Post by Dietmar on Nov 26, 2012 11:20:33 GMT -5
Great picture, Grahame!
I looked through some books on Ojibwa history but found almost nothing about the event at Ft. Abercrombie.
Here´s a short quote from "North Dakota Magazine: The State's Resources--agricultural, Industrial, & Commercial, volume 2" which is unfortunately not online, but possibly refers to the photo you posted:
"It is the peace treaty between the Chippewa and Sioux Indians at Fort Abercrombie in 1870. Father Genin and the chaplain at the fort, Rev. Woodworth, are in the middle. After this peace treaty there were no more Indian wars in North Dakota."
More on the 1870 Peace conference:
"In the spring of 1869 hostilities between the Chippewas and
the Sioux were re-opened and several murders were committed
by the Chippewas of Leech lake. Seeing that it would not avail
to invite settlers into the Red River valley unless the savage
incursions were stopped, Father Genin invited a convention to
take place at Fort Abercrombie in August, 1870. The Indians
were faithful to the call ; 1,800 select braves appeared as repre-
sentatives of their respective nations, 900 Sioux and 900 Chip-
pewas. The convention lasted three days, closing, happily, on
the day of the Assumption, August 15, by a treaty of peace signed
by all the principal chiefs in the presence of the commanding
officer of the fort and a great assemblage of officers, soldiers and
From that day forward, no more of these war parties were seen
in our valley and no more barbarities were heard of. The protec-
tion of the cross was very evident in the country.
This new treaty, entered into voluntarily among themselves
by the Sioux and the Chippewas at the invitation of the priest
put an end to all those horrors of which we had a gickening
display in the Minnesota massacre in 1862. "
State Historical Society of North Dakota. Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota (Volume 1)
Post by grahamew on Nov 26, 2012 15:08:06 GMT -5
Thanks, Dietmar. I tried to find out more too. The assumption, I guess, is that these are Santee, but I wonder if it involved others.
Post by Dietmar on Nov 28, 2012 11:12:05 GMT -5
I´m still intrigued by this peace conference photograph… and where do you expect the ultimate information on Ojibwa and Dakota history? Yes, of course in books by Mark Diedrich!
He mentioned the event in two of his excellent works and even refers to the photo posted by Grahame:
“In 1869 one of the White Earth Indians killed two Dakotas, prompting White Cloud to try to make a lasting peace between his people and the Dakotas who now occupied reservations at Devil´s Lake, North Dakota, and Sisseton, South Dakota. […]
Tribal leaders met on August 13, 1870 at Fort Abercrombie where White Cloud agreed to hand over the murderer´s annuities to the relatives of the dead. Later White Cloud visited Fort Totten for a similar peace council with the Devil´s lake Dakotas.”
Mark Diedrich: Ojibway Chiefs, Coyote Books 1999, page 126
White Cloud, Ojibwa
“In late April 1869 the Ojibway chief Niigaaniibinesi, or Flat Mouth II, of Leech Lake, killed one of the former scout leaders, Wasuideya [Sets Fire to Hail], near Toqua Lakes (in Big Stone County, Minnesota). Wasuideya´s wife, Icagowin (Makes Her Mark Woman), who was Gabriel´s [Renville] aunt, was taken captive. […]
As Little Paul [Paul Mazakutemani, Wahpeton chief] and all of the Sisseton and Wahpeton leaders had renounced warfare with their fellow Indians years before, they stood ready to promote peace. They had such an opportunity during the summer of 1870 when they were contacted by Waabiaanakwad (White Cloud), the leading Ojibway chief at the White earth Reservation in Minnesota. […]
Messengers were sent to the Sisseton and Wahpeton leaders, asking them to meet an Ojibway delegation at Fort Abercrombie, that Waabiaanakwad was offering to give the murderer´s annuities to the relatives of Wasuideya. Father Genin volunteered to act as a mediator.
