Indian Trade

“The moral condition of the Indians,” my commission states, ” will necessarily be very dependent on the character of the trade with them; and a subject so important will, of course, claim your attention. You will report such facts as may come within your knowledge, as will go to show the state of the trade with them, and the character of the traders, and will suggest such improvements in the present system of Indian trade, as in your opinion will render it better calculated to secure peace between them and us, and will contribute more efficiently to advance their moral condition.”

On this topic, of primary importance, I shall simply state the information received in answer to my enquiries, and at the close make such suggestions as have occurred to my own mind, in reflecting on this information. 1

Three alternatives, only, appear to present themselves to the the choice of the Government.

  1. Whether the present mixed plan of conducting trade with the Indians shall be continued, partly by the government, on the capital deposited in the hands of the Superintendant of Indian Trade, and partly by licensed traders; or,
  2. Whether the Government will increase their capital to a suitable sum for the purpose of furnishing a full supply of goods for the Indians, and take the whole trade into their own hands; or,
  3. Whether the Government will withdraw their capital, and give up the trade wholly to licensed traders, under suitable regulations and restrictions; leaving this species of commerce, thus regulated bylaw, like all other branches of trade, to be carried on by those who shall engage in it, in their own way.

Among the evils resulting from the present mixed mode of conducting the Indian Trade, Col. Bowyer, late Indian Agent at Green Bay, stated to me verbally, the following:

  1. The Traders, generally, and their Engages, particularly, are without good moral character, which, in the way of example, is injurious to the morals of the Indians.
  2. Nearly all the Interpreters, and Engages, (boatmen) employed by the Traders, are British subjects, under British influence, which, as they are our rivals in this trade, must operate unfavorably to the interests of the United States, so far as relates to the Indian Trade.
  3. Discharged soldiers from Mackinaw have been employed to cover British property, to a considerable amount, by deceptive sales. Two or three instances of this kind, of soldiers dismissed from Mackinaw, were known to Col. Bowyer.
  4. The impossibility, on the present system, of preventing the introduction of spirituous liquors into the Indian country. The Traders obtain their license at Mackinaw; make their entries at the custom house, and get their clearance. Their whiskey, of the highest proof, so as to take up but little room in their boats, is privately conveyed to some spot on the shore of the island, which they are to pass, where, under cover of night, it is taken on board their boats and carried into the country.
  5. The custom, universal among the Traders, of giving a credit to the Indians, in its operation, is injurious both to their interests and morals. A considerable number of those who are credited never pay. This loss, the Traders take care to make up, by an increased charge on the goods sold to those who do pay. The consequence is, injustice to the honest Indian, and temptation to him to become dishonest in return. Finding that his neighbor is benefitted by not paying his debts, he refuses to pay. The evil proceeds farther. One trader, who knows that an Indian has already obtained credit to the full amount of his means of paying, will yet trust him still farther, on his promising, that he will not pay his first creditor but will pay him. When this debtor, the next season, comes to pay his debts, his second creditor invites him to his house, makes him drunk, and takes possession of his furs, in payment of his debt. The first creditor, in such a case, has no remedy. 2

Col. B. was in favor of the plan of Government’s taking the whole Indian trade into their own hands, and stated what he considered would be the benefits resulting from such a course.

  1. The destruction of British influence among the Indians, which is now diffused through the traders.
  2. The Indians might get their goods 200 per cent, cheaper, than they now give the traders.
  3. It would destroy the system of credit, so pernicious to the Indians.
  4. It would entirely do away the still more destructive practice of introducing spirituous liquors among them, a practice which is the source of most of their calamities. ” No quarrels, disturbances, or murders, (said Col. Bowyer,) have been known among the Menominees, (Indians) during the four years of my residence among them, except such as have had their origin in whiskey.” 3 As an improvement in the Government Factories, Col. B. recommends, that they should not be confined to one spot, as they now are but that sub-factors, or agents, should be planted in suitable stations to accommodate the Indians, and to sell them, in their own villages, goods at prices fixed by the government Factor. In this way, the Indians, would not only have their goods cheaper, and with more convenience to themselves; but these stations would be adapted to the establishment of schools for the instruction of the the Indian youth. Some of these situations might be centers, around which the Indians might be induced to settle, and cultivate the earth, under the instruction of these sub-agents, who must always be good men, fitted for their business, a part of which should be to instruct them in agriculture.

