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Indian Chiefs of Lake Maxinkuckee
Map 01

Chief Aubbeenaubbee

Nees-Wau-GeeChief Nees-Wau-Gee Pau-Koo-ShuckChief Pau-Koo-Shuck

Map 02

On and around Lake Maxinkuckee, there were essentially three Indian chiefs. Two of their villages bordered Lake Maxinkuckee, while the third, that of Chief Menominee, was located between the Twin Lakes north of Culver, approximately where the Kiwanis Children's camp is today located.

At left: A map of Lake Maxinkuckee showing the various Indian villages (click to enlarge).

Chief Aubbeenaubbe

The village of Chief Aubenaube (alternately, Aubbeenaubbee) was on the south shore of the lake; his story is perhaps the one most rife with legend and lore (including a ghost story!).

 From Daniel McDonald's History of Marshall County:

Au-be-nau-be Village.

There was also what was called Au-be-nau-be village, in Fulton County, on or near the southern line of Marshall County, and about two miles to the "rest of the Michigan road. It was on what was the known as Man- ke-kose's reserve, not far from the present town of Walnut.  Au-be-nau-be presided as chief over several bands of Pottawattomies, in this and Fulton County, but made his permanent home at what was Au-be-nau-be village in Fulton County, a few miles south of Maxinkuckee Lake. A large allotment of land was

Aubenaube Village Map ceded to him and his band, which was called " Au-be-nau-be reserve." It extended half way up the east shore of Maxinkuckee Lake, thence east a mile or so, and then south several miles into Fulton County.

Above: a map of the area of Aubenaubbee's village.

Au-be-nau-be was a stout, robust, coarse featured, sullen specimen of his race, and when under the influence of liquor, which he nearly always was for a long time prior to his tragic death, was quarrelsome, vicious and unmanageable. One who knew him intimately said Au-be-nau-be was born in 1760, at the Portage between the headwaters of the Kankakee river and St. Joseph river, then called by the Indians "Lock-wock," the Indian name for portage, and was seventy-six years old at the time of his death.

Polygamy being allowed among the Indians at that time, Au-be-nau-be had provided himself with a number of wives, with not all of whom he lived in that peace and harmony that should characterize man and wife. In one of his drunken sprees he quarreled with one of his wives, and in a fit of anger killed her. A council of the chiefs of the different bands of the Pottawattomies was called, so the story goes, to deliberate as to what the punishment should be. The council, following an ancient custom, decided that the oldest son should be the avenger of the murder of his mother and slay his father. The sentence of death was pronounced and the son was given a certain number of moons to carry it into execution. The father had the right to defend himself, and if he could keep out of the way and escape the infliction of the penalty until the time had expired he was to be considered a free man. His son kept watch of him, and as he wanted the old man out of the way so he could succeed him as chief of the band, he was really in earnest in wanting to kill him. Finally the opportunity presented itself. One day the old mall drank to excess and, sitting down in a chair in the Blodgett log shanty, went to sleep. His son haying followed him, approached stealthily into his presence, pulled his tomahawk from his belt, and, with a terrific blow, thrust it into his head up to the handle. The blood spurted to the low ceiling above, and with a single groan and struggle, the great chief, Au-be-nau-be, fell over on the floor, dead! This was at the Blodgett log cabin, just over the county line in Fulton County.

The son, whose name was Pau-koo-shuck, succeeded his father as chief of the tribe, and the same year disposed of the lands belonging to the reservation by treaty to the government, and with his band, in September, 1838, was started for the reservation west of the Missouri river. According to the account of one who accompanied the Indians on that expedition Pau-koo-shuck, when near the Mississippi river, refused to go any further, finally escaped and returned to the old hunting grounds, where he remained hunting and fishing, drinking and carousing, until he died not a great while afterward. After the death of Au-be-nau-be his remains were set up by a big tree and fenced in with poles, and supplied with pipes and tobacco and provisions sufficient to last him until he reached the happy hunting grounds over there." The few white people in the neighborhood, however, did not approve of that manner of burial, and dug a hole in the ground and put him in it, covered him up and piled stone over him; and there he remained and his dust is probably there yet, but as the stones have all been taken away, and the ground composing the little mound that covered him has been plowed and cultivated, there is not now a trace of the spot where the old chief lay.

Anecdote of Au-be-nau-be.

