How The Lake Region Was Occupied By The Indians -- Three Branches Of The Algonquins -- The Ottawas, Ojibwas And Pottawatomies -- The Warlike Iroquois On The Lower Lake -- Their Customs -- The Hurons -- The Neuters At Niagara Falls -- Legend Of Niagara Falls -- The Annual Sacrifice To The Great Spirit -- The Eries -- The Pottawatomies -- The Sacs And Foxes -- The Winnebagoes -- Bravery Of A Chippewa Band -- Indian Superstitions On Lake Superior -- Lake Superior A Divinity -- The Legend Of Sail Rock -- Navigation By The Indians -- Pre-historic Copper Mining -- An Indian Naval Battle -- Black Hawk's War -- Indian Title To Lake Superior Ceded -- The Indians Of St. Mary's -- "Niagara," An Allegory.
WHEN America was discovered by the bold European navigators, and the French possessions crept steadily up the St. Lawrence basin toward the Great Lakes, this region was occupied by several distinct and antaganistic aboriginal families, almost constantly at war among themselves or with other tribes and nations. The trend of Indian movement at that time was slowly but steadily westward. North of Lake Huron, through the Michigan peninsula and thence into northern Wisconsin, dwelt three branches of the Algonquin nation -- the Ottawas, the Ojibwas and the Pottawatomies. The Ottawas, shortly before the discovery of America, had occupied the Ottawa river district, but had retired to the region of the Manitoulin islands and the straits of Mackinac, where they were first known to the French. About the Sault Ste. Marie and along the southern shores of Lake Superior to Ontonagon lived the Ojibwas, who also pressed the northeast shores of Lake Superior, which were then the hunting grounds of the Crees. The Pottawatomies, the third branch of the Algonquins, were in a migratory state between Green Bay and the Mississippi, and were moving southward toward Chicago.
West of the Great Lakes, near the headwaters of the Mississippi, and touching the head of Lake Superior, were seated the warlike Dakotas, between whom and the Ojibwas was a disputed territory. The region north of Lake Superior and extending to Hudson Bay, was occupied by the Crees or Kenistenaux. They were allied to the Algonquin tribes. It is supposed that the shores of Lake Superior had formerly been the central grounds of the Algonquin tribes, and that thence they had extended both east and westward till driven back by other tribes.
The Fierce Iroquois. -- Another Indian group, more potential than any other in the making of American history, dwelt to the eastward. Its fiercest and most vital branch was the Iroquois nation, consisting of the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas and the Mohawks. Their earlier home had been on the banks of the St. Lawrence in the vicinity of Montreal, but when the French explorers came they possessed the lake region in New York State, south of Lake Ontario.
William Smith, in his History of New York, written in 1756, thus speaks of the Iroquois: "No people in the world, perhaps, have higher notions than these Indians, of military glory. All the surrounding nations have felt the effects of their prowess, and many not only became their tributaries, but were so subjugated to their power, that without their consent, they durst not commence either war or peace. The French have tried all possible means to divide these republics, and sometimes have even sown great jealousies among them. In consequence of this plan they have seduced many families to withdraw to Canada, and there settled them in regular towns, under command of a fort and the tuition of missionaries.
"The Five Nations, being devoted to war, every art is contrived to diffuse a military spirit through the whole body of their people. The ceremonies, attending the return of a party, seem calculated in particular for that purpose. The day before they enter the village, two heralds advance, and at a small distance set up a yell, which, by its modulation, intimates either good or bad news. If the former, the village is alarmed and an entertainment provided for the conquerors, who, in the meantime, approach in sight; one of them bears the scalps stretched over a bow, and elevated upon a long bow. The boldest man in the town comes out and receives it, and instantly flies to the hut, where the rest are collected. If he is overtaken he is beaten unmercifully, but if he outruns the pursuer, he participates in the honor of the victors, who, at their first entrance, receive no compliments, nor speak a single word till the end of the feast. Their parents, wives and children are then admitted, and treat them with the pro-foundest respect. After these salutations one of the conquerors is appointed to relate the whole adventure, to which the rest attentively listen, without asking a question, and the whole concludes with a savage dance."
