Removal of the Indians
Lake Superior Journal June 5, 1850
Great excitement and feeling are manifested among the Indians throughout the Chippewa county on the subject of this sudden order for the removal of their place of payment and, as a consequence, the removal of themselves, and whether the Governor will be able to pacify them and calm the angry storm that seems gathering, is a doubtful question.
The Chippewas are holding councils throughout the country on the subject, and none of the best feelings are manifested. And the bitter feeling, at this time, existing between their natural enemies, the Sioux … None have made so rapid and so much advancement in civilization as the natives of this region, and by another week we hope to have it in our power to lay before our readers a full description of their situation and present condition.
There will be a strong effort made by the Indians generally to have their place of payment located at Fond du Lac, if it must be removed form the present point; and may have taken a decided stand for this purpose; and it is barely possible that the commissioners, on the part of the Government, may conclude to locate it at that place for the present. Fond du Lac is central and convenient for the great majority of the Chippewas; and it is on their own land, on the little land they can call their own, and even their "Great Father," the President, until he has bought it of them, cannot remove them beyond this boundary.
At this point the Indian Territory commences, and it is claimed by them as right and just that they should receive their annuities at any place in their own Territory they may themselves designate. But as they are considered mere children, in all that relates to their government, it is not likely their voice will be listened to by their guardians, the United States, where it will come in conflict with the policy of a great nation. And still, as the government expects sooner or later to purchase the section of country to the north-west of Lake Superior, it may be thought expedient to conciliate the good will of these ancient people, until such a purchase has been made; and for this reason, if for no other, it may be thought expedient to go no farther, for the present, with the Indian payments, than the head of Lake Superior. In an economical point of view Fond du Lac is the best place they can go to. Besides being a central point, it is accessible by water to the most of the nation. The place itself is beautifully situated in a rich and healthy region, rich to them in game and fish, and on that account, a most desirable place of rendezvous. Going to or returning from "Payment" they would find a certain supply of food, a consideration of more importance that can be known to those unacquainted with their manner of life. The expense of transporting the Indian goods and supplies to Fond du Lac would be no more than it has been heretofore in taking them to La Pointe, the present Indian Agency, as it is but 80 miles beyond and as it is accessible by the largest class vessels without reshipment.
But should the place of payment be removed to Sandy Lake, as is proposed, the goods and supplies will have to be transported above the Falls of St. Antony, a distance of some 500 miles, in Fond du Lac by canoes to that place, a distance of 120 miles. The amount of goods and supplies of every description, taken annually up Lake Superior for making this payment, being the same hat must also be taken to the new Agency, has been about 200 tons or about 2000 barrels bulk. We are satisfied that this is too low an estimate, but it will give an idea of the great quantity of freight that will have to be boated up the Mississippi for 500 miles, where it can be boated, and carted through a perfectly wild country without, as yet, a single road, across the portages and around the countless rapids of that river. It is not possible to arrive at the exact cost of this tedious manner of transportation, but we venture to say that every barrel will cost the government at least ten dollars, not including the cost of transportation from New York to St. Antony’s Falls. There is a bad feature in the appearance of this business, that should be noted here; the very men who, it seems have brought about this removal, are also the very person who have secured the privilege of forwarding these Indian supplies and consequently the more it cost the better, and we learn form reliable authority, that the Agent of the Company, most interested in this speculation has been buying a very large number of ox and horse teams for the purpose of carting these supplies to the new place of payment. It would also appear that those interested had made a sure thing of it, for all this preparation is made before the Commissioners for this purpose have determined upon or at least made known the point at which the Indians are to be paid.
The plan of operations is doubtless complete-the Indian supplies will be boated, or carted, or packed into the interior via the Mississippi, at some rate or other; and the Indians themselves, who wish still to receive "their presents" from their "Great Father," may as well pack their traps and keep on their constant and never changing journey towards the setting sun.
The cost to the Government of this removal of the La Pointe Agency, the immense sacrifice of property attendant on it-the ruinous consequences to their improvement and civilization that must follow, the necessity or want of necessity for it, are considerations deserving more particular notice than we can give them at this time-we shall refer to them another week.