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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/631

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ANCIENT COPPER-MINES OF ISLE ROYALE.

in his "Travels," page 195, states that the Indians obtained copper at Lake Superior, "which they made into bracelets, spoons, etc." De Soto found copper hatchets in possession of some of the tribes along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, which they stated they obtained from a province called Chisca, far to the north. Claude Allouez, in 1666, visited Lake Superior, and states that "it happens frequently that pieces of native copper are found, weighing from ten to twenty pounds. I have seen several such pieces in the hands of savages; and, since they are very superstitious, they esteem them as divinities, or as presents given to them to promote their happiness, by the gods who dwell beneath the water. For this reason they preserve these pieces of copper wrapped up with their most precious articles. In some families they have been kept for more than fifty years; in others they have descended from time out of mind, being cherished as domestic gods. For some time there was seen near the shore a large rock of copper, with its top rising above the water, which gave an opportunity for those passing by to cut pieces from it; but when I passed that vicinity it had disappeared. I believe that the gales, which are frequent, like those of the sea, had covered it with sand. Our savages tried to persuade me that it was a divinity who had disappeared, but for what cause they were unwilling to tell" (Foster and Whitney's "Report on Lake Superior," Part I, page 7). Dablon, in his "Relation" for 1669-'70, states that "the savages did not agree as to the source of the copper. Some say that it is where the river [Ontonagon] begins, others that it is close to the lake, in the clay, and others at the forks and along the eastern branch of the river." Again, Dablon gives an account of its being reputed to occur on an island about forty or fifty leagues from the Saut toward the north shore, opposite a place called Missippicoatong (Michipicoten?). The savages related that the island was a floating island, sometimes near and at other times far off. These statements, with other particulars, make it very probable that the Indians of Lake Superior were familiar with the localities prior to their acquaintance with the French, and that the place here described can be no other than the even then celebrated mines of Isle Royal.

Jacques Cartier in 1535 spent the winter at or near Quebec, and learned several facts concerning copper that was in possession of the Indians, which he has given in his "Brief Recital." They made an effort to explain to him where the copper came from. They gave Cartier to understand that there were large quantities where they obtained it, situated on a bank of a river near a lake. One of the chiefs drew from a sack a piece of copper a foot long and gave to Champlain. "This was quite pure and very handsome." He said they had "gathered it in lumps, and having melted it spread it out in sheets, smoothing it with stones."[1] The Indians at Montreal and

  1. Champlain's "Voyage du Sieur de Champlain," Paris, 1613, p. 246, as quoted by Slafter.