N O R T H A M E R I C A :
VOYAGE FROM ST. LOUIS, ON THE MISSISSIPPI,
SOURCE OF THAT RIVER,
JOURNEY THROUGH THE INTERIOR OF LOUISIANA.
NORTH-EASTERN PROVINCES OF NEW SPAIN.
Performed in the years 1805, 1806, 1807, by Order of the Government of the United States.
BY ZEBULON MONTGOMERY PIKE
MAJOR 6TH REGT. UNITED STATES INFANTRY.
|General Zebulon Pike|
(109) Wednesday, 26th March . — Thomas, the Fols Avoin chief, arrived with seven of his men, and the old Shawonoes and six of his party. I had them all to feed as well as my own men. At night I gave them leave to dance in the garrison, which they did until ten o’clock; but once or twice told me, that if I was tired of them the dance should cease. The old Shawonoes and the White Dog of the Fols Avoins rehearsed their exploits, which we could not understand; but De Breche arose and said, “I once killed a Sioux and cut off his head with such a spear as I now present to this Winebago,” at the same time presenting one to a Winebago, with whom the Chippeways were at war; this was considered by the latter as a great honour. My hunters went out, but killed nothing.
Commentary. "Thomas" — This is Thomas Carron, better known (as he was among the Menominee) as Tomah (the French pronunciation of "Thomas"). His grandfather is named in a 1777 document as a chief among the Menominee,1 a position held also by his son Glode (Claude), both of whom were of mixed French and Menominee descent.2 Tomah was born near Green Bay in 1752. He grew up to be a handsome man, 6 feet tall, "with a dignified and lordly bearing, looking every inch a king." According to legend, when Tecumseh showed up in person to persuade the Menominee to attack the settlers, it was Tomah who dissuaded them. He was held in such high esteem that the people decided to name their tiny hamlet "Tomah" in his honor. This once humble settlement has now grown into a town of over 9,000 souls. He died July 8, 1818 at Mackinac Island, where he is buried.3
"Fols Avoin" — the French name for the Menominees. Folles Avoines meant at the time, "Wild Rice [People]."
"Shawonoes" — a version of the name Shawnee, an Algonquian tribe.
"De Breche" — Ma‘kadē-wâbidis, "Black Tooth," or Brèche Dent, "Broken Tooth," was the son of Biauswah and chief of the Ojibwe Sauteurs band at Sandy Lake (Minnesota). Despite the long intervening time, and the many Native American reversals, the Sandy Lake area is still owned by the Ojibwe tribe today. When Pike first contacted Broken Tooth the year before, he awarded him with a prestigious medal and flag. Two decades later, Broken Tooth was one of the signatories of the treaty of Prairie du Chien, Aug. 19, 1825. He died not long after in 1828.4
Notes to the Commentary
1 "1777: Spanish Describe Tribesmen," Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII (1908): 358-368 .
2 Felix Maxwell Keesing, The Menomini Indians of Wisconsin: A Study of Three Centuries of Cultural Contact and Change (Madison: Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1939) 88.
3 "History of Chief Tomah," The Tomah Journal, July 11, 1924.
4 Frederick Webb Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, 2 Parts (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907) 1:166, s. v., "Broken Tooth."
Zebulon M. Pike, Exploratory travels through the Western territories of North America: comprising a voyage from St. Louis, on the Mississippi to the source of that river, and a journey through the interior of Louisiana, and the north-eastern provinces of New Spain. Performed in the years 1805, 1806, 1807, by Order of the Government of the United States (Denver: Longman, 1889 ).