Little Paul, along with chiefs Wasuiciyapi [Hail that Strikes Itself aka Sweet Corn, Sisseton], Hupacokamaza [Iron on the Inside of his Wings aka Metal Wing, Sisseton], Wasukiye [Causes Hail, Sisseton], and Wanbdiupiduta [Scarlet Plume, Sisseton] arrived at the fort on August 12. […] The following day the Ojibway arrived, among them chiefs Waabiaanakwad [White Cloud], Mezhucegiihig (Horizon), and Manidoowaabi (Spirit Vision). […]
The next day, August 15, the Indians attended a mass given by Genin and then went into the fort to sign a treaty of peace. It stated that the two parties wished to make an “everlasting peace” and to ask government authorities to punish any offenders. A peace dance was celebrated throughout the day inside the post. At the end a photographer (Landgeving) took a photo of the group. Genin was in the center, with Wasuiciyapi to his right. Little Paul is seated third to the right of Genin.”
Mark Diedrich: Little Paul – Christian Leader of the Dakota Peace Party, Coyote Books 2010, page 172/173
"Little Paul" Mazakutemani, Wahpeton
Scarlet Plume, Sisseton
Sweet Corn, Sisseton (died 1863, his son was present at the 1870 peace conference)
Post by Dietmar on Nov 30, 2012 10:20:24 GMT -5
We can´t thank our member Louis Garcia enough for sharing the following article, which sheds more light on the peace conference at Ft. Abercrombie in 1870. This is as fascinating as history can get.
THANK YOU Louie!
A Message from Garcia
The History and Culture of the Spirit Lake Dakota
By Louis Garcia ©
1870 Treaty at Fort Abercrombie
In the second volume of the Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota is a photo opposite page 434 captioned “Sioux – Chippewa Peace Conference – Fort Abercrombie, August, 1870”. This picture is worth a thousand words, as it is proof of a noteworthy occurrence. For some unexplained reason this event has been lost to historians. One Hundred and thirty five years have passed since this treaty was signed. This ‘message’ can be termed a preliminary effort on my part to set down these events, but not discuss its historical implications, as I will leave that to future historians.
Formerly the Dakota and Ojibway nations were on friendly terms according to oral tradition. This came to an end with the fur trade era in northern Minnesota. Due to outside pressures beyond their control, the Ojibway were forced west, and into their neighbors’ territory, that of the Dakota. Armed conflict continued for a century until this treaty was signed by these two nations, ending their mutual aggression. It should be understood that many peace agreements were made and broken through the years. This 1870 treaty was not the first, but it was the last. This lasting peace between these two warring nations has continued and is strengthened, as they meet the challenges of mutual interest in the twenty-first century.
The State of North Dakota and the City of Fargo can be said to begin with this treaty.
Due to the mutual animosity between the Dakota and Ojibway people, the Red – Bois des Sioux River formed a barrier to American expansion. No one was safe in this area, be they Indian or non-Indian. Once this agreement was signed by the warring factions, the way was opened. Squatters and the railroad moved across the river, forming the beginning of the eastern area of what would later become the State of North Dakota.
In the summer of 1868, Flat Mouth II and his people visited Browns Valley, Minnesota just opposite the newly formed Lake Traverse, Sisseton – Wahpeton Dakota Reservation. This reservation and its brother named Devils Lake Reservation were established with their peace treaty signed in Washington D.C. in February, 1867.The Dakota hosted the Ojibway with the customary festivities, which included Flat Mouth II taking a new Dakota wife. Both parties separated amicably after a few days of pipe smoking, gift giving, and dancing.
In the spring of 1869 some Dakota families were hunting and trapping near Toqua Lakes.
Among them was the sister of the woman whom Flat Mouth took as a wife. Burning Hail was out checking his traps when he met an Ojibway hunter who informed him Flat Mouth was encamped nearby. Burning Hail returned to his camp and reported this good news to his wife, Makes Her Mark. She persuaded her husband to go with her to see her sister. Upon arriving at Flat Mouths camp she learned her sister was left at home to help the other women make maple sugar. Flat Mouth sat his in-laws down and fed them. While they were eating he came up behind Burning Hail and shot him to death. Covering
his tracks he set the grass in camp area on fire and escaped with Makes Her Mark to his home area at Leech Lake. It was supposed that Flat Mouth II had also killed Makes Her Mark, but it became known during the summer, that she was still alive. Through the efforts of the Indian Agents for Lake Traverse and Leech Lake, arrangements were made for repatriations, and the return of Makes Her Mark (Robertson 1904).
