The French and the Indians

Fur trader Canada 1777

Have you ever wondered why so many Indians carry French surnames?  This is the case all across the US and Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, literally, but very pronounced from New York through the northern Plains states and along the Mississippi River.

The answer lies in the history of the French businesses – and I’m not talking about a few individual trappers, I’m talking about an industry, largely forgotten or ignored by history.  At a time when most people don’t think about any Europeans living beyond the Appalachian Mountains, the French were traversing this country and where there were French, there were many more Indians.

This article, French Entrepreneurship in the Post Colonial Fur Trade by B. Pierre Lebeau is quite enlightening.  Enjoy!

Hat tip to Marie for this article.

Posted in French | Leave a comment

Red Fox James, Blackfoot, Indian Advocate

Red Fox 1915

Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On Dec. 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed. (Library of Congress)

1915. “Indians, American. Red Fox James at White House.” With the State, War and Navy building as backdrop. Harris & Ewing glass negative.


One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day.

In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.  Indians were recognized as American citizens in 1924.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

Native Americans never receivedt a day, per se, but in 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.”

In 2011, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation as well.

“From the Aleutian Islands to the Florida Everglades, American Indians and Alaska Natives have contributed immensely to our country’s heritage. During National Native American Heritage Month, we commemorate their enduring achievements and reaffirm the vital role American Indians and Alaska Natives play in enriching the character of our Nation.

THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim November 2011 as National Native American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 25, 2011, as Native American Heritage Day.

Posted in Blackfoot | 4 Comments

The Indians of Lawrence Co., PA

Edenburg Lawrence co paSometimes old history books, especially those published in the 1800s whose authors had access to people who memories extended back into the previous century can be goldmines.  While researching the Scotch-Irish in Lawrence County, PA, I found the following information about the original Native people who inhabited that region.

History of Lawrence Co., Pa. 1770-1877 by S.W. and P.A. Durant


Evidences of the ancient or pre-historic people, sometimes known as the “Mound Builders,” are not altogether wanting in Lawrence county, though they are not found as plentifully as in many other portions of the State. The most noted example of their work is undoubtedly the well-known mound situated near the village of Edenburg, and also near the site of the famous Indian village of Kush-kush-kee.*

*See History of Mahoning township.

The traditions of the Lenni Lenape and Mengwe nations, whom the first Europeans found inhabiting the vast region stretching from the Atlantic ocean and the St. Lawrence river to the Mississippi valley and southward to the Carolinas and the Ohio river, point unmistakably to this mysterious people, who rose and flourished; who built extensive cities and gigantic fortifications; who worked the wonderful copper deposits of Lake Superior, and who manufactured millions of the elaborate stone implements of war and husbandry still found upon the hills of the Ohio, the grand prairies of the West and the broad savannahs of the South.

The Indian nations had a tradition that their ancestors came from the far western wilds of the continent many centuries ago, and crossing the great river Mississippi, which they called Namoesi-sipu, or river of fish, fell upon this [p. 14] ancient people, and after many years of bloody and terrific warfare succeeded in driving the shattered remnant of the once powerful race toward the vast region of the South and West. After this great conquest, the Lenni Lenape and the Mengwe, who had joined hands against the Allegewi, as the conquered people were called, divided the country between them; the Lenape or Delawares, as they were known by the English, taking the region lying along the Ohio–the famed “La Belle Riviere” of the French, and the Mengwe, the Iroquois, or Six Nations, or Mingoes of the French and English, choosing the region lying around the great lakes and on both sides of the St. Lawrence river.

These nations eventually grew hostile to each other, and in the wars which succeeded, the Lenape, were finally reduced from their former high estate to the condition of women, by the haughty Six Nations, whom De Witt Clinton called the “Romans of America.” The first knowledge obtained by white men of this region was undoubtedly that of the French traders and explorers who pushed into the wilderness, and even penetrated as far as the west end of Lake Superior as early as 1616.