It will be perceived that all the advantages here stated by Col. B. are embraced, though in a different, yet I conceive in a better, shape, in the plan I have proposed at the close of this report.

The following important facts and information, were very obligingly furnished, by Maj. Irwin, Indian Factor at Green Bay, in a written communication.

“In compliance with your request, I proceed to give you such information in relation to the Indian Trade, at this place, as a period of nearly four years, has enabled me to become acquainted with. It must be observed, however, that my occupations are such, from being almost constantly engaged in the duties appertaining to the United States factory, that this information may not be so explicit, nor possess so much detail, as you, sir, could wish; such as it is, however, I convey it with cheerfulness, knowing well that your assiduous researches here, will enable you to confirm its correctness, or to detect incorrectness.

1st. With respect to any defects in the present system of Indian Trade.

The slightest observer could discover defects in the present- manner of conducting the trade.

The Indian agents are not vested with authority to keep dishonest and unprincipled traders from entering the country, for the purpose of carrying on trade with the Indians. Hence the many impositions that are practiced upon the poor Indians, principally in selling whiskey to them. In many instances, from the thirst for that article, and the want of knowledge, as to its value, skins, worth from five to six dollars each, have been sold for a quart of whiskey. Nor does the evil stop here; as it is known that the Indians sell their kettles, guns, clothing, horses &c. for that article, the excessive use of which sometimes leading to the destruction of property, and the loss of lives.

2d. As to the “improvements” which might be made ” in the present system of Indian Trade,” which would render the commercial intercourse ” with the Indians more conducive to the promotion of peace between them and us; and contribute more efficiently to improve their moral condition.”

I have always believed that authority should be given, for the purpose of allowing none but persons of good character, to carry on trade or intercourse with the Indians; and that no trader should be allowed to introduce whiskey into the Indian country. To prevent which, rigorous inspection to be made necessary; and all violations of the established regulations, to be noticed and punished. A question would here present itself, in the attempt to prevent those violations, as to the propriety of allowing the testimony of Indians. At present it is believed, that it would not be lawful to receive it in any legal proceeding. Few Indian traders complain against each other; hence the difficulty of procuring sufficient testimony to detect their mal-practices. Nevertheless, intelligent, active and determined agents, temperate in their habits, and friendly to the Indians, could do much in their favor; and probably prevent the existing abuses.

The British traders have held the most intercourse with the Winebagoes. This circumstance, with that of their receiving annually presents from Drummond’s Island, will account for the preference given by the latter to the former.

Three years since, about two hundred and fifty of the Sacs and Foxes passed through Green Bay for Drummond’s Island, whence they returned, abundantly supplied with goods. 4

A short time before the execution of Pontiac’s plan for taking all the British forts in the Indian country, the Menominees being friendly to the British garrison, then at this place, acquainted the officer in command of Pontiac’s plan, and advised him to put himself and those in his command under their protection, with an assurance of being conducted to Montreal. This was acceded to and faithfully performed, notwithstanding Mackinaw had fallen into the hands of the Indians, and the attempt by the captors of that place, to molest and stop the Menominees and the officer and his men. The garrison did not consist of more than from thirty to forty men. I have been well informed that this generous 5 act is the ground of a particular partiality, on the part of the British authorities in Canada, for the Menominee tribe.