A Sisseton – Wahpeton Dakota leader by the name of Wasuideya (Burning Hail) has the distinction of being the last of his nation to be killed by the Ojibway. His murder took place in the vicinity of Toqua Lakes (Takaġa Bde) in present Big Stone County, Minnesota (Durand 1994:85).
On or about May 1st, 1869 the noted Ojibway leader Flat Mouth II killed Burning Hail. Burning Hails wife Icaġowin (Makes Her Mark Woman) was captured, but later escaped and fled to her father Akicitanajin (Standing Soldier) at Drywood Lake (Canseca Oju Bde), located in Roberts County, South Dakota.
The relatives of Burning Hail and Makes Her Mark were torn with grief and anger. They threatened to gather a large war party and punish the Ojibway, even saying they would go west to get the Lakota to help them. They were admonished by leaders such as Gabriel Renville, and soon abandoned their plan.
On Saturday August 12th, 1870 Captain Mc Naught, temporary commander of Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory, discovered a party of Dakota encamped outside the fort.
On Sunday August 13th a party of Ojibway crossed the Bois des Sioux River and joined the Dakota. Neither party had any papers from their respective agents, but since Paul Mazakutemani, Sweet Corn, and other friendly Christian Indians were among the Dakota, Father Genin, the Catholic missionary was also in attendance, they were permitted to stay. The total of about 130 Dakota and Ojibway men were camped near the fort.
The purpose of the meeting was the appeasement of the relatives of the Burning Hail killed by Flat Mouth II last year. Sunday was spent in religious services conducted by Father Genin and in ceremonial dancing.
Father Genin reported the Indians sat in a large circle. The relatives of the slain sat near two flags. One was the flag of the United States of America, and the other Father Genin’s
‘Mission Flag’. This was a ‘white flag with a large red cross, and crown of thorns painted on it. It was given by the good father to the Dakota three years previous, and was now brought to the meeting to show their good intentions. The Ojibway began to dance around two of the mourners, Ĥmunyaniyanke (Buzzes as he Runs) also known as Running Yankee, brother to Burning hail, and another man named Oncare (?). The Ojibway dancers began to drop gifts at their feet. Then an Ojibway chief soldier made a speech directed at the mourners, expressing their sorrow over the murder. At the conclusion he removed all his beautiful beadwork and gave it to the two leading mourners. The two Dakota rose quickly and threw the gifts away from themselves, and departed in anger. Father Genin chased after them and explained to them the symbols on the mission flag. Using Christ as an example, telling them that he forgave his persecutors, and that they should forgive the Ojibway. The two Dakota men then understood and shook hands with the Father. The two men, one on each side of Father Genin returned to the circle and made a speech to the assembled. They said they wished to be excused for at first refusing the gifts and offers of friendship, to make peace, forgive the murderers, and their relatives. Then the pipe ceremony was performed and all smoked in agreement to sign a document stating their commitment of good will toward each other.
On Monday August 14th, 1870 a treaty of peace was concluded between the Dakota and Ojibway followed by a dance of celebration on the forts parade grounds.
We the undersigned men of the Chippewa and Sioux Nations considering that it is an evil thing to have war amongst us and destroy each other contrarily to agreements previously taken according to the advice of government Agents and our President himself.
We have this day met at Fort Abercrombie, in presence of General L.C. Hunt, Mrs. Hunt, R. Father Genin, and of Lieut. John B. Rodman, for the purpose of making an everlasting peace and causing the Government officers to enforce the laws already in existence, providing for cases of trouble or war caused to one nation by the other, or to one band of a nation by some band, or bands of another nation. We therefore want our President to know:
1st That we have this day became friends together forever and will keep our word good.
2nd That we wish the former law which attributes the pay of a murderer who breaks the peace existing among us, to the relatives of the murdered one to be put in force from this day and namely in the case of Nikampines, who last year destroyed the life of two Sioux Indians.
3rd. That we desire that the two Sioux Indians Huioyanke and Oncare 1st relations to the murdered ones be held up as great men on account of their readiness in forgiving the murderer for the good of peace.
Lipenier des Chefs
Lieut. Col. 20th Inf.
John B. Rodman
2nd Lieut. 20th Inf.
J. B. M. Genin
Missionnarie A Postilique
Fort Abercrombie, D.T.