Their missionaries had established themselves at various points in the vicinity of the northwestern lakes by the middle of the seventeenth century, and their great discoverer, the Chevalier De LaSalle, had penetrated from the head of Lake Michigan to the mouth of the Mississippi river in 1682.

The date of their first appearance within the bounds of the present county of Lawrence cannot be certainly determined. They had two routes from Lake Erie to the Ohio river–one by way of Erie (Presq’ isle), French creek, and the Allegheny river, by which route came Captain Contrecoeur, in the Spring of 1754, when on his way to the capture of “the forks,” as the site of Pittsburgh was then called. The other route was from Presq’ isle, over the dividing ridge, and down the Shenango or Mahoning and Beaver rivers. They probably began to visit this region about 1731, for the colonies of Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia were complaining of their encroachments in that year. The dominant Indian nation in northwestern Pennsylvania, at the date of their advent, was the Senecas; but there seems to have been several different tribes of the Senecas, the Delawares, the Shawanese, and, perhaps, others intermingled. The Neshannock creek is said to have been named by the Delawares, and the Shenango by the Senecas. The Cornplanter tribe of the Seneca nation (called after one of their chiefs), was the most powerful and numerous one in this region, among the lesser organizations. Their principal village was on the Allegheny river.

The first white man who visited this region, from the English colonies, was Christopher Gist, the friend and companion of Washington, who went in the interests of the Ohio Land Company, on a visit of exploration, as far west as the Miami, in 1750. He did not, however, visit the territory of Lawrence county, but, probably, passed down the right bank of the Ohio river.

It is probable that the first white man from “beyond the mountains” who visited the territory now comprised within the limits of Lawrence county, was Christian Frederick Post,* who was sent on a peace mission to the western Indians, in the year 1758, in advance of General Forbes’ army, then on its way toward Fort Duquesne. He arrived, according to his journal, at Kush-kush-kee, the Indian capital of King Beaver, on the 12th of August. This was twelve years previous to the settlement made by the Moravian missionaries, Zeisberger and Senseman, at what is now Moravia station.

*A Moravian Missionary.

Whether “King Beaver” was identical with the chief Pack-an-ka, who ruled in the valley afterwards, we cannot know, but it is at least probable. On the 17th of August a grand council was held. All the chiefs and rulers, for many miles around, were present, and there was also a French captain, and fifteen men on the ground. Among the celebrated kings and chiefs present, were King Beaver, King Shingis, Teedy-us-kung, and Delaware George, of the Delawares, and there was present, also, a party of Shawanese and Mingoes.

This French captain and detachment of soldiers, may, very probably, have thrown up the fortification described in the history of Taylor township, at old Moravia village. The times were precarious, and the French knew not at what moment the treacherous savages would turn against them. From that date, until the Spring of 1770, we have little or no account of this region. Hunters, traders, and trappers probably visited it, but the savages were undisturbed in their possessions.

In April, 1770, two Moravian missionaries, Zeisberger and Senseman, came into the valley of the Beaver river, by invitation of the principal chief or king, the venerable Pack-an-ka. These missionaries had attempted to establish a mission at the mouth of the Tionesta creek, but meeting with little encouragement, and not liking the rough country, they very gladly accepted the chief’s offer of land and protection, and commenced a settlement a little west of where the old village or hamlet of Moravia now stands, but in the course of a few weeks, finding the location too low, and subject to malaria, they crossed the river and made their permanent settlement on the high bluff a little northwest from the present Moravia station, on the E. and P. railway. The mission remained and flourished for nearly three years, when for some reason they were persuaded to move farther west, and, accordingly, they destroyed their church building, and removed to a point on the upper waters of the Muskingum, in the present State of Ohio, in 1773. The largest village of the Indians, who appeared to have been mostly Delawares, was no doubt at Kush-kush-kee, which Post describes as being composed of four separate towns, and containing about “ninety houses, and two hundred able warriors.” Pack-an-ka was the head chief, or king, and his capital, called New Kas-kas-kunk, was located on the ground where New Castle now stands. Another town called Old Kas-kas-kunk, was located near the mouth of the Mahoning river. The principal chief, orator, and statesman, under King Pack-an-ka, was called Glik-ik-an, who was afterwards converted to Christianity by the Moravians, and finally perished in the massacre at the mission towns in Ohio, in March, 1782. The king was never converted, but nevertheless remained the steadfast friend of the missionaries so long as they remained in the Beaver valley.

