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American History
Scots in the American West 1790 - 1917
Scotland and the American Indians


In 1964 the principal chief of the Creek Nation of Oklahoma, who boasted the surname McIntosh, attended the annual gathering of his clan in the Highlands. To everyone’s surprise, he appeared in full Native regalia. The Plains Indian headdress, beaded shirt, and moccasins contrasted sharply with the kilts, sporrans, and dirks. To a bagpipe audience, he explained his pride in his dual Creek-Scottish ancestry.

The story of these Scoto-Indians is a fascinating one. Like their French and Spanish counterparts, the Scots fur traders arrived in the West largely as single men. Like the other Europeans, they soon aligned with Native women, usually "in the fashion of the country." As historian Sylvia Van Kirk has noted, this form of "country marriage" facilitated trade because the Native wives usually taught their husbands the tribal language. The Montreal-based North West Company actively encouraged this policy, whereas the HBC discouraged it, because of expense, until the 1 820s. Eventually, however, all the fur-trade enterprises acknowledged the key role that Native wives played in their operations.

In Indian country these unions were considered as binding as Christian church ceremonies. Later, however, if a trader returned to Britain, he often "turned off’ his country wife to her family, although he usually maintained a minimum of economic responsibility for her and the children. For example, Sir George Simpson, head of the Athabasca District of the HBC and one of Canada’s most powerful figures, left his country wife to marry his cousin in London in 1830.1. G. Mactavish, head of York factory for most of the 1820s, William Conolly, chief factor in charge of New Caledonia, and countless other Scots followed along similar paths. The same situation occurred in the South Atlantic region. One scholar has estimated that in late eighteenth- to early nineteenth-century Georgia, Indian women raised about four hundred mixed-blood offspring by themselves.

But not all Scots fur traders left their Native consorts. Alexander Ross remained devoted to his Indian wife, as did Angus McDonald, Donald A. Smith, John McLoughlin, and a number of others who stayed with their Native or mixed-blood women for life. Whichever arrangement prevailed, however, the end result was to produce a number of Scoto-Indians.

The emergence of these Scoto-Indians should not be all that surprising. Historically there were a number of parallels between the American Indians and the Highland and Island world from which the traders usually came. In each case the physical conditions of life, governed by the change of seasons and often perched on the edge of hunger, proved similar. There could not have been much difference between an Isle of Lewis beehive shieling and a Great Plains tipi or a Mandan earthen lodge.

The two groups shared cultural similarities as well. Each was an indigenous people. Each had fought lengthy battles, stretching over centuries, both against one another and against English speaking invaders. Each had achieved partial, but by no means complete, success in fending off the invasions.

As indigenous peoples, their social structures reflected numerous similarities. Each viewed land as essentially a communal resource, not a commodity to be bought and sold for profit Each identified itself by bands or clans, and since chiefdom descended through lineage, each devised a system flexible enough to allow selection of the best person for the job. (The British monarchy found itself much more restricted in this regard.) Some anthropologists have found parallels between the fall Indian Green Corn dances and the Highland Beltane fires and harvest ceremonies. Since the cultures were primarily oral, each group accorded the bard or orator a position of great significance. The ballads, songs, folklore, and stories passed on to the children contained the distilled wisdom of their people.

One even finds a similarity between Native and Scottish naming practices. Historian George MacDonald Fraser has argued that many a Scots Borders name, such as Hob the King, Dand the Man, Red Cloak, and Wynking Will, carried special meaning. The similarity to American Indian names such as Black Elk, Crazy Horse, Red Shirt, and Rain-in-the-Face is intriguing. In each case these names must have carried connotations of social significance, "elegant recklessness," and prowess that modern researchers can only estimate. That members of both groups were driven from their homelands, one by the infamous Highland Clearances, the other by white encroachment and Indian removal, deepens the parallel. Finally, the deep wisdom and strength of character that each group has displayed over the centuries has allowed them to endure these calamities with dignity.

Viewed historically, the Highland Scots and the American Indians were tribal peoples. Modern Scottish clan maps show how each chieftain drew the lines of his territory. For the laird, having a group of men at his call alone meant security. The symbol for gathering—a fiery cross sent around from village to village—later took on far more sinister connotations in the United States.

Anyone who looks at Scottish history is astounded by the constant round of violence and murder. No element of society was spared. Of the six Stuart sovereigns from James I to Mary Queen of Scots, for example, only one died a natural death. The ultimate symbolic event of the internecine warfare occurred in the valley of Glencoe, where, on February 13, 1692, the Campbells massacred the MacDonalds after enjoying their hospitality for several weeks.

It has been said that Glencoe symbolizes the end of the old Highland social order, as the traditional hospitality fell victim to political considerations. As historian Allan I. Macinnes has shown, the shift from a traditional to a commercialized society began as early as the seventeenth century. From that time forward the various clan leaders themselves, not just outside forces, helped accelerate the demise of traditional Highland society.The power of the clans was not finally broken until the battle of Culloden in 1746, after which the traditional rivalry was siphoned off into wars of empire and, later, the sporting contests of the famed Highland games. The Scottish tradition of using clan names for fore- and surnames (Gordon Ross; Ross Gordon) shows the desire to keep these clan distinctions alive.