August 14, 1870
L.C. Hunt, Colonel, of the 20th Infantry issued rations sufficient for both parties to reach home. They decamped August 16th, with the promise of the Ojibway for more gifts to the bereaved relatives, and to capture and hang Flat Mouth II.
Flat Mouth II was known as Niigaaniibinesi or Leading Bird of Prey, similar to the leading goose in a migrating flock. He was chief of the Makundwewininiwug or Pillager band of Ojibway residing on the Leach Lake Reservation. He died on July 24, 1907 (Densmore 1973, I: 51-55; Zapffe 1975: 64). His photo appears in the book The Man who Lived in Three Centuries (Zapffe 1975: 64).
This ‘home made’ treaty, not ratified by the Senate of the United States, has lasted to this very day. The Dakota and Ojibway are now perpetual friends. Every Flag Day, June 14th the Ojibway hold a celebration commemorating the establishment of the White Earth Reservation, and the peace between former adversaries (McDonald 1960:71).
The message does not end here. Who were these men who signed this agreement?
From what reservation are they? Their names are in some cases are so badly spelled, as to confuse identification.
The Dakota and Lakota are known as the Ocetisakowin or Seven Council Fires, meaning four tribes, which make up the Dakota, two tribes, the Nakota, and one tribe, the Lakota. The word Sioux is a derogatory term, being fazed out of modern communication. They belong to the Siouan Language Family.
In the photograph of the treaty signers Father Genin, and Rev. Woolworth, the Chaplin of Ft. Abercrombie are seated in the center.
Sweetcorn or Ojupi (The Planter). He is said to have received this name because he developed a new strain of corn. His pre-reservation village was located on the west side of Lake Traverse. Sweetcorn died in 1863, therefore this man who signed the treaty must be his son, Wasuiciyapi (Hail Knocking Against Himself). Also known as Little Corn and Little Wheat (Diedrich 2004). He took his allotment on the Lake Traverse Reservation.
Ecanajinka (Almost Standing Steady) was Chief of the Snake River scout camp under the command of Chief Gabriel Renville. He settled on the Devils Lake (now Spirit Lake) Reservation. He died before allotment. (Photo in Smithsonian)
Paul Mazakutemani (Walking Shooting a Gun) also known as Little Paul. He was a Christian convert, was against the Minnesota Uprising, one of the four Soldiers of Camp Release. He was Chief of the Twin Lakes scout camp. He took his allotment on the Lake Traverse Reservation. (photo)
Hupacokamaza (Iron Middle Wing) Lake Traverse.
Visihu (?) Tizihu, Wizihu.
Wakanhdimaza (Iron Lighting) Devils Lake #122, 1817 – 1895.
Wasicuncatka (Left Handed Spirit), also known as Hotonhowaste (Good Loud Voice), the progenitor of the Lawrence family. A Christian Indian who traveled to St. Paul, MN to ask for a priest to be sent to Devils Lake. DLS # 541, 1833– 1899.
Miniatahowaŝte (Good Voice at the Water) signed the 1872-73 Sisseton – Wahpeton Agreement to sell the land between Devils Lake and Lake Traverse. DLS # 479 1836 – 1898.
Wakanukita (Prove his Holiness) Chief Standing Buffalo’s First Soldier. Father Genin identifies him as the ‘young man with three feathers on his head’ standing behind him in the treaty signing photograph. He is progenitor of the Adams family. DLS # 548 1832 – 1898, Devils Lake (now Spirit Lake).
Wakanadiduta (?) Wakanhdiduta – Scarlet Lighting – Lake Traverse?
Hupahuna (Wing Bone) Lake Traverse.
Icahtake (Touch) progenitor of the Touche family, Devils Lake. He signed the 1872-73 Sisseton – Wahpeton Agreement. He died before allotment.
Ŝunkawambdi (Dog Eagle) Lake Traverse.
Aadiideya (Lighting Flash) Lake Traverse.
Canteiyapa (Heart Beat) Signed 1872-73 Sisseton – Wahpeton Agreement. Devils Lake.
Wambdiupiduta (Scarlet Eagle Tail) also known as Red Feather and Scarlet Plume. He was in the 1858 delegation to Washington, DC. Lake Traverse. (photo)
Pejikaġa (Making Grass or possibly Making Medicine) Lake Traverse.