It has been conjectured by historians that the Iroquois were a branch of the Dakotas, who perhaps centuries earlier had migrated eastward through Michigan peninsula, to the valley of the St. Lawrence, where their traditional history began.
The Hurons. -- Related to the Iroquois were the Hurons, or Wyandots, the Eries and other interior tribes. The Hurons were occupants of Canada, from Georgian Bay southward and eastward, around Lake Simcoe toward Lake Erie.
When driven from their homes by the Iroquois, as will be noticed hereafter, the Hurons and Ottawas migrated to Green Bay. There, hearing that the Iroquois knew of their retreat and were preparing an expedition, the demoralized Hurons again retreated westward to the Mississippi and ascended the Upper Iowa river where the inhabiting tribes received them kindly. But the Hurons did not relish Buffalo hunting on broad prairies, and sought the timbered lands in the upper Mississippi valley above Lake Pepin. The neighboring Sioux were friendly, but the Hurons, armed with guns, conspired to drive away their hospitable neighbors. Repulsed by the Sioux they descended the Mississippi and established themselves on the Black river, near the present city of La Crosse, Wisconsin.
While hunting west of Lake Superior the Hurons again became embroiled in war with the Sioux, and were forced to flee. They returned to their old grounds at Mackinaw, while the Ottawas repossessed the Manitoulin island in Lake Huron.
Modern fancy portrays the real spirits of the Indian maidens sacrificed to the spirit of Niagara in days gone by, as idealized into the Maiden of the Mist, a mythical and typical maiden dwelling at the base of the falls, and continuously, both by day and night, disporting herself in the ever-rising and never-failing clouds of mist or spray, awaiting and greeting the spirits of those victims who from time to time yield up their lives to Niagara, or as the Indians pronounced it. Two paintings, representing "The Maiden's Sacrifice" and "The Maid of the Mist " may be seen at the Cataract House, Niagara Falls.
The Eries. -- On the southern shores of Lake Erie lived the Eries, or Cat nation, as they were called. Both the Neuters and the Eries were exterminated by the Iroquois in the fierce warfare of 1650 to 1655, and the Huron nation at the same time received its death blow from the same source. The Eries in 1654 were supposed to have 2,000 braves, excellent bowmen, with poisoned arrows. Along the southern shores of Lake Erie they had many towns, and cultivated the earth. But in 1655, when almost totally destroyed, the remnant was compelled to flee far to the westward.
One hundred years ago the Indians who then dwelt in northern Ohio were accustomed to meet every autumn in Cleveland in great numbers, and pile up their canoes at the mouth of the Cuyahoga. From thence they scattered into the interior and passed the winter in hunting. In the spring they returned, disposed of their furs to traders, and launching their bark canoes upon the lake, returned to their towns in the region of the Sandusky and Maumee, where they remained until the succeeding autumn to raise their crops of corn and potatoes.
The Pottawatomies, a subdivision of the Ottawas and Chippewas, lived formerly north of Lake Huron. In 1670 they were established at Green Bay. Later they migrated farther to the south. They were among the savages who participated in the massacre at Chicago in 1812. A portion of the tribe located in northern Michigan, another fragment in northern Ohio, and still another division in northern and western Illinois. They were described as being "tall, fierce and haughty," but were nomadic in habit. The name signifies, " we are making a fire." Of the 1,930 warriors of the Algonquin confederacy, who met Sir William Johnson at Niagara in 1763 to negotiate a treaty of peace, 450 were Pottawatomies.
