An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
April 5, 2003 - Issue 84
Indian Chief Recalls Days When Superior Was Scene of Bloody Battles
FROM: Superior Telegram - February 17, 1915
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)
Indian Chief Recalls Days When Superior Was Scene of Bloody Battles Between Red Warriors
Indian who visited the site of Superior before the white man came and
when it was the battlefield and hunting ground of the tribes which then
inhabited this region is in Superior today in company with the special
Indian commission which is investigating the rights of the claimants to
shares in the funds of the La Pointe Chippewa tribe. Chief Blackbird,
had of the La Pointe band of Chippewas is the man in question. According
to his reckoning he is 79 years old.
Blackbird was interviewed at the Hotel Superior by a Telegram reporter
this morning. As the chief speaks no English and the reporter is not versed
in the Chippewa dialect, the interview was carried on with the aid of
Dr. W.M. Wooster, a member of the commission, and one of the Indians with
the party who acted as interpreter.
came here first with the chiefs when I was a little boy, so high (designating
his height with one hand) to attend a council of all the Indians around
here called to consider the plan to have the Indians further west,"
said the chief. The council was held shortly after the signing of the
Treaty of 1842 by which the Indians ceded Superior and the surrounding
territory to the Federal government. Indian Commissioner Rice represented
the government at the council.
"There were Indians living all around this country, but the only village near where Superior is now was at the entry to the harbor," went on Blackbird. "What is now the heart of the city then was covered with scrubby Norway pine trees and much of it was swamp."
of Bloody Battles
after the big fight there was a small battle between the tribes, where
Spooner is now located. A band of Chippewa hunters had gone on an expedition
as far west as the Mississippi River where they were discovered by the
Sioux who raised a band of warriors and pursued them, catching up with
them near Spooner where a severe engagement took place.
Blackbird did not participate in this particular fight but was on the
band of Chippewas, which hastened to reinforce the band at Spooner and
aided in driving the Sioux back across the Mississippi.
is the son of a chief of the same name, who was chief herald to the famous
Chief Buffalo, head of all the Chippewas at the time of the Treaty of
1854. Chief Buffalo, himself, was a half-breed, being the son of old Chief
Buffalo and a young English woman who was captured by the Indians in one
of their raids on the white settlements. This raid was followed the outbreak
of an epidemic among the Indians, which caused the death of many women.
Unable to get wives among their own people some of the young Chippewas
invaded the white settlements and captured half a dozen white girls. This
occurred about 1800 according to Chief Blackbird.
his home at Odanah, Chief Blackbird has a big British flag, which was
presented to his father by British authorities in Canada, when old Chief
Blackbird and a number of others visited there. This visit is believed
to have taken place about the time of the war of 1812. Dr. Wooster, one
of the commissioners, tells how this old British flag, together with an
American flag, was carried at the head of a procession of Indians at Odanah
chief saw his first railroad train 54 years ago when he walked from Ashland
to the Fox River, then the terminus of the Wisconsin Central. From there
he took the train to Washington. He has visited the capital several times
painting of the Rocky Mountains hanging in the Hotel Superior lobby interested
the chief greatly. Through an interpreter he asked Dr. Wooster whether
the Rockies were bigger than the Allegheny Mountains, which he had seen
a number of times. When he was informed that they were hundreds of times
larger, he expressed a wish to see them before he died.
the Sioux live out there," said Dr. Wooster.
am not afraid of the Sioux," remarked the Chief briefly in his native
dialect, drawing himself up to his full height.
Chief Blackbird has promised D.F. Barry, Superior's well known photographer of famous Indians, that he will sit for a picture before he returns to Odanah. He has also expressed a desire to see Mr. Barry's collection of Indian relics.
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