Wicanĥpi (star or tomahawk) Lake Traverse. (possibly Solomon Two Stars). (photo)
The Ojibway are one of three tribes known as the Three Council Fires. The other two are the Menominee, and Ottawa. They belong to the Algonquin Language family. Formerly they were called Chippewa, a Cree Indian word meaning humblers or people of slurred speech.
Wabanakwat----------------White Cloud (Waabiaanakwad) Chief of the White Earth Ojibway.
Nebaneska-------------------Comes Sleeping (Nebuneshkung) A Chief. He died in 1874.
Nijakakijik-------------------Double Sky (Sky that Touches the Ground or Crossing Sky II) (Mezhucegiishig) A Chief at White Earth.
Wapus------------------------Rabbit (Waabooz) There is a Waboose Bay in Leech Lake named after him. He was from Leech Lake.
Otchipwe---------------------Ojibway (named after his tribe). His photo is on Plate One, Chippewa Music 2 (Bulletin 53, 1913). A cousin of chief Hole-in-the-Day. A Chief.
Ayabe-------------------------Male of Animals (Ayaabe = Buck) This names seems to be an abbreviation of Ayabe-way-we-tung or He Who Rests On the Way also known as Little Shell # 3 (1829 – 1900). Chief of the Pembina band. (photo)
Pwanins-----------------------Little Sioux (Bwannins)
Nabeniash---------------------Male of men (Naybaunayash One sided winner) or (Naytowash, He Who Stands Examining) A Chief.
Wemiikkons------------------Waving Little Beaver
Manito-------------------------The Spirit (Manidoowaabi Spirit Vision)
Takawikijik--------------------Rising day (Taycumegiizhig), successor of Nebuneshkung A Cousin of Hole in The Day. He was a” Made Chief”, meaning Government appointed.
Kapiponske---------------------The Little Winter
Tedatan--------------------------Floating in Place
Nakanash------------------------First Runner (Paskinawash) A Chief.
Black Thunder, Elijah et.al.
Ehanna Woyakapi: History and Culture of the Sisseton –
Wahpeton Sioux tribe of South Dakota.
Reporter and Farmer. Webster, SD.
"Indian Camps Surrounding Fort Wadsworth”
Robinson Papers H74.9, SDSHD, Pierre.
1824 – 81
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Letters Received Chippewa Agency 1870, National Archives A 1392, A 1302, Record Group 75.
Minnesota History 60(6) Summer Page 249
Niganibines (Leading Bird of Prey) Pipe Bag
A.K.A. Flat Mouth II
Chippewa Music. Two Volumes in One.
Ross and Haines, Inc, Minneapolis, MN.
Coyote Books. Rochester, MN
Durand, Paul C.
Where the Waters Gather and the Rivers Meet: An Atlas of the Eastern Sioux.
Privately published, Prior Lake, MN (now residing in Faribault, MN)
Gourneau, J. Charles
Old Wild Rice: “The Great Chief”
Privately published, Belcourt, North Dakota. Pp. 21 and 47.
Howard, James Henri
‘The British Museum Winter Count”
Occasional Paper Number 4.
British Museum, London.
(page 88 – “Sinasapa waste Ta, Ate J.M.B. Genin”, the pictograph
records the death of Father Genin, and shows him carrying his
Libby Papers A85 Box 23, folder 38
State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck.
McDonald (Blanche Fabre), Mrs. Donald
“White Earth Indian Reservation” Pp 70 –72.
Waubun, Minnesota: Chippewa’s Rising Sun.
Privately Published, Waubun, MN.
Morris, H. S.
Historical Stories Legends and Traditions: Roberts County and Northeast South Dakota.
Sisseton Courier, publisher.
Neill, Rev. Edward D.
History of the Upper Mississippi Valley.
Minnesota Historical Company, Minneapolis.
(Biography of J. B. M. Genin, Page 691)
Notes from Victor Renville
North Dakota State Historical Collection 5, Pp 251-272.
Robertson, G. A. to Doane Robinson, Folder 5.
April 18, 1904, Robinson Papers H.74.9
South Dakota State Historical Society, Pierre.
Saint Paul Weekly Press, August 25, 1870, page 7.
“Important From Red River. Old Indian Feud Settled.