The Sacs and Foxes, two allied tribes known to the French as the Outagamies, had a village of 400 warriors near Green Bay in 1666. Father Allouez, who first described them, says: " They were very much disparaged, and reputed by other nations as penurious, avaricious, thievish and quarrelsome. The Sacs and Foxes alone of all the Algonquin tribes, with their kindred, the Kickapoos, resisted the blandishments and friendly overtures of the French traders and missionaries. Early in the eighteenth century they passed westward from the shores of the Great Lakes.
The Winnebagoes. -- Occupying the forests near Green Bay another tribe of Indians was discovered by the explorers, the Winnebagoes, whose speech differed widely from the dialect of their neighbors, the Algonquins, and who were known to the French pioneers as the Puants. It is supposed that they descended, like the Iroquois, from a branch of the Dakota stock. They had the reputation of being good-natured, manly and uncouth.
Bravery of a Chippewa Band. -- Many are the legends and stories of these aborigines associated with points of interest on the upper lakes. Presque Isle, the high headland, two miles north of Marquette, was once the site of a flourishing Indian village of the Chippewa tribe, and as these Chippewas were far removed from their enemies the Dakotas, many of the young braves had never drawn bow or tomahawk in combat. On this account they were tantalized and called squaws by their brethren on the frontier. After enduring this a long time a war party was organized to wash away with blood these imputations of cowardice. Before setting out in search of their enemies, the party, thirteen in number, appointed a young man as runner to accompany them, watch the result, and, in the event of their destruction, to hasten back with the tidings. They soon fell in with an enemy four times their number. Selecting their ground and directing the runner to take a position from which he could see the battle, they made their onset. They killed twice their own number, and then retreated to a place of entrenchment. Enraged at the loss, the enemy pursued, fell upon, and amidst great carnage, slew them all. The young Indian runner was seen by Governor Cass soon after his return, and the governor listened with much interest as he recounted the incidents of the thrilling adventure and chanted his requiem song in eulogy of the fallen.
The Chippewas of Lake Superior were full of superstitious fear regarding Keweenaw Point. They believed that a demon resided there, and they dared not visit his domain to procure copper without first propitiating him with rites and gifts; then, trembling and in silence, they lighted fires around some exposed mass of the metal, and, when it was softened, they hastily cut off a small quantity and fled to their canoes without looking back. So strong was their dread that for years the explorers were unable to obtain from them information about the Point, neither would they act as guides, although tempting bribes were offered.
Indian Superstitions on Lake Superior. -- In " The Relation for 1669-70 " Father Dablon relates a few of the Indian superstitions. He says: "We have learned from the savages some secrets which they did not wish at first to communicate, so that we were obliged to use some artifice. We do not, however, vouch for everything contained in the following account. After entering the lake, the first place met with containing copper is an island about forty or fifty leagues from the Saut, towards the north shore, opposite a place called Missipi-cooating (Michipicoten). The savages relate that it is a floating island, being sometimes near and at others afar off. A long time ago four savages landed there, having lost their way in a fog, with which the island is frequently surrounded. It was previous to their acquaintance with the French, and they knew nothing of the use of kettles and hatchets. In cooking their meals, as is usual among the savages, by heating stones and casting them into a birch-bark pail containing water, they found that they were almost all copper. After having completed their meal they hastened to re-embark, for they were afraid of the lynxes and hares, which here grow to the size of dogs. They took with them copper stones and plates, but had hardly left the shore before they heard a loud voice exclaiming in an angry tone, ' Who are the thieves that carry off the cradles and the toys of my children?' They were very much surprised at the sound, not knowing whence it came. One said it was the thunder; another that it was a certain goblin called Mis-sibizi, the spirit of the waters, like Neptune among the heathen; another that it came from the Memogovissivois, who are marine men, living constantly under the water, like the Tritons and Syrens, having long hair reaching to the waist; and one of the savages asserted that he had actually seen such a being. At any rate, this extraordinary voice produced such fear that one of them died before landing; shortly after, two others died, and one alone reached home, who, after having related what had happened, also died. Since that time the savages have not dared to visit the island, or even to steer in that direction."
