Anacamegishca, Head Chief of the Kenisteno Nation

Last Updated on December 19, 2012 by Dennis

Ottawa and Chippewa
Head Chief of the Kenisteno Nation

Here is a forest chieftain with a name sufficiently long to gratify the most aristocratic veneration for high sounding titles, but which, we regret to inform such of our readers as may not happen to be versed in the Ojibway tongue, dwindles, when interpreted, into the humble appellation of Foot Prints. How he acquired it, we are unable to say, but that it is an honorable designation, we are prepared to believe from the character of the wearer, who is a person of no small note. He is descended from a line of hyperborean chiefs, who, like himself, have held undisputed sway over a clan of the Chippeway inhabiting the borders of Rainy Lake. His great grandfather Nittum, was an Ottawa, who emigrated from Lake Michigan to the Grand Portage and Rainy lake, at the time when the great Northwest Company, whose doings have been so admirably described by our countryman Irving, began to prosecute their traffic in parts northwestward from the Grand Portage.

Nittum was an uncommon man. So great was his sagacity and conduct, that, although not a native of the region or tribe into which he had boldly cast his lot, he soon came to be regarded as the head chief of the Kenisteno nation. He attained a reputation for bravery, activity, and prudence in council, as well as for the decision of character evinced in all the vicissitudes of a busy and perilous career, which extended beyond the region of Rainy lake, and elevated him above the surrounding warriors and politicians. So great was the veneration in which he was held by the Indians, that the agents of the Northwest Company took especial pains to conciliate his favor while living, and to honor his remains after death. The scaffold upon which, according to the custom of the Chippeway, his body was deposited, was conspicuously elevated, near the trading-house at the Grand Portage, and the savages saw, with admiration, a British flag floating in the breeze over the respected relics of their deceased chief. When these politic traffickers in peltry removed their establishment from Kamenistaquoia to Fort William, they carried with them the bones of Nittum, which were again honored with distinguished marks of respect; and the living continued to be cajoled by a pretended reverence for the memory of the dead. This is the same “Nitum” mentioned in the History of the Fur Trade prefixed to McKenzie’s Voyages.

Nittum was succeeded in the chieftainship by his son Kagakummig, the Everlasting, who was also much respected in the high latitude of Rainy lake and the Lake of the Woods. After his death, his son Kabeendushquameh, a person of feeble mind .and little repute, swayed the destinies of this remote tribe, until, in the fullness of time, he also was gathered to his fathers. He left several sons, of whom the subject of this notice is within one of the youngest, but is nevertheless the successor to the hereditary authority of chief. He is a good hunter, and well qualified to sustain the reputation of his family. Of a disposition naturally inclining to be stern and ferocious, but with sufficient capacity to appreciate his own situation and that of his people, as well as the conduct of those who visit his country for the purpose of traffic, he conducts himself with propriety, and is considered a man of good sense and prudence. He is the first of his family who has acknowledged fealty to the American government. This chief takes a lively interest in the condition and prospects of his band, and, in the year 1826, evinced a desire to cultivate amicable relations with the American people, by performing a long and painful journey to attend the council held at Fond du Lac by Governor Cass and Colonel McKenney. He is six feet three inches in stature, and well made. Of his feats in war or hunting no particular accounts have reached us. There are no newspapers at Rainy lake, and it is altogether possible for a person to attain an eminent station without having his frailties or his good deeds heralded by the trump of fame.

McKenny, Thomas & Hall, James & Todd, Hatherly & Todd, Joseph. History of the Indian tribes of North America: with biographical sketches and anecdotes of the principal chiefs. Embellished with one hundred portraits from the Indian Gallery in the War Department at Washington. Philadelphia: D. Rice & Co. 1872.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top