This induces me to notice the practice of the Indian tribes in this quarter, of visiting Drummond’s Island. The object, on their part, is to obtain presents; and these they always receive, in sufficient quantity to induce them to visit that place every summer. The British government, it is supposed, have their political views in making these presents; and when their generosity is combined with the refusal on the part of the American government, to give like presents, the effect on the minds of the Indians cannot be doubtful.

I do not wish to be understood, that it would be a proper measure, on the part of our government, to be equally liberal as the British are in making presents to the Indians. On the contrary, I know that it does great injury to them, making them idle, and causing them to neglect the cultivation of the soil, the chase, &c. and leading them to intemperance, by frequent intercourse with immoral white people.

The trade with the Indians in this quarter, is usually conducted at places on Fox, Ouisconsin, and Menominee Rivers.

The custom has been, and still exists, for traders to winter at those places. The amount of business done, varies according to the favorableness or unfavorableness of the seasons for hunting. Property to the amount of five thousand dollars, has been brought here, in one season, from Menominee River. A company of British traders, usually do all, or nearly all, the business at those other places. Sometimes they have collected furs and skins to the amount of from eight to ten thousand dollars, during the winter and spring. The amount of business done in the settlement of Green Bay, may probably be about three thousand dollars annually. Whisky 6 forms a principal article in the traffic at those places.

The United States Factory at this place, (Green Bay,) does very little business with the Indians, notwithstanding the goods it contains can be sold on better terms, than the private traders sell theirs. I am well acquainted with the cause of this, and will explain it. The British traders have used every effort to prevent the Indians from trading at the Factory; by representing the goods as being of American manufacture, of bad quality, and high in price; beside the Indians know that no whiskey can be obtained at the Factory. In 1817, I sent an American citizen, (Mr. Rouse,) with goods from the factory to trade with the Indians at the Ouisconsin river, and two others to Menominee River. On their return, the spring following, they represented that they might have done a good deal of business, had not the British traders and their agents at these settlements, used exertions to prevent the Indians from doing business with them; and advised those that had done business with them, not to pay for the goods they purchased on credit. Those gentlemen, in consequence, lost a good deal of money; and would not be willing to trade with the Indians again.

The annual average of goods sold to the Indians, since the establishment of the Factory, does not amount to more than about sixteen hundred dollars. Those sold to white people, and to the people of mixed blood, to about three thousand five hundred dollars annually; and to the Indian agent five hundred dollars annually. For cash, and to Fort Howard, two thousand four hundred and fifty dollars annually.

Under date of Dec. 5th, 1818, Mr. Varnum writes from Chicago to Maj. Irwin. ” The indiscriminate admission of British subjects to trade with the Indians, is a matter of pretty general complaint, throughout this section of the country. There are five establishments now within the limits of this agency, headed by British subjects. These, with the large number of American traders, in every part of the country, will effectually check the progress of this Factory. I have hardly done a sufficiency of business this season to clear the wages of my interpreter.”

Green Bay,
July 18th, 1820

Rev’d Sir,

In conformity with your verbal request yesterday evening, I will here state to you some of the facts in relation to the extraordinary diminution of the Indian trade, at the United States Factory at Chicago, which, by the factor there, is said to be owing to the introduction and sale of whisky, by private adventurers.

In one of his letters to me, about two years since, he stated that he had not done business enough with the Indians to pay the expense of his interpreter. In another, dated Chicago, 23d May last, he says, ” The Indians have been induced to come here this season by the facility with which they are enabled to procure whiskey.” ” In fact,” he continues, ” the commerce with them (the Indians) this season has been almost exclusively confined to that article.” He adds, ” I will venture to say, that out of two hundred barks 7 of sugar taken, not five have been purchased with any other commodity than whiskey. I have not been able to procure a pound (of sugar) from the Indians, but can get a supply from the traders at ten cents a pound.”

Independent of the known veracity of Mr. Varnum, the fact that private traders could afford to sell sugar at ten cents a pound, is pretty conclusive evidence of the manner in which they obtain it.

The copy of an account current, a sketch of it which follows, will show the amount of business done, while I was factor there, from 1810 to 1812.

