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MADJECKEWISS (Machiquawish, Matchekewis, Michiconiss, Michiguiss, Mitchikiweese, Mudjekewiss, Wachicouess, meaning a hereditary chief; Kaigwiaidosa; Mash-i-pi-nash-i-wish or Bad Bird), Ojibwa chief; b. in present-day northern Michigan, probably c. 1735; d. c. 1805.

Madjeckewiss was born into a group of Ojibwas who wintered in hunting villages west of Lake Huron, in the region of Saginaw and Thunder bays, and spent their summers at Cheboygan (Mich.) or in hunting along the Lake Superior shore. Called Kaigwiaidosa as a young man, he was tall and weighed more than 200 pounds. By his mid 20s he was a respected war chief. In 1763, when Pontiac*’s forces besieged Detroit, Madjeckewiss welcomed the opportunity to help drive the British out of the west. Working closely with Minweweh*, Madjeckewiss planned the capture of Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.). Charles-Michel Mouet* de Langlade, a local trader, warned Captain George Etherington, but after interviewing Madjeckewiss the commandant paid no further heed. On the morning of 2 June 1763, Etherington stood outside the walls of the fort watching Madjeckewiss and his warriors vigorously engage a band of Sauks in a game of lacrosse. Suddenly the chief threw the ball over the pickets of the fort. As the Ojibwas rushed in to retrieve the ball, waiting women handed them weapons concealed beneath their blankets. Within a few minutes the garrison was killed or captured and Madjeckewiss and his men controlled the post. After holding it for several days, they apparently departed to assist Wasson* and other Saginaw Ojibwas in the siege of Detroit.

Indian tradition recounts that, after British control in the west had been re-established, Madjeckewiss was taken captive to Quebec and imprisoned for a while. Upon his release he was given a medal, a flag, and other presents, and returned from prison with great honour. Documents suggest that he met with Sir William Johnson* at Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.) in 1764; in 1768 he and four others went to Guy Park (near Amsterdam, N.Y.) and Johnson Hall (Johnstown) to see Sir William, report rumours of Spanish intrigue, and pledge their loyalty. Madjeckewiss was imprisoned at Michilimackinac in April 1771 after the body of a trader was found near his village. When it was determined that the man had died of natural causes the chief was released.

Throughout the American revolution Madjeckewiss was a close ally of the British. He later claimed, in circumstances that make the assertion plausible, to have been with John Burgoyne*, presumably in the invasion of New York that ended disastrously in October 1777. If trader John Long* is accurate in recalling that he encountered Madjeckewiss on the north shore of Lake Superior early in July 1777, the Ojibwa chief and his warriors must have joined the expedition in its late stages, since by early July Burgoyne had already taken Fort Ticonderoga (near Ticonderoga, N.Y.). Certainly the British at Michilimackinac found Madjeckewiss’s friendship invaluable. Fearing attack by the forces of George Rogers Clark, which had seized the Illinois country in 1778, commandant Arent Schuyler DePeyster* dispatched Madjeckewiss to Detroit to encourage the Indians there. The chief hurried back to participate in the great council at L’Arbre Croche (Cross Village, Mich.) on 4 July 1779. He and ten of his band then accompanied a British officer to Fort St Joseph (Niles, Mich.) to secure the support of the Potawatomis. After returning to Michilimackinac by sailing vessel, he was sent to the Illinois country to harass the rebels. As compensation for his services, Madjeckewiss was given a log house, which was moved some 18 miles over the ice to Cheboygan that winter.

During the early months of 1780 the new lieutenant governor at Michilimackinac, Patrick Sinclair, organized a major attack on the Spanish village at St Louis (Mo.). He was particularly pleased when on 10 March the “very noted Chief” Madjeckewiss consented to participate. The chief assisted trader Jean-Marie Ducharme in gaining the support of the Sauks, Foxes, and Sioux who lived along the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. On 26 May a British and Indian force numbering nearly a thousand attacked but was unable to capture the fortified town. It split up, and Madjeckewiss joined Langlade’s group which retreated by way of the Illinois River. Despite the expedition’s failure Madjeckewiss continued to assist the British in securing alliances and in September 1783 he accompanied Jean-Baptiste Cadot, whose wife was a relative of his, to the vicinity of Chequamegon Bay (Wis.) in an effort to stop a war between the Ojibwas of Lake Superior and the Foxes and Sioux.