The lack of written records makes the re-creation of Native history before contact a bit more problematic, but anthropologists agree that the band or town served as the chief social unit here, too. As among the Scottish clans, trading and raiding against one another proved commonplace among the American Indians. The Peace River in northern Canada drew its name from a reconciliation between two warring tribes, the Cree and the Beaver. Navajos and Apaches regularly attacked the Pueblos of the Southwest. The Huron despised the Iroquois, the Crow distrusted the Blackfeet, and the Sioux were disliked by all their neighbors. Indeed, one reason why the British, Spanish, and French could gain their initial footholds on the continent was that Native bands were willing to use the

Europeans in their long-standing conflicts with their neighbors. The Pan-Indian movement did not really gain ground until the late nineteenth century.

A number of nineteenth-century travelers remarked on these Celtic-Native similarities. In 1838 Hugh Murray admired the bonds within the tribal union. ‘The honour and welfare of the clan supply the ruling principle," noted Murray, "and are cherished with an ardour not surpassed in the most brilliant eras of Greek and Roman patriotism." He commented that, like the Highland clans, so long as any tribal member had sufficient food, no one was in the least danger of starvation. Another traveler, D. B. Warden, observed how tribes recognized basic boundaries between groups as they wandered over the Great Plains. Impressed by the hospitality and kindness of certain tribes to their friends, he saw an obvious Celtic-Indian link. "So unbounded is the hospitality of the Osages," he wrote, "that cooks are sent about to cry as in some parts of Ireland, come, come, and partake of the feast of the chief man of the village; and to refuse this invitation is a proof of bad manners." In The Heart of Midlothian (1818) Sir Walter Scott told of a Highland outlaw who escaped to America to become an Indian chief. Almost fifty years later Lady Aberdeen found among the Black-feet "many faces reminding us of Scottish characteristics."

From the early nineteenth century forward, many observers believed that both Highland and American Indian cultures were on the inevitable road to extinction. Given the evolutionary anthropology of the time, this made perfect sense. All societies were seen as climbing the "ladder of culture" and the more "primitive" ones would soon disappear. In 1840 Highland traveler James Browne concluded his massive three-volume study, A History of the Highlands and of the Island Clans, with the prediction that the old feelings, habits, customs, traditions, and superstitions would vanish within a few years. Across the Atlantic, many held similar views regarding the Indians. Writing

in America’s centennial years, British observer W. Bond Dawkins urged people to record the "red man’s history" immediately or it would be lost forever. A few years later, photographer Edward Curtis began his massive documentary program with just this theme in mind. Curtis’s famed image, "The Vanishing Race," reflects this perspective."

Such facile assumptions took more than a century to pass from view. In the 1990s the American Indian birthrate considerably exceeds the national average. So, too, are the Westerm Isles of Scotland gaining in population. Not only that, the Highland Gaels and the American Indians have assumed almost mythic proportions for their respective nations. Bagpipes, kilts, and misty glens entice tourists north of the Tweed just as Indian festivals, powwows, and reservations lure them to the western American states. As Tom Sawyer might have remarked, the story of their demise has been greatly exaggerated.

Since both Highland and Native societies revolved around a fluid oral culture, no figure was as central to their life as the bard. A warrior might perform valiant deeds, but his fame would soon vanish if he had no bard to record them for posterity. The bardic tradition had especially deep roots in Scottish life. In the early fourteenth century poet Blind Harry composed his Wallace, which was followed in 1375 by John Barbour’s The Brus. The quasi-fictional work by eighteenth-century poet James MacPherson, attributed to an ancient Celtic bard, Ossian, drew from this oral tradition. About the same time, the vernacular bards merged their songs with a set of Jacobite lyrics. Since political Jacobitism was no longer a serious threat by the late eighteenth century, the Jacobite popular song gradually emerged as the focal point of Scottish culture. Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous bard, drew heavily upon these songs for his poetry, as did Sir Walter Scott. When one thinks of Scotland, the ballads, poetry, and music always emerge as prominent cultural elements.

The American Indians had a similar oral culture. At the time of contact the bands of North America spoke more than five hundred mutually unintelligible languages, representing perhaps the greatest linguistic diversity in the history of the world. Early negotiators of treaties recognized how important the orator was for this world. Gilbert Imlay’s 1792 description of the western territory of North America remarked on the Indians’ "talents of natural eloquence." A generation later, Hugh Murray observed how the Indians of New York State had mastered all the tricks of European diplomacy. He marveled even more at the oratorical skills of the Iroquois leader. When the chief of the Iroquois spoke to the French governor, he informed him in no uncertain terms that he spoke for all the five nations. ‘The function of oratory among the five nations," Murray noted, "had become a separate profession, held in equal or higher honour than that of the warrior."