Amount of furs and peltries forwarded to the Superintendant of Indian trade, June 30th, 1810, and invoiced at $2,972,56
Amount of drafts on the Secretary of War, in favor of the Superintendant of Indian trade in that year, 1,740,01
Total amount of business done in 1810, – $4,712,67

Amount of furs and peltries forwarded to the Superintendant of Indian trade, 25th, Sept. 1811, .- – – 5,280,50
Amount of drafts on the Secretary of War, transmitted in favor of the Superintendant of Indian trade, 775,39
Total amount of business done in 1811, – $6,055,89

Amount of furs and peltries forwarded to the Superintendant of Indian trade, 11th July, 1812, – – – 5,781,91
Amount of drafts transmitted in favor of the Superintendant of Indian Trade, … 600,67
Amount of articles sold for cash, – – 515,48
Amount of business done in 1812, – – $6,798,07

I am induced to believe that the business done in the factory at Chicago, for the last two years, does not average two hundred dollars a year, in consequence of the whiskey traders at that place.

The result must be, (unless it is checked in time,) that the Indians will be made a miserable set of beings; and the most of the rising generation will be cut off in the early part of their lives.

I am, with respect and regard,
Sir, your ob’t serv’t,
M. IRVIN, U. S. Factor.

To Doctor J. Morse, at Green Bay.

The foregoing, it will be perceived, is a view as far as it goes, of the affirmative side of the question, as to the policy of the Factory system of trade with Indians. I now present the other side.

An intelligent gentleman, who had just visited Chicago, informed me, (July, 1820,) that ” there were goods belonging to government, at that place, to the value of $20,000, which cost more at Georgetown, than the traders ask for their goods at the post of delivery; and that the goods are inferior in quality, and selected with less judgment, than those of the traders; that only twenty five dollars worth of furs were sold by the factor at Chicago; that the Government make no profit on their capital; and pay the superintendants, factors, sub-factors, and their clerks, out of other funds. 8 ” The fact,” he added, ” that the Government sell their goods at cost and carriage, and pay their own agents; and that yet the Indians prefer dealing with the traders, is pretty conclusive evidence that the traders have not been exorbitant in the prices of their goods, nor have maltreated the Indians, who have had liberty to trade with one or the other, as they pleased.” ” It is evident,” he said, ” that by some means, the Indians had not confidence in the Government, as fair and upright in their trade.”

Nothing was said or intimated on this subject, by the gentleman above alluded to, which, in the remotest degree, impeached the character or conduct of any of the factors. They appear, as far as I have had acquaintance with, or knowledge of, them, to be upright men, and faithfully and intelligently to have discharged the duties of their office. This want of confidence in the Government on the part of the Indians, I have witnessed with solicitude in many other instances; and it has often been expressed by the Indians in my interviews with them. Whether this prejudice has arisen from foreign influence, exerted to answer particular purposes, or from that of the traders, as is alleged in the preceding communications; or has been occasioned by the manner in which their lands have been obtained from them by the Government; or by the inferiority in quality, and high prices of the goods, which have been offered them in barter, at the Government factories, or delivered to them in payment of their annuities, as others confidently assert, is not for me to decide. It is my opinion, however, from all I could learn, that each of these causes has had more or less influence in creating and fixing this unhappy prejudice in their minds. And in devising the means for eradicating it, which, while it exists, will prove a formidable bar in the way of accomplishing the benevolent object of the government, regard should be had to the removal of all these causes.

G. Sibley, Esq. the Factor at Fort Osage, under date of Oct. 1820, writes to the Superintendant of Indian Trade, as follows: ” I can form no idea, at present, what will be the probable result of trade this season. My expectations are not very great. Private trade is more extensive this year, than I have ever known it before, and is under fewer restraints than heretofore.”

The following articles, though of a mixed nature, have yet an important bearing on the subject of which we are now treating. I insert the information in the order in which it was verbally received and penned.

