The History of The USS Potawatomi - History

The History of The USS Potawatomi - History

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(AT-109: dp. 1,675,1. 205'0" b. 38'6", dr. 15'4", s.17 k.;
cpl. 85; a. 1 3", 2 4dmm.; cl. Aonaki).

Potawatomi (AT-109) was laid down by the United Engineering Co., Alameda, Calif., 19 October 1942, launched 3 April 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Arthur L. Monroe; and commissioned 12 February 1944.

Following shakedown off California, Potawatomi, a fleet tug assigned to ServRon 2, operated along the west coast until 3 May when she steamed for Pearl Elarbor with a tow. Reclassified ATF-109 on 15 May 1944, she steamed to Kwajalein with TU 16.14.7, arriving 1 June. Returning almost immediately to Pearl Harbor, she then steamed to Majuro with a tow, arriving 25 June.

Returning to Pearl Harbor, she steamed to Eniwetok with a tow, arriving 7 August. She then proceeded to Saipan and Guam, before returning to Eniwetok. Proceeding to Majuro she participated in the Philippine invasion with TG 79.19 on 20 October 1944, recovering LCT skids and standing by for salvage operations. After a towing assignment from Manus to Hollandia, she participated in the Lingayen assault with TG 77.8, assisting landing craft, 9 January 1945. Making runs between Leyte and Ulithi from March to June, Potawatomi provided harbor services at Leyte during July and steamed to Okinawa in early August, arriving on the 6th and remaining there for the duration of the war and until 10 Septetember.

On 12 September Potawatomi reached Nagasaki, remaining there until 2 October. During Qetober she steamed between various Japanese ports. Returning to Pearl Harbor, she operated there until 5 April 1946 when she departed for Seattle on a towing assignment. On 21 Sentember she departed Bremerton for Alaska, operating out of various Alaskan ports until 29 November 1947 when she returned to Bremerton. On 15 December 1947 she reported for duty to San Francisco Group Pacific Reserve Fleet and Naval Shipyard San Francisco for preinaetivation overhaul.

She decommissioned 28 April 1948 and entered the U.S. Pacific Reserve Fleet, berthed at Stockton. On 27 August she was reassigned to the Alameda Groun. Transferred to the Maritine Administration National Defense Reserve Fleet in August 1961, she was loaned, under the Military Assitance Program, to Chile in February 1963 where she served as Janequeo until sunk in 1965.

Potawatomi earned 2 battle stars for World War II service.

Legends of America

The Potawatomi are an Algonquian Native American people of the Great Plains, upper Mississippi River, and western Great Lakes region. Their name is a translation of the Ojibwe word “potawatomink,” meaning “people of the place of fire.” In their own language, the Potawatomi refer to themselves as the Nishnabek or “people.”

The Potawatomi were part of a long-term alliance, called the Council of Three Fires, with the Ojibwe and Ottawa, who had common or similar language, manners, and customs. They were early on were estimated to have numbered about 8,000 people.

Their first European contact occurred in 1634 when Jean Nicolet arrived at Green Bay, Wisconsin, and met a few Potawatomi there. However, at that time, the tribe lived in Michigan, so they were probably visiting. Then, in the 1640s, the Iroquois Confederacy of New York began to raid Indian tribes throughout the Great Lakes region to monopolize the regional fur trade. Forced westward, the Potawatomi then settled on the Door County Peninsula in Wisconsin. After 30 years of war, relocation, and epidemics of disease, the French estimated about 4,000 Potawatomi in 1667.

As the Algonquin tribes began driving the Iroquois back to New York, the Potawatomi moved south to the southern end of Lake Michigan. In 1701, the French built Fort Ponchartrain at Detroit, and groups of Potawatomi settled nearby. By 1716 most of the Potawatomi villages were located between present-day Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Detroit, Michigan.

Potawatomi Chief Crane and Brave

The Potawatomi became trading partners and military allies of the French. When the Fox Indians rose up in Wisconsin against the French between 1712 and 1735, the Potawatomi participated in many battles on the side of the French. They later assisted the French in their wars with the Chickasaw and the Illinois tribes. During the 1760s, they expanded into northern Indiana and central Illinois.

When the French and English began to battle each other over control of North American lands, the tribe fought in a series of wars with the French, including King George’s War, in 1746-47 and the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763. With England’s victory in this war, all French possessions in Canada and the Midwest reverted to British control. Wary of their new colonial overlords, they participated in Ottawa Chief Pontiac’s Rebellion against the British in 1863. The British put down the rebellion in 1866 and afterward established better diplomatic and economic relations with the tribes to prevent such recurrences.

During the American Revolution, most of the Potawatomi in Illinois remained neutral or even favored the Americans, but their kinsmen in Michigan were more pro-British. The Revolutionary War “officially” ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris, which placed the western boundary of the United States at the Mississippi River.

The U.S. government then tried to establish a boundary with the Ohio tribes through treaties, but frontiersmen simply ignored them and moved onto native lands. This resulted in a bloody war between the United States and the Ohio Indians, supported by the British, from 1790 to 1794, in which the Potawatomi from Michigan and Indiana participated. The war continued until the Indians were put down by “Mad Anthony” Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. In November, the British signed the Jay Treaty resolving their differences with the United States and agreed to leave their forts on American territory. The alliance chiefs signed a treaty ceding most of Ohio, which included 240 Potawatomi members. Although the Potawatomi did not surrender any of their lands, they received $1,000 for signing. Afterward, more than 60 of the Potawatomi leaders, who had attended the treaty negotiations at Greenville, Ohio, mysteriously got sick and died. The British claimed Americans had poisoned them.

The native tribes signed several treaties in the next few years, but it wasn’t until the Detroit Treaty was signed in November 1807 that the Potawatomi were required to surrender some of their own lands. By this time, the Potawatomi tribal lands included northern Illinois, southeastern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, southern Michigan, and northwestern Ohio.

Afterward, many Potawatomi became followers of Tenskawatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, and his brother Tecumseh, who preached a doctrine of resisting American expansion onto Indian lands. The brothers put together an Indian military alliance that included the Potawatomi that fought on the British side during the War of 1812. Once the war started, the Potawatomi defeated the American garrison at Fort Dearborn in Chicago. When the war ended in 1814, the British gave up the lands in Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest.

Afterward, the Potawatomi fell on hard times and were often unable to hunt and grow enough food to eat. Soon, they had little choice except to cede their land to the United States in exchange for money so they could survive. A number of treaties and land cessions were made in the next several years, and the removal of the Potawatomi west of the Mississippi River occurred between 1834 and 1842.

The Potawatomi were removed in two groups, with the Prairie and Forest Bands from Illinois and Wisconsin moved to Council Bluffs in southwest Iowa, and the Potawatomi of the Woods, which included the Michigan and Indiana bands, relocated to eastern Kansas near Osawatomie. One band of Potawatomi, led by Chief Menominee, refused to leave their homelands at their Twin Lakes village in Indiana. Menominee was soon joined by hundreds of other Potawatomi who did not want to leave, and over time, Menominee’s band grew from four wigwams to more than a hundred. However, in August 1838, they were forced by soldiers to begin a march to Kansas, which is now known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death. During the forced removal, 42 of the 859 Potawatomi had died.

In 1846 the Iowa and Kansas groups merged and were placed on a single reservation north of Topeka, Kansas. This group separated in 1867, with the Citizen Potawatomi moving to Oklahoma near present-day Shawnee.

During these years of removal, the tribe fractured, and many members avoided removal and remained in the Great Lakes area. Others went with the Kickapoo to Texas and Kansas, and some migrated to Canada. About 200 of the Potawatomi who went to Iowa and Kansas returned to Wisconsin and settled in the vicinity of Wisconsin Rapids.

Today, there are several federally recognized bands of Potawatomi in the United States and in Canada.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Shawnee, Oklahoma
Forest County Potawatomi Community, Wisconsin
Hannahville Indian Community, Michigan
Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, Dorr, Michigan
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, Calhoun County, Michigan
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan and Indiana
Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation, Mayetta, Kansas.

Caldwell First Nation, Point Pelee and Pelee Island, Ontario
Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
Saugeen First Nation, Ontario
Chippewa of Kettle and Stony Point, Ontario
Moose Deer Point First Nation, Ontario
Walpole Island First Nation, on an unceded island between the United States and Canada
Wasauksing First Nation, Parry Island, Ontario

Potawatomi tribal history exhibit dedicated at Burnett's Mound

Potawatomi tribal members were forced at gunpoint in 1838 to leave their homes in Indiana and walk a 660-mile route known as the "Trail of Death," Jon Boursaw said Thursday.

They then lived in what is now Linn County in east-central Kansas, where 600 members died of cholera and were buried in unmarked graves before the Potawatomi were relocated in the late 1840s to the Topeka area, Boursaw said.

A native Topekan and a Potawatomi tribal legislator, Boursaw was among those who spoke at a ceremony in southwest Topeka to dedicate an exhibit focusing on Potawatomi tribal history.

He stressed that the Potawatomi have been here since before Topeka became a city in 1854 and Kansas became a state in 1861.

Boursaw spearheaded efforts to create that exhibit, which features three interpretive signs. It stands at the entrance to Skyline Park at Burnett's Mound, the site of Topeka's highest point.

The signs include information about Burnett's Mound's namesake, Chief Abram Burnett, who owned the land where Skyline Park is located and lived near the mound until he died at age 57 in 1870.

"I'm very proud of this exhibit because it not only tells the Burnett story but it tells how we got here, where we were before we got here," Boursaw said. "It talks about four individuals who were key members of the tribe while we were here."

About 70 people attended Thursday's gathering at the exhibit, which can be reached by going to S.W. 35th and Gage Boulevard, then traveling about five blocks west and one block north.

Skies were mostly clear and temperatures in the upper 70s as those present heard from speakers who included Boursaw, Citizens Potawatomi Nation Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett, Shawnee County Commissioner Kevin Cook, county parks and recreation director Tim Laurent and Allyson Shove, vice president of marketing for Azura Credit Union, which has teamed up with the county on efforts to improve Skyline Park.

The Potawatomi history exhibit is "just one more compelling reason to visit Skyline Park," Laurent said.

"There's a lot to be told here, and I encourage you to read the panels," Boursaw said.

Shawnee County County Commissioners Aaron Mays and Bill Riphahn and Topeka city manager Brent Trout were also among those present.

Thursday's ceremony came more than a year after the exhibit was created in March 2020 through a partnership between Shawnee County Parks and Recreation and the Oklahoma-based Citizens Potawatomi Nation.

Dedication ceremonies were postponed until this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those present learned that the gates to Burnett's Mound and Skyline Park, which are normally closed to traffic, will be open to public vehicles on Saturday.


Each Indigenous nation has its own creation story. Some stories tell that the Potawatomi have always been here. Other stories tell of migration from the Eastern seaboard with the Ojibwe and Odawa Nations. The three tribes loosely organized as the Three Fires Confederacy, with each serving an important role. The Ojibwe were said to be the Keepers of Tradition. The Odawa were known as the Keepers of the Trade. The Potawatomi were known as the Keepers of the Fire. Later, the Potawatomi migrated from north of Lakes Huron and Superior to the shores of the mshigmé or Great Lake. This location—in what is now Wisconsin, southern Michigan, northern Indiana, and northern Illinois—is where European explorers in the early 17th century first came upon the Potawatomi they called themselves N eshnabék , meaning the original or true people.

As the United States frontier border moved west, boundary arguments and land cessions became a way of life for Native Americans. In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act and directed that all American Indians be relocated to lands west of the Mississippi River, leaving the Great Lakes region open to further non-Indian development.

The 1833 Treaty of Chicago established the conditions for the removal of the Potawatomi from the Great Lakes area. When Michigan became a state in 1837, more pressure was put on the Potawatomi to move west. The hazardous trip killed one out of every ten people of the approximately 500 Potawatomi involved. As news of the terrible trip spread, some bands, consisting of small groups of families, fled to northern Michigan and Canada. Some also tried to hide in the forests and swamps of southwestern Michigan. The U.S. government sent soldiers to round up the Potawatomi they could find and move them at gunpoint to reservations in the west. This forced removal is now called the Potawatomi Trail of Death, similar to the more familiar Cherokee Trail of Tears.