A native folk wisdom permeated these oral traditions at every juncture. The Celtic lands of Eire, Northern Ireland, and western Scotland are replete with folk legends. In fact, this region may well have produced the richest folk tradition on the face of the globe. Highland folklore abounded with tales of the invisible "little people" (faeries) who moved easily between seen and unseen worlds. Legends of mermaids, banshees, sea monsters, black dogs, kelpies, charms, potions, and enchanted wells have long infused Highland life. Most of these creatures proved troublesome, and few humans meddled in their affairs without sorrow. For example, modern New Yorker writer John McPhee spoke of a man who was wandering along the coast of the island of Colonsay when a city woman popped up from behind the bushes to warn him not to kiss any faeries he might encounter (which is certainly good advice).

A number of these tales crossed to America with the Scots settlers. Both the southern Appalachian frontier and the Ozarks abound with such stories. If a cock crows at midnight, a death

will follow; to break a mirror brings seven years’ bad luck; black cats mean trouble; wearing a garment wrong side out brings luck to those involved in water witching; "charming" a rifle makes it more accurate—it can even remove an enemy spell, if one has been cast upon it. The list could be extended.

Yet the brunt of Celtic folklore remained firmly anchored on the British side of the Atlantic. Castles, dungeons, ruined manses, haunted wells, and spirit stones proved essential habitats for the elves, faeries, and brownies. Similarly, American sheep raising did not provide a suitable setting for shepherds’ pipes or for beautiful shepherdesses dancing on the green. The absence of enchanted forests, deserted valleys, and "castles mouldering into ruin" meant that the New World would produce a different type of folk tradition. No invisible spirits could live in a log cabin, remarked traveler Judge James Hall. The Indians produced no accounts of aboriginal ghosts or "copper coloured brownies."

Judge Hall, however, missed the point. If the Native folklore tradition did not produce any "little people," it did produce a number of "little animals." The Native stories frequently touched on a time long, long ago, when humans and animals could speak with one another. Spider Woman taught the Navajos of the Southwest to weave, and Beaver taught the Eastern Woodland peoples how to work with wood. From the birds, the Natives learned which berries to harvest and which to avoid. Tales of the half-human Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest kept children near the campfires at night. The legend of Buffalo Calf Woman is still central to the Northern Plains people, and the story of the White Buffalo calf is an essential item of faith.

No character achieved more fame in Native folklore than Coyote. The universal trickster of virtually all western bands, Coyote always caused trouble for the other animals, and he dearly paid for it in the end. Native children loved Coyote stories, for the moral was obvious. Indian parents have used them for

centuries to teach their children. (I will discuss Coyote in more detail later in the chapter.) Whether spoken around Native campfires during the winter storytelling season or woven into hundreds of songs and poems in Gaelic communities across the world, folk narratives such as these have embodied a social wisdom that has endured for generations.

Such wisdom proved especially necessary in times of trouble, and both groups have experienced more than their share of it. As the Highland crofters lived through the infamous Clearances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so, too, did the Natives of North America suffer through a series of removals that began in the seventeenth century and culminated in the 1830s. Overlooked for years by the dominant culture, the stories of the Cherokee Trail of Tears and the Navajo Long Walk are slowly becoming better known. The books by historian Angie Debo, a number of recent films, and the decision by the National Park Service to officially demark the main spots on the Trail of Tears have led to a renewed consciousness of this tragic aspect of America’s past.

Although the saga of the Scottish Clearances is well known in Canada, it is much less widely recognized in the United States. Yet this forced and semiforced exodus continued for over a century. Historian Michael Lynch has noted that because of the varied nature of crofter society, the Clearances emerged as hundreds of "local tragedies."

Emigration from the Highlands and Islands varied considerably over the years. During the late eighteenth century, many emigrants left voluntarily, often in opposition to the wishes of their landlords. Historian J. M. Bumsted has termed this wave of departures the "people’s" Clearance. It was this group that James Boswell observed, on his famous 1773 trip to the Western Isles, poignantly performing a "dance called America." From the early nineteenth century onward, however, most Clearances contained an element of explicit or implicit force. Almost fifteen thousand left the Sutherland estates alone during the first part of the century; perhaps sixteen thousand emigrated from the Highlands and Islands in the aftermath of the potato famine of the 1 840s. Although the Worst Clearances came at the hands of mid-nineteenth-century absentee landlords, Highland folk memory has seized on the expulsions from the northern county of Sutherland—c. 1806 to c. 1820, led by the infamous factor Patrick Sellar—as the most heartless. Even today, locals term the Sutherland Clearances "the evictions."

The population losses proved both severe and permanent. In Sutherland, for example, a region that had once supported two thousand people soon contained a Work force of about thirty shepherds herding countless sheep. In other areas, such as Upper Deeside, the straths have never again been brought under cultivation.