The following anecdote is told of Au-be-nau-be in connection with the making of the treaty of 1832. President Jackson had appointed Gov. Jonathan Jennings a commissioner to negotiate a treaty with the Pottawattomie Indians of northern Indiana, his associates on the commission being John W. Davis and Marks Crume. The meeting was held at the forks of the Wabash, where the city of Huntington now stands, October 26, 1832. One who was present tells the story of what happened there as follows:

During the preliminary council, Dr. John W. Davis who was a pompous, big-feeling man, said something that gave offense to Au be-nau-be was a one of the head chiefs of the Pottawattomies. Au-be-nau-be addressed Gov. Jennings, saying: “Does our great father intend to insult us by sending such men to treat with us? Why did he not send Gen. Cass and Tipton? You (pointing to Gov. Jennings) good man and know how to treat us. (Pointing to Crume) He chipped beef for the squaws at Wabash;" meaning that Crume was the beef contractor at the treaty of 1826. Then, pointing to Dr. Davis, he said: Big man and damn fool.” The chief then spoke a few words to the Pottawattomies present that gave one of their peculiar yells and left the council house, and could only be induced to return after several days, and then only through the great influence of Gov. Jennings. This was the treaty that set apart what is known as the Me-no-mi-nee reserve, consisting of twenty-two sections of land, extending from west of Plymouth to Twin lakes, where Me-no-mi-nee village was located and the old Indian chapel erected. The signing, of this treaty was said to be the last official act of Jonathan Jennings, the first governor of Indiana. He was, probably, the most distinguished man in many ways who took an active part in the formation of the Indiana territory and later in the organization of the state in 1816. He had blue eyes, sandy hair and fair complexion. He died comparatively young, but he did as much for the well being of Indiana as any man that ever lived. He died July 26, 1834, at Charlestown, Ind., surrounded by his family and friends, beloved by all.

VI. PAU-KOO-SHUCK: A GHOST STORY

A friend of the writer, who then lived in the vicinity of Au-be-nau-be village, south of Maxinkuckee lake, knew most of the Indians well and spoke the Pottawattomie language fluently, said that~ he was familiar with the facts in relation to the tragic end of Aubenaube, and was also, at the burial of his son at Long point, on the west side of Maxinkuckee lake, not a very long time afterwards. The name of this son was Pau-koo-shuck. After having killed his father, being the oldest son he inherited his father's estate, some thirty-two sections of land, and became the chief of the band of Pottawattomies over which his father had for many years presided. Pau-koo-shuck entered into a treaty with the government in April, 1836, by which all the lands in Au-be-nau-be's reservation was transferred to the government, and he and his band agreed to go to the lands reserved for the Pottawattomies west of the Mississippi river within two years. As the story goes, when the time came he was very much opposed to leaving the land of his birth and early exploits. With a great many others who had determined that they would not go, he was taken by force by the government soldiers. During that fatiguing and cruel march he made several, attempts to escape. Just before reaching the Mississippi river he made another heroic attempt, and in the fight with the officer he was struck in the neck with a knife and left on the roadside, all supposing him to be dead. He was not fatally injured, however, and finally recovered sufficient strength to enable him to make his way back after a long and dangerous journey through an unbroken wilderness infested with ravenous wild beasts, afoot and alone. He spent the remainder of his days, which were few, hunting and fishing along the rivers and lakes in the neighborhood where he had formerly lived. His life had proven a failure; his kindred and friends had been dragged from him, and he grew reckless and discontented, drank whisky to excess, and went from place to place, getting into frequent quarrels and fights.

Pau-Koo-Shuck

Left: Artist George Winter's painting of Pau-koo-shuck

In one of these disturbances, which occurred at or near Winamac, he was so badly hurt that disease set in and he died. Our informant says he was one of the pallbearers, or one of those who assisted in bringing him from Winamac to Maxinkuckee lake, where he was buried on Long point along side of an Indian named Whip-poor-will, who had got fast in a hollow of a coon tree and was dead when found there! He says they fastened Pau-koo-shuck with hickory bark between two Indian ponies that were tied together so they couldn't "spread apart," and, with a number on foot and on ponies, the solemn procession wended its weary length along the Indian trail, reaching its destination the second day, having camped over night at the Indian village at Bruce's lake.

But if this son of Au-be-nau-be was buried on Long point, as stated, of which there seems to be no doubt, the lapse of time and the march of civilization during almost sixty years has completely obliterated almost every trace of it. Many who were about the lake seventy years ago were firmly of the opinion that the ghost of the Indian came forth on almost every favorable night arid skipped about on the water, and floated around among the trees and bushes that grew on Long point where he had been buried, like a thing of life "cutting such fantastic tricks before high heaven as made the angels weep.”

