A story of the Shawanoes (Shawnee)
An Indian's Own Story, by George Bluejacket
Transcribed & Edited by
John Allen Rayner
In March 1886
Among the other papers, accounts; and manuscripts left by the late Geo. C. Johnston, were several important documents relating to that period in his life when he conducted a licensed trading post at ?Wapaugkennetta? (now Wapakoneta, Ohio) and later at St. Marys.
His dealings were confined principally to the Indian trade, especially with the Shawnees, for the members of this tribe far out-numbered all the others at these posts just previous to their removal to the West.
These tribes had been under the guidance and protection of Col. John Johnston at the Upper Piqua for many years, but a new administration at Washington had removed him from office and placed them under the control of his successor at Wapaughkonnetta.
Geo. C. Johnston had been adopted into this branch of the Shawnee tribe so when they were taken away from Upper Piqua he soon followed them to their new post above the treaty line.
One interesting relic of this period with dates running from Nov. 8, 1829 to June 1, 1831 is a large number of unpaid notes (in book form) given by the different members of the tribe to Johnston for goods, and as they went west soon after this date notes undoubtedly stand for a large loan sustained by the trader.
The most interesting is the ?Diary? or ?Story? of the Shawnees written by George Bluejacket, one of their own number.
Bluejacket was a son of the Old Chief of that name, and was one of the many Indian boys who were placed in a school at Upper Piqua by Col. John Johnston in the early twenties.
Young Bluejacket must have spent several winters at school, for although his orthorgraphy is poor and his punctuation minus, the hand-writing is very good.
But the poor quality of the paper, the faded ink, and the general delapidation of the manuscript, makes the task of editing it considerable.
All I can claim in rendering this old story readable, is better spelling, some punctuation, and the interpretation of the Indian words and metaphor which he has used extensively.
Instead of using footnotes for the interpretations I will place the words in parenthesis directly after the Indian form, and this avoid detraction from the point of interest.
The white men that Bluejacket speaks of as being at the post, were Francis Duchouquet, an early French trader among the Ohio tribes, and later Indian interpreter for Col. John Johnston at Upper Piqua. Geo. Moffett, a great hunter and an excellent rifle shot had been a captive in this tribe when a young boy. John Elliott, the official blacksmith at the post, afterward moved to Piqua.
A STORY OF THE SHAWANOES
Wapaughkonnetta, October 29, 1829
I have been told by the Nath-the-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston) to write a story of our tribe. Nath-the-wee-law is our brother and friend of our people.
My father was Great Chief and told us many things of the old Shawanoes. Other old Chiefs have told us many things too.
I was born two winters after the Gim-e-wane Al-ag-ua (Rain of starsMeteoric Shower of 1800) at our Pe-quaw town on Big Miami Se-pe (river). My father was Head Chief then (of) that town.
My father Chief was buried there by our white father (John Johnston) near the school-house. Many of our people (are) buried there. Our White Father has told us to go sit by our dead on his farm any time. Some of our tribe go there every summer. We all love that place. We all love our white father John Johnston too.
I now tell about our tribe. Old Chief Black-hoof has told us that our tribe came from the great salt water, where Ke-sath-wa (the sun) came out of the Kitch-e-ca-me (lake) in the morning, and hide in the Me-to-quegh-ke (forest) at night.
We were a great people. Our men were great warriors. They fought many (other) tribes and always beat them.
The beginning of the Shawanoe tribe was when the Go-cum-tha (grandmother) of our people come up out of the great salt water holding to the tail of the Ne-she-pe-she (Panther).
Her Wash-et-che (Husband) was carried to the shore by a very big Wa-be-the (Swan or Goose).
The land where their people had lived was swallowed up in the great salt water by Watch-e-men-e-toc (Bad Spirit or Devil), but Mish-e-me-ne-toc (The Great God or Good Spirit) saved these two and they were the first of our tribe.
Many animals and birds were saved too, so there was plenty of hunting in the new Me-to-quegh-ke (Forest).
This was many Te-pe-wa-ko-te (Hundred seasons or years) ago, and our people soon became many.
They have always been called Shawanoes (Water people), and the Me-she-pe-she (Panther) and Wa-be-the (Swan) have always been the signs (Emblem or Totem) of this tribe.
After a time the white people got too many for (the) red men and then we followed the best hunting toward the north.
The Al-wa-ma-ke (Bottom Land) was good for the corn, and the Me-vuegh-ke (Hills) full of game.
The Meen-e-lench (Young men) hunted and ran on the warpath. The Pash-e-to-the (Old men) caught A-ma-tha (Fish) in the Bo-with-e (small streams) and the E-qui-wa (Squaws or women) worked in the da-ne (Corn).