History of Mahoning Township


There are various opinions as to the location of this village. Some authorities locate it at the mouth of the Mahoning, on the Big Beaver, and others still farther down, between that and Moravia. But the evidence points strongly to the site of Edenburg as the location of this once famous Indian town. It is at least certain there was a village where Edenburg stands, which was divided into two parts, one a short distance farther up the river than the other, and in the memory of the “oldest inhabitants” the Indians who lived here were called “Kush-kush-kians.” But compara- [p. 80]tively few years ago the old war-post stood near the village of Edenburg, or in the edge of it, with the marks of the tomahawks still upon it, looking almost as fresh as when the Indians first circled around it and performed their grotesque war-dance, their painted visages showing hideously in the fitful light of the fire. Then another reason for the location of their village here was the peculiar beauty of the place, and the richness of the soil, for the savage, let it be understood, was a connoisseur in choosing advantages, both of beauty and adaptability to cultivation. The place, also, was one calculated for easy defense, having, beside the river and hills, a swamp on either side, while the village itself was on higher ground than the marshy land around it–on an island as it were.

In the vicinity have been picked up gun-flints, oxydized bullets, flattened and battered; old gun-locks and gun-barrels, bayonets, etc., which would seem to indicate that severe fighting occurred here at some period. Many bones have also been found. Near the town was a burial ground, containing among other relics an interesting mound, originally some fifty feet in circumference, and about six feet high. This mound was examined some years since, and found to contain several layers of human skeletons. Flag-stones were placed in regular order around the bodies, and the whole covered with earth. Nearby were quite a large number of bodies buried separately. Large numbers of flint chips and arrow-heads have been picked up in the vicinity. The location of the village was on the south side of the Mahoning, the principal part being below the present village of Edenburg, and close to the river.

Christian Frederick Post, the Moravian missionary, who visited this region in 1758, in advance of Forbes’ army, says the town contained at that time ninety houses, and two hundred able warriors. Post persuaded the principal chief, Pak-an-ke, or King Beaver, to visit the “Forks,” now Pittsburgh, where a great conference was held on the ground where Allegheny City now stands. Twelve years later, in 1770, at the request of Pak-an-ke, the Moravians removed from their settlement at Lanunak-hannuk, on the Allegheny river, and settled on the Big Beaver, five miles below New Castle, near the present site of Moravia station.

Here they remained for two years, instructing the Indians in the principles of the Christian religion, establishing schools, and introducing agricultural pursuits. During this time they had constant intercourse with the Indians at Kush-kush-kee, and converted many of them to Christianity, among the number a distinguished warrior and orator named Glik-kik-an, who belonged to one of the Delaware or Lenape tribes. They failed, however, to make any impression on the grey-haired old chief Pak-an-ke, though he scrupulously protected the missionaries from all harm by hostile Indians, and was their constant friend.

The Indians did not all leave their beautiful home until sometime after the country was settled by the whites, and the wonder is not great, because Kush-kush-kee, with its beautiful valley and silvery stream, together with the “hills piled on hills,” and the grand old forest, had long been their abiding place.

History of Mercer County

The History of Mercer County, which borders Lawrence County, adds this:

After the Mound Builders, who stopped building mounds between 1542 and 1650, the next group of Indians that claimed control of the Mercer County region is the Erie Indians, or the Cat Nation (Eriehronon). The Erie controlled this region during the early and middle 1600’s.  In 1656, the Iroquois Confederation wiped out the Erie Indians as a tribe. We know very little about these Indians, as they were destroyed before Europeans had advanced far enough inland to meet directly with them. It is important to note that the destruction of a tribe of Indians did not mean the death of all men, women, and children.

