Piché Wampum History

This is a series of transcriptions from primary source documents regarding what is known as the Piché Wampum. 

 

Annual Archaeological Report 1904. Being Part of Appendix to the report of the Minister of Education, Ontario. 1905. Printed by Order of the legislative assembly. Toronto.

This section is from the beginning of the report where new accessions are itemized:

“27,008. — Twelve strings of cylindrical wampum, European make, presented by F. Lamorandiere, of Cape Croker., Ojibwa Reserve, per H. G. Tucker, Barrister, Owen Sound, Ont. Two of the strings consist wholly of white beads, the others of purple and white, arranged four and five of the former from two to three of the latter. Mrs. Lamorandiere formerly Mrs. Benoit, received these from her mother, Mrs. Gonneville, to whom they were given by Mrs. Piche, an Ojibwa woman of Saugeen or Sauging. The beads were regarded by the family as entitling the holder to a’ portion’ of land, in what is now the County of Bruce. The strings are twelve inches long, but were probably much longer at one time. See description elsewhere.”

This section is from the body of the report where the items are illustrated and described more fully:

“Wampum Strings.

The uses of beads were as various as were as their shape, and the kinds of material of which they were made. Perhaps the original purpose was a mnemonic one. The carrying of records on the person would suggest the decorative use, followed by their employment as pledges in bargain-making, and, lastly, as a medium of exchange. For a long time the natives of this country preferred “shell money” to European coinage, and the white man soon produced wampum, or wampumpage, with the aid of simple machinery, in such quantities that the value decreased rapidly. The accompanying illustration shows twelve strings of whiteman- make wampum, each string being a foot in length, and consisting of small cylindrical beads, some white and some purple, made from a bivalve (a mussel) specimens of which are found on the Atlantic coast, having portions, or even the whole, of the interior, dark purple.

String combinations of this kind were not at all uncommon, according to a statement made to me by the late Ska-na-wa-ti, who was for so many years the Six Nation Firekeeper, according to whom, also, for this method preceded that of forming the beads into belts, uniting the strings. As long as the beads were loosely strung the records must have been purely arbitrary as to arrangement, and, therefore, quite unintelligible to any but the Firekeeper and those who were instructed by him. In belt form, however, there was room to advance a few steps, for by this method something was possible by way of making simple designs, which, although also legible only to the initiated, came nearer to the pictographic devices used in making records. The loose string system, then, was on a par with the Peruvian quipa, or knotted string contrivance.

Figure 73, (27,008), represents a gift made to the museum by Mr. F. Lamorandiere, Indian interpreter at Cape Croker, through Mr. H. G. Tucker, barrister, of Owen Sound. Mr. Lamorandiere writes that “about 1816 when the voyageurs and adventurers from Lower Canada began to be attracted to the upper country (les Pays d’ en haut) to engage in the fur trade with the Indians, one M. Piche took himself to Sauging, (Saugeen). About 1818 Piche married a woman of the Chippewas (Ojibwas) of Sauging. They had no family, and when he died his widow was taken care of by Mrs. Augustine Gonneville, (more frequently called Grandeville), who was the daughter of Joseph Lange and a Cree woman. She married Gonneville, or Grandeville in the Red River country, and two removed to Goderich, and Sauging. Mrs. Grandeville cared for her till she (Mrs. Piche) died. Mrs. Piche ingratitude for all the care bestowed on her, presented Mrs. Grandeville with these strings of wampum, saying that they would entitle Mrs. Grandeville to her (Mrs. Piche’s) portion of land in the Sauging country. Augustine Grandeville died after raising a very large family, and his youngest daughter got married to Francis Benoit, who died near Sarnia. Mrs. Benoit took charge of her mother until she (Mrs. Grandeville) died, having bequeathed to Mrs. Benoit the strings of beads, repeating the words of Mrs. Piche, that the wampum would entitle her to one share of land in Sauging territory.”Mrs. Benoit became Mrs. F. Rocher de Lamorandiere. “The land claim was never acted on, as there was no need of doing so, because land was then cheap. “It may be well to remark, however, that the gift of these beads from one tribe to another, or an individual to another, was regarded as very solemn and binding, and a compact made that way was never broken. “Having no use for the beads except in remembrance of my late wife, and as a memento of the old times, I freely donate them to the Department of Education to be placed in the Provincial Museum, or any other place, as the Curator may think fit.

