Being connected by marriage with an educated and intelligent lady, who is descended, by her mother’s side, from the former ruler of the Chippewa nation—a man of renown—I was received, on this trip, with a degree of confidence and cordiality by the Indians, which I had not expected. I threw myself, naked handed, into their midst, and was received with a noble spirit of hospitality and welcome. And the incidents of this trip revealed to me some of the most interesting scenes of Indian domestic life.
Oral tales and legends of the Chippewas—First assemblage of a legislative council at Michigan—Mineralogy and geology—Disasters of the War of 1812—Character of the new legislature—Laconic note—Narrative of a war party, and the disastrous murders committed at Lake Pepin in July 1824—Speech of a friendly Indian chief from Lake Superior on the subject—Notices of mineralogy and geology in the west—Ohio and Erie Canal—Morals—Lafayette’s progress—Hooking minerals—A philosophical work on the Indians—Indian biography by Samuel L. Conant—Want of books on American archaeology—Douglass’s proposed work on the expedition of 1820.
1824. May 30th. Having found, in the circle of the Chippewa wigwams, a species of oral fictitious lore, I sent some specimens of it to friends in the lower country, where the subject excited interest. “I am anxious,” writes a distinguished person, under this date, “that you should bring with you, when you come down, your collection of Indian tales. I should be happy to see them.”  That the Indians should possess this mental trait of indulging in lodge stories, impressed me as a novel characteristic, which nothing I had ever heard of the race had prepared me for. I had always heard the Indian spoken of as a revengeful, bloodthirsty man, who was steeled to endurance and delighted in deeds of cruelty. To find him a man capable of feelings and affections, with a heart open to the wants, and responsive to the ties of social life, was amazing. But the surprise reached its acme, when I found him whiling away a part of the tedium of his long winter evenings in relating tales and legends for the amusement of the lodge circle. These fictions were sometimes employed, I observed, to convey instruction, or impress examples of courage, daring, or right action. But they were, at all times, replete with the wild forest notions of spiritual agencies, necromancy, and demonology. They revealed abundantly the causes of his hopes and fears—his notions of a Deity, and his belief in a future state.