Trade with Europe brought on the war between the Eriehronon and the Iroquois. The Iroquois wanted a monopoly of trade with the Europeans. They would trade for European weapons and the sup­plies to use the guns they had gained. This meant they needed a great quantity of trading goods. These goods were primarily animal pelts. To gather more pelts these Iroquois started to range farther than their traditional hunting and trapping grounds, intruding on the lands of other tribes. A war soon broke out between the powerful Iroquois and the Erie tribe. This war saw European weapons used against inferior, Neolithic, and traditional weapons.

From that point on, after 1656, the area that became Mercer County was under Iroquois control and was used for a hunting preserve. It was sparsely populated for the better part of a century. Hunting and trapping parties visited and it was a main crossing ground of Indian paths.

By 1722, without Iroquois approval, some Delaware (Lenni Lenape) and Shawnee started to migrate into this region.

By 1747, the Lenape, with Iroquois permission, continued to migrate into this area. Their capital in the Ohio Valley region was located at Kuskuski near the present day town of New Castle—which until 1849 was the southern border of Mercer County. Along with these Indians a Wyandot tribe of about one hundred fami­lies moved into the surrounding regions, on or near, the Shenango River. Their move westward demon­strates the constant pressure the European Americans were now putting on the American Indians for their lands. The fact that four tribal groups—the Iroquois, the Lenni Lenape, the Shawnee, and the Wyandot—shared an area that had not been populated completely for many years shows the extent of this pressure.

Archaeology Perspective

An archaeology overview  and photos of Lawrence County’s historic artifacts is found at this link.

Posted in Allegewi, Cat Nation, Cornplanter, Delaware, Erie, Eriehronon, Iroquois, Lenape, Lenni Lenape, Mengwe, Mingoes, Mound Builders, Seneca, Shawnee, Six Nations, Wyandot | 3 Comments

Announcing the Native American Haplogroup C DNA Project

Sitting Bull

Rebekah Canada, Marie Rundquist and I would like to announce the formation of the Native American Haplogroup C project, titled Y-DNA Haplogroup C-P39 Project.

Native American males who descend from direct paternal ancestors who crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia some 10,000+ years ago fall into one of two haplogroups, or genetic clans.  One is haplogroup Q and the other is haplogroup C.

Since both haplogroup Q and haplogroup C are found among Asians, not everyone with these haplogroups in the Americas are Native Americans – only certain subgroups identified by specific mutations that occurred shortly before, during or shortly after the migration process.

In order to group Native American descendants together to better study these haplogroups and to coordinate their genealogies, we have created a haplogroup C project just for people who are Native American descendants.

Native Americans who carry haplogroup C are indeed quite rare and are identified by a special mutation, a SNP marker, known as P39, within haplogroup C.  This haplogroup subgroup is also known by the name C3b.

We would like to invite all men who are haplogroup C and carry mutation P39, or anyone who is haplogroup C and has a family history of paternal line Native ancestry to join the project.

You may recognize the names of the administrators.  If not, let me introduce them.

Rebekah Canada is the founder of the haplogroup Q project which includes Native American subgroups.  In addition, she was one of the partners in the discovery in December 2010 of the revolutionary mutation that would definitively divide the Native American haplogroup Q lineage from the European lineage.  She co-administers several other DNA projects as well, many of which focus on minority admixture.

Marie Rundquist’s Amerindian Ancestry out of Acadia Project has rewritten the history of the Native American’s who married into the Acadian families in Canada beginning in the 1600s and before the Acadian deportation and scattering in 1755.  I wrote about the extremely interesting Acadian Germain Doucet family who, it turns out, is haplogroup C3b.  In addition, Marie, an Acadian and Native descendant herself, is an author.  Her book, Finding Anne Marie details another discovery of a Native American ancestor in an Acadian family.

