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Sacred Feathers

Sacred Feathers: The Reverend Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby) and the Mississauga Indians, Second Edition

Donald B. Smith
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    Sacred Feathers
    Book Description:

    A groundbreaking book,Sacred Featherswas one of the first biographies of a Canadian Aboriginal to be based on his own writings - drawing on Jones's letters, diaries, sermons, and his history of the Ojibwas - and the first modern account of the Mississauga Indians.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6853-9
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps and Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction to the Second Edition
    (pp. xi-xxxii)
    Don Smith

    Peter Jones (1802–1856), known in Ojibwe as Kahkewaquonaby (“Sacred Feathers”), worked for a full and equal partnership between the Mississauga, or Ojibwe, and the non-Aboriginal settlers. In the early and mid-nineteenth century the Ojibwe in what is now southern Ontario had lost much of their autonomy, and almost all of their traditional territory. Although the Mississauga had shared their land and resources with the newcomers the colonial government declined to recognize the Ojibwe’s ownership of their remaining lands. Jones championed Mississauga land claims and their right to self-government.

    When my biography of Peter Jones,Sacred Feathers: The Reverend Peter...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xxxiii-xlii)
  6. Chapter 1 An Indian Boyhood
    (pp. 1-16)

    Tuhbenahneequay’s wigwam stood on what the whites called Burlington Heights, a promontory rising thirty meters above Lake Ontario. Facing east one had a magnificent vista of Burlington Bay, with the Beach, a white sandbar eight-kilometers long, separating the bay from the lake. The young woman knew this area intimately, for she had been born and brought up here.¹ The hunting territory of Chief Wahbanosay, her father, lay at what the French traders had called Fond du Lac—in English, the Head of the Lake.

    Outside the air was still and cold. The birth of Tuhbenahneequay’s second child had come in...

  7. Chapter 2 The Mississauga Indians
    (pp. 17-33)

    In their language, Wahbanosay and his band called themselves “Anishinabe,” in its plural form “Anishinabeg”—“human beings” or, to adapt a second meaning of the word, “men par excellence.” The Anishinabeg belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family, which extended far beyond the Great Lakes—eastward to the Atlantic Seaboard and westward to the Rocky Mountains. Around the Great Lakes the Europeans designated four groups among the Anishinabegs in the nineteenth century: Ojibwas or Chippewas; Ottawas or Odawas; Algonquins or Algonkins; and Potawatomis. Each could understand the others without much difficulty, though there were minor differences in pronunciation and grammar from...

  8. Chapter 3 Sacred Feathers Becomes Peter Jones
    (pp. 34-51)

    The War of 1812 reached Burlington Heights in the spring and summer of 1813. In May the Americans raided Fort York and burned it to the ground. Only a spirited British attack in June at Stoney Creek had checked the American advance, preventing the capture of the Heights. If the Heights had fallen, Upper Canada all the way to Kingston would have been lost as well.¹ Aware of the strong and defensible position of the Heights, the British army had made it their headquarters, cutting the trees down in swaths, mounting guns, digging trenches, and requisitioning Richard Beasley’s house as...

  9. Chapter 4 Born Again
    (pp. 52-65)

    By mid-March 1823, signs of spring were multiplying. The days became longer and warmer. Patches of bare earth appeared as the snow thawed. Overhead the first geese honked on their flight northward. The arrival of the new season marked the end of Peter’s school term, for by mid-April he had to return to his father’s farm. May was the busiest time of all, when the work of two months—plowing, sowing, and planting—was crowded into one.¹

    Once at home the young man appeared to have readjusted to the farm, but inwardly he had not. Among the Christian Mohawks and...

  10. Chapter 5 The Mississaugas’ Cultural Revolution
    (pp. 66-83)

    The letter signed in a loose, scrawling hand “Peter Jones alias Kahkewaquonaby” astonished James Givins. In thirty years no warrior had ever sent him a note in English written in his own hand. Hurriedly the Indian agent at York read the message:

    By the request of Capt. John [Cameron] and others of the Missessagues in those parts, I take the liberty to write a few lines to you wishing you to send an information respecting their presents to what times you will be ready to issue them, or to what time you would wish them to come down, there are...

  11. Chapter 6 “Go Ye into All the World”
    (pp. 84-97)

    The tall, muscular Mississauga faced the large white and Indian audience. That Sabbath day in late January 1827 he took his sermon from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verses 15—20: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.”¹ Over the past two years the native preacher had traveled from Indian communities along the Thames to the St. Lawrence River, from the north shore of Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe and Rice Lake.

    The crowd had assembled...

    (pp. None)
  13. Chapter 7 Opposition
    (pp. 98-111)

    The council on Indian land rights began at the York garrison, three kilometers west of the town site.¹ Fifteen years earlier Britain and the United States had fought one of the major battles of the War of 1812 there. Over sixty British regulars and five civilians had died unsuccessfully defending Upper Canada’s tiny capital. The American success proved costly, though, with 320 killed or wounded. Brigadier General Zebulon Pike, second-in-command of the expedition, remembered as an explorer of the American Southwest—Pikes Peak is named for him—lay among the dead.²

    From 1813 to 1828 York’s population had doubled—nearly...