However, a small group of N eshnabék , with Leopold Pokagon as one of their leaders, earned the right to remain in their homeland, in part because they had demonstrated a strong attachment to Catholicism. It is the descendants of this small group who constitute the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

When the American immigrants first came to southwestern Michigan in the early 19th century, they would have found Leopold Pokagon and his village in what is now Bertrand Township in Niles, Michigan. In 1838, Leopold and a small group from the St. Joseph Valley visited the Odawa at L’Arbre Croche to attempt to find a place to settle, for while the Treaty of 1833 allowed them to remain in Michigan, they were supposed to remove to the L’Arbre Croche area with the Odawa within five years. In 1836 the Treaty of Washington was struck between the Odawa and Ojibwe and ceded much of the lands in the north. Essentially, Leopold and his group were told there would be no room for them to move there. Upon returning to southwest Michigan, Leopold purchased land in Silver Creek Township using annuity monies accrued through several previous treaty negotiations, including the Treaty of 1833. It was in this time that Pokagon and several other groups moved collectively to Silver Creek Township, near present day Dowagiac, Michigan. Not long after, Brigadier General Hugh Brady threatened to force Pokagon’s Band out of Michigan. Pokagon, who by then was an old man in failing health, traveled to Detroit to get a written judgment from Epaphroditus Ransom of the Michigan Supreme Court to remain on their land.

Nearly one hundred years later, during the Great Depression, the federal government passed the Wheeler-Howard Act, also known as the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which would provide tribes with resources to reestablish tribal governments. Although the Pokagon Band applied for recognition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs had limited funding and personnel to fully implement the Act, so decided to recognize only one Indian tribe in the lower peninsula of Michigan (the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe). It wasn’t until September 21, 1994 that the federally-recognized status of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi was reaffirmed by an act of Congress. After decades of effort by hundreds of Pokagon Band citizens and other volunteers, the Pokagon Band’s sovereignty was restored on that day in a signing ceremony at the White House with President Bill Clinton. This day is now celebrated as Sovereignty Day by citizens of the Pokagon Band. This Act did not mean that the Pokagon Band suddenly became an Indian tribe, rather that the federal government reaffirmed what the Pokagon Band had always known — they were a tribe.

Ohio’s Trail of Tears

The big bark canoes moved south from Detroit, across the uncertain waters of Lake Erie and into the safe embrace of Sandusky Bay. But it was not safe for long, so they went south again, a five-day ride on the Sandusky River.

The forests there were full of deer and raccoons. Full of chestnuts and cranberries. Full of riverside earth so soft they could farm it by hand.

The big trees invited them to chip away the bark, carve in the faces of the living spirits of the forest. Then they could lift them off and wear them in the firelight, searching for the light within.

They were the Wyandot of Ohio, and for more than 100 years they lived and worked here and called it home.

They were Ohioans like other Ohioans. They raised crops, went to school and many converted to Christianity. They even fought for Ohio in a war. Yet today the bones of their children – and the children of their children – are 1,000 miles away.

Janith English knows why. English is principal chief of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas. And as she walks up a rare green hill in downtown Kansas City, Kan., she explains why.

To her, this hill surrounded by concrete is the ultimate refuge. It is the Wyandot cemetery.

Hundreds of Wyandots – maybe more than 1,000 – are buried there. Many of them came from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, in 1843.

English can tell you who is here. Over in the walled area is Charles B. Garrett, a veteran of the War of 1812, one of many Wyandots who fought alongside the United States against Britain. Members of the Zane family are in the row at the edge of the trees, each descended from the tribe’s beloved Chief Tarhe and the founders of Zanesville. Nearby is Henry Jacquis, who was chief of the Wyandot when they mustered strength to come here 160 years ago.

“Does it feel different to you?” English says as a breeze lifts her fine white hair off her neck.

English visited the cemetery as a child, picnicking with her family and listening to stories about her tribal ancestors. Her favorite was about Tarhe, a wise and strong leader who happened to be her great-great-great-great-great grandfather.

She loves to hear these stories. She wants them to be told again and again. Stories that have their roots in Ohio.

The crowd at Fort Greenville rumbled with translators and rustled in ceremonial hawk feathers, buckskin and cotton cloth. On an August day in 1795, more than 100 Indian chiefs gathered on Ohio’s western plains. They were the Delaware of Sandusky River, Ottawa of Maumee River, Shawnee and Miami of western Ohio and Potawatomi from southern Michigan. Their leaders were called Michikinakwa or Little Turtle, Weyapiersenwaw or Blue Jacket, and Buckongahelas.

Across the table stood men with lapels and brass buttons. They were assistants to American Maj. Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne, and they included William Henry Harrison.

As everyone watched, the parchment was unrolled, and Chief Tarhe took pen in hand. Eight months of negotiations had led to that moment, a moment that could for ever change how Indians would live in Ohio.

It was time for Tarhe to sign the Treaty of Greenville.

By signing, the tribes would give up two- thirds of their Ohio lands. Only the north west corner would be theirs, from the Cuyahoga River west, from Lake Erie half way south to the Ohio River. They also would share $20,000 in goods and another $10,000 every year. They still could hunt on their old lands, but they would have to let more Americans settle on the little land they had left.

If Tarhe could change things, he would. He’d push the Americans away. Far away. For good.

But he no longer believed that could hap pen. The Americans were too strong. They had beaten the British and the Indians in the Revolutionary War. Under Wayne’s command, they had won the Battle of Fallen Timbers, north of Fort Meigs, crushing the Indian resistance.

The loss was more painful because of betrayal. When the Indians ran to a British fort for help from their old friends, the tall gates were slammed shut in fear. The Americans had them pinned, and Indians fell everywhere. Many were shot while crossing back over the Maumee River.

Ten Wyandot chiefs died. The mourning Tarhe was the only leader to return to the Sandusky River.

If he signed, it would be easier for the other tribes to sign. They looked up to Tarhe. His tribe, the Wyandot, were keepers of the council fire, keepers of the calumet, or peace pipe. The vigorous Shawnee leader Tecumseh – who boycotted the council – was a strong opinion-maker, but the Wyandot were the judges, the historians, the benevolent uncles of the North west Confederacy.

Tecumseh’s followers believed whites wanted to force them across the country and into the sea. They intended to stand their ground. But Tarhe’s peacemaking confederacy clung optimistically to the expanding edge of the United States.

It was a wild, wild west filled with tired refugees. Indians had been through more than a century of war, disease, poisonous liquor and disappearing land and all the comforts that went with it. Tarhe and his followers wanted to live in peace and save what was left.

He leaned his long frame over the page. His dark hair was parted in the center over an aquiline nose, long neck and 6-foot, 4-inch frame. He was taller than most Indians, and most whites. Tarhe, the Crane, they called him.

Tarhe and his warriors once saved a white woman from a band of torturing Del aware. By the time Tarhe got to her, she had been stripped, bound and painted black, the mark of death. He also protected a Christian Wyandot woman from her battering heathen husband.

Tall man, big heart, sound mind.

“Brothers!” Tarhe said to all.

“We now establish a general, permanent and lasting peace forever. Be strong, brothers, and fulfill your engagements.”

Many Indian freedoms were disappearing, but Tarhe was optimistic.

He had signed treaties before, and the words of this one were different:

“The United States will protect all the said Indian tribes in the quiet enjoyment of their lands against all citizens of the United States, and against all other white persons who intrude upon the same.”

He lifted his pen. He imagined a fence, a big, strong fence to protect his people.

In 1817, only 22 years later, a new treaty was drawn. The Treaty of Fort Meigs shrunk the fence around the Indians of Ohio. They were told they had too much land, 4 million acres too much, acres that could be sold to raise money for a struggling new nation.

Who would speak for the struggling old nation?

Tecumseh was gone, dead in the War of 1812. Tarhe, an American hero in that war, was dead of pneumonia. His successor, Duon-quot or Half King, couldn’t find an army if he tried. New diseases had wiped out many of his tribe, and liquor was killing others. Now the several hundred remaining Wyandot had to hunt the little spaces where the white man hadn’t settled. They had to relocate to a scrap of land 12 miles square around Upper Sandusky.

In return, the government would give the Indians money to live on, encouragement to farm and the word of Our Lord.

Whether they wanted it or not.

On a Sabbath day after the signing, Wyandots filled the log benches at the council house. They had come each Sunday because they were moved by John Stew art’s sermons about abstaining from alcohol and being ready for judgment day. They heard hope in this Methodist man’s words.

But that week’s sermon was unlike the others. Stewart told his audience that their Indian ways were sinful and dis pleasing to the Great Spirit. They must stop painting their faces and believing it would ward off evil. They must no longer dance and feast to honor forest spirits.

They must accept the Lord, Jesus Christ, and all his ways.

Wyandot chiefs John Hicks and Mononcue were stunned. Surely Stewart didn’t mean it.

“Cast your eyes over the world,” he said. “There are almost as many different systems of religions as there are nations. Say that is not the work of the Lord. We are willing to receive good ad vice from you, but we are not willing to have the customs of our fathers assailed and abused.”

If God wanted Indians to have his word in a book, he would have given them one, he said. “Ours is a religion that suits us red people, and we intend to keep and preserve it sacred among us.”

Stewart pressed on, drawing faith from his own experience. He was a free black man from Virginia who once fell into alcoholism. Then he found God and a better life. If this grace had worked for him, he knew it could work for spiritually exhausted Indians.

He told the Indians that before the Son of God ascended into heaven, he asked his disciples to go and preach his word to all nations.

“Not to white people only,” he said, “but to all nations . . . white, Indian and African,” each with a share in salvation.

The traditionalist Wyandots searched their souls. Was it possible to give up the old ways? Turn their backs on what the proud, strong ancients had given them?

They would have to put aside forever their story of creation, how the wife of the ruler of the sky world plucked and ate a blossom from the sacred tree of light. How she fell to the watery lower world. How a council of turtles took some soil that fell from that tree’s roots and built her a home on one turtle’s back.

How that home was the very land they stood upon.

At a later Sunday service, a spell seemed to come over some of the Indians. They called out for mercy, falling to the floor and professing their Christianity.

Big Tree converted. He was a tribe elder who still wore the silver ear bobs of tradition, ornaments that made his lobes grow down to his shoulders. What he wanted more than anything else was to see his tribe strong again. Inside his home of meticulously fitted cornstalks, he dropped to his knees and embraced prayer. “O Homendezue,” he said in Wyandot, “tamentare, tamentare.” (Oh, Great Spirit, take pity on me, take pity on me.)

Between-the-Logs converted next. Tall, sad-eyed and warm, he had been Tarhe’s right-hand man. But he had lived with paralyzing guilt ever since he killed his wife in a blind, drunken rage. He had given up drink, but it had not made him whole. Stewart provided the missing piece: a religion with forgiveness.

Mononcue talked about it to Hicks. “I begin to feel somewhat inclined to abandon a good many of our Indian customs,” he said, “but I cannot agree to give up painting my face.” It would, he believed, make him sick.

Yet he continued to think about converting and continued to talk with Stew art at the meetings.

When the next traditional feast rolled around, Stewart received a formal invitation. The “heathens” wanted him to see, once again, exactly how good-natured a feast can be. He accepted in the spirit of diplomacy.

The aroma of cooked deer and bear were in the air, and the music began. The first dancer let out three shrieks, making Stewart jump. Driving rhythms, peals of flutes and the lusty drone of a conch-shell horn built layers of musical momentum.

Some of the young men were dancing near him and cutting what he thought were some of the most ludicrous figures imaginable. They threw their heads to one shoulder and closed their eyes, then threw their heads back so hard he thought they might dislocate their neck bones. They bent forward so low he thought they might touch the ground. All the while their arms were akimbo and their feet kept time with the music.

