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Charles E. Cleland Native American research collection, 1970-2008, and undated

117 cubic ft. (in 122 Boxes, 9 Ov. folders)

The collection includes mostly photocopies of materials generated by various lawsuits, and other materials documenting Native Americans of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and First Peoples of Ontario, Canada, their history, culture, and relationship with the presiding government.Tribes documented are noted in the subject headings.

The collection includes mostly undated photocopies of materials generated by various tribal lawsuits against states and the United States (US) government in the collection. Some of the materials date back to the 1780s, but they are not originals, they are photocopies mostly made in the 1970s-1990s or later. There are some original reports and court records created during the time period of 1970-2008. The collection is rich in and dense in documenting Native Americans of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and First Peoples of Ontario, Canada, their history, culture, and relationship with the presiding government.

The collection is in original order. It is organized alphabetically by series by tribe or community seeking tribal status, reservation boundary (KBIC) case, tax case, or for hunting and fishing rights (Voight or LCO case) (105 boxes, 102.5 cubic feet). Within each series there are various subseries which may include: calendar documents (reference documents in chronological order), Cleland reports and reports of others (un/published), Cleland’s testimony as an expert witness, reference documents and/or un/published sources including newspaper or journal articles, books, maps, government reports, laws, land, legal and tax records, correspondence, business or personal records, excerpts from journals, diaries, and accounts, treaties, various US or Canadian court documents, miscellaneous and/or related documents, footnotes, project files, transcriptions of oral histories, finding aids, various types of maps, sketches, and genealogical and/or family charts. Some materials are bound volumes and others are oversized materials. Tribes or communities represented in the collection include:

Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Wisconsin) 2 boxes (2 cubic ft.); Bay Mills Indian Community (Michigan) 15 boxes (14.5 cubic ft.); Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa (Minnesota) 8 boxes (7.5 cubic ft.); Forest County Potawatomi (Wisconsin), Notre Dame Project 4 boxes (4 cubic ft.); Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC, Michigan) 10 boxes (10 cubic ft.); Lac Courte Oreilles [Lake Superior Ojibwa]– Voigt Case 4 boxes (4 cubic ft.); Menominee (Wisconsin) 13 Boxes (12.5 cubic ft.); Mille Lacs Chippewa (Minnesota) 21 boxes (19 cubic ft.) (Note: Box 1 is actually half Menominee and half Mille Lacs Chippewas.); Saginaw Chippewa (Michigan) 13 boxes (13 cubic ft.); Sarnia [Chippewas of Sarnia Band (Ontario, Canada) who prefer to be known as Aamjiwnaang First Nation] 9 boxes (9 cubic ft.); Stockbridge-Munsee (Wisconsin) 8 boxes (8 cubic ft.).

Additional case and reference materials are found at the end in Boxes A-M (12 boxes, 9 Oversized folders, 13 cubic feet). These include: Box A: Bay Mills, US v. MI, 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box B: Bay Mills, US v. MI, KBIC Tax Case, KBIC Boundary Case, Crown v Sarnia, 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box C: Crown v. Sarnia 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box D: KBIC Boundary Case 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box E: KBIC Boundary Case 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box F: Saginaw Case 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box G: Miscellaneous Unpublished reports 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box H Finding Aids 1 box (.25 cubic ft.); Box I: Various legal cases, acts, statutes, decisions in Canadian cases 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box J: LCO Case, Stockbridge-Munsee, Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box K: Crandon Mine, Menominee Case, treaties US 1 box (1 cubic foot); Box L: Menominee Documents (really 1 Oversized folder on shelf); Box M: Calendars, Reference documents 1 box (1 cubic foot).

Also included are 5x8 inch notecards (4 boxes, 1.5 cubic foot), which usually document in one box each: KBIC, Grand Portage, MI and MN Chippewas, and Voigt.

Lastly, nine oversized folders (larger than legal-size, about .5 cubic foot) include mostly photocopies of a wide variety of maps, treaty signers, genealogy notes and family tree, and land claims.

All boxes in the collection are 1 cubic foot boxes except for the following: Boxes #15, 25, 68, 74-75 are .5 cubic foot boxes; Box #113 is .25 cubic foot box, Box #117 is really an Overszied folder; Boxes #119-122 are 5x8 inch index card boxes.

