wisconsin historical society, whs-1871
A Story of Sovereignty:
Symbolic Petition of the Chippewa Chiefs
Audio | Translation |
This image was copied by artist Seth Eastman in 1849 and printed in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's "Historical and Statistical Information respecting the... Indian tribes of the United States..." (Philadelphia, 1851). Schoolcraft says there (pp. 414-416) that a birch bark version was carried by Ojibwe Chief Buffalo to Washington in 1849 when the tribe petitioned the U.S. to adjust boundaries of the 1842 LaPointe treaty. It was intended as a sort of letter of reference, depicting their authority to speak for the Lake Superior bands today called the Lac Courte Oreilles, St. Croix, Fond du Lac, Red Cliff and Bad River Ojibwe. In the decades that followed, it was also used by the Ojibwe to explain the Sandy Lake tragedy of 1850-51. Contemporary elders say that the lines from the hearts and eyes of the Catfish, Man-fish, Bear, and the three Martens to the heart and eye of the Crane signify that all the headmen shared the same views. The last line, going out from the Crane's eye, indicated that the entire group had authorized Chief Buffalo (Crane Clan) to speak to President Fillmore on their behalf.
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