Except as otherwise noted, all contents of this Web site are Copyright Chief Noonday Chapter, the North Country Trail Association.

Who was Chief Noonday?




Photo Provided, courtesy of Gary & Trish Bynum, who can be contacted at bynum_gen@lewiscounty.com.  [Some caution about the authenticity of  this bust... see LaVerne BeBeau's comments.]




Comments from Gary Bynam about this bust, dated February 2002:

I have a bust of Chief Noonday that I traded for eleven years ago in the Yakima Valley of Washington State.  I collect all sorts of Native American stuff and he has been a wonderful guy to have around.  It was in a bar for 72 years in Butte, Montana, and was bought at auction in the early 60's by an antique dealer from Granger, WA, where it was on display until 1989.  Then the owner knew a friend of mine had been interested since she was a teenager in the Chief, so he sold it to her.  A year later I had something that she wanted, so we traded.  I brought it up to Packwood, WA (right between St. Helens and Mt. Ranier).  I have heard there are at least two other busts by the same artist that are the same.  One is in a library, the other supposedly belongs to the Marquette Historical Society.

     The bust is Marked inside:     Molded at Marquette,Mich.,L.S. 1901 by Homer H. Kidder

                                                Charles Kobawguni  Chippewa Chief of Lake Superior

The Chief spent two six-month periods in the Park Ranger cabin with us at a campground called La-Wis-Wis here in the Cascades, six miles outside of Mt. Ranier National Park and was a great addition to our staff.  He sat just inside of the window. 


LaVerne BeBeau, who was an educator by profession with a special interest in history and research, was a member of the Chief Noonday Chapter until his death in June 2006.  As a service to the Chapter he pursued research on the local history of our section of the the North Country Trail.  His findings were posted on the Local History page of this Web site.  LaVerne's focus was broader than Chief Noonday specifically, but it did include some information on Chief Noonday.

Other Historical Records:

Finding an historical account of Chief Noonday has been difficult to come by.  I ended up at Yankee Springs Recreation Area, and talked to the park rangers there.  The park borders Chief Noonday Road, and has a foot trail, lake, and recreation center named after him.  They dug through their files, and handed me the following passages taken out of the Yankee Springs history:

The best known Indian chief of this period (early/mid 1800's) was Chief Noonday of the Potowatamis, who lived in the Upper Village on the rapids of the Washtanong or Grand River.  He was a strong, well-built man with broad shoulders, standing more than six feet in height.  His influence was felt among all tribes in this section of the country.  He was a leader for the British in the war of 1812, witnessed the burning of Buffalo, and was at the side of Chief Tecumseh when the latter was killed.  Lake Chief Noonday in Yankee Springs is named after him.

And, another document from Yankee Springs states:

The main road running between Bradley and Hastings, and the Mud Lake Camp were renamed in honor of Chief Noonday, and Iroquois hero of the War of 1812, during the 1960's.  Legend claims that it was Chief Noonday who carried the body of Tecumseh, Pawnee leader of the Indian warriors, from his final battlefield.   Chief Noonday was also instrumental in the negotiations that opened much of Michigan to settlement.  Living out his last years in the Yankee Springs area at Slater's Mission, his grave lies near Prairieville.

The only significant reference I could find on the internet was at http://www.doi.gov/bia/bar/mashist.html.   (Webmaster note: As of March 2007, the Bureau of Indian Affairs website, to which this link points, as well as the BIA mail servers, have been made temporarily unavailable due to litigation.  There was no indication when these sites would be reactivated.)    It has a general history of the area.  In it it says:

After the War of 1812...  Most of the Michigan Potawatomi were included in the September 8, 1815, treaty signed at Spring Wells, near Detroit (Kappler 1972, 2:117-119). This treaty restored to them "all the possessions, rights, and privileges, which they enjoyed, or were entitled to, in the year one thousand eight hundred and eleven, prior to the commencement of the late war with Great Britain," renewing and confirming the Treaty of Greenville of 1795 and all subsequent treaties to which they had been parties (Kappler 1972, 2:118). It is not clear that all of the signers of this treaty had, in fact, been in alliance with Great Britain, as the first two Potawatomi signers were Topinebe and Five Medals, both of whom had been American allies (Kappler 1972, 2:119). Matchepenashshewish was not a signer, although "Paanassee, or the bird" signed as a "Chippewa chief", as did Noonday as "Nowgeschick, or twelve o'clock" (Kappler 1972, 2:118).

