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Itinerary (1821): Starts in the Michigan territory on the Detroit River (Chapters I-II); rides to Fort Wayne (III), travels on Indiana rivers, ending up on the Wabash (IV-VII); down the Ohio (VIII-X) and up the Mississippi to St. Louis (XI); then into the Missouri territory on the Missouri (XII-XIII), returning to St. Louis (XIV); then travels up the Illinois River (XIV-XV), eventually crossing over on horseback to Chicago, where the party was attending a treaty conference with two to three thousand Indians. The next two chapters deal with the proceedings of the conference, and the final two make general ethnographic observations on the Native Americans.
The author was the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Michigan. He was trained as a geologist, and well respected in that field prior to his appointment, but over time his genuine interest in Indian life made him a pioneer scholar in the ethnography of Native Americans. Though his style is more scholar than journalist, and he “draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than his wit,” he is a comprehensive commentator, combining direct observation with historical and scientific knowledge. The reader may not have equal interest in all parts of the book, but this is a rich trove of information on this time and place.