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“ Prairie du Chien is a military post near the confluence of the Quisconsin with the Mississippi, an old French settlement, where are three or four hundred inhabitants, principally of mixed blood.” 1
In 1803 Captain John Whistler and son were ordered from the army at Detroit to build and occupy a post at Chicago, and they erected Fort Dearborn. Their wives came with them, the first two white women ever in Chicago. They found there four cabins of Canadian trappers with their Indian wives. And so Chicago was founded in half-breeds. And the first child born in Denver was half Indian, of an Arapahoe mother, in 1858. It is probable that a historical search into the beginnings of many of our larger towns beyond the Alleghanies would show that Chicago and Denver are typical in regard to the combination of the two races.
The holidays, sports, and sociables are a very good index to the state of society, and a ball in Rupert's Land — the royal trapping ground of the Hudson Bay Company — shows what a volume could be written on the civil, social, and moral life of the mixed races in British America. It continued for three days in eating, drinking, dancing, and sleeping. “From time to time as many as are requisite to keep up the festivities are awakened ; and being forthwith revived with raw spirits, join in the dance with renewed vigor.” 2
Mixed French, Spanish, and Indian society held sway in Louisiana long after its purchase, and after it came nominally under the laws of the United States. True, the English language was introduced into the courts by statute as early as 1808, but the change in manners, customs, and morals did not follow so early, or gain footing so readily. “The language, manners, customs, laws, usages of the American people began to extend over the French settlements and to change the aspects of the country. ... Yet as late as the year 1814 St. Louis bad not lost either its French population, aspects, or usages,” when it was a border town of about 2,000 people.3
Nor was it changed radically from this when we took residence there in 1840, among its 16,000 inhabitants, though Monette's description would apply best to the lower and eminently French part of the city, Vete Pouche. A picture of St. Louis in 1810, as given by Irving from the Notes of Wilson P. Hunt, should
1 Morse's Report, Appendix, p. 316.
After the meeting of the American Board in St. Louis in 1881, a company of the attendants visited Vinita, in the Indian Territory. Vinita is one of the leading towns in the Cherokee nation. The Rev. Mr. Scroggs, long time a teacher there, made this remark to his visitors: “I do not feel sure of more than four pure-blood Indians in this place.” There was an Indian population of possibly a thousand.
A correspondent in Montana gives me the following: “In an early day, before there were any white women in the country, many wbites of education and good social standing lived with, and in some cases married, Indian women. A few of these have kept their Indian wives for the sake of their children. One notable instance of this is Mr. Blank, as finely educated and highly accomplished a gentleman as can be found in Montana.” He has held positions of high honor in civil affairs, and “got married to a Snake woman, who, I believe, does not even speak English. In Helena there is now living a daughter of another Mr. Blank, and a Blackfoot squaw. She was educated in the East, and moved in the best society there. . . . Now very few whites are living with Indian women. A few such couples are found around the Indian Reservation, but the officials discourage it, and there is, on the whole, comparatively little white blood mixed with the Montana Indian tribes.”
In 1874 the Osages numbered about 3,000 at the agency, of whom 300 were mixed bloods. The Commissioner reports them as “educated, wear citizens' dress; nearly all of the half-breed families have good houses and farms, with from 20 to 100 acres in cultivation, and self-supporting About seventy-five families of the civilizing half-bloods are living in comfortable hewed-log houses, with from five to twenty acres improved ; a few of them have wagons, farming implements, and milch cows. All of them bave horses, hogs, and poultry.” 1
In reporting on the Nez Percé Indians, in 1874, John B. Monteith, the agent, says they are importuning that murder, theft, polygamy, adultery, etc., be punished in accordance with the laws of the States. He recommends a law “compelling white men to care for their half-breed children. A law declaring all whites who are living with Indian women the same as married, and recognizing them as the lawful protectors of said women in all respects, ought to be passed.” 2
1 Report of the Commissioner on Indian Affairs, 1874, p. 222.
intelligent observer of their character. Mons. Peniere speaks thus on the subject of intermarriages : ‘Encourage marriages between the whites and Indians. The second generation resulting froin these alliances would be totally white and beautiful. The Indians in general are better shaped and more robust than the whites, and their birth is as pure and as noble as ours.'”
And of similar import, but less boldness, as if the theory should be kept yet on social quarantine, were passages in a paper read at the Mohonk Lake Conference, in 1886, by Mr. Philip C. Garrett: “ Some prejudice, it is true, appears against the idea of admixture or mingling, in the sense of intermarriage and entire loss of race identity. But it is impossible to prevent the mingling of blood on the same soil, even if desirable. A large part of the population enumerated as Indian is now balf-breed. ... Nor am I sure that the fusion of the whole Indian population in that of the United States would be to the detriment of the latter. On the contrary, I am quite sure it would not be to its serious detriment. ... Are we not 'straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel’? ... God has placed them and us together; the Indian first in point of time, the white man next. ... We are descended from a common father; God has made us of one blood”; nor have we any right, except that derived from power, to withhold from them any privileges or immunities which we grant to the more civilized people. In all this, I do not recommend the intermingling of the races; but I do not fear it — the nightmare of a confusion of races.” 1
As to the quality of the father of many of the half-breeds, much is to be considered. Some of them have cast off civilization and have barbarized themselves. Others never had any civilization to cast off, but are from birth and breeding of a semianimal grade, and live lives of the instincts and low passions. “As a rule, they abandon every respect for decency, and are leaders of the most disturbing element, and often the means of creating uneasiness among the Indians. They have no bigher ambition than to enjoy the rights of an Indian.”2 This is said of the “squaw men.” Of the sporadic and miscellaneous offspring of the joined races better stock might be wished, but, according to the laws of heredity, the children of the “squaw man" must be often mere human trash.
i Eighteenth Annual Report of the Board of the Indian Commissioners, 1886, Appendix D, Mohonk Lake Conference, pp. 52, 53.
2 Indian Commissioner's Report, 1885, p. 78.