Mononcue watched, watched some more, and finally could not hold himself back. A crestfallen Stewart saw him take his place in the circle of dancers. Mononcue started moving his feet to the beat like the others, at one with the others, lost yet found, head up, head down, in patterns that ran through the oldest, deepest parts of his soul.

It was not easy to walk the white man’s way.

Wyandot chiefs spread the Methodist word

On a summer day in 1826, the gaslights dimmed at the Peale Museum in Philadelphia and a smaller light came on behind a wheel of pictures. As the wheel started turning, the pictures blurred, then emerged distinct, moving as if they were alive.

A party of four from Upper Sandusky, Ohio – three Wyandot Indians and one white minister – watched the action un fold: The devil and a drunk were in a tug-of-war. They pulled this way and that until the devil grabbed the foot of the drunk and flipped him off his feet. The show ended in darkness, followed by silence.

“Waugh,” said an amazed Mononcue, a chief in the tribe.

Mononcue, a second chief named Between-the-Logs, interpreter Samuel Brown and the Rev. James Finley were on a well-deserved sightseeing break. In the first two weeks, they covered a lot of ground.

They rode horseback to San dusky Bay, took a steamboat to Buffalo (where a choppy Lake Erie made the chiefs seasick), canal boat to Schenectady and stagecoach to New York and Philadelphia. They were touring east ern cities, preaching, raising money at Methodist events and impressing everyone.

They were the most civilized savages cityfolk had ever seen. Possibly the only Indians the whites ever had seen.

After the picture show, some one at the museum asked them to return the next day. Finley, who ran the Ohio mission, did not commit.

The next morning, a local pa per carried an item saying the chiefs would be appearing at the museum. Finley suspected a “catchpenny maneouvre” and declined the invitation by letter. But curiosity got the best of him, and he and Brown showed up outside the museum just to see if the notice had stirred interest. The streets were mobbed with carriages.

Their stories about the mission created an even greater sensation among the Methodists. After 10 years of missionary work in Up per Sandusky, the church had more than 200 members, nearly half the reservation.

It was a white, red and black congregation, and notably sober.

Its agricultural program was fruitful, and the vocational school was so good, heathens were enrolling their children.

Wyandots were forsaking their bark homes and building sturdier homes made of logs. The United States had given them a gristmill in recognition of their service in the War of 1812. (“Indians always served first,” said the list of rules.) The government also had provided money to build a church, with plenty of Indians volunteering to pull the lime stone slabs out of the Sandusky River bottom and stack them into walls.

The Indians attributed the changes to Finley, who they said led them by example.

Mononcue and Between-the-Logs were eager to show off the results. On the road, they took turns preaching.

In Baltimore, Between-the-Logs spoke in front of several thousand Methodists, describing the changes that their religion had made for his people.

“The Great Spirit has taken the tomahawk out of our hands, and his love has taken it out of our hearts, and buried it so deep [in the earth] that it will never rise again,” he told them. “And this peace shall go to all people, and it will bury all war, and make all the world love like brothers. For Jesus died himself to make peace. Yes, my brothers, he died.”

Brown, the interpreter, was not feeling well. Between-the-Logs told him to rest and proceeded to perform a pantomime of the crucifixion. He said the word Jesus plainly and then knelt, praying, eyes beseeching heaven. The crowd was struck with quiet. He stretched his hand across a wooden post and “nailed” his forefinger into it. Praises to God rolled across the room. He did the same to his feet. More praise. His head dropped to his shoulder, suggesting death. The crowd was weep ing and shouting.

Finally, Between-the-Logs lifted his vest and, using his other hand like a spear, struck his side as if aiming for the heart. He drew it back with a whizzing noise, as if blood was flowing. He held out his hand, as though blood were dripping off it.

A flood of tears rushed through the crowd, and the wail of the faithful sailed over it. Christ was dead, but the Christian Indian was born.

The four were ready to go back to Ohio. The city was noisy, and the hotel beds were too soft. They rolled out their blankets and slept on the floors instead.

But now more people knew that the Wyandot were a special tribe. The church, the government and the Indians themselves could see the changes in Upper Sandusky. So when their Indian agent started asking them if they would like to move to a reservation out West, they talked it over. The heathens felt a move would remove them from the evils of white culture and help preserve tribal ways. But the majority, led by the Christians, did not want to leave all that had been built and buried. They also remembered Tarhe believed there would al ways be a fence around their land, protecting his people. They would never have to leave.

They declined the offer by letter.

A few years later, in 1830, President Andrew Jackson submitted a bill to Congress that would allow the government to give tribes new land west of the Mississippi in ex change for their land east of the Mississippi. It would pay for more than 100,000 Indians to move and help them live their first year on new territory.

Jackson pushed hard. The de bate was heated and rushed, with little chance for fact-finding or strategy. Congress passed the In dian Removal Act, 102 to 97.

More than one Wyandot wondered if the fence around them would hold.

The Beginning of the End

William Walker Jr. was no fool. The son of a white man captured by Indians and a part- Wyandot woman, he was business-savvy in both worlds. He was a Wyandot chief, expert on Wyandot history, prolific writer, manager of a general store and postmaster of Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

He did not want his tribe to give up their Ohio lands and move to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.

Why should they? The Wyandot reservation in 1831 might have been small, but it was a fine piece of property. Fifty miles south of Lake Erie, it still had canopies of trees, a curvaceous river and soil almost magically fertile. Those 100,000 acres held a mill, a mission church and a school. Hundreds of log homes clustered on its protected plains.

Who would trade it for the unknown?

Not Walker. And not his tribe.

The federal government thought otherwise.

One year after President Andrew Jackson rushed his Indian Removal Act through Congress, James B. Gardiner, an ardent Jacksonian, came knocking at the Wyandots’ door. He had been hired to make treaties with Indians. He wanted to know if they would like to trade this reservation for a roomier one out west.

No, they said. They would not. They had told him so in the past.

Gardiner pointed out that other Ohio tribes had agreed to make the move, including the Shawnee, Ottawa and Seneca.

The Seneca actually welcomed the removal act and the money Congress put behind it. They had been asking the government for years to move them away from the harassment and bad influence of their white neighbors. And they only lived 30 miles north of the Wyandot.

The Wyandot understood harassment, and they knew that the increase in white settlers meant a decrease in hunting grounds. But the majority of Indians, led by Christians and businessmen such as Walker, thought they had something that could never be replaced.

The government had told them so only a few years ago. Federal inspector John L. Leib reported that they were the only tribe that was “entirely reclaimed” by civilization. It would be cruel to remove them, he said. “They ought to be cherished and preserved as a model of a colony.”

Another government man once told them that they should never sell their land. And wasn’t that man Lewis Cass, the current Secretary of War, who was now calling the shots on removal? Talk about speaking with a forked tongue.

The answer about moving was no. But this would be for their own good, Gar diner said.

That’s what President James Monroe said back in 1825, and now this was what President Jackson was saying. Even their longtime friend, Indian agent John Johnston of Piqua, was saying it. He said the Indians must leave sooner or later.

“Would it not be better,” he wrote the Rev. James Finley at the Upper Sandusky Methodist mission, for them to “have a country which would be theirs forever?”

Finley, who had been converting tribe members, fired back. Had Johnston for gotten that he once promised the Indians could have these lands forever?

No, the Wyandot said again. We will not leave. After all, why should we pick up and move to a place we’ve never seen?

Gardiner turned away but came back with money for an all-expenses-paid trip to Indian territory in the West.

William Walker Jr. led the six-man expedition chosen by the tribe. He took them by horse to Cincinnati, steamboat to Kansas and overland to the Little Platte River Valley in Missouri.

The journey took three months, and when the group came back, the answer was no. Quite specifically, no. Walker had some hefty criticisms: no sugar maples, no good soil, not enough game. They would have to share the land with other tribes for nine years, and the whites around there were no better than the whites back home. He called them “fugitives from justice from the states of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee.” Also, Walker pointed out, Missouri was a slave state. “Slaveholders are seldom very friendly to Indians.”

The discussion was over. Gardiner fumed. He accused members of the expedition of going into the trip with a negative attitude and spending most of their time bear hunting.

He didn’t last long on the job.

Still, other Indian agents came knocking.

They came in 1834, when the Ohio legislature passed a resolution asking the federal government to get rid of the tribe. All that good land was going to waste, just when the canal and the railroad were coming through.

They came in 1836, non-Christian Wyandot furious when the tribe’s Christians turned a treaty down again. Warpole, one of the chiefs, got so mad he pulled a knife at a tribal council meeting. He and two others landed in jail.

They came in 1837 with liquor, offering plenty of drinks before getting Indians to sign a petition saying they wanted to leave. The petition was not recognized.

And they came in 1839, inviting Indians to take another look out West.

As always, the Wyandot community was tormented by the news. Would they go? Would they stay? Momentum slowed, the reservation went unkempt, and people were drinking more.

William Walker Jr. was having trouble getting his work done. He was not re-elected chief.

The tribe wanted somebody tougher. They knew more government men would come knocking.

A Revered Wyandot Chief Is Murdered

The news arrived in searing images on a December day in 1841: Bodies hidden under brush. Axes through their heads. White murderers on the run.

And good Chief Summunduwat was dead.

Details blurred and conflicted. There were two attackers. Or three. Indians dismembered. Or not. Murderers living 18 miles away. Or seven.

One fact remained: Summunduwat, the Wyandot leader with the heart of an Indian and the soul of a Christian, was gone.

Oh, to cast aside that scene of violence and hold fast to a more peaceful image of the man. A man who lived a rich life.

Summunduwat was a full-blooded Wyandot who had given up his massive feathered headdress at the moment of his conversion. It was taken off and put into the fire, just before he fell to his knees.

The Indian religion “was all outward,” he once told a visiting Methodist bishop. “There was nothing in it to reach the heart.”

In a scene reminiscent of Jesus turning the money-changers out of the temple, Summunduwat once locked himself inside the mission church. It was no place for Indian agents to distribute annuities, he said. And that was that.

Who would lock out the money- changers now?

Just before he died, he had been on his winter hunt, a few days’ ride north of Upper Sandusky.

It was fruitful. He could sit by the light of the campfire knowing his horses would head home stacked high with deer and raccoon skins.

The hides were money in his pocket. Better yet, they were a merciful sign that the western plains of Ohio still held bounty for its native people.

Whites who lived nearby chased the murderers to their home and found them with all the chief’s belongings. They had the hides, the tools, the gems, the horses – even the dogs.

They also discovered the ruse. The murderers had told Summunduwat that they were lost and needed directions. Could they stay by the firelight for the evening and go their way in the morning? The tall, muscle-toned chief agreed and offered them food to eat. He said his prayers and went to bed.

Middle of the night, the axes came down.

The men who went West with Summunduwat on a land-scouting party remembered him sharing good times at traditional dances and ballgames with the Seneca tribe. They remembered how upset he had been at the Ar kansas Statehouse, seeing the bloodstained chair of a murdered state senator. The chief didn’t think it was right to find blood on a chair in the middle of civilization.

Now his blood stained the for est.

The Wyandot got some relief when two of the three suspects, James Lyons and John Ander son, landed in the Henry County jail. But the relief was short- lived. Within a few weeks, they escaped their negligent jailer.

The third suspect, John Ellsworth, showed up in the Wood County jail on counterfeiting charges.

But Wood and Henry County officials refused to spend the money to prosecute Ellsworth. Indian agent John Johnston pleaded with the Commission of Indian Affairs for help, but it was denied.

The Wyandots’ great Chief Tarhe believed that the government’s treaty provided a protective fence around the tribe. But justice around the reservation had crumbled once again. If an Indian stole from a white, an In dian agent would take the money out of the Indian’s government account and pay the white. If a white stole from an Indian, there was no money, no jurisdiction and often no justice.

The Wyandot had their own form of justice. Compensation was a large part of it. If a woman lost a son in a battle, she might get a captive – white or Indian – to replace him.