The father attempts to explain this superstition by supposing that they were poisoned by using the copper boulders in cooking their meat, and that the supernatural voice was an echo of their own, and that the vanishing and reappearing of the island was due to fogs and haze which hang about it. He concludes by adding that it is a common belief among the savages that the " island contains an abundance of copper, but that no one dare approach it."
Lake Superior a Divinity. -- "The savages," says Father Allouez, " respect this lake as a divinity, and offer sacrifices to it because of its size, for it is two hundred leagues long and eighty broad, and also in consequence of its furnishing them with fish, upon which all the natives live when hunting is scarce in these quarters. It happens frequently that pieces of copper are found, weighing from ten to twenty pounds. I have seen several such pieces in the hands of savages; and since they are very superstitious, they esteem them as divinities, or as presents given to them to promote their happiness by the gods who dwell beneath the water. For this reason they preserve these pieces of copper wrapped up with their most precious articles. In some families they have been kept for more than fifty years; in others, they have descended from time out of mind -- being cherished as domestic gods."
The Legend of Sail Rock. -- One of the old legends of Lake Superior, that of the " Sail Rock," was written in verse by Constance Fenimore Woolson, and published many years ago in Harper's Monthly. The beautiful poem is as follows:
From the far Saut of Sainte Marie he wanders,
On, ever on, the white foam on his track,
By night, by day, sails fleet before the wind,
Until he sees the head of Fond du Lac;
Yet finds not there the rest he seeks with yearning;.
From all the cliffs -- and he must wander forth
Over the waves again, by south winds driven,
Past the dark palisades into the north.
There stands the haunted arch of Spirit river;
There, in the storm, is seen the misty shape
Of Manitou, who guards the great Superior,
Rising above the heights of Thunder cape;
And seeing him, the guilty one, approaching,
The voices of the surf rise in a roar
Below the porphyry cliffs, sounding a summons,.
To call the spirits to the lonely shore.
Down, down, they troop through the ravines of iron,
Over the rocks where virgin silver shines;
Up, up, they roll the surf, a seething barrier,
And marshal on the beach their shadow lines.
He cries, he weeps, he prays with arms extended;
"Have mercy upon me, a soul unblest --
I come not for your stores of shining treasure,
I only beg -- I only pray for rest.
"Aged am I, and worn with countless journeys,
Over the lake forever must I stay;
In the whole south I cannot find a landing,
Keweenaw's copper arm thrusts me away;
I sail, and sail, yet never find a harbor, --
Stern is the east and sterner is the west;
Oh, grant me but one foothold on the north shore,
So can I die at last and be at rest."
But not! they drive him off with jeers and shouting;
Before their ghostly glee the cursed one quails;
Forth from the silver rocks of haunted northland,
Not daring to look back, away he sails;
And sails, and sails, yet never finds a landing,
Though fairest coasts and isles he passes by;
And hopes, and hopes, yet never finds a foothold
On any shore where he can kneel and die.
Weary and worn, through many a redman's lifetime,
Over the lake he wanders on and on;
Till up through Huron with red banners flying,
Come white men from the rising of the sun.
The Saut they name from Sainte Marie with blessing,
The lake lies hushed before their holy bell,
As landing on the shores of Rocky Pictures,
They raise the white cross of la grande Chapelle.
As the first white man's hymn on great Superior
Sounds from the rocky church not made with hands,
A phantom boat sails in from the still offing,
And at its bow an aged figure stands.
The worn cords strain, so full the sails are swelling,
The old mast bends and quivers like a bow;
Yet calm the windless sky shines blue above them,
And calm the windless waves shine blue below.
The boat glides in still faster, faster sailing,
Like lightning darting o'er the shrinking miles;
And, as he hears the chanting in the chapel,
For the first time in years the lone one smiles.
