc., and means a place of Indians, or pertaining to Indians. This name was passed on to us when Ohio was cut off from Northwest Territory in 1800; but in the name of "Indiana County," Pennsylvania, it still appears at the place of its birth.
As a matter of fact there is usually no great difficulty
in ascertaining the real Indian name if it is of a living language,
for the Indians usually perpetuate their own names, though
occasionally they have their own corruptions. Most of the Miami names
I obtained from Gabriel Godfroy, the best Miami interpreter in
Indiana, and Kilsokwa, the oldest of the Indiana Miamis, and one who
speaks very little English. For the Pota watomi I am indebted to
Thomas Topash, an intelligent Potawatomi of Michigan; Quashma, a
Chilocco School boy, and Capt. J. A. Scott, of Nadeau Agency, Kansas,
who called to his aid Mr. Blandin, the agency interpreter, and old
Kack-kack (Kiak-kiak — equivalent to the American term, "chicken-
hawk"; i. e., any of the larger hawks), recently deceased. For others I am indebted largely to various friends who made inquiry of Indians.
It is much to be.regretted that there is not in print more available information concerning the Indian languages, and especially of the Algonquian languages, from which so many of our place names are taken. There is considerable material for the Odjibwa and the dialects of the Lenni Lenape, but scarcely anything for the languages of the important Potawatomi, Shawnee and Miami nations, and what little there is is not entirely reliable. And this is true of many other Indian languages. At the last session of Congress (1907-8) the Indiana Historical Society made an earnest effort to secure a small additional appropriation for the Bureau of Ethnology for taking up systematically and specially the preservation of these languages, but notwithstanding the co-operation of the Bureau, the appropriation was rejected by the House, after it had been made by the Senate. There should unquestionably be an united effort by the historical societies of the country to have this work done. When we consider the enormous effort that has been made to rescue the languages of Egypt, Babylon and other ancient countries, it should arouse a realization of the importance of preserving the living Janguages of our own country while there is yet time, and especially so because these are not written languages, and if once lost they are lost forever.
And they are worth preserving, not only for the influence they have had on our own language, but for their intrinsic merit.Nearly all of our common errors as to Indian names are due to the prevalent impression that Indian languages are very crude. In reality they have a very perfect grammatical system of their own, but differing in important features from that of any other known languages. The grammatical inflections of Algonquian words are more refined and present nicer distinctions of meaning, not only than those of the English, but also than those of any European language. If anyone doubts this statement I would refer him to the conjugation of the verb "waub" of the Odjibwa, as given by School craft in his "Archives," covering ninety quarto pages; and this is not complete, because it does not cover what are known as the "transitions," i. e., the combinations with subject and object pronouns, which are characteristic of these languages. And yet, complicated as this might seem, it is on a very simple and rational linguistic system, and simply expresses through verbal inflection the same ideas that we express through various forms of circumlocution.
I doubt that anyone has ever reproduced exactly the Indian pronunciation of words.All of the Algonquian languages have some sounds that are not found in the English language, and none of them have all of the English sounds. In addition to this they all have interchangeable sounds. For example, the sounds of "b" or "p" may be used at the will of the speaker in many words. Moreover, there is an emphasis and accent that white men rarely acquire — in fact, I have never found an Indian who knew a white man that could speak his language just as the Indians speak it. However, I have endeavored to reproduce Indian pronunciation, as it sounds to me, as nearly as possible in ordinary English characters, with a few additions. I have represented long "a" as in "fate" by "ay"; continental "a" as in "far" by "ah;" and broad "a" as in "fall" by "aw." I have used "q" to represent a sound more nearly resembling German "ch" than any other I know of, but having the quality of "gh," pronounced in the same way. Nasalized sounds are indicated by a superior "n," and are pronounced as in the French.
If the effort I have been able to give to the subject shall promote the study and record of the Indian languages, I shall feel largely repaid for it, for the opportunity for this work is rapidly decreasing. In our governmental Indian schools the study of Indian languages is not encouraged, and perhaps properly so, from a practical point of view, for the primary object is to fit the Indian youth to support themselves, and for this the use of the English language is vital. It is already quite common to find "educated Indians" who do not speak their own language at all, and obviously the more rapid the process of "Americanizing" the more rapid the extinction of the American languages. It is, therefore, evident that the work should be undertaken as speedily as possible.
Prior to this time there have been two efforts at collecting Indian place names of Indiana. In his Indiana Gazetteer (1849) Mr. Chamberlain has noted a number of Delaware names, which were presumably obtained from white men who had some familiarity with the Delaware language. There were several of such persons in the State at the time. Later Daniel Hough made a more extended effort and collected nearly everything then available in print, as well as making some investigations among the Miami Indians. The results were published in the Geological Report of 1882 in the form of a map, with comments by Judge Hiram Beck. The comments are of no practical value, being chiefly attempts to deduce Miami and Potawatomi words from Odjibwa stems, but the map is of material value, although Mr. Hough's patient work has been marred in several instances by mistakes of the engraver.
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