2 Council House, Chicago, Illinois (Saturday, September 21, 1833)

From the Journal of the Proceedings (Ratified Treaty No. 189)

This chapter represents an illuminating exchange from the ninth day of the treaty negotiations. Multiple distinct political communities among the tribes were present at the negotiations, in contrast to the treaty’s “United Nation of Chippewa, Ottowa and Potawatamie Indians.”
Ratified Treaty No. 189, Documents Relating to the Negotiation of the Treaty of September 26, 1833, with the United Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians.
The Journal of the Proceedings (Ratified Treaty No. 189) page 28. (From the National Archives.)

Gov. Porter said — We are ready to hear what our red children have to say.

Pou-ka-gon [a Potawattomie chief] said — My Father, you call us your friends. You know we are so. I will know tell you some little of what our chiefs and old men think. I have heard them exchange these words. This is the condition of us who have yellow skins. You have white skins. We are ignorant and know but little and have for that reason, appointed a man to attest us in our councils.

You will offer your ears to that man, who will tell you our wishes & feelings on the subject given to us by our Great Father the President of the United States for our consideration. He will aid us and our older brothers, the Chippeways, with his councils to manage our business for the benefit of our children.

Some of us are called “Wood Indians” altho we are Potawattomies, and others are called “Prairie Indians.” You have, my fathers, asked us to sell our land to our Great Father. We do not know what land you want. We have small tracts of land. We do not know whether you want these small pieces, or what lands. We wish to know which it is you want. I have no more to say.

Gov. Porter said — Whom have you appointed to aid you in your councils?

Pou-ka-gon said — The Potawattomie Indians have appointed Gabriel Godfroy & Alexis Coquillard to manage their business and the Prairie Indians have appointed Joseph Laframboise to assist Caldwell & Robinson.

Shaw-waw-nuk-wuk — a Chippeway chief, son of Me-tai-way said — I have been called on to speak. Many of the Indians are now in their camps. I shall be called on to tell them what has been said here by our brothers the Potawattomie. You have all heard what they have said. They have chose good councilors to help them in the management of this business. that it may be settled for the good of themselves and children.

(After a pause of some minutes.)

Gov. Porter inquired if they had any thing more to say

Pou-ka-gon replied, nothing more at this time.

Shaw-we-mon-e-tay addressing himself to the Indians said — We are ignorant. We do know know the wishes of our Great Father. We are situated like our brothers the “Wood Indians.” We do not know what land our Great Father wants to buy. Our Fathers here have not told us.

Mah-che-o-tah-way said — I have told our young men to listen to my words. We live a great distance from here. Our wigwams are the greatest way off. We will agree to whatever our brothers will do in the business about which we are now in council.

Gov. Porter said — My children listen to the words which I am now about to speak to you. Seven days have lapsed since first we met in council at this place. We then explained to you all fully and plainly, the motivations of our Great Father, under which the commissioners acted, and the country which we wanted you to sell. We did suppose, that after what was said to you at that time, you held your Great Father fast by the hand and that you had opened your ears to his great advice; but now, at the end of seven days, you come and ask us, what we want and affect ignorance of the proposition made to you by your Great Father through us.

You have not my children listened to the wisdom of his advice.

My red children, the commissioners wish you fully and distinctly to understand that they will not be trifled with. Your Great Father who commissioned us to act here for him nere plays “fast & loose” with his red children nor any one else. He will not allow himself nor his commissioners to be trifled with.

Your Great Father is the greatest war chief that any of you have ever seen. Yet he loves his red children. He knows and consults their wants and wishes and always gives them good advice. You have all heard of him and his great deeds, and you know that when the red men had trouble he gave them good advice. But when his red children refused to hearken to the words of his council, and listened to the bad birds, he went among them and made war against them. The greatest war chief amongst all the red men can not count so great a number of scalps as your Great Father can. They were forced to come in & implore his mercy. Your Great Father tells his red children, that, if they would for the father behave as dutiful children should, he would forgive them, and extend the arms of protection over them and make them again happy. For several years, you lived happily here, but you all know, my children, that during the last year some of your red brothers between here and the Mississippi river listened to bad birds, closed their ears to good council, and acted most wickedly. In this case, your Great Father did what on such occasions he always does. He first gave these wicked men good advice; but they refused to listen to it. He then sent one of his war chiefs among them. The recollections of the consequences are still fresh in your minds. When the war was over with these wicked red men, your Great Father treated with them at the cannon’s mouth and upon such terms only as his humanity dictated.

Journal of Proceedings, “Ratified Treaty No. 189, Documents Relating to the Negotiation of the Treaty of September 26, 1833, with the United Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians.” Record Group 75 Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs 1793 – 1999; T494, Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Treaties With Various Indian Tribes, 1801-1869 (National Archives and Records Administration):