Treaty between the Chippewas and Sioux.”
Saint Paul Pioneer Tuesday, September 6, 1870
The Sioux and Chippewas. New Treaty of Peace.”
Saint Paul Weekly Press, September 15, 1870. Page 6.
“Peace between the Sioux and Chippewas. Interesting Account of the Peace Council at Ft. Abercrombie.”
Selkirk, George or Chief Little White Cloud (Ojibway)
“Brief History of Native Indian Customs and Life.”
Manuscript # 20448
State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck.
Sioux – Chippewa Conference, Fort Abercrombie,
August, 1870. Photo opposite page 34.
Collections of the State Historical Society
Volume 2, part 2, Tribune, State Printers and Binders, Bismarck, North Dakota.
Slaughter, Linda W.
“Fort Abercrombie” Pp 412- 423.
Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota
Tribune, State Printers and Binders, Bismarck, North Dakota.
Zapfee, Carl A.
Kahebenagwiwens: The Man Who Lived in Three Centuries.
Historic Heartland Association, inc. Brainerd, MN.
Post by Dietmar on Nov 30, 2012 10:53:45 GMT -5
Btw, Happy Birthday Kingsley
Here´s Flat Mouth II:
Portrait (Front) of Negam-Bonez (Leading Bird) or Nigan-Ibines (Leading Bird of Prey) or Ne-Gon-E-Bin-Ais (Flat Mouth) or Leading Thunder, in Native Dress with Headdress, Bear Claw Necklace and Ornaments 09 MAR 1899 by De Lancey Gill (SIRIS)
Post by lilah on Nov 27, 2014 8:56:43 GMT -5
I am interested in this photo from a glass plate in the collection of Minnesota Historical Society. They have identified it as taken at Fort Abercrombie, ca 1875, by William Jacoby. The same photo was identified by Pat Albers as taken between 1868 and 1870 in her article about the Santee in Handbook of North American Indians. I am interested because of the couple standing in the background who appear to be of African descent and possibly their child? seated next to tepee. Jacoby started his photography business in St. Peters in 1868, although he might have purchased the glass plates from another photographer. I would appreciate any help in verifying the place and identifying the date and people. Thank you.
Post by pukkonz on Jan 23, 2016 0:54:59 GMT -5
That altar boy (white garb) pictured with Father Genin at the 1870 peace treaty is my great-grandpa "Keesh-ke-mun-ishiw" when he was 10 years old according to his son Patrick "Au-nish-e-nau-bay" Gourneau, tribal chairman and historian at Turtle Mountain. Glad to find this photo again and list of participants but probably nobody knew who the altar boy was or thought it noteworthy. He was baptized as Joseph Gourneau, born at Red Lake in 1857 or 1860 and told his story to the Minot, ND newspaper when he was near 100. Linda Slaughter, the wife of an Army officer stationed at Bismarck, Dakota Territory in Leaves From Northwest History wrote that, "Father Genin was idolized by the Indians and half-breeds of the northwest as no other man has ever been. Whenever he approached a Catholic camp in the hostile region with his missionary flag carried by an orphan Indian boy whom he had adopted, all the warriors in the camp would rush forth to meet him and falling upon one knee would fire volley after volley of salutes from their guns into the air." Actually the altar boy had signed on at St. Joe, the parish HQ and Chippewa-Metis settlement on Red River with the permission of his parents as the priest would accompany the entire community on their annual buffalo hunting expeditions far as Montana. Genin would hold a daily Mass as well as perform the sacraments of baptism, last rites, etc. since the entire enterprise took months before the Red River hunters could return to their villages. Otherwise the "Missionary Apostolic to the North West Territories" and altar boy/standard-bearer traveled on a regular circuit of hundreds of miles on their own, visually presenting themselves as a peaceful international mission symbolized by the white flag with a red cross and fact that a boy in a white outfit was waving it.
Post by pukkonz on Jan 23, 2016 2:11:21 GMT -5
TUMBLING AROUND THESE PRAIRIES
By Robert Cory, Minot Daily News 1956
I want to tell you the story of Joseph Gourneau of Belcourt, a Chippewa Indian who is 96 years old.
His memory, still quite clear, goes back through all that has happened since all this region was Indian country.