Outright murder carried a more severe penalty. In the old days, the murderer was tied to the ground, face up. The victim would be sus pended above him, decaying onto his dying killer. In Summunduwat’s time, the sentence was quicker: death by firing squad.

Summunduwat’s murder occurred off the reservation, so the case was out of the tribe’s hands.

Hardly a “case.” It was a big hole in the rotting fence around them.

Almost immediately after Summunduwat died, the government showed up to offer land out west again. The Indians went for a look. They came home and started talking. The federal government was represented by John Johnston, the Indian agent well-known to the tribe. The Wyandot brought in John McIntire Armstrong, a part-Wyandot who recently had passed the Ohio bar exam. The Indians also came armed with independent land assessments.

Talks went on for 11 months. When they were done, in late 1842, the Wyandot had the largest removal settlement of any Ohio tribe. They would get nearly the going rate for land prices in Ohio, payment for reservation improvements, an annuity of $17,500 – $6,000 more than what the government originally offered. Some tribe principals got extra land.

Many Wyandot still didn’t want to leave. But staying was a diminishing option. If the government actually kept its word this time, the tribe could go any where and build one mighty strong fence around itself.

The Wyandot Begin The Long, Sad Journey West

One month after the Wyandot signed a treaty to leave Ohio, English writer Charles Dickens came to town. His arrival on the April day in 1842 was purely coincidental. Upper Sandusky was a stagecoach stop on Dickens’ trip from Cincinnati to Niagara Falls.

After a spine-rattling ride along Ohio’s stump-filled roads, he and his traveling companions spent the night at the town’s log inn. When one of his friends found himself sharing a room with a snorer, the friend took refuge in the coach itself. But it wasn’t a good . . . well, this is how Dickens described it:

“This was not a very politic step as it turned out, for the pigs scenting him, and looking upon the coach as a kind of pie with some manner of meat inside, grunted round it so hideously, that he was afraid to come out again and lay there shivering till morning.”

Worse, Dickens couldn’t get a glass of brandy to warm him. Not in an Indian village, where the government didn’t allow it. A pity, he wrote, since they could get liquor – of a greater price and lesser quality – from black-market sellers.

Dickens saw the Indians on the streets, thinking that they looked like “a fine people, but degraded and broken down.” They reminded him of gypsies at home in London. He thought they must be related to that “wandering and restless people.”

He ate breakfast with none other than John Johnston, the Indian agent who had negotiated the Wyandot treaty. Dickens thought Johnston was a mild old gentleman, and while the author was saddened by the Indians’ fate, he seemed to take the agent’s word that removal was the best thing for them.

And that was it. The champion of the underclass in his own city packed up and left to go see one of the natural wonders of the world.

Dickens was not in town a few months later when the wagons started assembling for the move west. There were 120 wagons and about 300 horses. And plenty of liquor sellers.

They came day and night, clinging to the wagon train like leeches.

They came with pocket bottles, jugs and barrels. They returned when Indians slept so they could steal provisions, harnesses and even the linchpins from the wagon wheels.

Who could defeat them? Who possibly could keep sober a slow- rolling procession of more than 600 people?

It was bad enough that the Wyandot had to leave their home in Upper Sandusky for an unknown territory in the West. They also had to run the gauntlet of civilization’s evils.

To make it to Cincinnati’s steamboats in one week, they became their own law enforcers. They set up watches and patrols. One whiff of firewater which was particularly devastating to Indians and they flew into action.

On the second day of the trip, the Wyandot were camped on the banks of the Scioto River when a man showed up with a jug. One of the guards grabbed it and started pouring the alcoholic contents on the ground. The man begged them not to waste it and told a pitiful story of need. The guard kept pouring.

Later that night, the same man showed up in camp dispensing liquor not from a jug, but from a big barrel at the back of his wagon. The Indian guards rolled the barrel out of the wagon, poured the liquor out and tossed the barrel into the river. Another seller, frightened by the action, hopped on his horse and took off, Indians in close pursuit.

The struggle for sobriety continued throughout the trip, but the tribe faced a bigger battle: the toll of grief.

Few wished to leave their stone church and the bones of their dead. They refused to sell that property and, for protection, dug up the remains of beloved chiefs Between-the-Logs and Summunduwat and transferred them to it.

Church services had stepped up in the weeks before the move. So did tears.

In his final address, Chief Squire Grey-Eyes said a melancholy farewell.

“No more shall Sandusky’s plains and forests echo to the voice of song and praise,” he said. “No more shall we assemble in our temple to sing the sacred songs and hear the story of the cross.

“Here our dead are buried. We have placed fresh leaves and flowers upon their graves for the last time.

“Soon they shall be forgotten, for the onward march of the strong white man will not turn aside for the Indian graves.”

Federal Indian agent Purdy McElvain, who was interested in buying parts of the reservation, described the tribe’s parting mood as one of “perfect resignation.”

The trail to Cincinnati produced a few groves of peace, places to read the Bible and hear some preaching. But it was otherwise rugged. It was full of wheel-sucking swamps, of stumps that rocked the wagons and narrow, overgrown passages that clawed the canvas coverings. Worse were the towns where white men stood at the edge of dusty streets and stared at the Indians as they passed. More than one Indian felt this was not a people equipped to teach proper manners.

It was the same in every town – Bellefontaine, Urbana, Springfield, Xenia and Lebanon.

In Cincinnati, crowds of curious whites were escorted off the riverboats to make room for the Indian passengers. The pressing attention sent a buggy horse into a start, knocking his driver off and breaking his legs. A cry of “fire” on a nearby riverboat proved true, but the threat was quickly snuffed. An ill Indian child and a 103-year-old woman died as soon as they got on board.

Liquor sellers, as usual, were everywhere.

The night before the boats left the dock, an Indian long soured on brew staggered aboard, lost his balance and fell into the water. Before he drowned, other Indians could hear his last roar of life. They knew that alcohol or sadness had killed him.

He would not be with them on this journey to the unknown.

The Wyandot Board Boats Headed For The Unknown

Barely a mile from the Cincinnati dock, the steamboat Nodaway’s growling engines fell silent and her floors stopped shaking. Capt. Cleghorn prepared for a salute.

On July 21, 1843, a line of Wyandots formed on the top deck. Each man pulled his hat from his head in a sign of recognition. The boat faced the Ohio riverbank and the grave of William Henry Harrison.

The ship’s cannon fired, thrashing the silence.

The men standing had fought with Gen. Harrison in the War of 1812, helping the United States quell the last rally of the British in American territory.

It had been a controversial move, since Tecumseh and his warriors fought against the Americans. They intended to halt settlers in their tracks. The Wyandot, led by Tarhe, believed the Americans would prevail and wanted to live with them in peace.

“Let me tell you, if you should defeat the American army this time, you are not done,” Tarhe’s messenger, Between-the-Logs, had told tribes near Detroit.

“Another will come on, and if you defeat that, still another will appear that you cannot withstand, one that will come like the waves of the great water and overwhelm you, and sweep you from the face of the Earth.”

Although the Wyandot fought alongside the Americans, they too were being swept from Ohio. By treaty, more than 600 of them were leaving a land that had become greedy, bullying and hostile. They were the last tribe to be removed from the state, no longer its residents.

“Farewell Ohio and her brave,” Chief Henry Jacquis called out from the deck.

The engines fired up and the Nodaway’s paddle churned ahead, its tall stacks leaving billows of sooty smoke.

Indians weren’t fond of steamboats. Canoes were good enough to get anywhere, including across the fickle Lake Erie.

Steamboats were mechanical monsters. Instead of human power, they took wood, fire and boiling water to run. They were known to explode, catch fire and sink. They were bigger than many log houses put together, and when they moved, the fire in their bellies roared.

Some Shawnee, Seneca and Ottawa refused to be removed by boat. “They do not wish to . . . be scalded, ‘like the white man cleans his hog,’ “ wrote Indian agent James B. Gardiner.

But the choice of those tribes to move by land became – with the ineptitude of the federal government – a tragedy of bad weather, sickness and death. The Seneca alone lost 30 of their tribe.

The Wyandot knew this and were the only tribe given permission to organize their own removal. Within the group were several reassuring chiefs and former chiefs who had gone on earlier land-hunting expeditions.

The broad Ohio River was the country’s entrance to the infant states of Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois and the unexplored West. For those seeking fortune, the boat trip could be a dally through the green bosom of the country. Deer, bear, elk and buffalo could be spotted across the steep round hills on either side.

But for the displaced, like the Wyandot, each turn in the river brought a fear of the unknown.

Worse, children fell seriously ill from the measles after someone carrying the disease came aboard in Cincinnati.

The Ohio River took the Wyandot to the Mississippi and upriver to the Missouri. The water churned there, startling Indians who had never seen rapids.

Capt. Cleghorn grew more irritable as the weeklong trip progressed. He was convinced the Indians were going to ruin his furnishings. He rolled up his carpets and packed them away and limited the Indians’ movement on the boat.

A few miles from their final destination, he stopped and insisted that the Indians leave the boat overnight. He said he had to make a trip upriver. There was but one small house for lodging, so most of the tribe, including children, slept unprotected outdoors. They awoke sopping with dew to see that the boat had never left.

There was no cause for celebration when they arrived on July 28 at their final destination in Westport, Mo., near Kansas City. The Kansas land promised by treaty was no longer available. Until December, they camped on lowlands. Floods there were so vicious, they left buffalo carcasses rotting in the trees. Fatal diseases swept in with them.

Every time they buried one of their own, the Wyandot marched up a hill near the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. The scrap of land was a gift from the Delaware tribe.

They marched up to the small cemetery more than 100 times in the year after they left Ohio. They carried elders, children and those in between.

The tear-stained hill belonged to the dead. Chief Jacquis and his tribe wondered if this hill of sadness and bones was all they would ever own.

Wyandot Fight For The Right To Rest In Peace

The Conley sisters were up on the cemetery hill with shotguns. Word of it flew around Kansas City, Kan., in 1906.

Fine ladies, those sisters. Good Kansas stock. Lyda and Lena commuted to college by rowing across the Missouri River. After graduation, Lyda taught telegraphy at the local business college and Sunday school at the Methodist church. She also passed the Missouri bar exam.

Now, these part-Wyandot women, both in their 40s, were ready to pass buckshot into the first person to disturb the graves of their ancestors.

Their own mother, Eliza Burton Zane Conley, was buried there. So were others descended from the founders of Zanesville, Ohio, and from the respected Chief Tarhe, leader of the Wyandot in Upper Sandusky.

The Indian burial ground in down town Kansas City also held Wyandot- American veterans of the War of 1812, infants who died from measles during the journey from Ohio in 1843 and some 60 Indians who died homeless and fevered during their first cold months on flooded Kansas lowlands.

Or else – the Conleys decided.

The Wyandot had other cemeteries. Quindaro, north and west of town, served Wyandots who once ran an underground railroad operation there. There was another in Oklahoma, where some 200 members of the tribe fled after the Civil War turned Kansas City into a brutal battleground.

But 63 years after the Wyandot came 1,000 miles from Ohio, the cemetery in Kansas City told their fullest story.

To many, like the Conleys, it was the tribe’s most sacred ground.

So when the Oklahoma Wyandotte tried to sell the Kansas City cemetery for profit and move remains elsewhere, the Kansas Wyandot were shaken to the core.

Permission for the transaction had appeared at the last minute within a congressional bill. Right after the bill passed, the government sent a team to Kansas City to take bids on the land.

Lyda and Lena didn’t waste a minute, either.

In the dark of a summer night, they slipped into the cemetery with a load of building supplies. They put “No Trespassing” signs on the graves of their relatives.

They built a shack with windows on all sides, got in and loaded both barrels.

Two American flags stood by as emergency armor. Should “the troops” show up, Lyda said, they would wrap themselves in the flags and dare them to shoot.

