Ash-ke-bah-ke-ko-zha "Flat Mouth" (1770 - 1860)

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Nicknames: "Ayshkebugekozhay Maydwayaush"
Birthdate:
Death: Died
Managed by: Margaret, (C)
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About Ash-ke-bah-ke-ko-zha "Flat Mouth"

A powerful Ojibwa, or Chippewa, chief in the Leech Lake area of present-day Minnesota, Aysh-ke-bah-ke-ko-zhay, or Flat Mouth, visited the nation's capital in 1855 as a member of the Indian delegation from the Midwest. The tribal leaders were brought to Washington to negotiate land treaties. Aysh-ke-bah-ke-ko-zhay spoke on behalf of his people in negotiating the cession of more than ten million acres in north-central Minnesota-a land package that included the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The Native Americans received more than one million dollars in funds and services, but aspects of this cession and others in the region continued to figure in government discussions with Native Americans for the next hundred years. Aysh-ke-bah-ke-ko-zhay (other English spellings are also known) means "bird with the green bill" in the Ojibwa language. "Flat Mouth" did not derive from this native name but was instead an English translation of the nickname "Gueule Platte," applied by early French traders. In 1911 Smithsonian Institution ethnologist James Moody characterized the great leader as "probably the most prominent Ojibwa chief of the upper Mississippi region from at least 1806, when he held council with Lieutenant [Zebulon] Pike...probably to his death, which seems to have occurred about 1860."

He enjoyed the respect of whites as well as Indians throughout his long life. He was much impressed by the prophecies of Tenskwatawa, and through his influence, poisoning ceased among the Pillagers, as among other Chippewa. In the later contests with the Sioux for the head waters of the Mississippi, he bore a valiant part. Although his band at Leech lake, Minn., was decimated in the exterminating war, it continued to grow through accessions of the bravest spirits of the eastern villages. When a political agent sought to enlist the Pillagers in the British interest at the beginning of the war of 1812, Flat-mouth returned the proffered wampum belts, saying that he would as soon invite white men to aid him in his wars as take part in a quarrel between the whites.