His biography, if fully written, would recount the history of the Indian people and all they have done, and all they have suffered, to make possible the life we North Dakotans have today.
For him it has been a transition first from the life of a hunter and trapper to that of commercial hunter and freighter, and finally to small farmer.
In his youth he was alter boy for a missionary priest whose parish was larger than a diocese was today. In his age, well cared for, he has lived to see one of his sons, Patrick, become a highly respected and trustworthy leader in North Dakota’s most populous Indian community.
There is nothing to record to prove exactly when and where Joseph Gourneau was born.
But circumstantial evidence indicates that he was born at Red Lake, Minnesota, and family knowledge corroborated by a birth certificate for a man (Joseph Trottier) born on the same day, fixes the year quite positively as 1860.
Joseph’s father originally was a member of the Red Lake band of Chippewas—or Ojibways, as the family prefers to call them—and the family believes Joseph as present as a child in the camp at “The Old Crossing” of the Red Lake River (Fisher’s Landing) when his father marked his X, in lieu of a signature, on the Treaty of 1863.
At the time of the treaty, the senior Gourneau must have regarded Pembina as his home, for he signed as a “Warrior of Pembina.”
Through participation of Red Lake Chippewas in the Treaty of 1863, the Red Lake and the Turtle Mountain bands became estranged. It was not pleasing to the Turtle Mountain band that by this treaty, they lost title without their consent to lands claimed west of the Red River.
Yet Sooza Gourneau was not blamed for what happened. A few years later he and his family were living at St. Joseph, in Dakota Territiry, near where Walhalla is and they became associated with the Turtle Mountain group.
It was at St. Joseph that young Joseph became an altar boy for Father Genin. With the pioneer priest he traveled through the territory from St. Joseph to Pembina, from Pembina to Ft. Abercrombie, and from Abercrombie to Ft. Totten, as Father Genin conducted religious services in these settlements.
But the altar boy journeyed not only on religious missions. He also accompanied and took part in buffalo hunts with the people of the St. Joseph community.
One wonders of there is any other man yet alive in this part of the country who witnessed and took part in these hunting expeditions.
The hunts took his people all across northern north Dakota from the Pembina River into what is now Montana, and as far west as Fort Benton on the Missouri and the Milk River along the Canadian border. His memory extends to an era when countless thousands of buffalo trampled the Souris valley on their annual migrations.
Interestingly, young Joseph was in a party of Indian families who once wintered on the Souris at what was called “the wintering place,” near the moth of Wintering River. The place was south of Towner.
In that party were the families of Sooza Gourneau (his father), of his uncle Kaishpa, and of others including Francois Demarais, Moise and Baptiste Baton (Decoteau), Frederick Langier, Tooday Langier, and perhaps others yet.
The reason for wintering on the Souris was that fish and game were there, and it gave the party an early start—a headstart over the Pembina and St. Joseph’s people—on the season’s long trek into Montana. By that time the Indians’ natural meat supply was disappearing from the country, and it was a long ways to the western hunting grounds.
With the coming of spring-like weather that year—it was 1876—Joseph’s father sent him on horseback to the Wakopa trading post in Manitoba to purchase a few needed items. He bought some tea, sugar, and tobacco, and a little whiskey for medicine.
He left Wakopa early in the morning, skirted the Turtle Mountains, and when he reached their west end, he climbed a high hill and sat there on his horse enjoying the scenery. Off in the distance he spied three horsemen coming from the south, members of the wintering party who had come to meet him.
He knows it was 1876 because later that year, when the party had joined the big encampment on the Milk river, news of Custer’s annihilation reached them.
He remembers, too, that Sitting Bull made a one night camp across the river from the Chippewas, during the Sioux leader’s flight into Canada. His memory tells him that Sitting Bull that night asked permission to cross the river and have a parley with the Chippewas, but that the Chippewa leaders refused.
Once as a boy Joseph was captured and taken prisoner by a party of Crows.
He was in a group of five boys, all on horseback, enjoying a playful time while the Chippewas were on a hunting expedition in Montana. The boys saw what appeared to be a buffalo calf just over a hill. It disappeared, and they gave chase, only to discover that a party of Crows was spying on them. They tried to escape but the Crows caught them and took them to camp.