As the American Revolutionary War drew to a close, the British spent less on supplying the Indians. When in 1784 Madjeckewiss came to receive presents at Fort Michilimackinac (located since 1781 on Mackinac Island), he berated Captain Daniel Robertson, denouncing the British as liars and impostors who had encouraged the Indians to sacrifice their lives and then let them starve. The Indians ought to chase them out of the country, he exclaimed. In fact the Indians who lived south of the Great Lakes needed the help of Britain to hold back the advancing Americans. When the American invasion culminated in the battle of Fallen Timbers (near Waterville, Ohio) in 1794, however, the British gave no military assistance to the Indians [see John Graves Simcoe]. Madjeckewiss and his warriors were part of the defeated confederacy of tribes. Using the name of Mash-i-pi-nash-i-wish or Bad Bird, he joined in signing the Treaty of Greenville, which surrendered most of the Ohio valley and strategic land around Niagara, Detroit, and Michilimackinac to the Americans. Through him the Three Fires, a confederacy of Ojibwas, Ottawas, and Potawatomis, made the “extra and voluntary gift” of Bois Blanc Island in the straits of Mackinac in order to gain the Americans’ favour. Eager to return home, the old chief requested a horse to ride.

Although he had made his peace with the Americans, Madjeckewiss still obtained gifts from the British. During each summer from 1796 to 1799 he and his band of between 13 and 30 journeyed to the British headquarters on the Upper Lakes to beg for charity and presents from the commandants.

The exact year of Madjeckewiss’s death is uncertain. DePeyster, writing in March 1804, was under the impression that he was already dead. Some years later the chief’s son Madjeckewiss recalled that his father had died while attending a treaty conference on the Miamis (Maumee) River; this may have been the one held at Fort Industry (near Toledo, Ohio) in 1805. Another Indian remembered that he had died about 1806.

David A. Armour

Clements Library, Thomas Duggan journal, 17 July 1796; 25 July 1797; 23 June 1798; 9, 10 July, 8, 10 Sept. 1799; Thomas Gage papers, American ser., 103: Turnbull to Gage, 12 May 1771; supplementary accounts, box 76, Michilimackinac expenses, Indian expenses, Capt. George Turnbull, 25 May 1770–8 July 1772. Wis., State Hist. Soc., Doty papers, “Memorandum of travels in northern Michigan and Wisconsin,” 10 July–2 Aug. 1822: 4–6. [A. S. DePeyster], Miscellanies, by an officer (Dumfries, Scot., 1813), 18, 32. Augustin Grignon, “Seventy-two years’ recollections of Wisconsin,” Wis., State Hist. Soc., Coll., 3 (1857): 224–25, 232, 234. Henry, Travels and adventures. John Askin papers (Quaife), 1: 52; 2: 407. [John Long], John Longs voyages and travels in the years 1768–1788, ed. M. M. Quaife (Chicago, 1922), 59–65. Mich. Pioneer Coll., 9 (1886): 379; 10 (1886): 365–66, 570; 11 (1887): 383, 389, 453; 12 (1887): 162, 262; 20 (1892): 417. Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.), 12: 544–45, 548–50, 558–63. H. R. Schoolcraft, Personal memoirs of a residence of thirty years with the Indian tribes on the American frontiers, with brief notices of passing events, facts and opinions, A.D. 1812 to A.D. 1842 (Philadelphia, 1851), 103, 447. U.S., Congress, American state papers (Lowrie et al.), class ii, [1]: 562–82. Wis., State Hist. Soc., Coll., 11 (1888): 115, 142–43, 151–52; 12 (1892): 67–68; 18 (1908): 375–76, 393, 400–1. Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin, “An anthropological report on Indian use and occupancy of northern Michigan,” Chippewa Indians (7v., New York and London, 1974), 5: 8–11. L. C. Draper, “Notice of Match-e-ke-wis, the captor of Mackinaw, 1763,” Wis., State Hist. Soc., Coll., 7 (1876): 188–94.

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Cite This Article

David A. Armour, “MADJECKEWISS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 24, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/madjeckewiss_5E.html.

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Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/madjeckewiss_5E.html
Author of Article:   David A. Armour
Title of Article:   MADJECKEWISS
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1983
Year of revision:   1983
Access Date:   February 24, 2024