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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 17, 2003 - Issue 87


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History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan
Biography of Author

by ANDREW J. BLACKBIRD, Late U.S. Interpreter, Harbor Springs, Emmet Co., Mich.
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

Andrew J. Blackbird, the author of this little book, is an educated Indian, son of the Ottawa Chief. His Indian name is Mack-aw-de-be-nessy (Black Hawk), but he generally goes by the name of "Blackbird," taken from the interpretation of the French "L'Oiseau noir." Mr. Blackbird's wife is an educated and intelligent white woman of English descent, and they have four children. He is a friend of the white people, as well as of his own people. Brought up as an Indian, with no opportunity for learning during his boyhood, when he came to think for himself, he started out blindly for an education, without any means but his brains and his hands.

He was loyal to the Government during the rebellion in the United States, for which cause he met much opposition by designing white people, who had full sway among the Indians, and who tried to mislead them and cause them to be disloyal; and he broke up one or two rebellious councils amongst his people during the progress of the rebellion.

When Hon. D. C. Leach, of Traverse City, Mich., was Indian Agent, Mr. Blackbird was appointed United States Interpreter and continued in this office with other subsequent Agents of the Department for many years. Before he was fairly out of this office, he was appointed postmaster of Little Traverse, now Harbor Springs, Mich., and faithfully discharged his duties as such for over eleven years with but very little salary.

He has also for several years looked after the soldiers' claims for widows and orphans, both for the whites as well as for his own people, in many instances without the least compensation, not even his stamps and paper paid. He is now decrepit with old age and failing health, and unable to perform hard manual labor.

We therefore recommend this work of Mr. A. J. Blackbird as interesting and reliable.
James L. Morrick,
Treasurer of Emmet County.
C. F. Newkirk,
Principal Harbor Springs Public Schools.
Charles R. Wright,
Ex-President Harbor Springs.
Charles W. Ingalls,
Notary Public for Emmet Co.
Albert L. Hathaway,
County Clerk, Emmet County.
Wm. H. Lee,
Probate Clerk and Abstractor of Titles.
Arch. D. Metz,
Deputy Register of Deeds.
Willard P. Gibson,
Pastor Presbyterian Church.
William H. Miller, U. S. A.



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