Murder of Soan-ga-ge-zhick, a Chippewa, at the head of the falls—Indian mode of interment—Indian prophetess—Topic of interpreters and interpretation—Mode of studying the Indian language—The Johnston family—Visits—Katewabeda, chief of Sandy Lake—Indian mythology, and oral tales and legends—Literary opinion—Political opinion—Visit of the chief Little Pine—Visit of Wabishkepenais—A despairing Indian—Geography.
1822. July 26th. A tragic occurrence took place last night, at the head of the portage, resulting in the death of a Chippewa, which is believed to be wholly attributable to the use of ardent spirits in the Indian camps. As soon as I heard the facts, and not knowing to what lengths the spirit of retaliation might go, I requested of Colonel Brady a few men, with a non-commissioned officer, and proceeded, taking my interpreter along, to the spot. The portage road winds along about three-fourths of a mile, near the rapids, and all the way, within the full sound of the roaring water, when it opens on a green, which is the ancient camping ground, at the head of the falls. A footpath leads still higher, by clumps of bushes and copsewood, to the borders of a shallow bay, where in a small opening I somewhat abruptly came to the body of the murdered man. He was a Chippewa from the interior called Soan-ga-ge-zhick, or the Strong Sky. He had been laid out, by his relatives, and dressed in his best apparel, with a kind of cap of blue cloth and a fillet round his head. His lodge, occupied by his widow and three small children, stood near. On examination, he had been stabbed in several places, deeply in both thighs. These wounds might not have proved fatal; but there was a subsequent blow, with a small tomahawk, upon his forehead, above the left eye. He was entirely dead, and had been found so, on searching for him at night, by his wife. It appeared that he had been drinking during the evening and night, with an Indian half-breed of the Chippewa River, of the name of Gaulthier. This fellow, finding he had killed him, had taken his canoe and fled. Both had been intoxicated. I directed the body to be interred, at the public charge, on the ancient burial hill of the Chippewas, near the cantonment. The usual shroud, on such occasions, is a new blanket; a grave was dug, and the body very carefully dressed, laid in the coffin, beside the grave. Before the lid was fastened, an aged Indian came forward, and pronounced a funeral oration. He recited the traits of his character. He addressed the dead man direct. He told him that he had reached the end of his journey first, that they should all follow him soon to the land of the dead, and again meet. He gave him directions for his journey. He offered a brief admonition of dangers. He bid him adieu. The brother of the deceased then stept forward, and, having removed the head-dress of the slain man, pulled