Given the population pressure and scarcity of land, many nineteenth-century reformers touted emigration as the best answer to Highland and Island social problems, although one observer compared the task to that of Sisyphus. The emigration from the Outer Hebrides continued well into the twentieth century. A 1923 account describing the departure of the Metagama, with three hundred from the Isle of Lewis on board, would easily have been recognized in Boswell’s time:

Since the lights of the Metagama dipped below the horizon, we have all been conscious of a lack in our lives and have engaged in our daily occupations with a heaviness of spirit mingled at times with a sense of buoyancy born of our hopes for the future—probably prophetic of the days when our young men and women will return to us richer in material benefits, and with the moral qualities characteristic of our Celtic nature, refined and matured by contact with the sterner fires of nature which are to be met with in the land of their adoption.

Through countless retellings over the years, the emigration from the Highlands and Islands and the removal of the American Indians from the east to Oklahoma have assumed mythological proportions. These narratives operate on many levels, of course, but their chief function is to anchor the present firmly in the past. Thus, for those who think primarily in images, as most oral cultures do, the present retains a distinct historical echo. For oral cultures, place looms as far more significant than time. Whenever one passes by the location of a major event, whenever it may have occurred, one recalls the story in all its splendor.

Thus, for both Native and Celtic cultures, the past is never very far away. ‘The Highlander loves his past and his native land with a passionate attachment and the story of the Clearances is still deeply embedded in his mind," wrote Ian MacPherson. "A storekeeper in Edinburgh’s High Street or a fishmonger in Perth can no more get away from the past than can an inhabitant of Hawaii get away from the Pacific Ocean," observed historian Geddes MacGregor. In many areas of the Highlands local folk memory still blames the Clearances for the collapse of traditional forms of life. A telling incident to this effect occurred during the early 1970s, when a radical Scottish theatre group performed a traveling drama that reenacted the infamous Sutherland Clearances onstage. One weekend they performed for some isolated Highland villagers, and during the play a woman stood up to denounce the character playing the chief villain of the piece, Patrick Sellar. Why, she asked him, had he done such terrible things to her people?

One finds a similar "presence of the past" in American Indian cultures. Pueblo Indians of the Southwest annually observe the anniversary of the 1680 revolt that drove the Spanish invaders to El Paso for a decade. A number of Pueblos are still critical of Isleta Pueblo, which generally sided with the Spanish in this conflict. Whether contemporary New Englanders would harbor the same intensity of feeling about the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 is an open question. In the late 1930s some Bureau of Indian Affairs reformers were explaining the then-little-known Battle of Wounded Knee to a group of congressmen. "When did all this occur?" one asked. Eighteen ninety was the reply. "Why, that’s ancient history, isn’t it?" he snapped. For the congressman, yes—but not for the Sioux. Perhaps it is no accident that some contemporary Scots term the English who move to their land "white settlers."

The cultural similarity between these two tribal societies meant that the Scotch-Native interaction could assume many forms. Take, for example, the cross-cultural borrowing of clothing styles. In the Rocky Mountain region local tribes adopted the Scottish brimmed cap, often embellishing it with designs of their own. Similarly, the New York Iroquois added elaborate beadwork to produce a modified Highland Glengarry bonnet. The most documented Scottish influence on Native clothing, however, occurred among the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole of the Southeast.

As early as the 1730s, British philanthropistJames Oglethorpe enticed a band of Highlanders, mostly from the Inverness region, to settle in Georgia with the hope that this Presbyterian group would serve as a buffer against the Catholic Spanish in Florida. The settlers thrived, and by midcentury members of Clan Chattan virtually controlled all the Indian trade within the Creek nation. One trade item that proved popular was cloth for a kilt, for by coincidence the outlawed Scottish kilt resembled the traditional male Creek breechcloth. Both of these skirtlike outfits proved especially suitable for Georgia’s wet, marshy terrain, and traveler William Bartram once likened Creek dress to the Highland kilt. The Scots traders influenced Creek headgear as well, selling a number of turban like coverings, to which the Natives usually added feathers. With each passing decade, noted historian J. Leitch Wright, Jr., "the dress of Muscogulge warriors seemed more like that of Highland lairds."

The cultural borrowing between Scots and southeastern Natives did not stop with the modification of material objects. Ideas, stories, and legends must have been exchanged as well. Although these are hard to trace with any precision, they are potentially far more powerful. In the legends surrounding the Battle of Culloden, one meets, perhaps, the most extensive Scots-Native borrowing of all.

The battle of Culloden in 1746 did far more than simply send Jacobite sympathizers to North America. This last dramatic rallying of the Scots clans may also have had an impact on the evolution of American Indian resistance strategy against the Euro-American settlers. Although this is admittedly a speculative argument—no documentary evidence exists one way or the other—it has the benefit of historical logic. The case revolves largely around the activities of the McGillivray clan.

