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Assuming the theory to be true that the Indian tribes are of Shemitic origin, they were met on this continent in the fifteenth century by the Japhetic race, after the two stocks had passed around the globe by directly different routes. A few years afterward the Hamitic branch of the human family was brought from the coast of Africa. During the occupancy of the continent by the three distinct races, the children of Japheth have grown and prospered, while the called and 110t voluntary sons of Hain have endured a servitude in the wider stretching valleys of the tents of Shein.
When Christopher Columbuis had finally succeeded in demonstrating the truth of his theory, that by sailing westward from Europe land would be discovered, landing on the Island of Bermuda he supposed he had reached the East Indies. This was an error, but it led to the adoption of the name of “Indians" for the inhabitants of the island and the main land of America, by which name the red men of America have ever since been known.
Of the several great branches of North American Indians the only ones entitled to consideration in Michigan history are the Algonquins and Iroqnois. At the time of the discovery of America the former occupied the Atlantic seaboard, while the home of the Iroquois was as an island in this vast area of Algonquin population. The latter great nation spread over a vast territory, and various tribes of Algonquin lineage sprung up over the country, adopting, in time, distinct tribal custoins and laws. An almost continuous warfare was carried on between tribes; but later, on the entrance of the white man into their beloved homes, every foot of territory was fiercely disputed by the confederacy of many neighboring tribes. The Algonquins formed the most extensive alliance to resist the encroachment of the whites, especially the English. Such was the nature of King Philip's war. This king, with his Algonqnin braves, spread terror and desolation thronghout New England. With the Algonquins as the controlling spirit, a confederacy of continental proportions was the result, embracing in its alliance the tribes of every name and lineage from the Northern lakes to the guit. Pontiac, having breathed into them his implecable hate of the English intruders, ordered the conflict to coinmence, and all the British colonies trembled before the desolating fury of Indian vengeance.
The “Saghinan” (spelled variously) or Saginaw country.comprised most of the eastern portion of the southern peninsula indefinitely. The village of the " Hurons” was probably near Detroit. The term “Huron” is derived from the French hure, a wild boar, and was applied to this tribe of Indians on account of the bristly appearance of their hair. These Indians called themselves “Quendats," as the French spelled the name, or “Wyandots," as is the modern orthography.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
The art of hunting not only supplied the Indian with food, but, like that of war, was a means of gratifying his love of distinction.
The male children, as soon as they acquired sufficient age and strength, were furnished with a bow and arrow and taught to shoot birds and other small game. Success in killing large quadrupeds required years of careful study and practice, and the art was sedulously inculcated in the minds of the rising generation as are the elements of reading, writing and arithmetic in the cominon schools of civilized communities. The mazes of the forest and the dense, tall grass of the prairies were the best fields for the exercise ot'the hunter's skill. No feet could be impressed in the yielding soil but that the tracks were the objects of the most searching scrutiny, and revealed at a glance the animal that made them, the direction it was pursuing, and the time that had elapsed since it had passed. In a forest country he selected the valleys, because they were most frequently the resort of game. The most easily taken, perhaps, of all the animals of the chase was the deer. It is endowed with a curiosity which prompts it to stop in its flight and look back at the approaching hunter, who always avails himself of this opportunity to let fly the fatal arrow.
Their general councils were composed of the chiefs and old men. When in council, they usually sat in concentric circles around the speaker, and each individual, notwithstanding the fiery passions that rankled within, preserved an exterior as inmovable as if cast in bronze. Before commencing business a person appeared with the sacred pipe, and another with fire to kindle it. After being lighted, it was first presented to heaven, secondly to the earth, thirdly to the presiding spirit, and lastly to the several councilors, each of whom took a whift. These forinalities were observed with as close exactness as State etiquette in civilized courts.
The dwellings of the Indians were of the simplest and rudest character. On some pleasant spot by the bank of a river, or near an ever-running spring, they raised their groups of wigwams, con, structed of the bark of trees, and easily taken down and removed to another spot. The dwelling-places of the chiefs were sometimes more spacious, and constructed with greater care, but of the same materials. Skins taken in the chase served them for repose. Though principally dependent upon hunting and fishing, the uncertain supply from those sources led them to cultivate small patches of corn. Every family did everything necessary within itself, commerce, or an interchange of articles, being almost unknown to them. In cases of dispute and dissension, each Indian relied upon himself for retaliation. Blood for blood was the rule, and the relatives of the slain man were bound to obtain bloody revenge for his death. This principle gave rise, as a matter of course, to innumerable and bitter feuds, and wars of extermination where such were possible. War, indeed, rather than peace, was the Indian's glory and delight. --war, not conducted as in civilization, but war where individual skill, endurance, gallantry and cruelty were prime requisites. For such a purpose as revenge the Indian would make great sacrifices, and display a patience and perseverance truly heroic; but when the excitement was over, he sank back into a listless, unoccupied, well-nigh useless savage. During the intervals of his more exciting pursuits, the Indian employed his time in decorating his person with all the refinement of paint and feathers, and in the manufacture of his arms and of canoes. These were constructed of bark, and so light that they could easily be carried on the shoulder from stream to stream. His amusements were the war-dance, athletic games, the narration of his exploits, and listening to the oratory of the chiefs; but during long periods of such existence he remained in a state of torpor, gazing listlessly upon the trees of the forests and the clouds that sailed above them; and this vacancy imprinted a habitual gravity, and even melancholy, upon his general deportment.