They were only two women, but the Conleys had lots of support. Compared with other tribes, the Wyandot women had strong roles. They had the job of choosing chiefs and keeping oral histories and laws. The Jesuits in Canada had tried to teach them to be submissive to their husbands, not realizing their hallowed tradition of being proud, ill-tempered and disobedient.

The Conley sisters stood their ground when women across the country were standing their ground. They did not yet have the vote, but they were protesting and gaining rights day by day: right to divorce, to own land, to practice law. Local women’s reading clubs expressed support for “the Conley girls.”

Yet Lyda knew the sword was not always mightier than the law. She filed injunctions left and right to stop the sale. When those failed, she filed more, including the claim that the cemetery had been given to the tribe in a treaty. No court had ever recognized such a claim, and no court had ever recognized a “moral imperative” to save American Indian burial grounds.

Lyda lost those claims, too. Undaunted, she stepped up to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1909.

Only two women had argued in the country’s highest court, and Lyda couldn’t appear without a Washington lawyer to vouch for her abilities. She couldn’t find one and refused to let anybody else argue her case.

“No lawyer would plead for the grave of my mother as I could,” she said.

She decided to argue as a citizen rather than a lawyer.

In preparing her argument for cemetery preservation, she wrote, “I cannot believe that this is superstitious reverence, any more than I can believe that the reverence every true American has for the grave of Washington at Mount Vernon is a superstitious reverence.”

The court was impressed, but unconvinced. It ruled the treaty was not legally enforceable. The United States “was bound . . . only by honor, not by law.”

Still, Lyda and Lena had won the war. They had developed such a strong following in town that anyone trying to buy the cemetery would face a solid fence of public opposition.

The cemetery was safe. For a while.

The Oklahoma Wyandotte tried several times to sell the cemetery, but things did not get as hot until some 90 years after the Conley stand.

In the 1990s, the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma decided to build a casino in Kansas. Of the four Wyandot Nations – also in Kansas, Michigan and Canada – the Oklahoma group is the only tribe recognized by the U.S. government. They claim certain downtown lands still belong to them, including the cemetery. Word got around that, if necessary, they would build a casino right on top of the graves.

A collective gasp came from the Kansas City community and drew headlines across the country. The Kansas Wyandot were enraged, still burying their dead on this last scrap of shared land.

Other shared land had disappeared long ago. The federal government started dismantling Indian reservations in the 1850s, dividing them into individual family farms for tribe members and selling off the rest. Tribal governments were expected to disband as well.

Not all tribes lost their reservations, but the Kansas Wyandot did. Over the decades, their small shared cemetery became more dear.

Leaford Bearskin, current chief of the Oklahoma tribe, said his group never intended to build a casino on the cemetery, and that the idea was cooked up and spread by casino opponents.

But Harold Walker, the city’s law director, said he heard the tribe’s lawyers talk about building on the cemetery. Walker believed the Oklahoma tribe did it to get attention. They are one of several former Kansas tribes attempting to build casinos in the city.

Relations between the Oklahoma and Kansas tribes grew threadbare through the ordeal.

But in 1999, after the cemetery casino idea had died, representatives of the four Wyandot nations met in Midland, Mich., for reconciliation.

And today they work together, all Wyandot.

On an early evening in June, most of downtown Kansas City is a canyon of concrete shadows. The golden light of late day catches the hilltop cemetery, seeming to burnish every leaf, every blade of grass. Janith English, principal chief of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, has come from her modest home in the suburbs for her one- woman cemetery cleanup duty, armed with trash bags and disinfectant wipes.

The city’s rare green space lures kids looking for summer shade. It brings the homeless to the shelter of a low stone wall around the Garrett family grave site. A trumpeter shows up to practice a lyrical solo to empty city sidewalks.

English picks up empty quart beer bottles and fast-food wrappers. Her tall and broad-shouldered frame moves purposefully in the warm light as she scans the grass with her delicate yet fiery blue eyes.

She would prefer not to talk about the cemetery casino proposal.

“It was nasty, bitter, and it’s in the past,” she says.

Neither will she talk about what happened at the reconciliation, although she says it was meaningful.

“I never knew how powerful forgiveness could be,” she says.

English sits, remembering sack lunches here with her Aunt Edith, who would tell stories about the great Wyandot leader Chief Tarhe and her other ancestors.

English is French and English, too. But her aunt’s stories made her feel more Wyandot than anything else.

“Timeless,” is the word she uses to describe the feeling.

If English had her way, her tribe would regain their federal recognition. They filed a petition 11 years ago, becoming one of hundreds of tribes still waiting for an answer. Unlike the Oklahoma group, which runs several businesses for the benefit of its tribe, the Kansas nation is not interested in gaming.

But they are interested in establishing a health center for urban Indians who do not receive reserva tion health benefits. They would like to support a tribal inventor developing a green energy project. And they would like to publish information on the Wyandot culture. There is not one Wyandot left who knows how to converse in the native language.

English favors reconciliation with church, state and other Indians, even if some tribes find such ceremonies to be too little, too late.

“People are isolated by guilt and shame,” says the mental-health nurse. “Separation from others means a separation from God. Dealing with our own mistakes frees us to strive for the best in ourselves and in everyone.”

Could this have been true in Ohio 160 years ago?

English knows it would have been difficult. One people wanted to share the land, and another wanted to cut it in pieces.

“But if we can look at our history now and discuss it dispassionately, I believe we can learn from each other,” she says.

“If the Creator desires that we all live in harmony, who is to say it’s impossible? What do we have unless we hold onto our faith and hope?”

English says she wants to be buried in this cemetery. She looks around the old green space.

“I’d like to see it fenced in,” she says.

Wyandot Timeline: 1826-1830

1826: More than 250 Shawnee and Seneca move to Kansas at the encouragement of their Indian agen. No federal monies are provided, leading to hardship and misery on the route.

1828: Seneca of Sandusky region ask for removal to avoid the evils of the white population around them.

1830: Indian Removal Act passes, with a vote of 102-97 in May. The bill scuttles treaties and does not define the Indians’ constitutional rights but promises to “forever secure and guranty (sic) to them and their heirs or successors, the country so exchanged with them.” President Andrew Jackson says it will be good for them to be away from whites. “They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of imporvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition.”

Wyandot Timeline: 1831-1840

1831: The Seneca of the Sandusky River area leave Ohio for Oklahoma, the first tribe in the state to be officially removed. A grueling nine month journey through winter claims more than 30 lives. Rep. David Crockett bucks President Jackson and the Tennessee legislature and speaks against Indian removals. An Ohio Wyandot inspection committee checks out lands being offered in the West. They turn them down.

1832: In mid-September, several hundred Shawnee and Seneca leave logan County for Oklahoma. The unwieldy caravan is 80 miles long. In late September, Ottawa and Shawnee leave Wapakoneta for Kansas. The Wyandot Indian agent claims the tribe in Upper Sandusky won’t move because they are under the sinister influence of whites who are missionaries and family members. Christian Indians remain opposed to removal others are for It. The tribe gives up its smaller reservation, Big Spring.

1833: Remaining Shawnee leave Hog Creek for Kansas.

1834: United States declares land west of the Missouri River as Indian Country. A second Wyandot inspection party looks at and rejects land offered in Kansas.

1836: Second Seminole War, one of the longest and costliest in American history. Tricked into an illegitimate removal treaty, 15,000 Cherokee in Georgia sign a petition in protest. Wyandot give up a small portion of their main reservation to the federal government pressure for removal continues.

1837: Ottawa near Toledo are removed to Kansas. Michigan becomes the 26th state.

1838: United States sends 7,000 soldiers to remove 16,000 Cherokee by force. Whites loot their homes. The largest Trail of Tears begins, eventually taking 4,000 Indian lives. The removal act opens 25 million acres to white settlement and slavery. Upper Sandusky’s traditionalist Wyandot go to Washington to try to promote a separate removal agreement. They retum home, and their chief pulls a knife at a tribal council and lands in jail.

1839: Ohio’s remaining 150 Ottawa are removed to Kansas. A third Wyandot inspection party arrives in Kansas and is impressed. Three months later, a fourth inspection party arrives. They sign a preliminary land purchase with the Shawnee.

1840: Ohio becomes the third most populous state. The U.S. Senate rejects the Shawnee-Wyandot treaty. American public opinion generally accepts Indian removal. The Seminole say settlers value possessions and use people Indians value people and use possessions. William Henry Harrison is elected president

Wyandot Timeline: 1844 to today

1844: Wyandot build their first Kansas church and start a debating society.

1845: Wyandot build their first Kansas school. Methodist Episcopal Church splits over the topic of slavery.

1846: Mexican War begins some Wyandot enlist in U.S. Army.

1847: Wyandot William Walker Jr. purchases a slave, outraging many in the tribe.

1848: Tribe splits over slavery issue. Indian territory is overrun with settlers and gold rushers heading west. Some Wyandot join the search for gold.

1850: Wyandot relinquish all claims to land, getting cash payments instead.

1854: Kansas-Nebraska Act opens the territory to white settlers who take over Indian land through seizure, fraud or purchase.

1855: Wyandot become the first tribe offered citizenship by federal treaty. The Wyandot cemetery in Kansas City, Kan. , is deemed a permanent public cemetery for the tribe. Abolitionist John Brown arrives in Kansas.

1856: A group of Wyandot create Quindaro, a refuge for anti-slavery settlers. United States falls behind in payments, and many tribe members lose their land.

1857: U. S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision says Negroes cannot be citizens. About 200 Wyandot, disillusioned with Kansas, move to Seneca reservation in Oklahoma. They later flee the Civil War violence there and return to Kansas.

1859: John Brown executed for his raid on Harpers Ferry in West Virginia.

1860: Led by Cochise, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Geronimo and others, Indians resist settlers and their governments. Wyandot are counted in the “white ” category of the U. S. census. Wyandot receive land deeds. Abraham Lincoln elected president.

1863: Slavery abolished in the United States. Quindaro ministers tutor children of escaped slaves.

1864: Kansas state legislature wants to remove all Indians.

1867: Wyandot in Oklahoma get part of the Seneca Oklahoma reservation and federal recognition. Kansas Wyandot still fight for federal status.

1871: Congress rules that tribes are no longer nations, removing much of their political power.

1876: Some agents ban traditional Indian rituals on reserva tions. They also hold final sway over Indian courts.

1890: A Kansas senator proposes to sell the Huron Indian Cemetery in Kansas City. He is met with a storm of protests.

1899: Wyandotte of Oklahoma, now with a new spelling of the tribal name, agree to sell the cemetery to real estate speculators. Local Wyandot protest again, and the land is never sold.

1906: Congress authorizes the sale of the cemetery and removal of bodies to another Wyandot cemetery.

1908: Secretary of the Interior declares it a private cemetery.

1909: Lyda Conley, a lawyer and Wyandot, argues against the sale before the Supreme Court.

1918: City of Kansas City, Kan. , is contracted by the federal government to “forever maintain, care for and preserve ” the cemetery.

1924: Indians allowed to vote.

1940s and 1950s: Oklahoma Wyandotte try on more than one occasion to sell the cemetery again. Opposition comes from local Wyandot, the city ’s historical society and President Harry Truman.

1959: Wyandot Nation of Kansas corporates as a nonprofit.

1971: The Kansas Wyandot Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1983: Leaford Bearskin is elected chief of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma.

1994: Kansas City ficials and the Oklahoma Wyandotte portedly agree to move the 600 to 1,000 bodies in the cemetery so that the tribe can build a casino there. Wyandot Nation of Kansas protests.

1999: Oklahoma Wyandotte agree not to build a casino on the cemetery but are still looking for another location in the area. All Wyandot tribes agree to preserve the cemetery. In a ceremony, Wyandot from Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Canada agree to reconcile.

2003 : Wyandot Nation of Kansas, about 600 strong, still waiting for federal recognition.

