Site Navigation



Quick Search

Advanced Search »






Grand Rapids July 10th 1853

Hon. Robt. McClelland, Secretary &c.


We the undersigned headman and chiefs of the Ottawa bands of Indians on Grand River feel bound to represent to you the truth in regard to the manner in which we have been treated.

By the treaty under which the United States acquired title to our lands among other things stipulated on behalf of the U.S. was that we were to have a Blacksmith who was competent and able to do our work, this obligation on the part of the U.S. has been shamefully neglected and the Indians have been for a long time abused by the nonperformance of treaty stipulations. About nine months before the expiration of President Fillmore’s administration our Blacksmith at Grand Rapids, who was good, kind and accommodating to the Indians and who was a good workman was suddenly removed and one was appointed who did not know how to shoe a poney or do any other work required by the Indians. Now as soon as we found out this we remonstrated against the act and told Mr. Sprague then the Indian Agent that he had done wrong but he paid no attention to our complaints.

We then wrote to the Secretary of the Interior representing our grievances, but he paid no attention to our complaints. Since which there has been a change and we have now another man for Indian Agent and to him we have applied to appoint a good man such as the Indians should recommend but he has paid no attention to our wishes or request other than appointing or recommending another man equally as obnoxious and totally unqualified. We further state that a delegation of our bands went to Detroit on purpose to represent to Mr. Gilbert the now Indian Agent these facts. They did see him and made their statement showing as they supposed to his satisfaction that they the Indians had been badly treated. He also promised to come out in person and see for himself and to talk with the Indians and have a council this he promised to do and the Indians were ready to meet him one week ago last Friday but he has not come and we are informed that he told a man from Grand Rapids since that he did not intend to come or if he did he did not want to see any Indians at all.

We now have no hopes of getting any satisfaction from him and we now appeal to you, if you do not listen to our complaints and hear our story we shall then carry our cause to our Great father at Washington where we trust we shall be heard and if we are right we shall get redress.

Very Respt. Yours,

  • Nebenesay his x mark
  • Chinquash his x mark
  • Marketowesie his x mark
  • Notenoka his x mark
Witness: Joseph Elliott


I have the request of the chiefs whose names are attached to the foregoing drawn up the foregoing statement as dictated by them, they hope you will listen to them or if it be necessary they will come and see you if you will appoint a time and place.

Yours &c

Saml. S. Squire

P.S. Please answer and direct to Henry Burritt of this place by the request of the Indians, he is the one they wish appointed Blacksmith.

Mackinac Agency
Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1828-1880
National Archives Microfilm Publications M234 Roll 404 1853-1855

Volunteers/Submitters hold copyright © to the material they have donated for this site.  Not to be copied and used in any format to any other site or in any other media including books, blogs, mail lists and forums.

Native Americans In Michigan Copyright 2008-2011.