It will be seen, in a view of the several devices, that the greatest stress appears to be laid throughout upon the totem of the individuals, while there is no device or sign to denote their personal names. The totem is employed as the evidence of the identity of the family and of the clan. This disclosure is in accordance with all that has been observed of the history, organization, and polity of the Chippewa, and of the Algonquin tribes generally. The totem is in fact a device, corresponding to the heraldic bearings of civilized nations, which each person is authorized to bear, as the evidence of his family identity. The very etymology of the word, which is a derivative from Do daim, a town or village, or original family residence, denotes this. It is remarkable, also that while the Indians of this large group of North America, withhold their true personal names, on inquiry, preferring to be called by various sobriquets, which are often the familiar lodge-terms of infancy, and never introduce them into their drawings and picture-writing, they are prompt to give their totems to all inquirers, and never seem to be at a moment's loss in remembering them. It is equally noticeable, that they trace blood-kindred and consanguinities to the remotest ties; often using the nearer for the remoter affinities, as brother and sister for brother-in-law and sister-in-law, &c.; and that where there is a lapse of memory or tradition, the totem is confidently appealed to, as the test of blood affinity, however remote. It is a consequence of the importance attached to this ancient family tie, that no person is permitted to change or alter his totem, and that such change is absolutely unknown among them.
These scrolls were handed in, and deposited among the statistical and historical archives and collections of the bureau. By closely inspecting them, they are seen to denote the concurrence of but thirty-three Chippewa warriors, out of the entire Chippewa nation, besides the eleven persons present. Each family and its location, is accurately depicted by symbols. Unity is shown by eye-lines, and by heart-lines. Friendship by an open hand. Civilization by a dwelling-house. Each person bears his peculiar totemic mark. The devices are drawn, or cut, on the smooth inner surface of the sheets of bark. It will thus have been observed, that the Indian pictorial system is susceptible of considerable certainty of information. By a mixture of the pure representative and symbolical mode, these scrolls are made to denote accurately the number of the villages uniting in the object of Martell's party, together with the number of persons of each totemic class, who gave in their assent to the plan. They also designate, by geographical delineations, the position of each village, and the general position of the country which they ask to be retroceded. It is this trait of the existence among the Chippewas and Algonquins generally, of a pictorial art, or rude method of bark, tree, or rock-writing, which commends the circumstances of the visit to a degree of notice beyond any that it might, perhaps, otherwise merit. It recalls strongly to mind the early attainments of eastern nations in a similar rude mode of expressing ideas by symbolic marks and symbols, prior to the remote eras of the introduction of the cuneiform, and long prior to the true hieroglyphic system of the Euphrates and the Nile. In fact, every trait of this kind may be considered as furnishing additional lights to aid us in considering the question of the origin, condition, capacities and character of hunter nations, of whose ancient history we are still quite in the dark.