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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 17, 2003 - Issue 87


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Nay-na-ong-gay-bee - August Ender's Story

From the book 'History, Traditions and Adventures in the Chippewa Valley'
By William W. Bartlett (1929)
(Chapter 1 pages 64-66)
(August Ender, editor of the Rice Lake Chronotype, and himself a student of the early history of northern Wisconsin, contributes the following concerning a notable Chippewa chief and of the last encounter of any importance in this region between the warring Sioux and Chippewa tribes.)
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

Last of the great Chippewa Indian head chiefs in the Rice Lake country was Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee, who had is headquarters on the point on Rice Lake where the canning factory today stands and also had a tribal headquarters on Long Lake.

By some tragic twist of fate Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee and all three of his sons met death by knife or bullets. The old chief was the last of the Chippewa leaders to be killed and scalped by their ancient enemies, the Sioux, the battle taking place close to the banks of the Hay River, near Prairie Farm, and it is said that the chief and others killed in that battle were buried near the high hill at Prairie Farm.
Signer of the Indian treaties of 1842 and 1854 at La Pointe, Wisconsin, and a leader in tribal councils, Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee made a speech at the final parley in 1854 that will stand as an epic for all time. His picture is in the Historical Library at Madison.
The headquarters of Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee were on the site of the present day Rice Lake, and also on a point off the northeast shore of Long Lake in Washburn County, the voyage between being made by way of the Red Cedar and Brill Rivers. Intelligent, fearless and a natural-born leader, the chief had the confidence of many smaller tribal leaders, and in dealings with the white man, was an outstanding figure.

Calmly facing the more warlike members of his tribe in the great parley of 1854 at La Pointe, even though he knew they had knives under their blankets, Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee, in his address, said the march of the white man no longer could be stayed, and then in an eloquent appeal to Commissioners H.C. Gilbert and David R. Harriman, sent by President Franklin Pierce, asked that the White Father protect his poor children in their hunting grounds and rice fields, and from the curse of the white man's firewater.

The treaty was signed, allotments were made to the tribes from Minnesota and Wisconsin and forever after there was peace with the Chippewas.

In the fall of 1855 Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee was hunting in the vicinity of Prairie Farm with a party of 50 Chippewas when they were attacked from ambush by more than 100 Sioux warriors who had come up from Wabasha, Minnesota, to avenge the killing of a part of Sioux two years before at Battle or Plum Island, south of Durand, on the Chippewa River.

Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee, past 60, carrying a heavy pack and one of the last in line was the first killed, when the Sioux war whoop sounded. He was scalped and other members of the party who did not escape, even squaws, were tortured and killed in a horrible manner.

The Chippewa's never recovered from the blow, and the wailings and lamentations on their return to camp lasted many days. The Sioux war party hastened to a place called Shoo Fly near Durand where they had a celebration lasting three days, exhibiting the scalps of their enemies.

Wabashish, eldest son of Nay-na-ong-gay-bee, succeeded his father as a chief and while not so popular with the whites as was his father, seemed to get along quite well with his own people until bad blood developed between him and an Indian named Bedud and his two sons.

In a quarrel at the headquarters on Long Lake in the fall of 1879, Bedud stabbed and killed Wabashish on the spot. Bedud had been drinking. John, brother of Wabashish, was working in a logging camp of the Knapp, Stout & Company camp on the east shore of Cedar Lake when he heard the news. He hastened to Long Lake, and in spite of advice to throw away the bottle of liquor and bide his time, he rushed to the hut of Bedud, and as he lifted the flap, was shot through the chest. Staggering to his own cabin, he shouted, 'I am dying,' and fell over dead.

Joe, the last surviving son of the chief, now became tribal leader and wisely bided his time for revenge. Bedud and his sons had made their way to the St. Croix Valley. In the fall of 1882 a great tribal gathering was held at Lac Courte Oreilles, which Bedud attended. After the parley, and as Bedud was leaving single file with five companions, he was shot from ambush and killed by Joe. Things went along tranquilly until in 1894, when Joe was shot and killed by a game warden near the old headquarters on Long Lake when he and a party of other Chippewa were hunting deer out of season in Washburn County.

At the trial held in Shell Lake, 46 witnesses were called and after two weeks the game warden was acquitted. Thus passed to the Happy Hunting Ground the last of the male descendants of the old chief.

Maggie White, 73 years old, of Reserve, is the last surviving child of Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee. The mother died soon after the tragedy at Prairie Farm of a broken heart and was buried in the City of Rice Lake on the north bank of the Red Cedar within a few feet of Highway 53. Chingwe, second of the five daughters, had a white husband but left no children. Minotagas has several part-white surviving grandchildren on the reservation by the name of Grover, prominent in Indian affairs.

Waubeekway was the wife of William Dingley, who came of a distinguished Yankee family, and one of her daughters became the wife of Chief Ira O. Isham, widely known interpreter and tribal leader.

Princess As-sha-way-gee-she-go-qua (the Daylight Beyond), eldest and most charming daughter of Chief Nay-na-ong-gay-bee, had many suitors and was a great favorite of her fathers, being fleet footed and often accompanied the old chief on long journeys.

Among the suitors were Joe Koveo of Taylor Falls, Minnesota, mixed French and Indian. She was given reluctantly in marriage to Koveo after promises of fidelity and performance of the marriage rites according to Indian traditions, which included holding hands through the ceremony, the making of gifts and finally, a big celebration at the camp on Long Lake.

Sorrowfully, the princess returned how several months later with the news that Koveo already had a wife before the marriage. The daughter born of this union died at Reserve this year.

Later the princess was housekeeper for one of the headmen of Knapp, Stout & Company, and also for his successor.

Several children are still living, including two daughters and two sons at Reserve and a married daughter at Dubuque, Iowa. After the princess' death, she was buried at the Point in Rice Lake, just a few rods southeast and across the river from the last resting place of her mother.

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