Clan McGillivray proved one of the most staunch supporters of the Stuart cause. McGillivray of Dunnaglas led Clan Chattan at Culloden. A number of Jacobite ballads celebrate the name McGillivray. An early list of members of the Charleston St. Andrew’s Society (founded in 1729) contains the names of several people banished to the Colonies after the 1715 Jacobite uprising, including John and Lachlan McGillivray. This Lachlan McGillivray is almost certainly the fur trader who in the 1750s married a mixed-blood Creek-French woman from the prestigious Creek Wind clan. In c. 1759, she had a son, Alexander McGillivray, who would become the most powerful Native leader of his generation.

In the early 1770s Lachlan sent young Alexander to Charleston, South Carolina, to study with his cousin, Presbyterian minister Farquahar McGillivray. There Alexander was tutored in Greek, Latin, British history, and literature. He also briefly worked in a mercantile firm. During these years, Alexander certainly must have listened to tales of Culloden and the massing of the clans, especially Clan McGillivray.

These stories of Culloden would almost assuredly have assumed the form of "might have beens." "If only" the prince’s army had not been so weary; they had not been forced to fight on a badly chosen field; all the clans had rallied and they had not been so outnumbered; the powerful Clan MacPherson had been available; Clan McDonald, which had fought on the right with Robert Bruce at Bannockburn, had not been shifted to the left at Culloden (confirming the old prophecy in the Western Isles that when Scotland’s right hand in battle was withdrawn from the McDonalds, bad luck would follow); and so on. As the initial romantic lost cause, theJacobite defeat of 1746 emerged in legend, story, and song as the first "revisionist" history. As such, it assumed protean forms.

When the American Revolution broke out, the senior McGillivray supported the British and eventually retired to an estate in the Highlands. Alexander, however, returned to his Creek homeland. There he lived in a style reminiscent of a country squire, owning a large estate and several slaves.

From this time forward, Alexander McGillivray tried to steer his divided Creek peple through the intense political realities of the day. Termed "the American Tallyrand," he negotiated with the British, Spanish, and Americans regarding the Creek homeland. Since he boasted that he could call out ten thousand Creek warriors at a moment’s notice (a Scottish clan pattern as well), the Euro-Americans treated him with respect. The Spanish put him on their payroll; the Florida-based British trade firm of Panton, Leslie and Company employed him; and George Washington gave him annual payments. When McGillivray visited New York City at Washington’s invitation, the new government entertained him like visiting royalty, which, in a sense, he was.

A shrewd negotiator and prolific letter writer, McGillivray presented the Creek case with skill. In 1784 he denounced the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolution, declaring that the Creeks had always been a free people and that the British king had no right to give away their ancestral lands to the Americans. He even spoke with a U.S. congressman’s representative about the possibility of the Creek Nation’s entering the American Union as a distinct "ethnic state." Since Canada and Florida remained in British hands, the eastern seaboard with the Americans, and Louisiana and St. Louis in Spanish control, the diplomacy proved intricate. McGillivray once predicted that ‘Three Kings" (British, Spanish, and American) would soon divide the continent.

Yet the heart of McGillivray’s plan was to unite the often quarrelsome Creek factions, plus the other usually antagonistic southeastern tribes, into a pan-Indian movement to halt the inexorable American advance into Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He even negotiated—unsuccessfully—with northern tribes on this matter. His fragile southeastern alliance held, more or less, until his death in 1793. Afterwards, Native factionalism in the Southeast brought further pan-Indian efforts to an end.

A generation later, the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, created a similar, even more successful pan-Indian confederation to resist the encroachment of the Americans. Tecumseh’s mother, Metheataske (Turtle Laying Its Eggs), it should be noted, was an Alabama Creek of McGillivray’s generation. She must have been aware of McGillivray’s earlier efforts to unite the Creeks against the European invaders.

Even if Culloden had not occurred, there is little doubt that the American Indians would have adopted a similar pan-Indian defensive tactic. The Ottawa chief Pontiac attempted this in his 1763 uprising, drawing Shawnees, Delawares, Hurons, Senecas, Miamis, Potawatomis, and Chippewas into his movement. But since the saga of the massing of the clans had surely been part of McGillivray’s household, it is possible—the evidence will support no stronger statement—that the famed Creek leader also drew on the historic legend of Culloden to bolster his own case. In truth, it would be astonishing if he did not.

Although Alexander McGillivray was the most prominent southeastern Scoto-Indian, he was not alone. The surnames McPherson and McIntosh (originally from the Inverness region) remain prominent in Creek history, especially in the Removal Era. The Colbert family played a role in Chickasaw life all through the nineteenth century, as did the McCoys and McKennans for the Choctaws.

The most famous Scoto-Indian of the early nineteenth century, the leader who oversaw Cherokee removal to Oklahoma, was John Ross. By blood Ross was seven-eighths Scots and one-eighth Cherokee. Educated by clergymen, he always spoke English better than Cherokee, although he understood it fluently. A visitor to Ross’s boyhood home once likened it to a Scottish manor house.