According to Clifton, during the summer of 1840, most of the southwestern Michigan Potawatomi, with the exception of the Catholic bands who claimed specific exemption under the Treaty of 1833, were forcibly removed west of the Mississippi by the United States army, under General Hugh Brady. Many avoided removal by going to Canada (Clifton 1975a), but others were intercepted by American troops on the way (Holcomb 1891, 5). However, the two northernmost bands that had received 1821 treaty reserves, those of Sagamah(37) and Matchepenashshewish, avoided removal of their bands(38) through a different technique. Between 1828 and 1838, they had already moved north of the Kalamazoo River. In 1839 or very shortly thereafter, they placed themselves under the protection of an Episcopalian mission in Allegan County, Michigan, which was funded by the provisions of the 1836 Ottawa/Chippewa treaty. Basically, they went to ground among the Grand River Ottawa, with whom their history would be closely associated for the next thirty years.(39) {39: The chief of the other [Ottawa] village at the Rapids was Noonday (Indian name Qua-ke-zik) [Tanner transcribes as Nowaquakezick (Tanner 1987, 133)], died at Gull Prairie in 1840, fought with the British during the War of 1812. }

Relationship between the Potawatomi and the Grand River Ottawa... The history of the Grand River Ottawa from the early 1820's until the 1836 treaty was closely associated with mission activities of the Baptist denomination, even though some of the individual Grand River Ottawa chiefs were Catholic.(40) In 1823, the Reverend Isaac McCoy, who had established a mission among the Pokagon Potawatomi near Niles in southwestern Michigan, traveled north, crossed the Grand River, was received inhospitably by the Indians, and returned to the Carey Mission (Goss 1906, 179). In 1824, McCoy visited some Ottawas on the Kalamazoo river and established a blacksmith shop on the border between the Ottawa and Potawatomi territory. In November, he visited the Rapids of the Grand River again and found the blacksmith shop burned. However, on November 27 they reached Gun Lake, and camped upon its banks. The next day they were visited by Noonday, the Ottawa Chief of the Indian village at the Rapids, who, with some followers, was camping on the opposite side of the lake. McCoy found that Noonday was desirous of having a mission established at the Rapids (Goss 1906, 179).

The Baptist mission at Grand Rapids was founded shortly thereafter (Goss 1906, 179). Noonday converted to Christianity and in 1836 moved with Slater to the "Ottawa Colony" at Prairieville, Barry County (Vogel 1986, 44), where the mission was located on sections 26, 27, and 35.(41) In 1836, Indian agent Henry Schoolcraft prepared a survey of the Grand River Ottawa bands, listing the following: Fort Village Band, Prairie Village Band, Grand Rapids Band, Thornapple River Band, Forks of the Thornapple River Band, Flat River Band, and the Maple River Band (MBPI Pet. Doc. #35).

Establishment of the "Griswold Colony," "Selkirk Reserve" or Episcopalian Mission Community. The Griswold Colony in Allegan County(42) and the Ottawa Colony in Barry County(43) {43. 43 Ottawa Colony Sections 26, 27, 35 Prairieville, Plainfield Twp., Barry Co., MI. Rev. Leonard Slater, Baptist minister. Chief Noonday. Population 146 per Schoolcraft. } traced their immediate historical roots directly to the 1836 Ottawa/Chippewa Treaty. President Martin Van Buren decided to involve five Christian denominations in the effort to "educate and civilize" Indians.

The Ottawa Colony actually had dual roots, going back to the earlier Baptist mission that has been founded at Grand Rapids under the auspices of Isaac McCoy:

In the winter of 1836-37 the Rev. Leonard Slater brought a band of Indians, numbering 300, from Grand Rapids to Prairieville. They were located on the northern part of section 35 and the adjoining parts of sections 26 and 27. Mr. Slater erected a church for them in 1840, which was also used as a school-room. It was on the north part of section 35. Mr. Slater taught there a while, and later his daughter Emily. Previous to this time a log house was used. It stood on the knoll opposite the site of William Shean's house. The Indians remained in Prairieville until 1852, when they removed. During their stay many died. They were buried in the field, now an orchard, at the termination of the road running east from Cressy's corners . . . Their chief, Noonday, who is said to have led the Indians who accompanied the British at the attack on Buffalo, N.Y., in December 1813, and to have set fire to that village, died in Prairieville. . . After the removal of the Indians the church was moved to Kalamazoo . . . (History of Allegan and Barry Counties 1880, 472).

Mission Reports, 1840-1845. The Reverend James Selkirk's autobiography indicates that by the spring of 1840, Sagamah's band had settled at the mission. They had planted corn, made sugar, and hunted (Selkirk Autobiography n.d., 38). By 1844, according to Bishop McCoskry, there were about 120 Indians at the mission (Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Michigan 1844, 23).

Although they were of different religious denominations, Selkirk continued to cooperate closely with the Reverend Leonard Slater at the Ottawa Colony in Barry County. Contacts also continued between the Indians at the two colonies. Selkirk wrote:

The second year, Noonday came to pay us a visit from the Baptist Mission (Slaters) with two or three of their best men. He addressed the Indians in an affectionate manner. He also made another Chief and told him his duty and also that of his wife (Selkirk Autobiography n.d., typescript p. 39).

It seems probable that the additional chief "made" by Noonday during this visit was Penassee, as shortly thereafter Selkirk narrated a recollection of conversation between Noonday and "our Chief Penassee" about a War of 1812 incident (Selkirk Autobiography n.d., 40).(58)

Matchepenashshewish had still been alive on the 1842 OIA census of the group (MBPI Pet. Doc. #77; NARS M-234), but apparently died shortly thereafter. Since Sagamah lived until 1845, this episode may indicate that the two bands at the Griswold Colony were still maintaining their distinctiveness in the early 1840's.

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