History of the Butterfly, Part 56: The Treaty of 1804.

The most significant thing that happened to Poweshiek had its origins in 1804.  That was either shortly before or shortly after Poweshiek was born (depending on which source you believe).

Powesheik would not have remembered it but Black Hawk did, although he had not considered it too significant at the time.

“Some moons after this great chief * descended the Mississippi one of our people killed an American—and was confined, in the prison at St Louis, for the offence.  We held a council at our village to see what could be done for him, which determined that Quash-qua-me, Pa-she-pa-ho, Ou-che-qua-ka, and Ha-she-quar-hi-qua, should go down to St. Louis, and see our American father, and do all they could to have our friend released; by paying for the person killed—thus covering the blood, and satisfying the relations of the man murdered!  This being the only means with us of saving a person who had killed another—and we then thought it was the same way with the whites.

The party started with the good wishes of the whole nation—hoping they would accomplish the object of their mission.  The relatives of the prisoner blackened their faces, and fasted—hoping the Great Spirit would take pity on them, and return the husband and father to his wife and children.

Quash-qua-me and party remained a long time absent.  They at length returned, and encamped a short distance below the village—but did not come up that day—nor did any person approach their camp!  They appeared to be dressed in fine coats and had medals!  From these circumstances we were in hopes that they had brought good news.  Early the next morning, the Council Lodge was crowded– Quash-qua-me and party came up, and gave us the following account of their mission:

On their arrival at St. Louis they met their American father, and explained to him their business, and urged the release of their friend.  The American chief told them he wanted land—and they had agreed to give him some on the west side of the Mississippi, and some on the Illinois side opposite the Jeffreon.  When the business was all arranged, they expected to have their friend released to come home with them.  But about the time they were ready to start, their friend was let out of prison, who ran a short distance, and was shot dead!  This was all they could recollect of what was said and done.  They had been drunk the greater part of the time they were in St. Louis.

This is all myself or my nation knew of the treaty of 1804.  It has been explained to me since.  I find, by that treaty, all our country, east of the Mississippi, and south of the Jeffreon was ceded to the United States for one thousand dollars a year!  I will leave it to the people of the United States to say, whether our people were properly represented in this treaty? Or whether we received a fair compensation for the extent of country ceded by these four individuals?  I could say much about this treaty, but I will not, at this time.  It has been the origin of all our difficulties.

*Zebulon Pike

From Black Hawk:  an Autobiography
Jackson, 1955
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About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in American Indians, Black Hawk, Fox tribe, Iowa History, Meskwaki, Mesquaki, Poweshiek, The History of the Butterfly and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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