I too am a Native American descendant from several different genealogical lines, including, ironically, the Acadian Doucet line.  I have been involved with Native American genetic genealogy since dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Ok, not quite that long, but since this science was taking its first tentative steps, about 12 years now.  I manage and co-manage several DNA projects that involve or are dedicated to Native American heritage.  I, along with Rebekah (and others), was a partner in the revolutionary 2010 Native American SNP discovery.

Genetic advances and discoveries relevant to Native history and genealogy are regularly covered on my blog,  It’s searchable, just enter the word “Native” into the search box.  In addition, I maintain a historical focus on the Native people through the Native Names project which is focused on extracting the earliest names of Native people found in colonial documents.  To date, they number over 30,000 individuals and over 8,000 surnames.  Adventures in this project and a wide range of Native history are discussed on my blog,

All three co-administrators come to you with years of genealogy and genetic experience.  We welcome project members as well as questions anyone might have.  We’re excited to be threads in the tapestry of unfolding history and hope you will join us.

Posted in Acadian, DNA | Leave a comment

Still Part Redman Deep Inside

Do you have a persistent story of Native American heritage in your family?

Standing Bear, Ponca, 1877Mark Green’s wife did.  Her ancestor Nancy Pittman’s mother was supposed to be a Cherokee Indian.  If your family was from the south, chances are you have some similar story.

Mark tracked her story both through DNA and the Cherokee records.  Her DNA showed 1% Native Ancestry, but the records pertaining to the Guion-Miller Roll provided additional information.  It’s most interesting, because although the paperwork having to do with her 1907 application is ambiguous, with the application subsequently denied, the DNA, some 100 years and a few generations later, isn’t.

Here’s Mark’s article about the family story, his research and what he found.  Sometimes a little footwork goes a long way – and there are lots of records available having to do with the Cherokee and 5 Civilized Tribes who were removed to Oklahoma.

Posted in Cherokee | 4 Comments

Digitizing War of 1812 Records, a Quilt and NY Indian Service Records

1812 quilt

The War of 1812, which lasted from 1812 to 1815, is probably the War we know the least about, and one for which an astounding number of pension and bounty land records still exist for veterans who served.  If your ancestor was between the ages of about 16 and maybe 60, there is a good chance that they served in this War, at least for a little while.

If so, they have a military pay record and if you’re lucky, a pension application and a bounty land application as well.  If they died but their widow outlived them, then she could have applied using his service record.

However, in order for these precious records to be preserved and available to us all, they are in the process of being digitized, but this project is not funded by any grants or institutions, it’s being crowdsourced.  Hint – that means you and me.

Right now, in order to encourage donations to preserve and digitize the War of 1812 pension and bounty land papers, The Federation of Genealogical Societies is entering one ticket into a drawing for this lovely period appropriate quilt for every dollar donated to the preservation project.  In addition, Ancestry is matching every donation, so in essence, your contribution preserves twice as many pages.

Take a look at this site and if you can, please donate.  So many of our ancestors served.

You can see records already digitized, for free, at:

How does this connect with Native American history?  Well, in a number of ways.  This war was no respecter of race.  Native people and people descended from Native ancestors served in militia units just like everyone else.  Well, except for some of the Native people who lived in the north, in New York, by way of example.  Those folks fought FOR the British and against the US as a result of constant pressure from Europeans and broken treaties and promises.  The British promised to do better.

The Native groups in New York were on the front lines of the northern theater of the war.  However, the Tuscarora Indians stepped between the terrified frontier families and the British who were burning their homes in an all-out effort to kill them and win the war.  The odds were quite lopsided, about 25 Tuscaroras faced about 1500 British.  The good news is that their intervention bought the settlers enough time to flee, and the British, not knowing how few Tuscarora there really were, halted their attack.

The town of Lewiston did burn, but lives were saved thanks to the Tuscarora Heroes.  This December 19th, a statue will be dedicated commemorating the bravery of the Tuscarora and cementing the friendship of Lewiston and the Tuscarora.