Sometimes he would be seen in his little canoe, apparently paddling with all his might for the southeast shore, where his father, Au-be-nau-be, had formerly owned a reservation, and while the spectator would be gazing the ghost would instantly disappear in the rippling waves, and would be lost to sight. Turning to the shore again, he would be observed floating about as if in search of something, and then, all at once, would disappear in the earth, and might not again be seen for several nights.

The Indians, and nearly everybody else in those days, believed in ghosts and goblins, and few doubted that the ghost of this young red man of the forest came and went at will, and was endowed with supernatural powers to ride upon the waters, float in the air, enter houses, wigwams and cabins without let or hindrance and frighten the occupants out of their wits, so that "each particular hair on their heads would stand on end like quills on the fretful porcupine".

Chief Nees-wau-gee

Nees-wau-gee

Nees-wau-gee's village was on the East Shore of Lake Maxinkuckee, his cabin said to have been located on what later became the property of the Bigley family, on 18B Road east of Lake Maxinkuckee.

Among other notable facts about Nees-wau-gee (sometimes spelled "Knee-swau-gee," "Nas-waw-kay," and other spellings), he was selected by the Potowatomie as their chief orator during the Council of Kewannee in 1836, which took place at today's Bruce Lake, between Logansport and Lake Maxinkuckee. At the time, the Indian village on that lake was Chief Kewannee's.

Artist George Winter attended the Council of Kewannee and heard Nees-Wau-Gee speak. He wrote: “Nas-waw-Kay…is dressed in a white counterpane coat with cape. His figure was erect --- though an elderly man. His complexion very dark. Hair longer than the Indians generally wear it. It fell in flowing locks over shoulder…His appearance was very striking and imposing.

“Before speaking was commenced, Nas waky and the principal chiefs left their position, and advanced to Col. Pepper…with a belt or wampum and shook the Officials by the hand. I was honored with the same courtesy, being among them.

“…Nas-waw-kay advanced and delivered…his reply (to Col. Pepper’s speech). Every time the speaker made a statement that they wished to be impressed upon the (government) agents’ minds, the aboriginal gutteral exclamation was given. Sometimes one of the Indians would back up the utterance by exclaiming ‘eque in’ (That is so).

“The harrangue was interesting. Nas waw kay’s manner was emphatic. At times very graceful. His speech was NOT favorable to the wishes of Co. Pepper. The Col. assured me that it was truly quite a diplomatic effort.”

George Winter Painting

Above: George Winter's painting of the Kewannee council of 1836. At left, in white robe, is Chief Nee-swau-gee of Lake Maxinkuckee.

From Daniel McDonald's History of Marshall County:

Nees-wau-gee Village.

 Next to the Me-no-mi-nee village in importance was the Nees-wau-gee and Quash-qua village on the eastern shore of Lake Maxinkuckee, immediately across the road from the present residence of Peter Spangler. All along- that bank about 1835-36, when the white settlers began to arrive, there was quite a settlement of Indians, mainly under the supervision of Nees-wau-gee. Quash-qua also had some authority over the band, but delegated it mostly to his brother chief, Nees-wau-gee, who ruled his people with mildness, moderation and decorum.

This was a charming spot, and the Indians who occupied it had the most delightful place to live this side of the land of Paradise. Fishing and hunting could not have been better; there was an abundance of pure spring water; and. all sorts of berries, and wild fruits in abundance in their season grew in the forests near by. Trails led in every direction to other villages in the region for many miles round about, so that the villagers could visit back and forth whenever they felt inclined to do so. Off to the northwest, west and southwest over the lake was presented a picture unexcelled for beauty and grandeur anywhere in this part of the country. It was indeed

"A scene for a painter,

A gleaming and glorified lake,

With it’s framing of forest and prairie,

And its etchings of thicket and brake,

With its grandeur and boldness of headland,

Were the oaks and the tamaracs grow,

A league with the sunlight of heaven,

And the spirit-like shadows below."

A Dead Indian Chief.

