Katawabeda was the son of Biauswah II. He inherited his father’s chieftainship of the Sandy Lake Band and became the first ‘general ruler’ of the Minnesota Ojibwe. His daughter Mahnun married the renowned Hole in the Day, the elder and she was the mother of the even more famous Hole in the Day, the Younger.
According to his own account, Katawabeda was a small boy at the taking of Old Mackinac by the British in 1763. He was among the Sandy Lake Chippewa and mentioned as an important person by Jean Baptiste Perrault in 1758. He had in his possession a French flag which in the ‘old days’ had been presented to his ancestors by the French. In the winter of 1805-06 Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, U.S. Army, presented Katawabeda with an important official document. During the Cass expedition, 1820, James Doty (later Governor of the Wisconsin territory) made a survey of the Upper Mississippi Chippewa. In a report to Lewis Cass, (then Governor of the Michigan territory) Doty describes the various Chippewa bands at ; Leech Lake, Sandy Lake, Pokegama, Rice Lake, Fond du Lac, Snake River, etc., listing civil and military chiefs of the bands. All of whom, he states: “are severally influenced by the Brachu, (Bre’che) who, it seems raised himself to this superior station merely by his eloquence. His ancestors have always been in good standing, and for a time furnished chiefs for the tribe at Sandy Lake. It appears he (Katawabeda) is the first Emperor of these tribes, they having been entirely distinct and independent previous to his time.”….
Henry R. Schoolcraft, Indian Agent for the Lake Superior District, reports a visit to the agency at St Mary’s by this chief in 1822. He says, “I received a visit from Katawabeda, or Broken Tooth, chief of Sandy Lake, on the Upper Mississippi, who is generally known by his French name of Breshieu”…
Katawabeda and his son-in-law, Hole in the Day, the elder, were in attendance at the historic and picturesque treaty of Prairie du Chien in 1825 at which council, Governor Lewis Cass and General William Clark attempted to solve the boundary disputes between the Chippewa and Sioux; and between the Sac, Fox, and Iowa’s confederacy and the Sioux.
He again was present in his official capacity at the Treaty of 1826 at Fond du Lac (Lake Superior), a treaty to define boundaries between the Chippewa and Winnebago.
The Bre’che visited the agency at the Sault in July of 1828. Schoolcraft records: “This venerable chief is the patriarch of the region around Sandy Lake, on the Upper Mississippi.”…and comments on a speech made by the chief: “The neutral policy which this chief so early unfolded, I have found quite characteristic of his oratory, though his political feelings are known to be favorable, decidedly, to the British Government.”…(the Bre’che’s son-in-law was George Ermatinger, a British trader from Canada).
When Schoolcraft headed his expedition to discover the source of the Mississippi River (Itasca Lake) in 1832, he held a council with the Upper Mississippi Chippewa at the mouth of the Crow Wing River. Here he learned of the death of Katawabeda, (during the winter of 1831-32).
This treaty established boundaries demarcating the aboriginal territories of the various Nations. This treaty acknowledged a reciprocal right of hunting within the territories of another Band or Nation pursuant to prior approval by the chiefs and headmen of the various Bands and Nations.
This treaty between the United States and the Chippewa of Lake Superior fathered at their general council fire gave their assent to the 1825 Prairie du Chien Treaty.
This treaty retained the rights to hunt, fish, and gather the wild rice upon the lands, lakes, and rivers within the aboriginal territory ceded to the federal government.
This treaty expressly retained the right to hunt, and used the land for other reserved aboriginal rights (fish, trap, gather) within the aboriginal territory ceded to the federal government. The treaty reserved tracts of land for participant tribes in common.
The Chippewa of the Mississippi and Lake Superior cede territory. Half or mixed blood Chippewa considered Chippewa Indians and to participate in all annuities of the Chippewa of the Mississippi and Lake Superior. No express mention of the hunting, fishing, and gathering rights.
This Treaty expressly retained rights to hunt and fish with the aboriginal territory ceded to the federal government.
This treaty ceded the territory in modern-day Minnesota setting aside land for the reservation for the Minnesota Chippewas; no express mention of the hunting, fishing, and gathering rights.
This treaty was superseded by the Treaty with the Chippewa, 1864.
The Chippewa chief Hole in the Day, and Mis-qua-dace, for and on behalf of the Mississippi, and Pillager and Lake Winnebagoshish bands of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota. U.S. Proclamation, March 20, 1865.
The Chippewa of the Mississippi, represented by Que-we-zance, or Hole in the Day, Qui-we-shen-shush, Wau-bon-a-quot, Min-e-do-won, Mijaw-ke-ke-shik, Shob-osk-kunk, Ka-gway-dosh, Me-no-ke-shick, Way-namee, and O-gub-ay-gwan-ay-aush. U.S. Proclamation, April 18, 1867.
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