Then many seasons passed, the tribe always going to the north, to when Black-Hoof was a Meen-e-lench (Young man) and they were all north of the Great Se-pe (Great river Ohio).
Here we were given much land by our brothers, the Wyandots. We built many towns and lived long time in pease [peace], till the white men behind the Great Se-pe (River) tried to drive us away.
They sent their Shen-a-nees (Big Knives) to our lodges and killed our E-qui-we and A-po-te-the (Women and Children).
Then our Great Chief called all our warriors to a Big Council at the Chillicothe Town (Head Town).
Here they made talk to use the war-paint till all of the bad spirits of our enemies were dead.
Black-Hoof told us all this. My father told me, and so told me too that himself he remember these wars along the Big Se-pe (River Ohio).
Then he spoke to me too about (the) great army of General Clarke and Logan how the Watch-e-men-eetoc (Evil Spirit) was with the warriors at our Pe-quaw town on the Red River (Now Springfield, Ohio) where many of us were killed and our town burned; how we come to the Big Miami and built a new Pe-quaw town (Upper Piqua), how many died in the winter from hunger and cold, though our brothers, the Wyandots, gave us some corn and beans.
He told me too how angry our warriors were and how they made war medicine; how they went in the summer to the pale-face houses, killed many and took many scalps.
How after two summers Clarke come again and burned our towns on Big Miami; then how all the tribes above the Great Se-pe (River Ohio) met in council at Pe-quaw town; how all the war chief struck the war-post and made words that the pale-face must stay behind (below) the Great Se-pe.
My Father Bluejacket, Little Turtle, and Tarhe made much talk at council and for many summers our war bands camped along the Great Se-pe.
Then came a time when an army of Shen-a-ge-ne (Soldiers) come over the old salt trail (Gen. Harnar1790) to the Miami town, but our tribes beat them so they ran home.
The next season a great army came back (west) of the Big Miami to the Waumme towns, (St. Claire1791) and our warriors killed so many that some only got back home.
My father show me many many scalps from that big battle. My father told me too that all the tribes now much angry and make all ready to go on war-path over the Great Se-pe (Ohio River) into Ken. [Kentucky] but Simon Girty (a renegade white man) tell them another big army coming, so our warriors stay home and wait.
They wait one, two seasons, then Tota (Frenchman) tell them big army coming up old trail and camp on Greenville Creek (Gen. Wayne 1794)
My Father Chief Bluejacket tell me this; He send runners (Scouts) to see this big army, and tell him how many. He keep runners all the time watch this army, and all tribes wait on Maumes Se-pe (river).
We send war band to catch Big White Chief (Wayne) sleepy, but that army never sleepy so wait for him to come to fort on Maumee where
British Chief (Maj. Campbell) say they help Indians beat Wayne.
This time Indians get beat and also get no help from fort army.
My Father Chief Bluejacket tell me British fort army all liars and next season most all tribes go to big council at Greenville.
Here they make treaty with Wayne, bury tomahawk, and give much land to Shem-a-noas (Americans).
My Father Chief Bluejacket never after dig up tomahawk against Shem-a-noes, but after a few times (years) Tecumseh and his Brother (The Prophet) make war medicine with the British Chief at Detroit and try (to) make our tribe fight Shem-a-noes (Americans) but my father say no, and other tribes say yes, but get beat by Big White Chief Harrison at Tippacanoe on Wabash Se-pe. (Wabash River 1811)
Our tribe then live at Wapaughkonnetta, above treaty line, but soon when British want us (to) make war medicine our Great White Father at Washington (President Monroe) move our tribe back to our old Pe-quaw Town (Upper Piqua) where some of the Delawares, Wyandots, Ottawas, and Senacas stay peaceful under council (Control) of our White Father, John Johnston.
This I know myself, for I was then a big boy (10 years old), and many time play at post (house) with John Johnston A-pa-to-the (Children).
Captain John Logan and some more (of) our tribe were runners (scouts) for General Harrison, and were all brave men.
Some time after this war (was) over we were moved back to Wapaughkonnetta, but our White Father John Johnston, (was) still our agent and many time come (to) talk with our people there.
My Father Chief Bluejacket, Black-Hoof, (and) Wi-uel-i-pea were big (great) friends with John Johnston and many times went to his post (house) at Pe-quaw (Upper Piqua) and I too sometimes went with them too.
For many seasons (years) we live peaceful at Wapaughkonnetta, then when I am young man (19 years old1821) John Johnston take me to his post (house) and let me go (to) school-house on his farm.