Among the very first things the writer of this remembers was going to this village, or near it, to see the temporary burial place of an Indian chief. That region of country was at that time an unbroken wilderness. The Indian had been killed in a fracas with one of his tribe, and before burying him permanently his relatives and associates had fixed him up in his finest clothing, with a headdress gaily ornamented with colored feathers, and his face painted yellow, red and black. He was placed against a large tree in a sitting posture, and around him was built "a large pen made of poles, the space between the poles being sufficiently wide to permit a perfect view of the "good Indian" therein! A great many trinkets of various kinds were placed around him, and be sat there, grim and ghastly, tomahawk in hand, as if waiting the approach of an expected enemy!

The Good Nees-wau-gee.

This good old Indian chief, Nees-wau-gee, was the friend of all the early white settlers, and, while he remained, frequently visited and became mt1ch attached to many of them. He took a fancy to, and formed a warm attachment for a sprightly young man of the neighborhood, just then in his teens, but long since passed over into the "happy hunting grounds." The old chief had a charming daughter about the age of the young man, and from his actions it was clear that he would not have objected to a match between them. He took the young man with him on one occasion, introduced him to his dat1ghter, and had his French cook prepare an extra meal in his honor. The table was furnished with dishes made of silver worth many hundred dollars, and the bill of tare was elaborate and delicious. The young man was seated by the side of the charming young squaw, and after saying grace in his peculiar way, the chief, turning his visitor, said, laughingly: "Maybe so you want a wife ?" About that time there was a good deal of blushing, and "hemming and hawing," and it is quite probable, if there had been a hole down through the floor of the cabin sufficiently large, the young man would have suddenly crawled out and run home for dear life! At that time he was inexperienced in the mysteries of courtship (something which, however, he learned later on), and. knowing little about Indian customs, he did not know but the old chief had inveigled him into his tent under the guise of friendship for the purpose of compelling him to marry his daughter, nolens volens. But other topics of conversation were introduced, and the subject dropped, much to the relief of the blushing young couple. When the young man was ready to return home the chief presented him with two sacks, containing saddles of venison, squirrels, pheasants, ducks and fish, as an evidence of good will; and as he mounted his horse, the entire family assembled to bid him goodbye. About a year from that time the good old chief disposed of his reservation to the government, and with his little band started west to the reservation provided for them.

Nees-wau-gee was a quiet, peaceable chief, and made friends with all the white settlers in all the region round about. When the time came to leave he determined to go peaceably, as he had agreed he would. The day before he started he sent word to all the white settlers to come to his village as he wished to bid them farewell. A large number assembled and through an interpreter he said substantially:

"My White Brethren: I have called you here to bid you farewell. Myself and my band start at sunrise tomorrow morning to remove to an unknown country the government of the United States has provided for us west of the Missouri river. I have sold my lands to the government and we agreed to leave within two years. That time is about to expire and according to the agreement we have made we must leave you and the scenes are and dear to all of us. The government has treated us fairly, and it is our duty to live up to that contract by doing as we agreed, and so we must go. The white settlers here have been good and kind to us, and in leaving them it seems like severing the ties of our own kindred and friends. We go away and may never return, but wherever we may be- wherever our lot in life may be cast we shall always remember you with sincere respect and esteem.

The old chief was visibly affected, and tears were seen to flow from his eyes. All the people present took him by the hand and bade him a final adieu as well as most of the members of his band. Early the next morning, with their personal effects packed on their ponies, they marched away in single file, following the Indian trail along the east shore to the south end of Maxinkuckee lake, thence southwest to Kewanna, where they joined the other bands and immediately proceeded on their long and wearisome journey.

On the bluff on the east side of the lake, and south of the Nees-wau-gee village, was an old Indian village or camping ground, and one of the most delightful of the numerous places of that kind around that beautiful sheet of water. Walking over the plowed ground near there a number of years ago, in a short time a dozen or more stone or flint arrow points, some of them very fine, were picked up by the writer. At another time he picked up a fish line sinker smoothly wrought out of stone, with a crease or groove around one end for fastening the sinker to the fish line. It was one of a kind described and illustrated in the Smithsonian collection at Washington, and, of course, is quite rare, as but few were made, and even of these, many were lost, and still fewer found. It is somewhat remarkable that, not withstanding our advanced civilization, the modern fish sinker is patterned exactly after those stone sinkers of long ago.

See Also:

The Local Chiefs and the Trail of Death of 1838

Chief Menominee

Fr. Benjamin Petit

Menominee's Monument

Other Local Indian Resources:

Mark Roeder's Text on the Indians of Lake Maxinkuckee

Daniel McDonald: His Writings and Legacy Related to the Indians

George Winter's Artwork

Other Writings on Local Indians & Links