At last, at last, his feet are on the dear shore,
The curse is gone, his eyes to heaven rise;
At last, at last, his mother earth receives him, --
At last, at last, with thankful heart he dies.
The poor worn body, old with many lifetimes,
They find there lying on the golden sands;
But, lifting it with wonder and with reverence,
It crumbles into dust beneath their hands.
The poor worn boat grown old with endless voyages,
Floats up the coast unguided and alone,
And stranding 'neath the cliffs, its mission over,
By the Great Spirit's hand is turned to stone.
You see it there among the Rocky Pictures,
The mainsail and the jib just as they were:
We never passed it with a song or laughter
In the gay days when we were voyagers;
The best among us doffed our caps in silence;
The gayest of us never dared to mock
At the strange tale that comes down from our fathers, --
The pictured legend of the old Sail Rock
Lake Navigation by the Indians. -- The Great Lakes were traversed by the aborigines for a long period prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Trips from the upper to the lower lakes were annual occurrences, and warfare was almost perpetual. Thus the Iroquois in September, 1680, with six hundred selected braves, attacked the Illinois in the western part of Illinois, killing one thousand two hundred, and driving the rest beyond the Mississippi. Again, on March 20, 1684, the Iroquois for seven days laid siege to the Illinois, but were finally repulsed with great loss. Iroquois Point is so named because on that bluff a band of Iroquois, who had ascended Lake Huron from Lake Ontario on a warlike expedition, were there utterly defeated and destroyed.
To what extent the Indians engaged in commerce on the Great Lakes before the advent of the French colonists is not known. It is said that the Hurons, who dwelt on the banks of the St. Lawrence, made long journeys in their light canoes, on which they exchanged the copper implements and the agate arrow-heads of the Far West for the shells and commodities of the seashore.
There may have been navigation of the Great Lakes before the Indians, for a people who preceded them in the occupancy of the Lake Superior region had engaged in copper mining quite extensively, and it is probable that they were also skilled mariners.
Prehistoric Copper Mining. -- An early-writer, in describing the evidences of this prehistoric mining, says:
"That this region was resorted to by a barbaric race for the purpose of procuring copper, long before it became known to the white man, is evident from numerous memorials scattered throughout its entire extent. Whether these ancient miners belonged to the race who built the mounds found so abundantly on the Upper Mississippi and its affluents, or were the progenitors of the Indians now inhabiting the country, is a matter of conjecture.
"The evidence of the early mining consists in the existence of numerous excavations in the solid rock; of heaps of rubble and earth along the courses of the veins; of the remains of copper utensils fashioned into the form of knives and chisels; of stone hammers, some of which are of immense size and weight; of wooden bowls for boiling water from the mines; and numerous levers of wood used in raising the masses of copper to the surface.
"The high antiquity of this rude mining is inferred from the fact that the existing race of Indians have no tradition, by what people or at what period it was done. The places, even, were unknown to the oldest of the band until pointed out by the white man. The character of the trees growing upon the piles of rubbish showed no perceptible difference from those forming the surrounding forest. From the mouldering state of the wooden billets and levers, and from the nature of the materials with which these excavations are filled, consisting of fine clay, enveloping half-decayed leaves, and the bones of the bear, the deer and the caribou, this filling up resulted, not from the action of temporary streamlets, but from the slow accumulations of years."
Indian Naval Battle. -- Hunting trips and wars occasioned the Indian navigation of the Great Lakes rather than regular commerce, and not unlikely there has been many a primitive naval contest between warring tribes. The Buffalo Gazette, of March 17, 1818, contains the following account of what it calls "The First Naval Battle on Lake Erie."
About 1600 the Wyandot Indians resided on the north shore of Lake Ontario and River St. Lawrence. Opposite to them on the south side of the waters resided the Senecas. A woman was the cause of a terrible war between them, which terminated in the expulsion of the former from the country. She was the wife of a Seneca chief, and appears to have been in high favor with him. A Wyandot prince became enamored of her, and by force carried her off to his own dominions. War immediately followed, and was prosecuted with great cruelty and slaughter for a long time. At last a final battle came on (in the northern territory) in which the Wyandots were worsted and obliged to flee with great haste.
