John Edmonds Among Native Americans

face of a prisoner

In 1836, U.S. President Andrew Jackson appointed John Edmonds as United States Commissioner to negotiate a peace treaty between the U.S. and the Ottawa and Chippewa Indian peoples.^ These tribes apparently lived on the borders of Lake Heron and Lake Superior.^ Edmonds also investigated a disturbance involving the Potawatamie people in Indiana, took testimony concerning the claims of their creditors, and issued a resolution of these claims. Edmonds observed that the Indians quickly lost money paid to them through being exploited by traders and their weakness for intoxicating drink. Edmonds proposed that, instead of paying the Indians cash annuities, they be paid in articles of necessities, such as clothing, provisions, and implements for hunting and farming.^

Edmonds interacted closely and at length with native Americans. One source notes:

{Edmonds} was at one time in the interesting position of being encamped with over six thousands of the natives of the forest. His letters to his family, written during this sojourn, and which we have read, are very graphic and interesting, and give a very vivid picture of that Indian life, which is so rapidly passing away from among us.^

Another source states, “he {Edmonds} spent that summer {of 1836} at Michilemackinac in camp with over six hundred Indians.”^ A third source reported, “while living among them {Edmonds} learned several Indian languages.”^

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