Materials were collected from a plethora of local, state, and national archives and historical institutions, as well as tribal archives, and various courts, both American and Canadian.

Abbreviations: Professor Cleland and his staff used numerous, and sometimes various, abbreviations for institutions, record groups and/or series names or other citations. Some of these were obvious to the processors, others were not. Many of these abbreviations are not identified in this finding aid. For example, enclosure is abbreviated multiple ways. These variations were retained during processing. Some of these variations are obvious and can be deduced by researchers from the materials.

Also, due to the length of the collection, a number of abbreviations and grammatical changes were implemented by the archivist.

The archivist also deleted: ["no reference" and "incomplete reference"], the, a, or an (articles) at the beginning of a title; Anonymous or Author unknown or a.u.; unknown dates, undated, ND, or n.d. and s.u. Marian also changed: Microfilm to micro and “and” to and; and abbreviated certain common words, as noted below, and the names of months.

Abbreviations used widely by Professor Cleland, his staff, and Marian the Archivist include: ABCFM=American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; AFCP=American Fur Company Papers; AG=Attorney General; ARCOIA=Annual Report of Commissioners of Indian Affairs; B or Bx=Box; BBC=Bishop Baraga Collection; BIA=Bureau of Indian Affairs; ca.=circa; CCF=Central classified files; CMU=Central Michigan University; CHL=Clarke Historical Library; Co.=County; COIA=Commissioner/s of Indian Affairs; Corp.=Corporation; Dist.=District; E=East, not eastern; encl.=enclosure or enclosed; GLO=General Land Office; HR=House of Representatives; HS=Historical Society; ICC=Indian Claims Commission; IL=Illinois; IN=Indiana; JL=Journal; LC=Library of Congress; LLL=Letters of Lucius Lyon; LRBO-OHC=Little River Band-Oral History Collection; Ltd.=Limited; MH=Michigan History (a publication); MHM=Michigan History Magazine (a publication); MI=Michigan; Misc.=Miscellaneous; MPHC=Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections (a publication); MN=Minnesota; MS=Mississippi; Mss.=Manuscript; MTRL-JP=Metro Toronto Reference Library-Jarvis Papers; N=North, not Northern; NAM=National Archives microfilm; NEB=Nebraska; NWT=Northwest Territories; OIA=Office of Indian Affairs; US=United States; PAC=Public Archives of Canada (National Archives of Canada); PAO=Public Archives of Ontario; PAO-WJLB=Public Archives of Ontario-William Jones Letterbook; Qly=quarterly; rec=received; S=South, not southern; SAM=State Archives of Michigan; TWP=township; UCA=United Church Archives; U.P.=Upper Peninsula; US=United States; UWO, RC-EP= University of Western Ontario, Regional Collection-Evans Papers; W=West, not Western; w/=with; WI=Wisconsin; WL, UWO-WP =Weldon Library, University of Western Ontario, Wawanash Papers.

Also, the original punctuation used varies. A few of the original folder labels were crossed out partially or entirely. These variations were retained during processing.

Processing Notes: Only a few duplicate copies were withdrawn from the collection. Several items which had suffered physical damage mostly due to mud or dirt stains or being badly crumpled or torn were copied and the originals were withdrawn from the collection. (The total withdrawn from this collection was less than .25 cubic ft.).

The vast majority of the collection was organized into series by tribal name or topic, foldered, and labeled before it came to the Clarke. Original folders were maintained in the collection. We endeavored as much as possible to duplicate the original label headings (which varied somewhat from series to series) in the Box and folder listing. Items that were not foldered were foldered by the archivist, and those that were unlabeled were identified and labeled by the archivist.


Jacob Butler Varnum papers, 1811-1888 (majority within 1811-1833)

79 items

The Jacob Butler Varnum papers contain letters and documents related to Varnum's career as a factor at United States Indian trading posts in Sandusky, Ohio, and Fort Dearborn, Chicago; as a captain in the 40th Massachusetts Infantry during the War of 1812; and as a Washington D.C. merchant after he left government service. Included are letters and instructions from government officials concerning trade with Indians, as well as letters from Varnum to his father, Senator Joseph B. Varnum, concerning his activities as factor.