At Green Bay, I was visited by Mr. John Jacobs, an intelligent Indian Trader, who had just arrived from the Forks of Assinaboin and Red Rivers, the seat of Lord Selkirk’s, or Red River settlement. 9 Lord Selkirk made this establishment about the year 1812. It is situated, on the point of land formed by the junction of the Assinaboin river, (here a quarter of a mile wide) from the west, with Red river, (half a mile wide) from the south. These rivers, thus united, run north about fifty-four miles into the south section of Lake Winnipic. The banks of both these rivers, are high, of clay, clothed with white and red oak, white wood, elm, of large size; no pine, or other kinds of wood. The soil is very good on the banks of both these rivers, and easily cultivated. Good crops of wheat, rye, barley, potatoes, garden vegetables, some corn, are raised here, liable however, to be cut off by swarms of grasshoppers. For half a mile back, the banks of the rivers are lined with a fine growth of wood; back of which, as far as the eye can extend, is Prairie, capable of easy and profitable culture. Here the members of this establishment pass their summers; and about November, they take their families in boats and canoes, and ascend Red river to the south, one hundred and eighty miles, to Pembanon, at the mouth of the river of this name. Here they spend the winter in hunting the buffalo, with which the neighboring Prairies abound. This place is defended by Fort Dare.

The settlers have constructed a small fort, or rather a stockaded set of buildings, in which they keep their fire arms and the public stores of the colony. They have two small pieces of brass cannon, to guard them against any attacks from the distant bands of roaming Indians, who might be tempted to molest them.

The settlers receive their annual supply of British Goods, by the ships of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which go annually to Hudson’s Bay. The communication is by the Red River, across Lake Winnipic, and down the River that flows from the Lake into the sea at York Fort, where the company have a regular establishment; or by the Hill river, which also flows into the same Bay; but on this latter conveyance, there is a separation of the waters for a short space, that is, it is requisite to go up a small stream whose waters join the Nelson river, and thence is a short portage into Hill river.

The grant to the Earl of Selkirk is chiefly of the lands upon the Red River and its branches, and the Indians (Chippewas and Assiniboins) gave him also a regular grant of a long tract, along the river, I think, up to the Grande Fourche. J. H.

City of Washington, Feb. 1822.
To Rev. Dr. Morse.
This settlement, should it continue and prosper, would be an excellent stand for an Education Family.

There are about fifty families of Canadians, mostly of mixed blood, with two French Catholic priests, planted here, as permanent settlers. The priests appear to be useful, and are about erecting a place of worship. This settlement is about fifteen miles south of the north boundary of the United States.” Such is Mr. Jacob’s account of this settlement, which differs not materially from that of Mr. Halkett.

Mr. Jacobs passed along the northern shore of Lake Superior to Fort William, in the summer of 1819. He found this shore, with few exceptions, elevated, rocky, in many parts mountainous, and without good harbors. The British N. W. Fur Company have a schooner, the only vessel on this largest of our Lakes, which ‘ plies between the Saut of St. Mary’s and Fort William. This Fort is at the west end of the Lake, at the mouth of that chain of waters, which forms a part of our northern boundary between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods, about Ion. 90° W. and lat. 48° N. This Fort, which is without troops, and on the boundary line between the United States and Canada, is a mile from the shore of the Lake, on the north bank of the river Kaminiticuvia, which is here half a mile wide. Here is a grand depot of the N. W. Company, where all the Indian Traders assemble in July and August, and after receiving their goods, disperse in different directions on both sides of the boundary line, to the places of their abode, and their hunting grounds. In June following, they return with their furs and peltry again to receive their goods. This is their annual round. The furs collected here, are shipped in the schooner of the Lake, to the Saut of St. Mary’s, whence they are conveyed to Montreal, and England.