The Chippewas formed a rescue party headed by Sooza Gourneau, his son, Leander, and his brother-in-law, Isaac Bergier. These leaders rode into the Crow camp, while their followers waited at a distance, and demanded the prisoners be returned.
The Crows knew Sooza and respected him as a warrior. So the boys were freed immediately.
When Joseph was sent to Wakopa, it was a trading post run by a Frenchman named Bernard B. LaRivierre and his son-in-law Clevice Guirin.
Joseph had reason to remember LaRivierre, for in later years he became a trusted friend and employee of the old Frenchman. He did freighting for him, hauling valuable merchandise from Red river and Pembina river settlements to Wakopa.
One of these trips he remembers particularly. It was in winter, a severe winter too, and he had been sent to Mountain City (Mountain, N.D.) by dog team to haul what flour he could get.
For his labor he was allowed one 10-pound sack of flour for himself. The flour from that sack had to be rationed out among several families, including his own father’s family, who were then wintering at St. John.
In the spring he made two more trips to Mountain with four-horse teams, to haul more flour for the hungry people of the Wakopa trading area.
After the small Turtle Mountain reservation for the Chippewas was established in 1884, Joseph Gourneau made his home there.
But before that, and for years afterwards, he made his living as best he could on the plains and in the Turtle Mountains. He hauled buffalo bones. He trapped fur-bearing animals. For a time, he was a commercial hunter supplying meat to the hotels of the territory, including the big hotel at Minnewaukan.
As a freighter he hauled supplies to pioneer stores all across the northern border country, and knew the names of storekeepers all the way from Devils Lake to Fort Benton.
In fact he was one of those freighters on the Mouse River trail, and on the trail between the Souris valley and Fort Buford, who hauled supplies through the valley where Minot stands, before there was a Minot.
Joseph Gourneau married in 1893. After that, he settled down to become a family man and farmer on the Turtle Mountain reservation. He and his wife reared 11 children.
His children say he was a good farmer, in the small way possible for him to operate under limitations of the land allowed him.
One of his descendents writes:
“His life perhaps is parallel to that of many of his people, the pattern most of them have lived by. They saw and participated in the development of a vast, new territory.
“Their very mode of life hastened the day when the could no longer be tolerated in the face of a determined but selfish surge of civilization westward. With their main source of subsistence, which they helped to deplete, gone forever, the plum was ripe for picking. Picked it was, and father’s people were placed in two townships, two townships forgotten to a degree while civilization and progress marched on.
“Thanks to a remorseful government, the day is dawning when an era of attempted (reconciliation?---)the full light comes…reasoning, and night ..cloak the fear of the…day.” THE LAST PART OF THIS ARTICLE IS ILLEGIBLE
Post by Dietmar on Jan 24, 2016 6:18:57 GMT -5
Thank you very much 'pukkonz' for sharing this information!
I tried to find another portrait of Joseph Gourneau, but apparantly there is none, at least in the internet.
Post by Dietmar on Jan 24, 2016 19:04:56 GMT -5
Something Blown Up In The Wind, 1874
'Ka-ees-pa. Something Blown Up by the Wind. Pembina.
A half-breed, but lives and dresses like an Indian.
His father was made a chief of the Pembinas by the English and Americans, and upon his death succeeded him.
Is a very successful hunter, and is looked upon as a representative man of the tribe.'
[description from the 'Jackson Catalogue'... DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS. BY W. H. JACKSON]
According to this website, Joseph Gournau war photographed in 1866:chequamegonhistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/photos-photos-photos/
Top: Frank Roy, Vincent Roy, E. Roussin, Old Frank D.o., Bottom: Peter Roy, Jos. Gourneau (Gurnoe), D. Geo. Morrison.
The photo is labelled Chippewa Treaty in Washington 1845 by the St. Louis Hist. Lib and Douglas County Museum, but if it is in fact in Washington, it was probably the Bois Forte Treaty of 1866, where these men acted as conductors and interpreters (Digitized by Mary E. Carlson for The Sawmill Community at Roy’s Point).
The original source of the photo is here:brickyardcreek.com/wp-content/uploads/roys-point.pdf
Keeping in mind that the altar boy Joseph Gourneau was photographed in 1870... how do we interpret these photos? Is the man in the 1866 group his father?