Information, including dialogue, used in today’s installment of this series came from many hours of inter views with American Indian experts and from the following publications and Web sites:

“Address of Tarhe, Grand Sachem of the Wyandot Nation, to the Assemblage at the Treaty of Green ville, July 22, 1795,” Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma Web site,

“The American Revolution,” by Edward Countryman, Hill and Wang, 2003.

“Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History,” by Helen Horn beck Tanner, University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.

“The Heathen’ Party: Methodist Observation of the Ohio Wyandot,” by Martin W. Walsh, University of Michigan.

“History of the Wyandott Mission at Upper Sandusky, Ohio,” by the Rev. James B. Finley, Methodist Episcopal Church, 1840.

“In the Wigwams of the Wyandots: The Story of Jonathan Pointer,” by Myrtle E. Felkner, K.Q. Associates, 1984

“Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties,” Uni versity of Oklahoma Digital Library,

“The Missionary Pioneer, or A Brief Memoir of the Life, Labours, and Death of John Stewart, (Man of Colour) Founder, under God of the Mission among the Wyandotts at Upper Sandusky, Ohio,” electronic edition by Joseph Mitchell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999,

“Moccasin Trails to the Cross,” by Thelma R. Marsh, United Methodist His torical Society of New York, 1974.

“Tecumseh: A Life,” by John Sugden, Owl Books, 1997.

“The Ohio Frontier,” by R. Douglas Hurt, Indiana University Press, 1996.

“Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars,” Robert V. Remini, Viking, 2001.

“In a Barren Land: The American Indian Quest for Cultural Survival, 1607 to the Present,” Paula Mitchell Marks, Perennial, 1998.

Proclamation on the wall at Indian Mill Museum, Upper Sandusky.

“White, Red, and Black: The Wyandot Mission in Upper Sandusky,” by Donald L. Huber, Ohio Timeline, May/June 1996.

Original letter by John L. Leib in the Thelma Marsh Collection, Upper San dusky Public Library.

Original letters by the Rev. James Finley and John Johnston at the Hayes Presidential Center Library, Fremont.

“The Wyandot Indians, 1843 to 1876,” by Robert E. Smith Jr., Univer sity of Oklahoma, 1973.

“White Attitudes and Their Effects on the Wyandot Indian Removal,” Elizabeth L. Plummer, master’s thesis, Bowling Green State University, 1976.

“American Notes,” by Charles Dickens, St. Martin’s Press, 1874.

Letter by the Rev. James Wheeler transcribed for the Wyandot Nation of Kansas at

“Moccasin Trails to the Cross,” by Thelma R. Marsh, United Methodist Historical Society of New York, 1974.

“The Removal of the Wyandots from Ohio,” by Carl G. Klopfenstein, Ohio Historical Quarterly, Vol. 66, April 1957.

“The Removal of the Indians From Ohio,” by Carl G. Klopfenstein, from “The Historic Indian in Ohio,” edited by Randall Buchman, Ohio Historical Society, 1976.

‘Trespassers, Beware!’: Lyda Burton Conley and the Battle for Huron Place Cemetery,” by Kim Dayton, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, 1996. Can be found at

“The Rights of Indians and Tribes, The Authoritative ACLU Guide,” by Stephen L. Pevar, Southern Illinois University Press, Third Edition, 2002.

Signs focusing on Potawatomi Nation's history to be dedicated at Burnett's Mound entrance

Officials of the Citizens Potawatomi Nation during a public ceremony April 29 will dedicate a historical exhibit in southwest Topeka focusing on that tribe's history.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. at the site of the exhibit. It is located at the entrance to Skyline Park at Burnett's Mound, which is the site of Topeka's highest point.

Those taking part will include Citizens Potawatomi Nation Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett, Shawnee County Commissioner Kevin Cook and county parks and recreation director Tim Laurent, the county's Parks For All Foundation said in a news release.

The exhibit can be reached by going to S.W. 35th and Gage Boulevard, then traveling about five blocks west and one block north.

The display's three interpretive signs were placed in March 2020 after being created through a partnership between Shawnee County Parks and Recreation and the Oklahoma-based Citizens Potawatomi Nation.

Dedication ceremonies were postponed until this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exhibit's signs tell of how the Potawatomi in 1838 were forced at gunpoint from their homes in Indiana to walk a 660-mile route that became known as the &ldquoTrail of Death."

They also tell of how the Potawatomi came to live in northeast Kansas.

The signs include information on Burnett's Mound's namesake, Chief Abram Burnett, who owned the land where Skyline Park is located.

Burnett lived near the mound until he died at age 57 in 1870.

The exhibit was developed by Jon Boursaw, a Topeka native and Potawatomi tribal legislator.

"We were here in the history and development of Topeka and Shawnee County,&rdquo Boursaw said in the news release. &ldquoWe wanted to tell our story.&rdquo

The news release quoted Boursaw as saying 753 tribal members live in Shawnee County and 2,900 live in Kansas.

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War of 1812 Chronology

The War of 1812 began with the United States’ declaration of war against Great Britain on June 18, 1812. Although the war officially ended when the Treaty of Ghent was ratified by the U.S. Senate on February 17, 1815, sporadic fighting continued over several months in remote locations where word of the peace treaty had not been received.

Although USS Constitution’s role in the war was limited to the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, many of the consequential battles of the war occurred on land and on inland waterways. Fighting took place in a circle around the United States, composed of seven military theaters of operation: the Old Northwest (embracing Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Upper Canada), along the river corridors of the Niagara, St. Lawrence, and the Lake Champlain-Richelieu, along coastal Maine, in the Chesapeake Bay, on the Gulf Coast.

The high seas are considered an eighth theater of the war, but ship battles and seizures of merchant ships occurred around the world, from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific.

This detailed chronology tracks the war’s many battles and the results of each of those battles.

The war begins with a poorly-coordinated three-pronged U.S. invasion of Canada by badly trained and poorly led American forces, which fails on all three fronts. The U.S. enjoys more success on the high seas, where its warships win a series of single-ship duels with the Royal Navy, and American privateers enjoy an early and rich harvest of unsuspecting British merchant ships.

June 23, 1812 – U.S. Navy clashes with HMS Belvidera: An American squadron headed by USS President engages the British frigate Belvidera, which escapes to take word of the outbreak of war to Halifax, Canada.

July 15, 1812 – British squadron captures USS Nautilus: Four days after sailing from New York, the brig Nautilus, commanded by Lieutenant William Crane, encounters a British squadron consisting of the frigates Shannon, Guerriere, Belvidera, and Aeolus, and the ship of the line Africa. After a spirited chase, the British force Nautilus to surrender.

July 17, 1812 – British capture Fort Mackinac: In the northwest, news of war reaches the British before the Americans. In response, 50 British regulars, 180 local fur traders, 280 Ottawas and Ojibwes under John Askin, Jr. of the Indian Department for British North America, and 115 Menominees, Očhéthi Šakówiŋs, and Ho-Chunks under fur trader Robert Dickson, land on Mackinac Island in Michigan Territory on July 17 and train their cannon on the fort from the heights above. Surprised, outnumbered, and fearing attack by members of the indigenous nations if they resist, the Americans surrender without firing a shot. Loss of the fort emboldens many indigenous people to join the British in the war.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Captain Charles Roberts British: 230
Ottawas, Ojibwes, Menominees, Očhéthi Šakówiŋs, Ho-Chunks (combined): 400
Killed: 0
Wounded: 0
Captured: 0
American: Lieutenant Porter Hanks American: 57 Killed: 0
Wounded: 0
Captured: 57

August 16, 1812 – British capture Detroit: The surrender of Fort Detroit is the first major U.S. defeat of the War of 1812. After initially invading Canada, U.S. forces under Brigadier General William Hull withdraw to Michigan Territory and take refuge in Fort Detroit. British General Isaac Brock brilliantly uses his force of regulars and militia, as well as warriors from the Wyandot, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Shawnee, Ho-Chunk, Sauk, Menominee, and Grand River Iroquois nations led by Chief Tecumseh, to persuade General Hull to surrender, warning of an attack by militant members of the indigenous nations if he refuses. Many U.S. soldiers under Hull are angry at the surrender. The defeat ends U.S. invasion plans in the Old Northwest for the remainder of the year and undermines American morale.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Major General Isaac Brock
Shawnee: Chief Tecumseh
British: 750
Wyandots, Ottawas, Potawatomis, Ojibwes, Shawnees, Ho-Chunks, Sauks, Menominees, and Grand River Iroquois (combined): 600
Killed: 0
Wounded: 2
Captured: 0
American: Major General William Hull American: 1,600 Killed: 7
Wounded: Unknown
Captured: 1,593

August 19, 1812 – USS Constitution defeats HMS Guerriere: After narrowly escaping from a British squadron in a heroic multi-day chase off the Atlantic Coast in July, the U.S. frigate Constitution defeats the British frigate Guerriere. Because British cannon balls appear to bounce off the American ship’s sides, Constitution earns the nickname “Old Ironsides.” With four successful cruises, Constitution becomes the most famous U.S. ship of the War of 1812 and is still maintained as a commissioned U.S. Navy vessel today.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Captain James Richard Dacres British: 263
Guns: 49
Killed: 15
Wounded: 63
Missing: 24
American: Captain Isaac Hull American: 450
Guns: 55
Killed: 7
Wounded: 7

October 13, 1812 – British victory at Queenston Heights: In the Battle at Queenston Heights, the United States suffers its second major defeat of the war. To secure a foothold in Canada before the onset of winter, U.S. forces cross the Niagara River and seize Queenston Heights. Although initially successful, reinforcements are not forthcoming because American militiamen refuse to cross the Canadian border. The British, under Major General Isaac Brock, and their Grand River Iroquois allies under Captain John Norton, assault the Heights and defeat and capture the bulk of the American invasion force. Although victorious, General Brock is killed.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Major General Isaac Brock (killed), Major General Sir Roger Sheaffe
Iroquois: Captain John Norton
British: 950
Iroquois: 250
Killed: 21
Wounded: 85
Captured: 17
American: Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer American: 1,200 Killed: 100
Wounded: 170
Captured: 958

October 25, 1812 – USS United States captures HMS Macedonian: Cruising between the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, the U.S. frigate United States defeats the British frigate Macedonian. In a battle lasting about two hours, American gunnery severely damages Macedonian’s rigging and hull, and the British ship surrenders. The Americans sail Macedonian home as a prize of war, and the British ship is incorporated into the U.S. Navy as a high-profile trophy ship that publicizes the U.S. victory against the “Mistress of the Seas.”

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Captain John Carden British: 301
Guns: 49
Killed: 36
Wounded: 68
American: Captain Stephen Decatur American: 428
Guns: 55
Killed: 5
Wounded: 7

December 29, 1812 – USS Constitution defeats HMS Java: After returning to Boston in September, Constitution sails for the South Atlantic. On December 29, off the coast of Brazil, Constitution defeats the British frigate Java. After a fierce battle lasting almost three hours, the British surrender. Java suffers heavy damage, forcing the Americans to set it on fire and sink it after the battle. The three U.S. frigate victories in 1812 eventually induce the Royal Navy to change its tactics. In 1813, the Royal Navy orders its frigates not to engage American frigates alone.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Captain Henry Lambert (mortally wounded) British: 373-426
Guns: 47
Killed: 22-60
Wounded: 101
American: Commodore William Bainbridge American: 480
Guns: 55
Killed: 9
Wounded: 26

More battles are fought in 1813 than any other year of the war. The Americans secure the Old Northwest, but the British prevail elsewhere. American losses in men, money, and equipment are steep. Although no one realizes it at the time, 1813 is the high water mark of American attempts to conquer Canada.

