17th. A week or two ago, an Indian, called Sa-ne-baw, or the Ribbon, who encamped on the green in front of my office, fell sick. I requested Dr. Wheaton to visit him, but it did not appear that there was any disease of either an acute or chronic character which could be ascertained. The man seemed to be in a low desponding state. Some small medicines were administered, but he evinced no symptoms of restoration. He rather appeared to be pining away, with some secret mental canker. The very spirit of despair was depicted in his visage. Young Wheaton, a brother of the Doctor, and Lieutenant C. Morton, United States Army, visited him daily in company, with much solicitude; but no effort to rally him, physically or mentally, was successful, and he died this morning. “He died,” said the former to me, “because he would die.” The Indians seem to me a people who are prone to despond, and easily sink into frames of despair.
I received a letter to-day from the veteran geographer, Mr. W. Darby, of Philadelphia, brought by the hands of a friend, a Mr. Toosey, through whom he submitted to me a list of geographical and statistical queries relating to some generic points, which he is investigating in connection with his forthcoming Gazetteer of the United States.
A pic-nic party at the foot of Lake Superior—Canoe—Scenery—Descent of St. Mary’s Falls—Etymology of the Indian names of Sault Ste. Marie, and Lake Superior—The wild rice plant—Indian trade—American Fur Company—Distribution of presents—Death of Sassaba—Epitaph—Indian capacity to count—Oral literature—Research—Self-reliance.
1822. August 20th. I Went with a pic-nic to Gross Cape, a romantic promontory at the foot of Lake Superior. This elevation stands on the north shore of the straits, and consequently in Canada. It overlooks a noble expanse of waters and islands, constituting one of the most magnificent series of views of American scenery. Immediately opposite stands the scarcely less elevated, and not less celebrated promontory of Point Iroquois, the Na-do-wa-we-gon-ing, or Place of Iroquois Bones, of the Chippewas. These two promontories stand like the pillars of Hercules which guard the entrance into the Mediterranean, and their office is to mark the foot of the mighty Superior, a lake which may not, inaptly, be deemed another Mediterranean Sea. The morning chosen to visit this scene was fine; the means of conveyance chosen was the novel and fairy-like barque of the Chippewas, which they denominate Che-maun, but which we, from a corruption of a Charib term as old as the days of Columbus, call Canoe. It is made of the rind of the betula papyracea, or white birch, sewed together with the fine fibrous roots of the cedaror spruce, and is made water-tight by covering the seams with boiled pine rosin, the whole being distended over and supported