Wednesday January 21, 1829
Volume 1 No. 45
Page 2 Col. 1b-3a
A late number of the National Intelligencer contains an account of an interview of the Winnebago Chiefs with the President of the United States. The deputation proceeded by an interpreter, in full feather and paint, filed into the apartment, and stalking one by one to the President, grasped his hand with rude cordiality. Nothing daunted by his presence, or the gaze of his attendants,m they next moved in silence to seats assigned them.
Refreshments were passed round; and it was somewhat whimsical to see Madeira sipped from cut glass by these stern featured visiters (sic), who were accustomed to lap water from the running brook, or quaff whiskey from the horn of a slaughtered elk; and to observe with what avidity they fed on macaroon and other choice confectionary (sic), whose tastes had seldom been better regaled than with the reeking entrails of bears and otters.
Business succeeded. An old chief stept (sic) forth into the centre (sic) of the room, with a long uncouth pipe in his hand, which, after a brief ceremonial, not precisely intelligible, he brought near the President and waved over his head. It was the Calumet of peace. Holding it then before him, and pointing to it, he began a harangue in slow guttural tones, accompanied with much earnest gesture. He spoke in short paragraphs, and Indian of half blood reporting them in French and a second interpreter conveying the English:
"Father; I am glad to see you. I hold out this pipe, and I take your hand, in friendship.
"Father: A cloud has been between us. It was thick and black. I thought once it would never be removed. But I now see your face.- It looks upon me pleasantly.
"Father, a long way stretched between us. There were those who told me it was blocked up. The said the Red men could not pass it.- I attempted it. It is like the plain path which conducts to the Great Spirit.
"Father, when I came in sight of your home, it looked white and beautiful. My heart rejoiced. I thought now I should talk with you.
"Father, the Great Spirit gave to his children, the Winnebagoes, a pleasant plant. It is good to smoke, I have it here"- touching with his finger the bowl of the pipe.- I give it you in peace.
"Father, I am as old as you. My heart is true. They told
me your heart was black. It is not so. We salute in friendship.
"Father, I say no more. My talk is little. I am a chief among my people. But one is here who will speak to you soon, and tell you better our thoughts."
The address being ended, a young Winnebago advanced in obedience to a signal from the old warrior, and lighted the pipe with fire struck from a flint. The pipe was then presented to the President, the chief still holding its stem. He inhaled a few puffs and as the smoke curled gently upwards, the savage group gazed with intentness and uttered a low murmur of satisfaction. The chief when handed the Calumet to all the spectators in order, and lastly to each of his tribe. It was next made over in form to the President to be retained, who, requesting the Indian to lay one hand upon it again, while he pledged him with the other, proceeded to dictate to the interpreters his reply.
"Say to this Chief, I rejoice to see him. He and his brethren are
welcome to me and my children.
"Tell him, it has grieved me that a cloud has been between us; but I am pleased equally with him that it has been dissipated. It is dispersed like the fumes of the pipe we have smoked. May it never close down upon us more!
"Say, I am glad that he and his companions meet me on this propitious day. Bid him look to the face of the heavens. No cloud is there. The sun shines brightly upon us. The Great Spirit looks down and smiles upon our meeting.
"Say, I hope the same sun will light his path in peace to the abodes of his fathers. When he is gone, I will look upon this pipe with pleasure; and should I hear ever after that in place of pacific, any hostile dispositions break forth among his nation towards my brethren and children, I will say it is impossible. For I have the word of a Winnebago, which must be true, that his people pledge their amity with mine, and left this pipe in token of sincerity.
"Say- I yesterday beheld with satisfaction the sports of himself and his associates, as they practised (sic) their ancient war dance upon the green beneath my windows. But a higher pleasure I now experience- and one the memory of which will endure-in cordially greeting him within these walls, and reciprocation assurances of plighted concord."
Each of these periods, as soon as interpreted, drew forth a hoarse plaudit from the savage auditors. Once it swelled to a deafening howl, in acknowledgment of the compliment paid to the inviolate integrity of their word.
But I weary your patience, Gentlemen, and am admonished, by the length
of this communication not to intrench deeper upon your columns. We will
drop the curtain therefore, for the present, & dismiss what remains of the
spectacle to another opportunity.
A Looker on in Washington.