John Ross never forgot his Scottish links. During the spring of 1847 he read of the efforts of a Philadelphia organization to aid the Highland poor—estimated to number three hundred thousand—who were suffering from the potato famine. "Have the Scotch no claim on the Cherokees?" Ross asked. "Have they not a very especial claim? They have." Thus, he wrote to the Cherokee Advocate to request that the tribe meet in Tahlequah to raise money for the cause. The Cherokees met, appointed a relief committee, and in May 1847, sent $190 to a New York bank "for the relief of those who are suffering by the famine in Scotland." Many an Oklahoma Indian surname today harkens back to a distant Scottish ancestor.

The Southeast was not alone in this regard, for many other regions boasted Scoto-Indians as well. In Hispanic California, for example, Hugo Reid, originally from Cardross, married a wealthy Gabrieleno woman, Doña Victoria. By this union he inherited two ranchos and two adopted sons, Felipe and José, who soon sported imported kilts and went by the surname Reid. Unfortunately, neither lived long enough to continue the line. In the 1840s Rev. David Macrae found a common bond with an Iroquois leader whose mother was a "Mac" and who proudly claimed Scottish blood. In 1850 William Ferguson encountered a Scoto-Indian woman near Galena, Illinois, who lived in a wigwam near the town. Scoto-Indians became especially prominent in the Pacific Northwest. James Findlay, pioneer explorer of Saskatchewan, sired a son, Jacco Findlay, who was a leading figure in Spokane until his death in 1828.J. G. MacTavish, who forced the surrender of John Jacob Astor’s Fort Astoria in 1813, fathered many children by Native women, as did Aberdonian trapper of the Columbia, Finian MacDonald. The list could be extended.

On several occasions these fathers renewed their connections to Scotland by returning there with their families or by sending the children overseas for a European education. The most outstanding early twentieth-century athlete on the Isle of Lewis, for example, had an Indian mother. So many Orkney men returned with their American families that the islanders erected a small college in St. Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay to educate the mixed-blood children. One of these returnees, a lad named "Huskie" Sanders, arrived in Stromness in 1886. Product of an Orkney father and a Cree mother, Sanders was sent to Orkney to be educated by his grandparents. For three years young Sanders participated in the life of a Scottish schoolboy, but he longed to return to Canada and finally his family agreed. When he boarded the ship in 1889, his schoolmates cheered his departure until the ship rounded Hoy and disappeared from view.

Probably the most articulate of these Scoto-Indian returnees was Alexander Kennedy Isbister. Son of a Scots HBC clerk and a Cree mother, Isbister lived in Red River, Canada, until his father sent him to enroll at King’s College, Aberdeen, from which he graduated in 1842. He later became a dean of a British teachers’ college. From this post he lobbied both Westminster and the Colonial Office on behalf of the Red River Métis. Eventually, he denounced the HBC’s treatment of Indians and mixed-bloods in a pamphlet, A Few Words on the Hudson’s Bay Company, with a Statement of Grievances of the Native and Half Cast Indians, Addressed to the British Government Through Their Delegates Now in London (1847). In one eloquent passage he compared their lives to those of the slaves in the American South.

Historians have just begun to pay attention to the Scoto Indians. Both Sylvia Van Kirk and Jennifer S. H. Brown have recently provided major contributions to our understanding of these peoples, but a great deal needs to be done. One generalization can be tentatively set forward. During the nineteenth century, French Métis often adopted different life-styles from those of the Scottish mixed-bloods. Captain John Palliser, who explored western Canada during the 1850s, observed that the Métis preferred Native life, whereas the "Scotch half-breeds" were anxious "to profit by the advance of civilization in the old country as well as [they] can."

Perhaps Palliser’s off-the-cuff observation contains a grain of truth. If so, the most likely reason for this would rest with the father’s influence. From the mother, a young mixed-blood person would learn North American survival skills; from the father he or she would hear stories about another version of education. The French and Scottish fur traders came largely from the same social class. But the Scots retained a respect for "democratic learning" that the French trappers often lacked. And the heart of this attitude involved literacy. Rev. John West, HBC Episcopal chaplain to Red River in the 1820s, was astounded to discover on his trip over that the Scots sailors were both well and scripturally informed. Every one of them could read the New Testament.

Consequently, many Scoto-Indians were exposed to at least a smattering of Western-style education. This, in turn, allowed them to assume yet another social role: that of cultural broker. One can find a number of nineteenth-century Scoto-Indians who served as cultural brokers or intermediaries between the Native and white worlds.

One does not have to look far for examples. James Ross, son of Alexander Ross and an Okanogan mother, received a formal education and served for years as night editor for the Toronto Globe. Jerry Potts, a mixed-blood son of a Scots trader and a Piegan woman, played a similarly important role in Northern Plains history. Potts participated in the Blood and Piegan victory over the Cree and Assiniboins in the fall of 1870 and for years was highly valued by the Canadian government for the skill with which he explained the ways of the Canadian Mounted Police to his people. He was also a leader in the destruction of the illegal whiskey trade to the Piegans. The Canadian Mounties thought highly of him.