The main labor and drndgery of Indian communities fell upon the women. The planting, tending and gathering of the crops, making mats and baskets, carrying burdens,-in fact, all things of the kind were performed by them, thus making their condition but little better than that of slaves. Marriage was merely a matter of bargain and sale, the husband giving presents to the father of the bride. In general they had but few children. They were subjected to many and severe attacks of sickness, and at times famine and pestilence swept away whole tribes.
The Indians had not only their good "manitous," but also their evil spirits; and the wild features of the lake scenery appears to have impressed their savage minds with superstition. They believed that all the prominent points of this wide region were created and guarded by monsters; and the images of these they sculptured on stone, painted upon the rocks, or carved upon the trees. Those who "obeyed” these supernatural beings, they thought, would after death range among flowery fields filled with the choicest game, while those who neglected their counsels would wander amid dreary solitudes, stung by goats as large as pigeons.
It is not necessary to dwell on the details of history from the discovery of America in 1492 to the settlement of Michigan in 1668, as some historians do under the head of “the history of Michigan;" for the transaction of men and councils at Quebec, New York, Boston, or London, or Paris, concerning the European possessions in America prior to 1668 did not in the least affect either man, beast or inanimate object within the present limits of the State of Michigan. Nor do we see the necessity of going back to the foundations of American institutions, simply because they are the origin of the present features of Michigan institntions and society, any more than to Greek, Latin, Christian or mediæval civilization, although all the latter also affect Michigan society.
Jacques Marquette was the first white man, according to history, to set foot upon ground within what is now the State of Michigan
He was born of an honorable family at Laon, in the north of France, in 1637, the month not known. He was educated for the Catholic priesthood; in 1654 he joined the Jesuits, and in 1666 he was sent as a missionary to Canada; after the river St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes had been mapped out, the all-absorbing object of interest with Gov. Frontenac Taich, the “intendent," and Marquette himself was to discover and trace from the north the wonderful Mississippi that De Soto, the Spaniard, had first seen at the South in 1641. In 1668, according to Bancroft, he repaired to the Chippewa, at the Sault, to establish the mission of the St. Mary, the oldest settlement begin by Europeans within the present limits of Michigan. This was under Louis XIV., of France.
In 1669 Father Marqnette established a mission at Mackinaw, then called “Michilimackinac," from an Indian word signifying "a great turtle," or from the Chippewa “inichine-naukinonk,
a place of giant fairies.” Here Marquette built a chapel in 1671, and continued to teach the Indians until his death.
In 1673, in company with Louis Joliet, Father Marquette received orders from Gov. Frontenac to proceed west and explore the Mis. sissippi, which they did, as far south as the Arkansas river.
Marquette was a scholar and a polite Christian, enthusiastic, shrewd and persevering. He won the affections of all parties, French, English and Indian. He was even a man of science, with a strong element of romance and love of natural beauty in his character. Parkman speaks of him, in characteristic epithet, as “the humble Marquette who, with clasped hands and upturned eyes, seems a figure evoked from some 'din legend of mediæval saintship.” In life he seems to have been looked up to with reverence by the wildest savage, by the rude frontiersman, and by the polished officer of government. Most of all the States, his name and his fame should be dear to Michigan. He died in June, 1675, and was buried with great solemnity and deep sorrow near the mouth of Pere Marquette river. The remains were afterward deposited in a vault in the middle of the chapel of St. Ignace near by; but on the breaking up of the mission at this place the Jesuits burned the chapel, and the exact site was forgotten until Sept. 3, 1877, when the vault, consisting of birch bark, was found; but the reinains of the great missionary were probably stolen away by his Indian admirers soon after the abandonment of the mission.
The next settlement in point of time was made in 1679, by Robert Cavalier de La Salle, at the mouth of the St. Joseph river. He had constructed a vessel, the “Griffin,” just above Niagara falls, and sailed around by the lakes to Green Bay, Wis., whence he traversed " Lac des Illinois,” now Lake Michigan, by canoe to the mouth of the St. Joseph river. The "Griffin was the first sailing vessel that ever came west of Niagara falls. La Salle erected a fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph river, which afterward was moved about 60 miles up the river, where it was still seen in Charlevoix's