January 18-22, 1813 – Americans are defeated at Frenchtown: After defeating a small enemy force at Frenchtown on the River Raisin in Michigan Territory on January 18, U.S. forces are overwhelmed by an army of British soldiers and warriors from indigenous nations four days later. The following day, indigenous warriors kill somewhere between 30 and 100 wounded and abandoned American prisoners in an apparent retaliation for actions committed by the Americans. “Remember the Raisin!” becomes a popular rallying cry for American settlers in the West.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Brigadier General Henry Procter
Wyandot: Chief Roundhead, Chief Walk-in-the-Water, Chief Split-Log
British: 600
Wyandots, Potawatomis, Kickapoos, Ojibwes, Ottawas, Lenapes, Sauks, and Muscogees (combined): 600-800
Killed: 24
Wounded: 158
Wyandots, Potawatomis, Kickapoos, Ojibwes, Ottawas, Lenapes, Sauks, and Muscogees (combined) Casualties: Unknown
American: Brigadier General James Winchester American: 975 Killed: 300
Wounded: 27
Captured: 648

February 4, 1813 – British mount first of many raids in the Chesapeake Bay.

February 24, 1813 – USS Hornet defeats HMS Peacock: While cruising off the coast of South America, the U.S. sloop of war Hornet encounters the British brig sloop Peacock off the mouth of the Demerara River off the coast of Guyana. During the short battle, American gunnery shatters the British ship. As the American victors transfer the British prisoners to Hornet, Peacock suddenly sinks. Nine British and three American sailors drown as a result.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Commander William Peake British: 130
Guns: 20
Killed: 14
Wounded: 33
American: Master Commandant James Lawrence American: 170
Guns: 20
Killed: 4
Wounded: 4

April 27, 1813 – Americans capture York, the capital of Upper Canada, and burn the public buildings.

May 1-9 1813 – Americans defend Fort Meigs against a siege by British soldiers and warriors from indigenous nations.

May 27, 1813 – Americans capture Fort George.

May 29, 1813 – Americans defend Sackets Harbor against a British assault.

June 1, 1813 – HMS Shannon captures USS Chesapeake: As the War of 1812 continues, British sea power makes itself felt. The Royal Navy blockades many U.S. ports. The frigate Chesapeake sails from Boston Harbor on June 1, 1813, to engage HMS Shannon. Captain James Lawrence of Chesapeake receives a mortal wound early in the battle. Carried below, he issues his last order: “Tell the men to fire faster and don’t give up the ship!” British Marines and sailors board the vessel and bloody hand-to-hand combat ensues. After 15 minutes, with 146 men killed or wounded, Chesapeake surrenders. “Don’t give up the ship!” becomes a powerful rallying cry for the U.S. Navy that persists even today.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Captain Philip Broke British: 330
Guns: 52
Killed: 23
Wounded: 56
American: Captain James Lawrence (mortally wounded) American: 379
Guns: 49
Killed: 48
Wounded: 99

June 6, 1813 – Battle of Stoney Creek: British defeat the Americans on the Niagara front in Upper Canada.

June 24, 1813 – Battle of Beaver Dams: Planned as a surprise attack on a small British force harassing Fort George, the Battle of Beaver Dams results in a serious defeat for the U.S. forces in the Niagara campaign of 1813. The American plan is foiled by Canadian resident Laura Secord, who makes a heroic 20-mile trek through the wilderness at night to warn the British. During the afternoon of June 24, a large force of Grand River Iroquois ambush the Americans in the forest. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Boerstler surrenders the entire American force to the British after his troops run low on ammunition. Months later, U.S. forces evacuate Fort George and withdraw to New York.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Lieutenant James FitzGibbon
Canadian: Captain Dominique Ducharme
British: 480
Iroquois: 400
Wounded: 25
American: Lieutenant Colonel Charles Boerstler American: 600 Killed: 25
Wounded: 50
Captured: 525

Early 1813 – Tensions between the National Creek Muscogees (who favor assimilation into American society) and the “Red Sticks” faction (who advocate retaining traditional ways) erupts in a civil war. American troops and militias become involved in the conflict.

July 27, 1813 – Battle of Burnt Corn: In present-day Alabama, U.S. forces attack “Red Stick” warriors carrying supplies furnished by the governor of Spanish-controlled Florida. This marks the beginning of America’s Creek War.

August 2, 1813 – Defense of Fort Stephenson: Americans defeat British attempt to storm the post in Ohio.

August 30, 1813 – In retaliation for the U.S. attack at Burnt Corn, Muscogee “Red Sticks” assault Fort Mims in present-day Alabama, overwhelming the garrison after several hours of bitter fighting. Resistance is desperate, as women and boys take the place of fallen defenders. Few escape the fort. The assault convinces the U.S. to launch a major campaign to crush militant Muscogees.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
Muscogee “Red Sticks”: William Weatherford (Red Eagle) Muscogee “Red Sticks”: 750-1,000 Killed: 100
Wounded: 200-300
Captured: 0
Missing: 0
American: Major Daniel Beastly 1 st Mississippi Volunteers (militia): 120
Non-combatants: 180
Killed: 250-275
Wounded: Unknown
Captured: Unknown

September 10, 1813 – U.S. naval victory on Lake Erie: “We have met the enemy and they are ours…” So writes Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry after defeating the British squadron on Lake Erie. Following a hard-fought but decisive naval engagement lasting three hours, the entire British squadron surrenders. The battle secures Lake Erie for the United States and allows U.S. commanders to move troops and supplies by water, and to regain the initiative in the Old Northwest.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Commander Robert Heriot Barclay British:
2 ships
1 brig
2 schooners
1 sloop
440 men
Wounded: 93
Captured: 306
All vessels lost
American: Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Penny American:
3 brigs
5 schooners
1 sloop
490 men
Killed: 277
Wounded: 96

October 5, 1813 – Battle of the Thames: A major victory for the United States. Following the U.S. naval victory on Lake Erie, American land forces under Major General William Henry Harrison pursue retreating British soldiers and warriors from indigenous nations. Major General Henry Procter commands the British soldiers, and Chief Tecumseh leads the Shawnee, Lenape, Ottawa, Ojibwe, Wyandot, Ho-Chunk, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Sauk, Meskwaki, and Muscogee warriors. Harrison’s forces, led by mounted Kentucky volunteers under Colonel Richard M. Johnson, catch the British near Moraviantown, Canada, at the Thames River. A mounted charge by the Kentuckians breaks the British line. Confused and disordered, most British soldiers surrender. After a short, stubborn fight, the warriors withdraw. Tecumseh is killed in the battle. Michigan Territory is restored to the United States and Tecumseh’s confederacy of warriors is shattered. With the United States now ascendant in the region, many indigenous nations agree to peace.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Major General Henry Proctor
Shawnee: Chief Tecumseh (killed)
British: 600
Shawnees, Lenapes, Ottawas, Ojibwes, Wyandots, Ho-Chunks, Potawatomis, Kickapoos, Sauks and Meskwakies, and Muscogees (combined): 500-1,000
Wounded: 30
Captured: 600
Shawnees, Lenapes, Ottawas, Ojibwes, Wyandots, Ho-Chunks, Potawatomis, Kickapoos, Sauks and Meskwakies, and Muscogees (combined) Killed: 33
Shawnees, Lenapes, Ottawas, Ojibwes, Wyandots, Ho-Chunks, Potawatomis, Kickapoos, Sauks and Meskwakies, and Muscogees (combined) Wounded: Unknown
American: Major General William Henry Harrison American: 3,000 Killed: 7
Wounded: 22

October 26, 1813 – British victory at Châteauguay in Lower Canada.

November 11, 1813 – Battle of Crysler’s Farm: British victory ends the U.S. offensive that has targeted Montreal. The Americans do not fight badly, but their commander, Brigadier General Thomas P. Boyd, sends his soldiers into battle intermittently in a seemingly uncoordinated offensive. Major General James Wilkinson is too ill to lead the men himself. By late afternoon the American army retreats.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Lieutenant Colonel Joseph W. Morrison
Iroquois: Lt. Charles Anderson
British: 900
Iroquois: 30
Killed: 31
Wounded: 148
Captured: Unknown
Missing: 13
Iroquois Wounded: 3
American: Major General James Wilkinson and Brigadier General Thomas P. Boyd American: 2,500 Killed: 102
Wounded: 237
Captured: 120

December 9, 1813 – U.S. forces burn Newark, Upper Canada.

December 30, 1813 – British retaliate by burning Buffalo, New York.

With Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat in Europe, the British strengthen their forces in North America, and for the United States the war becomes mainly defensive. The war’s bloodiest battles are fought in 1814 on the Niagara front. In spite of some defeats, U.S. soldiers fight with greater skill and determination. For the British, reinforcements from Europe and elsewhere enable them to take the offensive by invading upper New York, Coastal Maine, the Chesapeake Bay, Cumberland Island in Georgia, and the Gulf Coast.

March 27-28, 1814 – Battle of Horseshoe Bend: In the climactic battle in the Creek War, U.S. forces under Major General Andrew Jackson defeat Muscogee “Red Sticks” at their encampment on a bend in the Tallapoosa River in present-day Alabama. Intense close combat continues through the night. The “Red Sticks” are unwilling to surrender.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
Muscogee “Red Sticks”: Chief Menawa Muscogee “Red Sticks”: 930 Killed: 917
Wounded: Unknown
Missing: Unknown
American: Major General Andrew Jackson American: 2,700
Muscogee Allies: 600
Killed: 47
Captured: 0
Muscogees Killed: 23
Muscogees Wounded: 47

March 28, 1814 – Royal Navy defeats USS Essex

March 30, 1814 – Battle of Lacolle Mill: American attack repulsed in Lower Canada.

April 7-8, 1814 – British raid Pettipaug (present-day Essex), Connecticut.

July 3, 1814 – Americans capture Fort Erie on Niagara River.

July 5, 1814 – Battle of Ojibwe: Americans defeat the British on Niagara River.

July 17- 21, 1814– Siege of Prairie du Chien: Americans surrender Fort Shelby in present-day Wisconsin to British force under Lieutenant Colonel William McKay and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, and Ojibwe warriors led by Chief Tête de Chien.

July 25, 1814 – Battle of Lundy’s Lane: According to British Captain John Weeks, “Nothing could resist the obstinate desperation of the Yankees.” These words sum up the ferocity of the fight over the British artillery batteries during the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Beginning in the evening, the battle continues past midnight. In the darkness, fighting takes place at close quarters, with both sides firing muskets and cannon at point blank range. Both sides suffer heavy casualties. “Such…carnage I never beheld,” a British eyewitness remarks. “Red coats, blue and gray were promiscuously intermingled, in many places three deep.” The Americans withdraw the next day. Many regard Lundy’s Lane as the hardest fought engagement of the war.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond (wounded), Major General Phineas Riall (wounded and captured) British: about 3,000 Killed:84
Captured or Missing: 235
American: Major General Jacob Brown (wounded), Brigadier General Winfield Scott (wounded) American: about 3,000 Killed:173
Captured/Missing: 117

August 4, 1814 – British and their allies from indigenous nations, including 60 Menominees, defend Mackinac against American assault.

August 9-11, 1814 – Americans defend Stonington, Connecticut, against British assault.

August 13- September 17, 1814 – Siege of Fort Erie: Following the Battle at Lundy’s Lane, the U.S. Army withdraws to Fort Erie, which it enlarges and strengthens. The British, reinforced, besiege the fort. The Americans repulse a British attack on August 15. On September 17, in a sortie from Fort Erie, Americans overrun and spike several British artillery batteries before being forced to withdraw. Both sides suffer heavy casualties in the exchange. In addition, both sides suffer from the nearly constant rain. The British, unable to take the fort, withdraw on September 21. U.S. forces abandon Fort Erie and cross into New York in November.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond British: 2,500 Killed: 283
Wounded: 508
Captured or Missing: 748
American: Brigadier General Edmund Gaines, Brigadier General Eleazer W. Ripley American: 2,000 Killed: 213
Wounded: 565
Captured or Missing: 240

August 24, 1814 – Battle of Bladensburg and capture of Washington City: Landing with a force of more than 4,300 soldiers, sailors, and Marines near Benedict, Maryland, the British march overland toward Washington, DC. A force of poorly trained American militia and some regulars try to stop the British at Bladensburg, but are routed. Captain Joshua Barney and about 500 seamen and Marines do the only real fighting on the American side, but they are soon forced to retreat, leaving the road to Washington open. The British occupy the city and burn the public buildings, including the Capitol and White House. This is the low point of the war for the United States. The one bright spot in the disaster was the quick thinking of First Lady Dolley Madison, who saved a portrait of George Washington and other White House treasures from the fire.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Major General Robert Ross British: 4,500 Marines and regulars Killed: 64
Wounded: 185
American: Brigadier General William Winder American: 6,920 militia and regulars Killed:10-26
Wounded: 40-51
Captured: 100-120

September 1-11, 1814 – British occupy 100 miles of coastal Maine from Eastport to Castine.

