Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

November 8, 2013

Neal: ‘Little Turtle’ led in war and peace

[Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. The essays will focus on the top 100 events, ideas and historical figures of Indiana, beginning with the impact of the Ice Age and ending with the legacy of the Bicentennial itself. ]

 

For 30 years he was a dominating figure on the Indiana frontier, at first resisting the white man’s encroachment and later giving in to the inevitable. The historian Calvin Young called him “one of the greatest Indian chiefs of all time.”

“Some day we will recognize him as our first great Hoosier and an American of national importance,” wrote Otho Winger, historian and Manchester College president, in 1942.

Indeed, Miami Chief Little Turtle’s name ranks with Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Harrison as a figure all Hoosiers should recognize. He died four years before Indiana statehood, so there’s no way to know if Little Turtle himself would have embraced or dismissed the title, “first great Hoosier.”

Known by his people as Me-she-kin-no-quah, Little Turtle was born on the banks of the Eel River about five miles east of modern-day Columbia City. A historical marker at the site lists his birth year as “c. 1747.”

When the American Revolution ended in 1783, Great Britain ceded to the new United States the territory northwest of the Ohio River, including present-day Indiana. Immediately white settlers poured in.

Little Turtle organized a confederation of tribes – including Miami, Potawatomie and Delaware— that for a time seemed capable of resisting pioneer migration into their hunting grounds. “He fought back against them in the only way he knew how,” Winger wrote. “With small bodies of Indian warriors gathered from along Eel River and the Wabash he would make raids along the Ohio.”

This frontier violence was one of George Washington’s thorniest problems when he became president in 1789. In 1790, he assigned Gen. Josiah Harmar to capture the Miami capital at Kekionga near present-day Fort Wayne. Little Turtle’s men stopped Harmar in his tracks. A year later, Gen. Arthur St. Clair led 2,000 soldiers against the natives in western Ohio. It was one of the worst defeats in U.S. military history.

The next time, Washington directed Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne to lead an expedition and persuaded Congress to provide him enough arms and soldiers. Wayne spent the winter of 1793 near Greenville, Ohio, drilling his army for battle. Little Turtle spied on the activities and concluded the natives stood no chance against “a general who never sleeps.” He advised fellow Indians to make peace, but the confederation council disagreed, and Little Turtle gave up his command.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794 destroyed the confederation. Little Turtle and other chiefs signed the Treaty of Greenville allowing Americans to settle peacefully.

Little Turtle died in Fort Wayne in 1812 and was remembered with affection by U.S. political leaders.

Historian Winger wrote: “He already had the record of defeating more American armies than any other Indian chief. He was now to acquire the greater reputation of being most interested in ways of peace and civilization.”

Andrea Neal is a teacher at St. Richard’s Episcopal School. Contact her at aneal@inpolicy.org.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAVE BANGERT: Indiana's new chief justice and court's 'mom question' Two years ago, as Loretta Rush ascended from Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 judge to the state’s Supreme Court, I dropped this line in a column celebrating someone who had earned her place.“Across the state, the headline will be: ‘[Mitch] Daniels Choose

    August 14, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: POTUS promises of transparency fail to materialize The United States system of government relies on citizens having full access to information that can be used in self-governance. Journalists and other First Amendment advocates were enthused when the Obama administration came into office with convinc

    August 14, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: RIP Robin Williams

    I was re-watching the 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine” Monday when I heard my phone buzz. After the credits had rolled, I looked at the screen and found myself shocked.It was a news alert that Robin Williams had died that morning at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' is a Hoosier inspiration

    Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton dese

    August 13, 2014

  • DAVE BANGERT: Rokita, illegal immigration, Ebola outbreak and context At first listen last Monday, there was something so unsavory about our congressman, Todd Rokita, whipping up two full-fledged crises — Central American children at the U.S. southern border and the African scourge of Ebola — into one pungent sound bit

    August 12, 2014

  • DAN COATS: Let's give nonprofits relief from IRS delays A flurry of scandal has recently surrounded the Internal Revenue Service.Over the past few months, we have learned about missing emails from IRS employees and revelations of clear bias and hostility by a top IRS official towards organizations with ce

    August 12, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Pitchforks and pikes in our summer of discontent Congress is ... embarrassing. Our political system is failing us. On an individual basis, many of us have respect for members of our delegation. We can have a common sense conversation with a senator, congressman or congresswoman, and then they go ba

    August 11, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Enough reminders to forget It began with a simple phone call to my friend, Auri, a computer geek I asked to help me with my very successful website, which right now is attracting up to three visitors a month. To have a strong online presence, you have to spend several hours a

    August 11, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Outsourced jobs, health crises in foreign lands The other week, my Internet was giving me trouble. I called the support number, and — to my surprise — I spoke to a representative who sounded as American as apple pie. It turned out the technical problem was an oversight on my end and fixed quickly.

    August 10, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Dodging corporate taxes Corporations are among our oldest institutions. Something like a joint stock company probably triggered the earliest formal written communication — the accounting ledger. It should be unsurprising that the early traders of Mesopotamia used a corporat

    August 10, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes Lunch Bus Delivers Meals to Kids Out of School Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners Rockets Fired From Gaza, in Breach of Ceasefire Raw: Japanese Military Live Fire Exercise Police, Protesters Clash in Ferguson Independent Autopsy Reveals Michael Brown Wounds Nashville Embraces Motley Crue Obama: 'Time to Listen, Not Just Shout' Lawyer: Gov. Perry Indictment a 'Nasty Attack' Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine Iowa Man Builds Statue of a Golfer Out of Balls Assange Gets Cryptic About Leaving Embassy in UK Raw: Building Collapse in South Africa, 9 Dead Raw: Pope Francis Meets 'Comfort Women'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller