A History of the Rice Lake Indians by Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson

Foreword        Alderville   1953

A brief record of the mighty Algonquin tribe who once owned and inhabited the whole of southern Ontario has been written by a member of a branch of the Algonquins.

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Mary Jane Simpson 1892‑1965

A story stranger than fiction is our heritage. It tells of a people who were free as the air they breathed, who surrendered the greater part of their possessions for an annuity. Tracts of land which were of little use, except as a place to hunt, were purchased for them. Our ancestors acquiesced cheerfully in the belief that they could hunt where and when they wished - "as long as the grass grows and the water runs" - so ran the agreement signed by Indian chiefs and representatives of His Majesty's Government. This was the law and promise which our ancestors deemed invulnerable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, but which later proved to be only a scrap of paper.

This work has been collected and compiled so that future generations may read the story of their origin, and that a better understanding may exist between us and our white brethren.

Rice Lake derives its name from the cultivated black rice which once grew in it in abundance. There is a Reserve on the north shore in Peterborough County which is known as Hiawatha. This Reserve was set aside for use in 1820.

So, "we who sat in darkness have seen a great light," and have emerged from a pagan state to become Christianized, have brought with us our culture, a charm and chivalry, and also a sense of humour, which could laugh at adversity and poverty.

In 1836 the Alderville people moved to Alnwick Township in Northumberland County. The two bands were Chippewas or Mississaugas, a branch of the Algonquin Indians. The Reserve was named after the Rev. Robert Alder, D.D. who came from England and lived for a while on the Reserve.

Their removal from their island homes in the Bay of Quinte is a story of romantic adventure. They traveled over land with their horses, cattle, and a few possessions led by the Rev. William Case whom they affectionately dubbed "Father Case". Camping at night, they sang by their campfire:

Oh uh pa-gish he che ingo'dwok
Neej uh ne she nah baig
Che nuh nuh guh mo tuh waw wad
Ning e zha mun e-doom
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My Great Redeemer's praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His Grace.
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Everett Simpson 1913‑1975

This had been translated into their Ojibway by the Rev. Peter Jones, an early Methodist Chippewa missionary. They, in the wilderness without a home, could long for a thousand tongues - while we, in comfortable homes, forget to give thanks.

I would like to express my thanks to the Rev. John Delaney of Lakefield, to the Rev. George Dorey D.D. of Toronto, and to Mr. A. E. St. Louis of Ottawa, and to other older people who have helped with this history.

I wish to dedicate this history to my son, Everett Simpson.

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