September 11, 1814 – U.S. naval victory on Lake Champlain: During the first week in September, the largest British invasion force assembled in Canada begins to march toward Plattsburgh, New York. Its objective is to seize territory in upper New York that can be used as a bargaining chip in the peace negotiations. However, on September 11, the U.S. Navy defeats the British squadron on Lake Champlain. Although the British outnumber the Americans on land by approximately two to one, the land attack is called off because the British commander fears that the U.S. ships might ferry troops north and cut off his line of retreat. The British retreat from Plattsburgh raises American morale and discourages British negotiators at the peace talks being held at Ghent, in present-day Belgium.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Commodore George Downie (Navy-killed), Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost (Army) British Navy: British Army:
1 frigate 8,000 regulars
1 brig
2 sloops
12 gunboats
1,050 men
British Navy Killed:57
British Navy Wounded:100
(1 frigate, 1 brig, 2 sloops lost)
British Army Killed: 111
British Army Wounded: 120
British Army Captured: 317
American: Master Commandant Thomas MacDonough (Navy), Brigadier General Alexander Macomb (Army) U.S. Navy: U.S. Army:
1 corvette 3,400 regulars
1 brig and militia
1 sloop
1 schooner
10 gunboats
820 men
U.S. Navy Killed: 47
U.S. Navy Wounded: 58
U.S. Army Killed: 57
U.S. Army Wounded: 58

September 12-14, 1814 – Battle of Baltimore: After burning Washington, DC, the British return to their fleet and proceed up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore, a large port city dominated by pro-war Democratic-Republicans and home to many privateers harassing British trade on the high seas. After suffering heavy casualties in a victory over American militia at North Point, the British proceed to the outskirts of Baltimore but find the city too well-defended to attack. They withdraw because they cannot get help from the Royal Navy, which is unable to compel the surrender of Fort McHenry, located at the mouth of Baltimore Harbor, despite a 25-hour bombardment. A young American lawyer named Francis Scott Key witnesses the bombardment and pens a stirring poem entitled, “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Key suggests the poem can be sung to an English drinking tune, “Anacreon in Heaven.” It is soon retitled, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and in 1931 Congress names it the United States’s national anthem.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Major General Robert Ross (killed), Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Colonel Arthur Brooke British: 5,000 infantry, 19 warships Killed: 42-46
Wounded: 280-296
American: Major General Samuel Smith, Brigadier General John Stricker, Major George Armistead American: 11,000 militia, regulars, seamen Killed: 28
Wounded: 163
Captured: 50

October 19, 1814 – Battle of Cooks Mills: Last battle on the Niagara front.

October 22-November 17, 1814 – McArthur’s Raid into Upper Canada. With a force of 720 mounted men, including 70 Shawnees, Lenapes, and Wyandots, Brigadier General Duncan McArthur conducts a deep raid into Upper Canada from Detroit, destroying mills to deprive the British army of food. McArthur’s force overruns a militia force at Malcolm’s Mills on November 6. This is the only battle during the raid and is the last battle on the Canadian-American frontier.

November 7, 1814 – American force under General Andrew Jackson drives British from Spanish Pensacola.

December 14, 1814 – British capture a U.S. flotilla of gunboats and secure Lake Borgne on Gulf Coast.

December 15, 1814- Hartford Convention convenes: Dismayed by the course of the war and the seemingly destructive policies of the Madison administration in Washington, DC, anti-war Federalists in New England convene the Hartford Convention to air their grievances. Although there is some talk in New England about signing a separate peace and pulling out of the Union, moderates remain firmly in control at Hartford, and the convention proposes a series of constitutional amendments to prevent a renewal of the destructive policies and to better secure New England’s position in the Union.

December 24, 1814 – Treaty of Ghent: British and American delegates in present-day Belgium sign a peace treaty on December 24, 1814. Article I provides for the war to end when both sides ratify the agreement. Even though the British comply on December 27, it takes seven weeks for the treaty to reach the United States. In the meantime, the war continues.

January 8, 1815 – Battle of New Orleans: The British attack of January 8 is the climax of a British campaign on the Gulf Coast. After three preliminary engagements fought from December 23, 1814 to January 1, 1815, the British launch a major assault against General Andrew Jackson’s stout defenses south of New Orleans. They are repulsed with heavy losses, with over 2,000 killed, wounded, missing, or captured, while Jackson’s own losses are only 70. It is the last major battle of the War of 1812 and a resounding American victory. Casualties below are from the entire campaign.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Major General Sir Edward Pakenham (killed) British: 10,000 Killed: 386
Wounded: 1,521
Missing and Captured: 552
American: Major General Andrew Jackson American: 5,000
Muscogees: 200
Killed: 56
Wounded: 183
Missing and Captured: 93

January 9-18, 1815 – Battle of Fort St. Philip: British fail to force this post on the lower Mississippi to submit.

January 11-13, 1815 – British defeat U.S. force on Cumberland Island, Georgia.

January 15, 1815 – British capture of USS President: After a running duel with HMS Endymion, USS President is captured by a British squadron.

February 8-12, 1815 – British besiege and capture Fort Bowyer: Following the Battle of New Orleans, the British turn their attention towards Mobile, then in Mississippi Territory. Fort Bowyer, commanded by Major William Lawrence, guards the entrance to Mobile Bay. The defending garrison is only 320 strong. On February 8, British vessels encircle the fort as 1,400 British troops land two and a half miles east, isolating the post. Over the next three days, British troops dig trenches to within 40 yards of the fort’s walls. The Americans surrender at noon on February 12, 1815.

Commanders Number Engaged Casualties
British: Major General John Lambert British: 1,400 Killed: 13
Wounded: 18
Captured: 0
Missing: 0
American: Major William Lawrence American: 320 Killed: 1
Wounded: 10
Captured: 309
Missing: 0

February 17, 1815 – U.S. ratifies Treaty of Ghent: The peace treaty reaches Washington, DC, on February 14, 1815. The United States Senate unanimously approves it two days later, and President James Madison completes the ratification process by signing the agreement on February 17. This ends the War of 1812. Neither Great Britain nor the United States loses any territory or surrenders any right. Indigenous nations, however, were unable to recover their lost territories and continued to face additional loss of land to settlers expanding westward. The British make no concessions on the maritime issues that caused the war and hold on to Canada. The United States vindicates its sovereignty and earns international respect for simply having fought the powerful British Empire to a draw. Although the war is now officially over, fighting continues on remote fronts until the news of peace arrives.

February 20, 1815 – USS Constitution defeats HMS Cyane and HMS Levant: In December, 1814, Constitution slips out of Boston and evades the British blockading squadron. On February 20, off the Madeira Islands, the U.S. warship encounters a small Royal Navy frigate and corvette. During the night battle that follows, Constitution manages to outmaneuver its two opponents, defeating them and forcing them to submit. Both ships are manned by American prize crews. Although Levant is retaken on March 12 by a pursuing British squadron, Cyane reaches a U.S. port as a prize of war.

Commander Number Engaged Casualties
British: Cyane, Captain Gordon Thomas Falcon Levant: Captain George Douglas. British: Cyane, 180: Guns: 34
Levant, 140: Guns: 21
Killed: 35
Wounded: 42
American: Captain Charles Stewart American: 451
Guns: 52
Killed: 4
Wounded: 14

February 24, 1815 – Skirmish on St. Marys River, Georgia: This is the last land battle of the war.

The History of The USS Potawatomi - History

Alias: Mnedobe [Sits with Spirit] |

David Joe Barrett is a native of Tecumseh, Oklahoma, and descendant of Marguerite Bourassa, Mnitoqua &ldquoSpirit Woman,&rdquo a full blood Potawatomi who married Leon Bourassa who was a boatman for American Fur Co. and clerked for his uncle Joseph Bertrand. His Potawatomi name is Mnedobe, meaning, &ldquoSits with Spirit.&rdquo He has served as the legislator for District 10 since June 2008, since the CPN constitution was ratified in 2007 to include representation for the entire United States.

He graduated from Tecumseh High School in 1966, and then attended Murray State Junior College before transferring to the University of Oklahoma and earning his bachelor&rsquos degree in accounting. Barrett also graduated with his MBA with honors from Oklahoma City University in 1982.

From there, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving as an electronic radar technician on the USS Durham (LKA-114), a landing craft and attack cargo ship. During his enlistment in the Vietnam era, Barrett stopped in Hong Kong Da Nang, Vietnam Sydney, Australia the Philippines, Singapore and Japan. He said he is proud to have served his country. He also served since 2010 to the present as part of the CPN Veteran Color Guard and as treasurer for the CPN Veteran&rsquos Organization for more than 10 years, both of which he considers a huge honor.

He married his wife Connie in 1971 and lived in San Diego, California, until 1972, when they moved to Bethel Acres, Oklahoma, and started a family. He also worked as a financial controller for companies like Worthington Pump Corporation while earning a master&rsquos degree from Oklahoma City University. He also became an entrepreneur, owning Windsor Door Company in Great Bend, Kansas, and starting and owning a percentage of Windsor Door Company in Atlanta, Georgia, while also investing in stocks, rental properties, beef cattle and more DBA&rsquoS.

He was elected to serve as CPN District 10 Legislator in 2008 and still currently serves. After serving on several corporate boards, he was appointed to serve on the CPN&rsquos First National Bank & Trust, Co. and elected to help lead the Nation&rsquos Grievance Committee.

In 2017, AARP named him one of the organization&rsquos yearly 50 Oklahoma Indian Elder honorees.

The most rewarding of all the things I have done in the business world and my life was and still continues to serve my constituents in Oklahoma at large along with my decisions affecting our whole Potawatomi membership of our great Nation.

Born: Tecumseh, OK
Spouse(s): Connie Barrett
Children: Allison (Patrick), Chad (Kristi) and five grandchildren

Education: Tecumseh High School, 1966 Murray State Junior College University of Oklahoma, BA in accounting and a minor in mechanical engineering Oklahoma City University, MBA with honors, 1982 Kerr-McGee Corporation &ndash Certificate of Recognition for Fundamentals of Supervision, 1978 Worthington Pump Corporation &ndash Certificate of Completion of Interaction Management Program, 1982 Worthington Pump Corporation &ndash Certificate of completion of Management by Objectives, 1983 The University of Arizona &ndash Course Completion of Rebuilding Native Nations Strategies for Governance and Development

Assumed Office: June 2008
In Office: Present day

Anatomy of a Tragedy: The Sinking of the USS S-4

At 3:50 P.M. on the afternoon of 17 December 1927, the commandant of the Boston Navy Yard received a flash radio message from the U.S. Coast Guard Destroyer Paulding: "Rammed and sank unknown submarine off Wood End, Provincetown." Within minutes, the worst fears of many were realized when it was confirmed that the submarine was the USS S-4. Though rescue efforts immediately began in earnest, it was too late for the 39 crewmen and a civilian observer aboard S-4. Most had already perished six men trapped in the torpedo compartment would not be rescued in time.

While the events that transpired after the sinking are well known — the rescue efforts, the recovery operations, the trial of those involved in the court of public opinion, and the spectacle of several public investigations — what is less so are the findings of those inquiries.

How is it that a Coast Guard Destroyer could ram and sink and Navy submarine? As with most disasters, the causers were a number of small factors that alone amounted to little, but in combination with one another led to tragedy.

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