First published in 1892, Early Life Among the Indians is the biography of Benjamin Armstrong, who in 1840 took up his residence in northern Wisconsin. Having learned the Ojibwe language, he became a well-known interpreter. He was known for respecting and documenting the traditional life and culture of the Anishinaabe and became the adopted son of Ke-Che-Waish-Ke, Chief Buffalo, the most respected leader of the Lake Superior bands. In 1852 Armstrong accompanied Great Buffalo and other Ojibwe leaders to Washington, D.C., to plead against the proposed forced relocation of the Ojibwe west of the Mississippi. A meeting between the chiefs and President Millard Fillmore was a success and brought a reversal of the removal order of 1849.
Armstrong did more to humanize Native Americans than nearly any white person of his day. In the end, he writes: “… the unbiased judgment of the future will be that the Indians were found good and were made bad by white people, and that the condition of things has not been one whit improved by white associates, but, on the contrary, has been degraded … [the Indians] saw that the example of the white people was far from the teachings of the missionaries, far from the truth and the pretensions of the traders, and far from justice and right.”
Through his respect and love for the tribes and his connections with Chief Buffalo’s family, Armstrong was granted access to leaders of all the Ojibwe bands. Early Life Among the Indians contains his recollections of battles with Sioux adversaries, memoirs of the Sandy Lake tragedy, accounts of the crucial treaty councils that defined modern Ojibwe life, the arrival of miners and loggers in the Ojibwe homelands, and much more about northern Wisconsin in the 19th century.
This edition also contains a special message from the 7th generation of Chief Buffalo, his great-granddaughter Sandy Gokee, Anishinaabe kwe, mother, a daughter, a student, a teacher, and water protector living on the shores of Lake Superior.
Made possible by a generous grant from the La Pointe Center.
Proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to support the Madeline Island Jingle Dress Dancer Project.