  14. Chapter 8 Fund-Raising
    (pp. 112-129)

    The tenth anniversary of the Missionary Society at the John Street Chapel in New York City featured Kahkewaquonaby and the Indian children’s choir. Methodists from farms as far north as mid-Manhattan traveled by foot or by hackney coach down Broadway to the rapidly expanding city of 200,000. Over the hilly terrain they passed orchards and gardens with fruit trees in blossom, the peach and cherry trees finishing, the plum and apple just beginning. The Christians soon reached the outskirts of the great metropolis, its skyline dominated by the spires of its one hundred churches and the cupola of City Hall...

  15. Chapter 9 Eliza
    (pp. 130-149)

    Before Eliza Field left England her fiancé warned her that the white settlers opposed interracial marriages: “The fact is my beloved Eliza, it is thatfeeling of prejudicewhich is so prevalent among theold American settlers(not Indians in this country). They think it is not right for the whites to intermarry with Indians.”¹ Would she now refuse to marry him? He need not have worried. In her reply Eliza simply announced she was leaving for Liverpool to board a packet boat to New York. There, on 8 September 1833, she married Kahkewaquonaby.

    Racial intermarriage had occurred in North...

    (pp. None)
  17. Chapter 10 “All Out of Tune”
    (pp. 150-172)

    “By an inalienable law of our nature such a temperament is liable to great reverses. As the ebb-tide succeeds the flood, and the calm a storm, so naturally a feeling of depression follows a high degree of exhilaration.”¹ So Joseph Holdrich, a popular American Methodist writer in the mid-nineteenth century, remarked about the religious condition. His observations certainly apply to Peter Jones after his wedding on 8 September 1833. His depression came not from his marriage—Egerton Ryerson would later write of Peter and Eliza, “I question whether a happier marriage than theirs, on both sides, was ever experienced—truly...

  18. Chapter 11 Land and Education
    (pp. 173-197)

    After the victory of the Anishinabeg over the People of the Longhouse about 1700, the tribes had made a pact of friendship. They renewed that treaty on 21 January 1840, for the fifth time. Fifteen Iroquois chiefs faced two hundred Ojibwa chiefs and warriors across the council fire at the Indian village on the Credit River. They came together for the treaty that, once made, was so strong “that if a tree fell across their arms it could not separate them or cause them to unloose their hold.”¹

    Joseph Sawyer rose. In his hand the Credit River head chief, then...

  19. Chapter 12 From Edinburgh to Echo Villa
    (pp. 198-214)

    Edinburgh’s David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson had formed their photographic partnership in 1843, locating their studio at Rock House, Adamson’s home, halfway up Calton Hill at the east end of Princes Street. After Mr. Hill had arranged the poses, Mr. Adamson took the pictures and developed the prints. On the morning of 4 August 1845 the two men had invited Sacred Feathers, the North American Indian, and his English wife to a sitting at Rock House.¹

    On his guests’ arrival, Mr. Hill asked Peter’s permission to photograph him in European dress as well as in his national costume, and...

  20. Chapter 13 The Final Years
    (pp. 215-233)

    After settlers had partially cleared the forest immediately northeast of the Six Nations reserve, the area resounded with strange echoes. The farmers consequently named their new hamlet, three kilometers east of Brantford, Echo Place.¹ Here in 1851 Peter and Eliza built their handsome brick house by the well-traveled road from Brantford to Ancaster and the Head of the Lake. They called their home, on its spacious thirty-acre lot, Echo Villa. The green lawns, wellkept gardens, stately trees, and flowering shrubs led one of Peter’s fellow ministers to term the property an estate.²

    Eliza and Peter had examined the English pattern...

    (pp. None)
  22. Chapter 14 Peter Jones’s Legacy
    (pp. 234-249)

    An“old oak tree,whose top branches are fading and drooping, and the whole trunk bending towards the earth.”¹ So Peter described himself early in 1856. In late March the Reverend and Mrs. Kennedy Creighton had invited Peter and his family to stay at their home, the Methodist parsonage in Saint Catharines. The ailing minister should try the celebrated mineral baths in the town and consult local medical experts.² The Joneses both liked the kind, caring Irish preacher who loved music and played on the flute and violin the “most popular airs of his native land.”³ They spent a week...

  23. Appendix 1: Peter Jones on the Ojibwas’ and the Europeans’ “Creeds and Practice”
    (pp. 250-250)
  24. Appendix 2: Eliza Field Jones on the Character of Her Late Husband
    (pp. 251-254)
  25. Appendix 3: Mississauga Place-Names
    (pp. 255-258)
  26. Notes
    (pp. 259-338)
  27. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 339-360)
  28. INDEX
    (pp. 361-372)