Chippewa Indian named Ga-Be-Nah-Gown-Wonce, which translates to “Wrinkled Meat,” never wanted to be a chief, but for sure, he knew a lot more than most people of his time did.
He thought his age would make it too difficult for him to be in charge and responsible for anything. He only wished to become an advisor, an appropriate title considering his centenarian status.
White people called him John Smith, or in most cases, Grandpa John, because he was more than 100 years old.
By the time the first post office was set up in Bena, Minnesota, in 1898, John Smith was in his late 70s, if not a few decades older.
Throughout much of his adult life, John Smith liked to hike to Federal Dam and back to Bena.
He traveled across the Deer River or Ball Club from Cass Lake. He seemed to have always been moving to the places where Indians live today.
He would briefly visit a location and then resume his trips. If anybody asked where he would go, he would casually say, “around the country.”
10 /10 A 137-Year-Old Man
On February 8, 1922, Ga-Be-Nah-Gown-Wonce died a week after the battle against pneumonia. The Chippewa Indian was primarily assumed to be 137 years old.
Many names throughout his life knew him; among the most catchy ones were Sloughing Flesh and Wrinkled Meat.
A year before his death, Smith became blind, but his wits remained as straightforward as they had always been.
Smith liked to recall the days when he served as a scout for the Chippewa during the war with the Sioux. At times he spoke about the events of the War of 1812.
9 /10 No More John Smith
In his younger days, there were many Indians called John Smith. As time went by, he outlived every single one of them.
There was no more John Smith the day he died. He was old and very much respected. People liked to say they knew him well, and many would like to take that name, but nobody could unless he gave it to them.
The only way someone could be entitled to the title was to earn his respect. It was also a matter of how much the person respected him.