Many people think that the Indian tribes of NY fought only AGAINST the Americans, but that’s not true.  In fact, there is a long list of Native people who fought alongside the Americans, risking their lives, giving their lives, and suffering the consequences of having their villages burned in retaliation.

The following link is to an index from the Awards of Claims of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 compiled by the New York Adjutant General’s office and the claims were presented for payment by members of tribes mustered into service of the US for the War of 1812.  The columns represent the claim number, the warrior, the claimant, often their estate, and the amount awarded to them.  This includes long lists of people by tribe; the Seneca on the Allegany Reservation, the Cattaraugus Reservation and Cornplanter’s Reservation, the Onondaga Nation, the Oneida Nation and the Tuscarora Nation.

The original declarations of claims from which this index was compiled are on file in the Bureau of War Records maintained by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, Public Security Building, Albany, NY 12206. The declaration indicates the claimant’s name and military grade, his inclusive period of service and the land warrant, if any, granted as a result of his service. Researchers desiring additional information should contact the Bureau of War Records at the above address.

In addition, these individuals may be eligible for pensions and land through the federal government as well.  The digitization project will preserve those records and make them available to their descendants.  So, please, donate now.  Any amount is helpful and who knows, the records you save may be your own ancestors’!

And you just might win that quilt!!!

Hat tip to El for the Tuscarora article and list of names.

Posted in Military, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Tuscarora, War of 1812 | Leave a comment

A Buck By Any Other Name


A Buck by any other name might be Hogan, Logan or Williams.  I think we have a case of surname schizophrenia.  We have four surnames involving 3 people.

Do you sometimes wonder why you or one of your relatives matches a whole group of people by a different surname, and none by the surname you expected them to match?

This 1888 Indian Census page for the Seneca on the Allegany Reservation in New York just might give you a clue as to why you’re not matching whom you think you should be matching..

Not matching who you expect to match is sometimes called a Nonpaternal Event (NPE) or I prefer the term undocumented adoption.  But this case doesn’t seem to be undocumented at all…it’s well documented….it’s just that we can’t understand it.

So let’s say this is your family and the husband, I presume is Augustus Buck.  So far, that looks normal.  But this is where normal ends.

Your name is Acsah.  If you’re married to Augustus Buck, your name would be Acsah Buck.  This is how all of the other families are recorded, so you would be too.  Except you have this little note that says either (Logan was) or Hogan was).  Is that a maiden name?  No one else’s maiden or other names are listed.  Is Acsah maybe not the wife of Augustus and the mother of Alfred noted below?  If that is the case, then why are they listed as Buck now?

And Alfred has his own set of problems.  He is noted as Alfred Buck, age 2. One would assume the child of Acsah and Augustus Buck, judging from the rest of the entries.  But Alfred had this note that says (was Williams.)  What does that mean?  It’s certainly not his maiden name.

Does that mean that Alfred isn’t a Buck at all?  Is Alfred even the son of Acsah?  Is Alfred really a Williams.  Was Acsah married to a Williams before Augustus?  That would seem to be pushing it given that she is only 18 and Alfred was born when she was 16.  Did she have time to be married earlier?

So, if Alfred’s descendants were to DNA test, would they match a Buck, a Williams, a Hogan or a Logan?  Or maybe none of the above if Acsah had Alfred before she married Augustus by someone not listed on the “was” list.  Maternal naming was a very common Native American occurrence and what is today considered to be illegitimacy was not viewed through the lens of colonial or Victorian America.

And just think, if you are Alfred’s great-grandson and you took the Yline DNA paternal line test, expecting to match a Buck, and you were instead matching a Williams, Hogan or Logan, and if you never saw this census page, you would have no clue as to potentially why.  Of course, if you aren’t matching a Buck or a Logan, Hogan or Williams, then all bets are off.  But at least, there is a clue here that something is not like the rest of the families recorded in the census.  It’s something to work with.

Of course, this makes me wonder how many more census entries warrant notes and of course never received them.  And of course, a legend to interpret the note would be nice too:)

Posted in DNA, Seneca | 2 Comments