I live in John Johnston post (house) and our master (school-teacher) live there too.
Our master (James Laird an Irishman) much red-head man and beat everybody with stick, but we soon know how (learned to) read, write, (and) spell like he himself.
Some boys name Winans, Widney, Russell, McIntire, Bill Johnston (and) Steve Johnston go same time to school-house I do and get beat too.
I like to live at John Johnston, but one, two, three winter, then I go back (to) Wapaughkonnetta and other boys go back down to school-house.
Not much go past (happens) for some seasons (years), then Nath-the-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston) buy trading store of Skip-a-ga-tha (Nicholas Greenham) at Wapaughkonnetta and me I sometime make help in store.
We make big (great) friends together, and he have me write some all (the) time.
Frank Duchouquet, George Moffett, (and) John Elliott were big (great) friends with us too, and sometime we make big hunt all together in the Mis-loe-ke-pa (Swampland) toward the Maumee Se-pe (river).
George Moffetts Indian name (is) Kit-er-hoo; Frank Duchouquets (is) So-wah-que-the and both belong to our tribe.
In the last moon myself, Geo. Moffett, and Nath-the-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston) make big deer hunt near the big Kitch-e-ca-me (Lake Erie) and brought in 63 skins.
Many of us kill (trap) a-magh-qua (beaver), Oah-as-qua (muskrat) and Ki-ta-te (otter) in the cold season.
I have not make much write in book for two moons. Nath-the-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston) and Skip-a-ge-tha (Nicholas Greenham) with some head chiefs of our tribe and Wyandots, make long walk (journey) to see our Great White Father at Washington, and tell him about Indian trouble since John Johnston no more father (Agent) for our tribes.
Our now White Father (Agent) make much talk about our goods, but no make goods come to Indians.
Our tribe get much winter goods from John Johnston anyway, for John Johnston always friend of poor Indian.
One time in corn season some many white people come from Piqua town to our New Corn Dance. Nath-the-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston) dance with us and make the people laugh.
We had much good time but some Indians drink (too) much fire-water and fight one (an)other till one two die.
Also we make some big race and shoot at post (mark), but Gel. Moffett too . . . . .(here an entire leaf was missing from the ?Diary? and the following was probably written in the fall of 1830, for they were congregated at St. Marys in December of that year . . . . Editor)
. . . .have come to tell us all Indians must move right away to Girty's Town (St. Marys) to make more ready to go to new Indian land on big Ta-was-ke-ta (Prairies) near (the) ?Night lodge of Ke-sath-wa? (Setting place of the sun).
Our old people make much sorry (sorrow) for they not wish to leave old home.
Nath-the-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston) and John Johnston sorry too, but say Indian must do like the Great White Father at Washington say, for white people must have all the land before the Big Se-pe (East of Missippi River)
Our tribe is no more a great people. Our old Chiefs most all gone. Our warriors sit down most like E-qui-wa (women). We take what our White Father gives us. Now we must go to the new land. Soon more times we will have to move again. Soon there will be no more Shawanoes. Our hearts (are) full of sorry (sorrow) for all the tribes.
But we will listen to the voice of our Mish-e-me-ne-toc (Good Spirit) in the great Me-to-quegh-ke (Forest) and he tells his A-pe-te-the (Children) when they all gone from this Mel-che-a-sis-ke (Poor land or poor earth) he will lead them to their Wa-ch-a-sis-ke (Good land) where all place is for Indian, where pale-face never come. Then poor Indian (once) more again may (be) happy.
Girty's Town (St. Marys June, 1831) Nath-the-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston) tell me to write more in book. Soon Nath-the-wee-law go back home to Piqua town. When our White Father (Agent) have plenty much Me-she-ta (horses) then Indian start on long walk (journey) to new home.
Our tribe (will) go down to led Pe-quaw Town at John Johnston and Nath-thee-wee-law (Geo. C. Johnston).
Then we (will) tell goodby to the Me-to-quegh-ke (Forest) by the Se-pe (River) and leave our old home forever.
From other authority we learn that just previous to their removal west, and by special invitation of their former agent, Col. John Johnston
this tribe did come down in a body to their old home at Upper Piqua and remained several days on the site of their old home and burial grounds. Their parting from these old-time scenes, and especially their final farewell to their kindly old Agent and his family, was very affecting, and was the occasion of much shedding of tears by all the participants.
Not long after the removal of this tribe to their western reservation Chief Bluejacket became a Chief, and according to Major Stephen Johnston, is still living at this date.
Transcribed from the original by John Allen Rayner, In March 1886.