The Jacob Butler Varnum papers (79 items) contain letters and documents related to Varnum's career as a factor at United States Indian trading posts in Sandusky, Michilimackinac, and Fort Dearborn, Chicago; as a captain in the 40th Massachusetts Infantry during the War of 1812; and as a Washington D.C. merchant after he left government service. The collection is comprised of 59 letters, 1 diary, 13 documents and financial records, and 5 miscellaneous items. Included are letters and instructions from various government officials concerning trade with Indians in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois, as well as five letters from Varnum to his father Senator Joseph B. Varnum (ca.1751-1821) concerning his activities as factor.

The Correspondence series (60 items) comprises the bulk of the collection. Forty-nine items document Varnum's governmental career spanning 1811 to 1826, during his service as Indian trade factor in Sandusky, Michilimackinac, and Chicago; and as captain of the 40th Massachusetts Infantry during the War of 1812. Varnum received instructions from various Indian agents and government officials concerning the regulation of trade with the Munsee, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Ottawa, Sioux, and Wyandot Indians, among others. Many letters came from the United States Office of Indian Trade at Georgetown, including four from Indian Officer John Mason (1812 and 1815), and 21 letters from Superintendent of Indian Trade Thomas Loraine McKenney (1816-1822). These contain discussions of trade operations, types of merchandise, questions arising about the sale of goods, and instructions for the reporting of financial accounts. Also of note are five letters from Varnum to his father, Joseph Bradley Varnum (1750-1821), in which he described his experiences at Sandusky and at Michilimackinac, as well as with the business of the trading house at Chicago (December 3, 1811; January 14, 1812; May 21, 1816; November 3, 1817; March 1, 1818).

Other items of note include:
  • August 8, 1811: Joseph Bradley Varnum to John Mason, accepting the appointment of his son as agent of the United States Indian trading house at Sandusky, Ohio
  • March 1, 1818: Varnum to his father predicting the outbreak of a great war with the Indians "from the Simenoles to the Sioux"
  • February 8, 1820: Thomas L. McKenney letter to Jacob B. Varnum, giving instructions about the handling of money given to Varnum by Government Indian agents

Most of the 1823-1826 material concerns government reimbursements for military expenses at Fort Dearborn. The collection contains 11 letters documenting Varnum's post-governmental career as a merchant in Washington D.C. and Petersburg, Virginia (1826-1860).

These include:
  • February 1827-August 1832: Five items regarding Varnum and John Biddle concerning mutual business interests in Detroit
  • December 17, 1833: John H. Kinzie to Varnum concerning Chicago lands owned by Kinzie, a fur trader

The Diary series (1 item) contains a 26-page notebook with Varnum's description of his trip from Chicago to Dracut, Massachusetts, by way of Detroit and Buffalo (August 17-October 22, 1822), and from Detroit through New York and Philadelphia, to Washington D.C. (May 28-June 22, 1823). Varnum reported on his manner of travel (horse, ship, steamboat) and his travel route, describing stops at many of the major towns along the Erie Canal. He commented on the towns that he passed through including Rochester, New York, which had grown considerably since the opening of the Erie Canal (page 6). He also noted prices for room and board. The final five pages contain financial accounts for Varnum's military expenses incurred from 1813 to 1815.

The Documents and Financial Records series (13 items) contains material documenting Varnum's finances and his service in the War of 1812.

This includes:
  • June 8, 1813: Affidavits (and a fragment of the same item) documenting the capture of Joseph B. Varnum's trunks, taken by the British as they were being transported from Michilimackinac to Detroit
  • 1814: Six military district orders related to promotions, responsibilities, and discipline in the 40th Massachusetts Infantry, in which Varnum was a captain under Acting Adjutant General George P. Peters
  • August 22, 1815: Copy of a bond oath signed by Varnum as factor for Indian trade at Chicago, and a copy of his father, Jacob Butler Varnum's oath of office
  • 1816-1827: Four financial records of debts and receipts for goods purchased by Varnum
  • Undated [1808]: Deposition of Richard Smyth regarding the sale of a lot in Detroit owned by Varnum's father-in-law John Dodemead

The Miscellaneous series (5 items) contains 3 envelope covers, one of which includes a recipe for a "Lazy Daisy" cake (c.1930). Also present are a photograph of a man and two women outside of a tent next to a car (c.1930), and a typed 13-page biography of Joseph Bradley Varnum, undated and unattributed.