The greater part took a course to the west, and were followed by their antagonists until they came to Lakes Huron and St. Clair. The fugitives calculated to pass on the ice at the Straits, but they found it just broken up and floating downward.
Their only alternative was to throw themselves upon it and leap from cake to. cake. In so doing they all reached the other shore in safety. Their pursuers, not choosing to encounter the risk, returned home.
The nations among whom the Wyandots now found themselves -- Pottawatomies, Ottawas and Chippewas -- received them with friendship and gave or lent them land to settle on. At the solicitation of the strangers they even went so far as to fit out a fleet of large and elegant birch canoes, with a view to meeting the Senecas, whom they expected with a fleet from the East. These canoes were chiefly built at the Straits and higher lakes, and came to a rendezvous about where Maiden is now located.
The Senecas, not having as good materials, were obliged to make use of log canoes hollowed out of the trunks of trees. These were far more clumsy and unmanageable than the birch ones, the latter being equal in sea-worthiness to the finest skiffs of our day.
The Wyandots set out from their rendezvous, coasting the north shore of Lake Erie, as far as Long Point. At this place they made a halt, deeming it wise to proceed no further until an investigation was made. For this purpose they dispatched a few men across the point, who happened to meet midway with about the same number of the enemy dispatched for a similar object.
Every man returned to his own fleet, except one or two Wyandots, who remained a time to ascertain the number of their enemy and the nature of their craft.
Soon a grand maneuver took place. The birch canoe party proceeded to the end of the Point, and in full view of the enemy put out directly into the lake. The Senecas immediately pursued, and when they had reached about midway of the lake, the birch canoes turned upon them and gave them a battle that could not be withstood. The Senecas were all slain but one man, who was allowed to return and report the catastrophe to his nation.
Thus closed the war, after which the Wyandots remained in peace in their new station.
The birch canoe of the Indian navigator is fully described in a subsequent chapter. It was the masterpiece of Huron handiwork, in the construction of which the Algonquins wore no less skillful. The Iroquois, in the absence of birch, were often forced to use bark of the elm, which was greatly inferior both in lightness and strength.
The Indian character was not eliminated from Lake history for centuries after the white man appeared. He figured prominently in the fierce struggle for the supremacy of these great and important waterways, as is described in subsequent chapters, and it is a somewhat singular fact, as Hinsdale observes in "The Old Northwest," that whenever the St. Lawrence valley and the Atlantic slope have been arrayed against each other in deadly strife, the Western Indians have sided with the former -- in 1755, in 1775 and in 1812.
Black Hawk's War. -- The Indian title to the lake region was gradually extinguished. Treaties with the savage Iroquois, or Five Nations, gave to the English possession of the shores of Lake Ontario during the last century; and as settlements extended westward the aborigines gradually disappeared. An event of some importance in lake history was Black Hawk's war, in 1832. In 1831 the Winnebagoes occupied the Wisconsin river region, and numbered 1, 500 braves. The Pottawatomies dwelt in northeastern Illinois, and mustered 3,000 men. The Sacs and Foxes, quite as numerous, occupied lands on the Mississippi. By the treaty of 1804, confirmed in 1822 and in 1830, the lands on the shores of Lake Michigan had been ceded to the United States by these tribes. But the Indians claimed the treaties had been violated, and Black Hawk, a chief of the Sacs and Foxes, aroused these tribes to revolt. Four steamers started with troops from the lower lakes for Chicago to suppress the rebellion. Cholera broke out aboard the vessels, and many of the soldiers perished. The Indians, however, were subdued, and their title to Lake Michigan effectually extinguished.