About twenty miles above Fort William, on the same side of the river, is Fort Meuron, where canoes are built for the Hudson Bay Company, and the colonial settlers. Here they quit their large boats, and take smaller ones, suited to the waters of the Indian country, which they traverse, passing through Red River to Athabasca. The Hudson Bay Traders do not return to Fort Meuron, as do those whose sphere of trade is more southerly, but pass through Lake Winnipic, and thence to Hudson Bay.

On Lake Winnipic, at the mouth of Pike River, is the Depot of the Hudson Bay Company. The course pursued by their traders is from Montreal, with Canadian guides, or engages, who, understanding both the French and Indian languages, are best qualified, for this business.

Mr. Jacobs spent three years as Indian Trader, for the North W est Company, at Lake Winnipic. The articles given in barter to the Indians for their furs, are blankets, coarse cloths, silver arm bands, medals, and ornamental trinkets, powder, balls, shot, tobacco, axes, half axes, trenches (which are irons used to break the ice, and to make the trenches in which they set their beaver and rat traps) steel traps, spears, &c. and last, though not least, high wines. Of these high wines, seven quarts make nine gallons of Indian rum. The liquors, with which the traders purchase their provisions of the Indians, yield a large profit. If all the Indian Traders would agree not to carry liquors into the Indian country, Mr. J. assured me, the interest both of the traders and the Indians would be promoted by such an agreement. The Indians would make better hunts, and the traders receive better pay. Both fully believe this; and the former would be “thankful,” if the latter would not bring ” whiskey,” (as they call all our spirituous liquors) into their country. But they add, “If you will bring it, we will have it.” When they get it, they always get drunk, and while they remain so, are very troublesome, and often dangerous. I asked Mr. J. why, if both traders and Indians were opposed to the introduction of spirituous liquors, they were carried among them ? He answered, it was in self-defense. Some traders would carry “whiskey,” and if others had it not, those who had it, would by means of it, allure the Indians, to their store-houses, and get the principal part of their furs.

The Chippewas, unmingled with other tribes, Mr. Jacobs states, inhabit the country round Lake Winnipic, and are numerous.

Plan for Conducting Indian Trade

In addition to what has been said on this subject, I simply state, in few words, a plan of conducting Indian trade, practicable in its nature, which, if adopted, could hardly fail of producing the happiest results. It is this: Let the whole Indian Territory, which is now the sphere of Indian trade be divided into districts of convenient size, and the boundaries of each district defined. In each of these districts, at a place which shall best accommodate the Indians inhabiting it let a village be formed of such traders as shall choose to occupy it, with their interpreters, and their families. Let no white people be permitted to reside within this district, but at this village; nor even here, without permission from lawful authority. Let this requirement be strictly regarded. At this village let the whole trade of the district be carried on, with the traders, each having his own store of goods, as so many merchants; their stores to be within the compass of a quarter of a mile. Plant in this village an Education Family, to be companions of the traders, and instructors of their children, and of such of the Indian children of the district, as their parents may wish to send to the school. Let a farm be laid out, and cultivated in the best style, with all the productions suited to the soil and climate, with all sorts of animals, poultry, &c. to be looked at and examined by Indians, whenever they shall visit the village. In this way the Indians will see and judge for themselves, and become agriculturalists from conviction and choice. Whiskey, and “bad white men,” in this way, may be effectually kept from Indians. 10Citations:

  1. It is considered proper to publish this part of the Report, as it was presented to the President and Congress, previously to the abolition of the Factor system, as it exhibits some important facts on this subject, which, whatever influence they may have had in producing the above anticipated measure, go to justify it, and to show the necessity of a radical change in the system of Indian Trade.[]
  2. A person, I was informed, who occasionally traded with the Indians, in the fall, sold one of them, whiskey and goods to the amount of $100, to be paid in furs the next Spring. In the Spring a number of Indians came with furs for sale, and camped near the house of the man, who had given the credit. Finding that they had furs, the creditor alleged, that one of these Indians was brother of the one he had trusted, and on this ground, of mere suspicion, arbitrarily seized a pack of his furs, and kept them in payment of his debt!! Complaint was made of this fraud and robbery to the Indian Agent, who promised to prosecute the oppressor, but did not do it; and the poor Indian, thus robbed of all his furs, his gains of a year, and unable to obtain redress, was constrained to put up with the loss of them. This happened in the Spring of 1819.

