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Indian Name "Catahecasa and Quaskey."
In 1810 when Tecumseh was attempting the consolidation of the Indian tribes from the Mississippi River eastward into Ohio, his first object was to secure the co-operation of the Wyandots, who were celebrated for their talents and valor. With them had been entrusted the "great belt," the symbol of union in previous wars, and the original copy of the treaty of Greenville. The Prophet's influence was here exerted, and by flattery he secured the sympathy of this warlike tribe. These on their journey to the Prophet's town solicited the Miamis, who, in turn, induced the Weas to accompany them. Thus Tecumseh's dream of carrying into execution the plans of the great Pontiac promised to be fairly realized. In June the Prophet refused the supply of salt from Vincennes by the government, which was the first act of defiance. At this time Tecumseh was with the Shawnees on the Auglaize, using his influence to estrange them from the treaty of Greenville, and secure their assistance to carry out his plans. In this, however, he had been anticipated by Gov. Harrison, who had written these tribes and secured their lasting friendship. The new leader found his own people the first to frown upon his scheme of confederation, refusing even to enter into council with him. His failure here is largely attributable to the counter influence of the great Shawnee chief, Black-Hoof. This chief was born in Florida, had been present at Braddock's defeat in 1755, and participated in all the Ohio wars until the treaty of Greenville. He had led the Shawnees in the allied attack upon Ft. Piqua during the French war, and afterwards told Col. Johnston that, "after the battle the ground was so strewn with bullets that basketsful might have been gathered."
He had been the great orator of his tribe, had fought bravely against the western progress of the whites, until disaster dictated the treaty of Wayne, and experience taught the hopelessness of the struggle. After this, as the head chief of his nation, he preserved the influence of his office, and the ascendency in council, and that influence was exerted in favor of peace. Even the eloquence of a Tecumseh was powerless to influence him, and during the following war he remained true to the American cause. Of such weight was his influence with his own nation that, when brought face to face with Tecumseh, he still called forth the loyalty of his people.
He signed the treaty of 1795, and visited Ft. McArthur in 1813, where he was shot by some miscreant, who could not be discovered. The ball struck the cheek, but glanced to the neck, making a very serious wound, by which he was disabled for some weeks. He also visited Washington and Philadelphia, and was the bearer of the celebrated letter of Thomas Jefferson, written to the Shawnees in 1802. In 1831 a proposition was made by the Government to purchase the land of the Shawnees about Wapakoneta. The Indians accordingly held a council, and prepared a petition to Congress, setting forth their grievances and asking additional compensation. A committee was appointed, consisting of Black-Hoof, John Perry, Wayweleapy, and Spybuck, to present the petition to the Government. Francis Duchouquet and Joseph Parks were to act as interpreters. The deputation set forth on this mission about December, 1831. These negotiations resulted in the surrender of the Ohio lands held by the Shawnee nation. An anecdote is told of the celebrated chief, touching this sale of land.
He was asked if he agreed to the sale, when he replied: "No."
"Why then did you sell?"
"Why," he replied, "because the United States Government wanted to buy and possess our lands, and remove us out of the way. I consented because I could not help myself, for I never knew them to undertake anything without accomplishing it. I knew that I might as well give up first as last, for they were determined to have our lands."
By long experience the aged chief knew the whites too well, and when he saw the futility of further resistance he resigned himself to the philosophy of reconciliation with his environment by yielding gracefully to the inevitable. At a council, held at Upper Sandusky in 1818, on the occasion of the death of Tarhe, or the "Crane," the Shawnees, Wyandots, Delawares, Senecas, Ottawas, and Mohawks were present. The business related to the lands of the various nations represented.