John M. Johnston collection, 1820-1939 (majority within 1820-1892)

0.25 linear feet

This collection contains 65 letters, financial records, and legal documents related to John M. Johnston, a Native American language interpreter who lived in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and to Native Americans in Michigan during the 19th century. Henry R. Schoolcraft and Ramsay Crooks contributed letters and documents to the collection.

This collection contains 65 items related to John M. Johnston, a Native American language interpreter from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and to the history of Native Americans in Michigan during the 19th century. Included are 21 letters, 32 documents, and 12 notes and other items; most material is dated between 1820 and 1892.

John M. Johnston received personal letters from family members throughout the 19th century, including a letter from his sisters written during his time at school in New York (1831) and a letter his brother William wrote about the death of his son in the Civil War (January 23, 1863). Other items directly related to the Johnston family include 5 appointments for military positions in the 16th Regiment, Michigan State Militia; Eliza Johnston's stock certificates for the St. Joseph Manufacturing Company; an early receipt addressed to Johnston's father in Dublin, Ireland; and items regarding the division of John and Susan Johnston's property following their deaths. Also included are a printed proclamation of the United States' declaration of war on Mexico, May 13, 1846; a picture postcard of the Johnston family home in Sault Ste. Marie; and manuscript notes on the Johnston family.

The bulk of the remaining material directly concerns Native Americans in Michigan, particularly the Ojibwa (Chippewa) tribe, including 7 letters from Henry Schoolcraft to Johnston and Major W. V. Cobbs, 1835-1844; 4 letters by American Fur Company president Ramsay Crooks, 1835 and 1839; a document signed with the marks of 10 Native Americans regarding hunting and fishing rights and white persons trespassing on their lands, October 2, 1837; a letter from five natives, July 1839; one temperance pledge signed by 46 persons at the Point Iroquois Mission, October 20, 1877, with another blank, partially printed pledge; and additional items related to the economic relationship between European settlers and Native Americans in the Upper Peninsula.


Russell G. Overton Annuity Rolls, 2018

.5 cubic ft. (in 1 box)

This collection was generated in 2018 from a digital copy Overton had made of annuity records of Indian tribes in Michigan and part of Wisconsin, 1853-1858, which were part of a much larger body of records in the National Archives designated as Records Group (RG) 217.7.7, Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Records of the Second Auditor, Records of the Archives Division, settled Indian accounts and claims, 1795-1894. .

This collection was researched and compiled by Overton from the much larger body of records in the National Archives designated as Records Group (RG) 217.7.7, Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Records of the Second Auditor, Records of the Archives Division, settled Indian accounts and claims, 1795-1894. RG 217.7.7 is also available on Microfilm T135 at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In 2018 Overton had a digital copy made of annuity records of Indian tribes in Michigan and part of Wisconsin, 1853-1858. Two paper copies were printed from digital copy for the Clarke Historical Library, a user copy which is in the Clarke's reading room for public use, and a master paper archival backup in the stacks. The collection is in its original order, mostly chronological and alphabetical. For some of the bands and tribes in this collection there are no official Library of Congress subject headings.

All the original annuity payment forms were handwritten on paper. Each annuity payment is a multi-page list, approximately 20 pages in length. Each annuity payment includes: the place and date of payment, names of each tribe, band and head of a family who received an annuity, the total number of men, women, children, and members in each family, and the total of money received by each family, tribe, and band. The head of family made an X (their mark) by their name indicating payment received and that they were illiterate. Native American names are spelled phonetically in English. At the end of each annuity payment list, the Indian Agent and other witnesses signed, including missionaries, other agents and military officers. Sometimes payment were late. Upper Peninsula tribes were usually paid during the summer, Lower Peninsula in the fall and early winter, and the more southerly tribes often had to wait until January. Before the Ottawa and Chippewa Treaty of Detroit, 1855, the Grand River Ottawas were paid under two different treaties, two separate payrolls, usually the same day and time (noted here as Part 1 and 2). (This information is from the collection.)


