1853 Petition Chiefs of Ottawa Bands Grand Rapids Area

Grand Rapids Oct. 22nd 1853

Hon. Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Washington D. C.


We received your communication stating that you had forwarded the communication we sent you to Agent Gilbert and as the time has expired as we think for Agent Gilbert to rectify and grant our wishes, and he not having done so we want your Honor to take the matter in hand and aid us in the advancement of our interest. We also complain of the inability of the Interpreter at this place as he cannot interpret what we wish to communicate and ask for his removal and the appointment of John Robinson in his place. We also complain of the inability of the Blacksmith appointed at this place and wish him removed as he is very obnoxious to our feelings and is totally unqualified for the place he now holds and wish him removed and Mr. Henry Burnitt appointed in his place. The Blacksmith now in is totally incapable of making anything that we need, as we have given up hunting to a great extent and gone to farming we need the necessary tools for farming and a Blacksmith that is capable of making and repairing farming tools of all kinds, and the one that is in is a Gun Smith and cannot do nothing but make and repair guns and he is not the man we want. Agent Gilbert is acquainted with our wants and knows the wishes of us all as the delegation of our Chiefs informed him of that fact.

As the time is now drawing near once our annuities paid to us by those by the Government we very near (there being only e or 4 more payments due us) we the Chiefs of the Ottawa Bands of Indians wish and want a full statement of all our affairs in writing from the commencement of the treaty up to the present time as we wish to know how our affairs stand with the government, and also request you to appoint a time and place at some future time stated by you for a full investigation , say next spring – summer. At the time of our first payment we received from government ten dollars per head and from that time up to this it has dwindled from $10.00 down to ($6.50) six dols. and fifty cts. per head please inform of the cause of the decrease by referring to the last census you will find that we have been decreasing in member as we decrease our money decrease also please give us a mem of all our affairs.

We understand that our annuity due us will no be paid this year until the months of December or January next. Why is it put off so late, the money we need to purchase winter clothing for our familys, and how are we to come to Grand Rapids at that time of the seasons to get our pay, we have no houses there and our canvas tents are poorly calculated to protect us from the chilling blasts of winter, we shall suffer then and our children suffer also, we love them and want to protect them, we want to make you acquainted with these facts once if you have anny (sic) sympathy for us exercise it now as we are in need of all your aid, do not turn a deaf ear to our enquiries, and for the sake of us poor Indians do not delay the matter of facts but give them all a hearing.

We have wrote and caused to be wrote a great many letters to our agents at Detroit and also at Washington and never have received any answers from them.

We also understand that there is a petition on file in your office purporting to be signed by us it is a fraud and we consider that we have been imposed upon by others signing our names to petitions we know nothing about, if there is such a petition please forward us a copy.

And now we ask you to assist us we know you can and with the assistance of our Great Father at Washington you can help us, please advance our wishes to the best of your knowledge and you shall have our best wishes and respects and shall ever pray,

Your Respectfully

I hereby certify that the within is a true statement as stated by them in council and that the above signatures are genuine and signed by their own free will and consent of the bands that they represent.

Sam. L. Squier