James R. Murie, who was born in Nebraska in 1862, had a Scottish father and a Skin Pawnee mother. He enrolled in Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1879 and graduated in 1884 with skills in printing and teaching; he was also confirmed in the Protestant Episcopal Church. After rejoining his mother’s group—then removed to Oklahoma—in the 1890s, Murie faced great difficulty in readjusting to Native life until he began work as an ethnographer.

At some time during the 1890s a Pawnee priest, Kurabus, taught Murie an elaborate Pawnee ceremony, which Murie recorded on the old Edison wax cylinders. For over fifteen years he continued to collect, annotate, and record a large body of Pawnee songs, stories, and dances on the cylinders. Pioneer anthropologist Alice Fletcher Cunningham relied heavily on his aid for her studies, as did Smithsonian curator George A. Dorsey. In 1914 James R. Murie published Pawnee Indian Societies, one of the most important works on Pawnee cultural traditions. Thus, Murie served as an effective "broker" between Pawnee and white worlds.

Army scout Archie McIntosh served as a cultural broker in quite another manner, both in the Pacific Northwest and in the desert Southwest. Born at Fort William, Michigan, of Scots/Chippewa ancestry, Archie’s father moved to the Fraser River with the HBC. During their stay there, the senior McIntosh taught Archie to spell and do elementary mathematics while the two of them canoed the lakes to check their traps. After his father’s murder by an unknown assailant (at the time believed to be a Native jealous of white trappers), Archie was sent to Vancouver for two years of school. At age twelve he was put on a ship to Edinburgh to live with relatives, and he received two more years of Scottish education. Upon his return to Vancouver he worked as a clerk with the HBC for about a year.

In 1855 Archie McIntosh entered the service of the U.S. Army as a scout. Working with another Scoto-Indian, Donald McKay, he saved a band of U.S. soldiers from a number of Columbia River Native attacks. As one contemporary reporter observed, ‘The whole body of troopers would have been massacred had it not been for the strategy of those two cunning half breeds."

McIntosh’s reputation grew steadily, and he soon became General George Crook’s favorite scout. Crook trusted him implicitly, and McIntosh played a major role in the campaign against the Pitt River Indians and the Piutes of Northern California. The common soldiers also respected his skills. This respect grew to semimythical proportions in January 1867, when Archie McIntosh led General Crook and his men through a blinding blizzard to safety at Camp Warner in Oregon. In 1896 McIntosh confessed to a reporter how he did it:

I knew there was going to be a blizzard and watched the course of the wind. When it [the blizzard] was upon us, General Crook asked if we had not better go into camp until it passed over, but I said "follow me and I will put you into Camp Warner by 4 o’clock p.m." So the General said no more but kept close behind me, and you bet I kept the wind on my right cheek for nine long hours, but had it changed its direction ten degrees my goose would have been cooked.

McIntosh battled a drinking problem all through his military career, but his skills were so admired that his commanders usually overlooked it. In 1871 he was again assigned to General Crook, who had recently been sent to Arizona Territory to battle the San Carlos and Tonto Apaches. There he fought in the 1874 clashes near florence and Globe and participated in Crook’s last campaign against Geronimo. McIntosh was present in Geronimo’s camp in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico when Crook had his famous interview with the Apache chief. The situation was so tense, McIntosh recalled later, that if a gun had accidentally discharged, all the whites would have been killed.

After the close of the Apache campaign McIntosh married a San Carlos woman (he seems to have had an earlier Pacific Northwest family as well) and settled on the San Carlos reservation in Arizona. There he gained a reputation as a great teller of stories. He later sent his son to Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, and McIntosh descendants held important roles in San Carlos affairs well into the twentieth century. Praised at the time for his "gallant and invaluable service" as a scout, Archie McIntosh played an important broker’s role in both Oregon and Arizona.

Perhaps the most famous Scoto-Indian cultural broker of his generation was Montana’s Duncan McDonald. McDonald was born in 1849 at Fort Connen, the last HBC post established within the present boundaries of the United States. His father, Angus McDonald, was born in Ross Shire in 1816,joined the HBC in 1838, and was posted to Fort Colville in Oregon Territory. Fluent in Gaelic, French, and several Native languages, Angus soon became well respected in both Indian and white circles. Territorial governor Isaac I. Stevens thought very highly of him. Duncan’s mother was full-blood, Salish-speaking Flathead. Thus, Duncan McDonald grew to maturity with one foot in both the Indian and white worlds.

After retiring from the HBC McDonald senior ran large herds of cattle on the plains of Montana. He died in 1889, the year Montana became a state. McDonald had hired tutors to teach Duncan to read and write, talents that allowed his son to become the most prominent mixed-blood spokesman in Montana’s history.