F. Lamorandiere.”

Mr, Lamorandiete’s notes are quoted pretty fully, because they present an interesting little picture of life in Upper Canada about the beginning of last century, illustrating, to some extent, the relationship that existed between the traders and the Indians, as well as showing us that the aboriginal custom of confirming a promise with some tangible pledge was yet in force. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Lamorandiere for his gift of such a well-attested “document,” and to Mr. Tucker, for his kindly office’s in procuring the wampum for the Provincial Museum.”

2.) David Boyle had a collection of papers, mostly correspondence of his. There are two letters from Harry Tucker and one from Fred Lamorandiere regarding the wampum donation.  It is interesting to note that the letter from Fred, which details the history of the wampum as told in the archaeological report, is not among them.  Boyle notes he quoted him “pretty fully” but not necessarily in entirely.  The letter may have been stored with the wampum itself, and both are now gone.

 

Accessed at the ROM Library, David Boyle Fonds SC1

 

“Tucker and Cameron

Barristers, Solicitors, Notaries, Inc.

Owen Sound Canada

Sept, 20/04.

Thomas Boyle, Esq.,

(Curator, Normal School)

Toronto, ONT.

 

Dear Mr. Boyle,

        After many years I have succeeded in getting from Hr. Lamorandier the string of Wampum beads about which I spoke to you and wrote you once before. I enclose you a letter together with a written history sent to me by Mr. Lamorandier, the Interpreter of the Cape Croker band of Indians. For fear these beads might be lost in transit or injured, I will keep them until I go to the city the next time, which I expect will be (second page of letter) within a couple of weeks. Mr. Lamorandier is a French Indian half-bred and a very intelligent man. His description is somewhat amusing, and possibly you might find it expedient to write him for further information.

 

        I am endeavoring to get some other articles from Mr. Lamorandier and the Indians at Cape Croker, and if I succeed I shall forward them to you.

Yours truly,

H. Tucker”

 

 

    Here is an additional letter from later that year:

    “Tucker and Cameron

    Barristers, Solicitors, Notaries, Inc.

    Owen Sound Canada

    Oct, 6/04.

    Thomas Boyle, Esq.,

    (Curator, Normal School)

    Toronto, ONT.

     

    Dear Mr. Boyle,

            As I am not certain when I shall be down to the city, perhaps next Monday and perhaps not for a couple of weeks, I thought I would send you the string of wampum beads which I received from Mr. Lamorandier, and I beg to enclose you the same by concurrent post. When acknowledging receipt will please tell me what these beads are made of? I imagine them to be coral. It is certainly interesting to know that in the early days there was communication between our Indians and the tribes of the North West or prairie Indians. Note in Mr. Lamorandier’s letter the word “Sauging” now Saugeen.

     

                                                                            Yours truly,

                   H. Tucker”

     

    Here is Fred Lamorandiere’s letter (From October 17, 1904 as noted on the back of the letter). Because Tucker mentioned he was going to acquire other articles from Fred, it is unclear if when Fred says “I had to bring lots of other things with it so as to make it better understood…” he is referring to the additional artifacts or that he “brought” other elements into the narrative.  There is no evidence of what happened to the possible other artifacts Tucker spoke of donating. The Tucker family (his brother) did suffer a fire on Manitoulin, in which it is described they lost many “Indian relics”.  The accession list from the archeological report doesn’t have anything besides the wampum, so if Tucker did get other articles from Fred he did not seem to pass them on. Here is the transcription:

     

    (In someone else’s hand) “Look for box by mail”

    (In Fred Lamorandiere’s hand:)

    “Cape Croker ang L 25/1904

    Sir

    I send Short hist (sic history) of the beads I had to bring lots of other things with it so as to make it better understood how the gift came about.

                You can say to the Curator what you may think fit. My life is pretty well advanced now and I may not live long, (75 years).

    Respectfully,

    Fred Lamorandiere

     H. Tucker Esq.

    Solicitor (?ic) O Sound”

     

     

     

    3.) There is a newspaper article regarding the wampum from the Windsor Star. This was written prior to David Boyle releasing the archaeology report. Accessed on Newspapers.com

     

    The Windsor Star, Saturday, December 10, 1904

    “An Indian Relic.

    Mr. F. Lamorandiere of Cape Croker, Bruce County, has presented the museum of the Education Department, Toronto, with a lot of wampum, consisting of twelve strings, ten of white and purple, and two of white beads. They had been his possession and in the possession of a family named Grandville for a number of years, having been presented to the family in gratitude by a Chippewa Indian widow, who said they were the deed of a farm.”

     

     

     

     

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