    The name of the man who was guilty of this black deed, and of him who informed me of it, who was personally knowing to the fact, and a credible witness, have been communicated to the President of the U. States.[]

  3. Maj. Irwin, and many others, long resident among, and near, the Indians, testify to the same fact, as applicable to other Indians. If it be so, should not laws be made to punish those, who introduce this poison among the Indians, with the severity, which a crime of so deep a dye, deserves?[]
  4. The Sacs and Foxes live on both sides of the Mississippi, west of Green Bay, more than six hundred miles from Drummond’s island.[]
  5. An instance of a like act occurred during the last war, in leading an American from this place to Mackinaw, whose life was in danger. The Indian chief who performed this act is called The Rubber.[]
  6. It is a practice with some traders, in order to deceive the Indians, to promise them a keg of whiskey, as a present after closing the bargain; whereas the practice is, to make the Indians pay for this very whisky, in the goods they purchase.[]
  7. Indian boxes to contain sugar, averaging about forty pounds each.[]
  8. It will be understood, that I am stating what was communicated to me by respectable gentlemen, ‘as facts, and which fidelity to my government obliges me to state. I hold not myself responsible for the authenticity of these facts, or for the justness of the opinions which I quote; but only for the correctness with which they were stated, and the respectability of the sources whence they have been derived.[]
  9. The following ” Memorandum relative to Lord Selkirk’s settlement on the Red River of Lake Winnipic,” was received from L. Halkett, Esq. a respectable English gentleman, a relation of Lord Selkirk’s, who has personal knowledge of the history and facts which he relates.
    “The Hudson’s Bay Company, in the year 1811, granted to the late Earl of Selkirk a large tract of land, belonging to them in North America, for the purpose of commencing an agricultural settlement. As soon as the proper spot was fixed upon, he sent out a body of Emigrants with their families from Great-Britain, who built houses, and began their establishment. The situation chosen for the settlement, was upon the Red River, (of Lake Winnipic) about fifty miles from its entrance into that Lake, and in lat. 50° N. and long. 97” W. of London.

    In the years 1815, and 1816, the settlers were successively driven away by persons in the employment of certain Canadian fur traders, and many of them were killed, their cattle, and implements of husbandry destroyed, and their houses burnt. Those who were driven off, however, successively returned, and received repeated accessions to their numbers. At present, (1822) they amount probably to about six hundred souls.

    There is a Catholic, and also a Protestant Clergyman, established in this settlement. There has recently commenced a school for the education of the children, not only of the settlers, but of the servants, and traders employed in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the interior. The leading men among these settlers are also doing every thing in their power to persuade the Chippewa Indians to send their children to the school.

    The lands upon the Red River are very fertile, being composed of a deep alluvial soil. There are no trees, or stumps to interrupt the agricultural operations. The prairies are very extensive, and covered with fine grass. Along the immediate banks of the rivers, there is plenty of fine timber of various sorts. The rivers, and Lakes abound with fish; and the settlers obtain abundance of Buffalo from the plains. The neighboring Indians (the Chippewas) have always been on the most friendly footing with the colonists. The settlers are not allowed to carry on any trade for furs and peltries with the natives, and are prohibited from giving spirituous liquors to them, under the penalty of forfeiting their allotments of land.

    The crops of wheat, barley, potatoes, &c. have been generally very abundant; but the grasshoppers, for the last two seasons, have proved extremely destructive.[]

  10. See Report, p. 39.[]

History, Trade,

Morse, Rev. Jedidiah. A Report to the Secretary of War of the United States on Indian Affairs, Printed by S. Converse, 1822.

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