Thomas Duggan journal, 1795-1801

1 volume

Thomas Duggan managed the British Army's Indian Department storehouse at Fort Michilimackinac and St. Joseph Island with the 24th Regiment of Foot. In the journal, he detailed the outpost's interactions with Ojibwa (referred to as Chippewa in the journal), Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sioux, and Cherokee groups that came to the store for "presents" of food, arms, and supplies, from October 31, 1795 to September 6, 1801.

The Thomas Duggan journal is composed of 120 pages of journal entries and 23 pages of ledgers (128 blank pages), spanning from October 31, 1795 to September 6, 1801. Duggan, a storekeeper and clerk for the British Army’s 24th Regiment of Foot stationed at Fort Michilimackinac, wrote several entries per week, varying in length from a few sentences to 4 pages. Duggan discussed managing the store and detailed his outpost's interactions with the Native American groups that came to the store for "presents" of food, arms, and supplies. He recorded numerous tribes and Indian chiefs by name and the places from which they had traveled. The bulk of the interactions were with the Ojibwa tribe (referred to as Chippewa in the journal) and the Ottawa Indians, but Duggan also mentioned the Potawatomi, Sioux, and Cherokee. Indians traveled from Detroit, Milwaukee (Minowaukee), Thunder Bay, L'Arbre Croche (now Harbor Springs, Michigan), Saginaw, Beaver Island, Grand Traverse Bay, Mackinaw Island, Sault Sainte Marie, Lake Superior, and other locations around the Great Lakes.

The first entry noted the start of Duggan's post of storekeeper and clerk for the Indian Department. In the bulk of the entries, Duggan records information on the groups of Indians visiting the store and recounts their conversations and speeches. He frequently used paternalistic language in discussing the relationship between the British and the Indians, terms also found in his transcriptions of speeches given by Indians. The following excerpt is typical of such language that reinforces the idea of Indian dependency on the British: "Their great father [King George III] would never forsake them as long as they behaved as good Children" (p. 27). Duggan described British charity toward and protection of the Indians, and many entries include reports on the hardships and brutality of the region. Duggan also makes several notes on the Indians’ relations with Americans. In one instance, Duggan wrote about an American Council, during which the Americans threatened the Indians with violence if they did not "behave themselves" (p.22). "That if they stole nets or any thing else from the White people they should pay four times their Value and be imprisoned. That if they killed any One They should be tied by the neck and hung up like dogs[,] in short that They should suffer for the least injury they done to a White man..." (p.22).

Other notable entries include:
  • A copy of a "Commission for Indian Chiefs" from Quebec Governor Frederick Haldimand (p.6).
  • A translation of a speech by the Ottowa Chief [Mitamianu], addressed to their "Great Father" King George III, which includes a discussion of the relationship between the Indians, British, and Americans in the Michigan region (p.40-43).
  • News of a local conflict between the Nadowessies (Sioux) and the Ojibwa, which resulted in 45 Ojibwa and 5 Sioux fatalities (p.54).
  • A story from a white trader of Indians, suffering from starvation, who ate their two young children (p.71)

Duggan also noted regular contact with the British military in Detroit and throughout the Great Lakes region. He mentioned William Doyle, Deputy Adjutant-General in Canada, and transcribed a letter sent from Lieutenant Colonel Commandant D. Strong and British Agent of Indian Affairs Jacob Schieffelin, advising the Chippewa not to attack the Cherokee Nation, (p.73-75).

In the back of the journal is a ledger of accounts for trade of sugar, fur, clothing, and other goods, covering the period from 1787-1801. The last five tables document wampum, sugar, and caribou traded by the British at St. Joseph with the Ojibwe and Ottawa tribes. They list the names of the Indian traders. See Additional Descriptive Data for a list of goods traded to the Indians.

The volume holds one unbound letter, in French, from A. Joseph to Duggan (July 4, 1798). The letter concerns a shipment of porcelain and other goods to the outpost (letter is laid in at page 121).