Duncan gained his initial audience shortly after the Nez Perce war of 1877. Both McDonalds believed that the Native version of the conflict deserved publicity. They contacted a local newspaper, the Deer Lodge New North-West, and the paper paid Duncan’s expenses to travel to Canada to interview White Bird, to whom he was related, plus a number of other Nez Perce leaders. Together with his father, Duncan reworked his extensive notes into a series of essays that the New North-West published in several installments from January 1879 forward. The editors boasted that the data in the articles "can be relied upon as authentic from the Nez Perce standpoint."

The lengthy articles on the war and the Native retreat were both well written and crammed with detail. There was no question of McDonald’s perspective. ‘The gallant Seventh Infantry!" he said. "It should be called the cursed Seventh. They were not satisfied in killing Indians whom they found asleep. They must kill women and children, too." The articles also provoked several white responses: one merely asked for more details, but another accused McDonald of down playing Native atrocities against white families. These newspaper essays by Duncan McDonald were probably the first authentic historical accounts written from the Indian perspective.

Although McDonald once replied to a question about his schooling, "Education—I never had any education," his later career belies that comment. Although almost completely self-taught, over the years he became highly skilled with words. An astute observer, he moved easily in the Salish world and that of Montana white society. Toward the end of his long life (he lived until 1937), newspaper reporters turned to him regularly on a variety of Native issues. One reporter, M. O. Hammond of Toronto, called him "well read and bright." Another, Ellen Nyc, termed him "almost a savant among his red brethren." Reporter H. T. Balley called him "the sage of the Flathead. In 1922 McDonald led a group of news people to the remains of the Kullyspell house, the first trading post in the Northwest, which was established by Welsh explorer David Thompson in 1809. On another trip he led Montana reporters to the site of the first Flathead Indian agency. On many an occasion McDonald spoke of his boyhood growing up on the old HBC trading post.

Duncan McDonald assumed many roles in Montana society. Not only did he write the first Indian-perspective history, he was also the first American Indian to compile a list of Coyote tales and systematically present them to white audiences. Like his father, an inveterate storyteller, McDonald first told his versions of Coyote tales over several sittings to University of Montana journalism dean A. L. Stone, who later printed them in a series of articles in 1912.

Coyote tales played an important role in almost all American Indian societies. Trickster, sexual athlete, and general all-around nuisance, Coyote served as a perfect source to explain the origin of things as well as to convey moral lessons about behavior. Psychiatrist Carl Jung later became fascinated with Coyote. Modern Indian educators still draw on Coyote tales, and today they are formally taught in elementary schools across the Navajo Nation. Working with Stone, McDonald was probably the first person to make them available to white audiences. One Coyote tale will suffice here:

One day long ago, the Holy People began to hang the stars in the heavens. The stars lay in a heap in a large wicker basket, and one by one, the Holy People picked them up to hang in their proper places.

Coyote wanted to help. "Let me hang stars, too," he said. "I would be very good at this."

The Holy People said no. You’re too untidy, they told him. This task has to be done with great precision. We can’t have sloppy, careless people like you hanging the stars.

Coyote sulked and went away. For days he hid behind the bushes watching. It seemed to him that the Holy People took forever just to hang a single star. They would never be able to finish at this rate.

Finally, Coyote could stand it no longer. One day when everyone was away, Coyote raced over to the basket full of stars. He grabbed it and ran to the edge of the mesa. With a great heave he scattered the stars all across the heavens.

And that’s why the stars look the way they do today.

Duncan McDonald became a fixture of early twentieth-century Montana society. Tourists who frequented the region often sought him out, and in 1909 he enthralled a group at the Roman Buffalo Round-up with Coyote tales and stories of early Montana. A Toronto Globe reporter listened to McDonald’s yarns for more than two hours, later remarking: "It was most interesting, and we had quite a discussion over the morality of the white and red men."

Famed Montana artist Charles M. Russell knew and respected Duncan McDonald. Once they even worked together to help move a buffalo herd to Canada. In turn, McDonald praised Russell as a skilled student of Indian life and sign language. In a collection of short stories, Trails Plowed Under (1927), Russell immortalized him in a short story, "Dunc McDonald," which told of his harrowing escape from a wounded cow buffalo. Duncan McDonald thus emerges as the most famed Scoto-Indian cultural broker of the modern American West.

In 1984 historian L. G. Moses was doing research in the Indian Archives Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City. He observed many "Anglo"-looking people approaching the archivists for help in tracing down a lost grandmother, usually described as a Cherokee "princess." (The Cherokees have no princesses.) Often the archivists rolled their eyes as they assisted the researchers. Shortly afterwards, Moses was examining Native American materials at the South Dakota Historical Society in Pierre. There he observed a Brule Sioux from the nearby Rosebud Reservation seeking out the archivists. The man wanted to look through the records, he said, because he had just learned that he was descended from a Scottish nobleman. The saga of the Scoto-Indians, it seems, appeals to both sides.

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