In July of 1830 a council was held in order to negotiate a peace treaty between the United States and a number of the warring tribes. As with a number of these councils, the representatives of the United States took a paternalistic position—referring to the Indians as “my children”, and the Indians referring to the representatives of the United States as “My fathers”.
A transcript of the meeting is on line at the University of Wisconsin. (Navigation is a little goofy—put a page number in and then it will let you navigate page by page).
Here are some quotes from the meeting:
Wapashaw (a Sioux Chief) My fathers! Since I have been living on these lands I have always kept clean roads. I have always had a bright sky; we have now a bright sky over us. We had a treaty here before; you assembled us all here; but some of our young men are foolish since.
My friends! (addressing the Sacs & Foxes) You have come up here with our fathers from below, we were all invited here by our fathers to settle our differences and we expect you to speak first.
My friends! We listen to our Fathers, we have but him to listen to, and we came here to know why you struck us so often.
My friends! I came to meet you; You were the first some years ago to kill us. You have a man among you, a half-breed, (note: Morgan) who was the first to spill our blood; But we wish before these white people to make peace with you and forget it all.
My friends! For all the faults committed among the Redskins, we have ourselves to blame and the foolishness of some of our young men—tis not the fault of our traders or of the whites who are among us.
My Fathers! (addressing the comm.) You came her for the purpose of making peace once more and we are willing to follow your advice. I have but a few words to say to the Sacs & Foxes.
My Friends! Here is our father, our agent (MAJ Taliafero) he gives us good advise and we listen to him; and that is the reason we have suffered so long and so often by you.
Bear’s Grease. (Menominie). My Father! All the counsel you have given my people has entered into their ears; as well as that of our agent here (Mr. Kinzie).
My Fathers! I always stand with my relations that are here. I heard of something bad going on here and I come here to learn all about it.
My Fathers! I had always kept my hands clean—this time I was living with the Sacs & Foxes below this, & while I was there was told of what my People had done. I immediately came up here. This is the only time my people have spilt blood.
Fathers! When my nephew had his throat cut, below here, I would have arranged this business without shedding any blood if I could have done as I wished.
Fathers! I am very well pleased with your speech, also with the President’s speech delivered by his officer here. We understand it all well.
Fathers! I arrived here because I heard you would be here, what delayed me was on hearing of something bad my people had done at Green Bay (referring to a recent murder in the village of Green Bay) but we arranged that business with the whites.
(still Bear’s Grease)
Fathers! I hope that all your children will listen to your words, as I and my people will listen.
Fathers! These friends of mine have killed my nephew. If I had been among those who done it, it would have been prevented, but I will now listen to what they have to say.
Wapalow, the prince (Fox Chief) My Fathers! I only want to say a few words. My friend the Menominie says he forgot what we killed his nephew for.
A parcel of my foolish young men killed his nephew by accident—and thought after they had killed him they might as well take his scalp.We had got wampum to settle it, and our deputies were prepared to stand with and deliver it; but the strings are not long enough to reach them.
Keokuck —My Fathers!We said we thought that man (pointing to Gen Street) was an accomplice in the killing of our men; because the Indians who done it had been here & had been supplied by Rolette with powder, lead & flints, this the Sioux themselves told us yesterday.