Indian Title to Lake Superior Ceded. -- The lands composing the Lake Superior district were acquired from the Indians by the United States by virtue of the following treaties:
First. -- With the Ottawas and Chippewas, concluded March 28, 1836 -- ratified May 27, 1836 -- by which were ceded the lands bounded on the north by Lake Superior, on the east by the St. Mary's river, on the south by Lake Michigan, and on the west by the Escanaba and Chocolate rivers.
Second. -- With the Menomonees, concluded September 3, 1836 -- ratified February 15, 1837 -- by which was ceded a tract bounded on the east by the Escanaba river, on the south by Green bay, on the west by the Menomonee river, and on the north by an irregular line extending from the mouth of the Brule to the headwaters of the Escanaba.
Third. -- With the Chippewas of the Mississippi and Lake Superior, concluded October 4, 1842 -- ratified March 23, 1843 -- by which was ceded the remainder of the district washed by Lake Superior on the north, and extending west from Chocolate to Montreal river, and southerly to the boundary between Wisconsin and Michigan. In this cession Isle Royal was also included.
The Indians of St. Mary's. -- The aborigines linger in large numbers down to the memory of the present sailor. At the beginning of the century the lake Indians were numerous. Writing in 1801 of the Indian village at the falls of St. Mary, Mackenzie says: " At the foot of the fall on the south shore is a village, formerly a place of great resort for the inhabitants of Lake Superior, and consequently of considerable trade; it is now, however, dwindled to nothing, and reduced to about thirty families of the Algonquin nation, who are one half of the year starving, and the other half intoxicated, and ten or twelve Canadians, who have been in the Indian country from an early period of life, and intermarried with the natives, who have brought them families. Their inducement to settle there was the great quantity of white fish that are to be taken in and about the falls, with very little trouble, particularly in the autumn, when the fish leave the lakes and come to the running and shallow water to spawn. These, when salt can be procured, are pickled, just as the frost sets in, and prove very good food with potatoes, which they have of late cultivated with success. The natives live chiefly on this fish, which they hang up by the tails and. preserve throughout the winter, or at least as long as they last; for whatever quantity they may have taken, it is never known to last through the winter, which renders their situation very distressing. In the spring of the year they make a quantity of sugar from the maple tree, which they exchange with the traders for necessary articles, or carry it to Michilimackinac, where they expect a better price."
This chapter may be fittingly closed with an Indian allegory, "Niagara," which Schoolcraft turned into verse. It is as follows:
An old grey man on a mountain lived,
He had daughters four and one,
And a tall bright lodge of the betula bark
That glittered in the sun.
He lived on the very highest top,
For he was a hunter free,
Where he could spy on the clearest day,
Gleams of the distant sea.
Come out! come out! cried the youngest one,
Let us off to look at the sea,
And out they ran in their gayest robes,
And skipped and ran with glee.
Come Su,*come Mi, come Hu, come Sa,
Cried laughing little Er,
Let us go to yonder broad, blue deep,
Where the breakers foam and roar.
And on they scampered by valley and wood,
By earth and air and sky,
Till they came to a sleep where the bare rocks stood.
In a precipice mountain high.
Inya!| cried Er, here's a dreadful leap,
But we are gone so far,
That if we flinch and return in fear,
Nos. he will cry ha! ha!
Now each was clad in a vesture light,
That floated far behind,
With sandals of frozen water drops,
And wings of painted wind.
And down they plunged with a merry skip,
Like birds that skim the plain;
And hey! they cried, let us up and try
And down that steep again.
And up and down the daughters skipped,
Like girls on a holiday,
And laughed outright at the sport and foam
They called Niagara.
If ye would see a sight so rare,
Where Nature's in her glee,
Go view the spot in the wild, wild West.
The land of the brave and the free.
But mark! their shapes are only seen
In fancy's deepest play,
But she plainly shows their wings and feet
In the dancing sunny spray.
*Su -- Superior.
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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.