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It is, perhaps, not to be regretted, that some of the portraits contained in our gallery, are those of persons of little repute; for, although many of the biographies may, on this account, be less interesting in themselves, a greater variety of the aspects of the Indian character will, on the whole, be presented to our readers.
The wandering Indians who inhabit the sterile and inhospitable shores of the northern lakes, are the most miserable and degraded of the native tribes. Exposed to the greatest extremities of climate, and forced by their situation to spend the greater portion of their lives in obtaining a wretched subsistence, they have little ambition, and few ideas, which extend to the supply of their most immediate and pressing wants. The region which they inhabit affords but little game; and when the lakes are frozen, and the land covered with deep snow, there are seasons in which scarcely any living animal can be found, but the wretched tenant of the wigwam, whose habitual improvidence has prevented him from laying up any store for the winter. Lingering at the spot of his temporary residence until the horrors of starvation press him to instant exertion, he must then fly to some distant region, to which the wild animals of the plain, with a truer instinct, have already retreated, or seek a sheltered haunt where he may subsist by fishing. Many perish during these long journeys, or are doomed to disappointment on reaching the place of their destination, and thus they drag out, month after month, their weary existence, in the eager search for food.
We know not how the individual before us came to be designated by the name attached to the portrait. The true name is A-qua-o-da, which signifies Creeping out of the Water. His usual residence is La Pointe, or Shagoimekoong, upon Lake Superior. He is a person of little repute, either with white or red men. He is too idle to hunt, and has no name as a warrior; nor is his character good in other respects. He is, however, an expert fisherman and canoe man, in which capacity he is occasionally employed by the traders. He has never advanced any pretensions to chieftainship, except to be a chief among the dancers, and in his profuse use of paints and ornaments.