By Charles Sangster



    In the year 1849 some difficulty occurred between the Provincial Government, and the Indians on Lake Superior, in consequence of the sale of the lands in that region, to a certain Mining Company, by which the Indians were most unfairly dealt with, and almost driven from the occupation of lands to which they had the strongest possible claim.  The chiefs of the Chippewas, headed by Shingwakonce, despatched a very strong remonstrance to the Government, in view of which these lines were written.  They do not, however, contain a particle of the address, but grew out of the occasion, as it were.


Where are the Hunting Grounds,
     O’er which we chased
The wild deer and buffalo?
     All laid waste!
By the White Man made desolate,


     Where shall we go
To hunt down the bison,
     Or the wild roe?
Away from the sacred mounds,
     To the far west,


From the graves of our fathers,
     We travel, oppress’d.
Back, back to the desert,
     Where the Pale Face has never
Set the print of his footsteps:


     Thus shall it be ever!


Far from the tangled brakes,
Far from the sunny lakes, [Page 222]
Where the Red Man’s rifle wakes
     The wild bird at morn;


Far from our chosen home,
Friendless, unfed, we roam,
     Far from the lands
Which the Great Spirit gave us,


     Driven by hands
That should stretch out to save us;
Far from our Wigwams rude,
To the deep solitude
Of the untrodden wood,


     Evermore driven!
     Hear it Oh! Heaven!
     Witness, ye Sun,
     That lights us at noon,
     And thou, restless Moon;


Ye witnesses all
     Of the Great Unseen Spirit,
When shall the Red Man
     His lost rights inherit?
Shall he be driven thus,


     Backward, forever?
     Never—Oh! never!


Why, then, do we suffer
     The wrongs that surround us?
Why this barefaced injustice [Page 223]


     Submit to for aye?
Why? Because we believed them,
     When they promised to own us
For Friends and for Brothers—
For such they have found us


     In battle and fray.
     But, alas! for the day
When we kindly received them!
     Alas! for the day
When our weapons retrieved them


From destruction and danger;
     From threatening foes,
Who harassed their ranks,
     Till the Red Man arose!
     A curse on the day!


If this be their boasted
     Support and protection:
To suffer marauding bands
     To hold in subjection
Our hard-fought-for lands—


Bands of Long Knives, who never
     Befriended, or served us,
But who would have scattered,
     Destroyed us—unnerved us,
     At once and forever!



Oh! for the time, when we
Could dot the stormy sea [Page 224]
     With our birchen fleet!
Then we were strong and proud,
With a nation’s strength endowed;


Then we roved the prairies vast,
Thinking it would ever last;
Then we were united all,
Mustering at the Great Chief’s call:
     Then we had the feet


Of the bounding antelope,
Full of buoyant life and hope;
Then we were determined,
     As brave men should be;
As the oaks we stood firmly,


     As the winds we were free;
We had food in abundance,
     And fish from the sea;
We warred not for others,
     Of woes, we had none,


And we rested securely
     When our hunting was done.


But the Pale Faces saw us,
     They envied the lot
Of the Sons of the Forest,


     Who doubted them not;
They came with professions
     Of kindness and love,
And the Red Men believed [Page 225]
     They were sent from above;


They came to despoil us
     Of every right
Which we long had enjoyed,
     Came, disputing our might;
They came to divide us,


     They sought to enslave
A race, that, when injured,
     Could learn to be brave!
We fought—we were victors,
     But more Pale Faces came,


And murdered our Nations
     With thunder and flame;
We fought—we were scattered
     Abroad through the land,
To seek a new shelter


     On some distant strand.


More Pale Faces came,
     From a far-foreign isle,
They came not to waste us,
     Came not to revile;


But by their broad banner,
     The Red Cross they bore,
They vowed to protect us—
     What could they do more?
Their battles we fought,


     When the Long Knives oppress’d them, [Page 226]
Their battles we won,
     When the Great Spirit bless’d them;
Our rights they respected,
     As brothers we shared


The bountiful country,
     With faith unimpaired.
For this we have loved them,
     For this we have stood
Battling danger and death,


     Both by land and by flood;
For this, when the terrible
     War-cry uprose,
Did we bare our breasts
     To the stroke of their foes!



And shall they who have owned us
     For brothers so long—
Shall they break their promise?
     Shall they do us wrong?
No! by that sacred Banner


     We looked on of yore,
When our friendly White Brothers
     First stood on our shore;
By the faith we then pledged,
     By their prowess and might!


We know they are willing
     To serve us aright.
Why, then, do they barter [Page 227]
     Our rich lands away,
To the Long Knives, who hate us,


     As thieves hate the day?
Why suffer us backward
     By our foes to be driven?
The wrong calls for mercy,
     For justice from heaven!



Rise, then, my Red Brothers!
     Speak aloud for your own,
For the Right has a voice,
     Like the thunder’s loud tone;
Rise, not in deep anger,


     But firmly demand
That your White Brothers purchase
     Their right to our land:
Then, though we must wander
     Through forests unknown,


’Twere better than famish
     On lands not our own.
Rise! Sons of Tecumseh!
     Ojibwas, arise!
Let the voice of the Mohawks


     Ascend to the skies!
Rise! tell our Great Father
     The wrongs we sustain,
And He, who loves Justice,
     Will heal them again. [Page 228]



Where are our mighty Chiefs,
     Whose deeds of war
Spread from the fertile land
     To climes afar?
Where are our stalwart sons,


     Our nations strong,
Who in our memories live,
     And in the White Man’s song?
Spread like the autumn leaves
     Before the blast


Of the cold winds of winter—
     Their day has pass’d!
Behold! how few survive
     Of that countless host
Of brave and stern-faced warriors


     We once could boast!
Some perished by the White Man’s hand,
     In mortal strife,
When the war whoop rose and fell
     With each chieftain’s life!


Others, in peace were borne
     To the blest Hunting Grounds,
Where the Red Men’s spirits live,
     Where the war cry never sounds.


Come, then, my brothers few,


     Let us depart, [Page 229]
Though we leave the wilds we love,
     With a heavy heart.
There are lands where the White Man’s feet
     May never press,


Where the wild fowl still abound—
     In the deep wilderness;
There are rivers wide,
     Where the birch canoe,
As of old, can glide


     O’er the waters blue;
There are forests deep,
     Where the deer are found,
There are lands untrod—
     These are Freedom’s ground,


Where we can live, till the Great Spirit calls
     The last of our tribes away,
     To hunt from day to day,
     From year to happier year,
In the blest Hunting Grounds


     Which the Red Men revere;
There to live evermore,
     Where death shall not sever
The loved from the loving,
     Through ages, whose vistas


     Stretch onward forever,

     Where the White Man’s unholy oppression shall cease,
     And strife be unknown in those regions of Peace. [Page 230]