Each accused the other of being the first to sell their land to the government. The Shawnees were particularly alluded to as the last to come into the country and the first to sell to the whites. The personalities and vituperation of the intemperate but able Red Jacket became odious, and the Shawnees only waited an opportunity to be heard. They whose tradition taught them that the Great Spirit first created them from his own brain, and thus gave them all the wisdom, as all other tribes and colors were created from the inferior parts of the body, could not sit idly by and have their great name and fame traduced. The opportunity having occurred, the representative of the proud nation appeared in Black-Hoof, who, tracing the history of the various tribes, treaties, and alliances, retorted against the Wyandots and Senecas with bitter sarcasm and pointed severity. The discussion was thus opened by the two greatest orators, after which all the other orators of note spoke for their respective tribes. Bitter personalities and taunting national reproaches were freely indulged, and the council broke up in confusion. At its close, when the wampum belt, the emblem of amity, was passed, some of the chiefs would not permit it to touch their hands. No greater indignity could be offered, and unusual anxiety and despondency prevailed until the next day. During the night all acknowledged the blunder of the occasion, but looked about wondering who would be equal to the embarrassment under which they labored. The council convened with a full attendance; silence prevailed until it was oppressive even to savages. At length the suspense was dissipated by Black-Hoof, he of commanding influence, of unsurpassed ability, and of celebrated oratory. He rose, possessing the key to the situation; he had lost nothing in the contest of yesterday; he had everything to win in this council of to-day. With the wampum in his hand, ho rehearsed the proceedings of the preceding day, and declared "they acted like children and not like men; that they had driven him to the defence of his nation; he was driven to meet them with their own weapons; but regretted the occasion which called forth his speech, and so regretted the speech itself. He had not feared to meet them in their own field, and that being unsatisfactory, he now proposed a new field which he believed they all would enter. He therefore appeared to recall those foolish words, and by consent of all his people who were present, he did regret and recall them." At the close his wampum was accepted by all, and the other chiefs hastily followed his example until all had presented and accepted the emblem of peace. The difficulty was settled, the council concluded in harmony, and the whole affair was forgotten.
He is closely identified with our history, as his village, "Black-Hoof Town," his old home, is the present site of St. Johns. Of his character it may be said that, like many other great Indians, he possessed a high sense of honor, and during his whole career evinced the noble characteristics of a lofty and humane mind. He loathed polygamy, and abhorred the practice of burning prisoners. Against these he brought the force of his teaching and practice. He was of a cheerful disposition, mild in manners, and vivacious in conversation. He was said to have been rather small, not exceeding five feet eight inches in height. True to his public acts, after treaties of peace to which he was a party, he could not be induced to violate fidelity or compromise honor, and although urged to join against the whites by other tribes, he remained true to terms of peace at his own village, where he died in 1831, at the advanced age of 110 years.
Being an old chief he was buried with the Ancient Indian ceremonies. On this occasion the whole tribe, realizing the loss sustained in the death of their honored chief, wore an appearance of solemnity and sadness. At his lodge, the body of the chief was wrapped in a new Indian blanket, surrounded by a large quantity of calico, belts, and ribbons. The corpse was upon a new slab, and his gun, tomahawk, knife, and pipe at his side. The Indians wore a very desolated appearance with their garments loose about them, their hair hanging as loosely as their garments, and many of their faces painted in ancient style. The men were all seated and smoking near the corpse. They looked upon him in tearful silence for several hours, and resembled a large family of children mourning the loss of an only parent. In front of the cabin was a large quantity of meat, the spoils of a two days' hunt by young men selected for that purpose. Twenty deer, besides turkeys and other game were killed, as no tame meat was permitted to lie eaten. This food was simply stacked in the yard, and guarded by small boys. The very presence of dogs wras forbidden. When about to proceed to the grave, a few of the choice young men, arranged the clothing about the body, placed four large straps beneath it, and bore it to the place of its long rest.
No children were permitted to be taken in the procession, in order to prevent all noise, as the ceremonies were to be as noiseless as the grave they approached. The order of march was taken up, with the family of the dead chief at the head, followed by his successor and the other chiefs, and then the whole company in succession.
On reaching the grave they formed about it in a group. The grave was about three and one-half feet deep, with a split puncheon at the bottom and sides. The corpse was lowered, the clothing last worn placed upon his body, and his old moccasins cut in pieces and placed with the clothing. This done, another slab was laid over all. At this moment John Perry, head chief, took some seeds, and, beginning at the head, walked around the grave, sprinkling them as he moved. He then went directly to the house, followed by all present, except three men, Who remained to close the grave. On leaving the grave they proceeded in single file, none looking back. They then commenced conversation, and, after smoking once around the company, they opened the feast. It was now late, and the remainder of the day was devoted to feasting and dancing according to the primitive Indian custom.
From "History of Auglaize County, Ohio, with the Indian History of Wapakoneta, and the First Settlement of the County", Robert Sutton, Publishers, Wapakoneta, 1880