John Dunn Hunter
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JOHN DUNN HUNTER: adventurer, b. in a settlement West of the Mississippi about 1798; d. near Nacagdoches, Texas early in 1827. According to his own narrative he was made captive by the Kickapoo Indians when an infant, and adopted into the family of the principal warriors. He afterward fell into the hands of a party of Kansas Indians, and was finally received among the Osages, where he was adopted for the third time. He was dangerously wounded in an engagement with the Canis, and before he was recovered he was taken by the Osages across the Rocky Mountains into the valley of the Columbia River, and up to its mouth. After traveling southward towards the affluents of the Rio Del Norte, and receiving from the Indians the name of the “Hunter,” on account of his skill, he went with them toward the affluents of the Mississippi, meeting traders often in the way. The treacherous conduct of his companions toward the latter disgusted Hunter, and after several exciting incidents, and some internal struggles, he determined in 1817 to cast his lot with the whites. He managed to reach New Orleans, and after gaining a considerable sum by the sale of the furs that he possessed, he attended the school of the city, and learned the English language. Here he assumed the name that the Indians had given him. He was in Kentucky in 1821 pursuing his studies, and afterward by the advice and help of friends visited Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and other cities. He published a narrative of his life among Indians, assisted by Elward Clarke. It appeared in 1823, and was received with much favor. Its success however, was checked soon afterward. Duponcean, a Frenchman living in Philadelphia, who had long been engaged in research on the Idioms of the American Indians, met Hunter, and after several conversations with him became convinced that he was an impostor, and entirely ignorant of the language he claimed to know. He told Hunter so, and published his opinion. The statement of Duponcean, first met with little belief, but it was supported by some of those who had formed part of the expedition to the Rocky Mountains of Major Stephen H. Long, in 1819-20. Hunter now embarked for England, where he met with a flattering reception. After receiving many valuable gifts, and being presented to the Royal Family, he went to the United States where he met with a renewal of the charges against him. In the “North American Revolution” he was denounced in an article by General Cass, as one of the boldest impostors that had appeared in the literary world since the days of Psalmanazor, and at the same time the author of the article accumulated a mass of irresistible proofs against him. Hunter made no attempt to refute these charges. He went to Mexico and received from the government of that country, the grant of an immense territory in which he promised to settle a colony of Indians. He assured the Mexicans that he would thus form a rampart on their frontiers that would be capable of resisting every encroachment on the part of the U.S.