Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

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
  • SEN. JIM BUCK: New laws offer help for kids Families with children who have special needs often face difficulties finding the best care or treatment for their specific circumstance. During the 2014 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly passed several initiatives to assist these fam

    July 24, 2014

  • BILL STANCZYKIEWICZ: Youth sports leagues are on troubling decline An important youth development activity is looking to end a recent losing streak. Participation in organized youth sports leagues for baseball, football, basketball and soccer declined by 4 percent between 2008-2012, according to a report in the Wall

    July 24, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 23, 2014

  • CECIL BOHANON: Spend down surplus? Been there, done that Back in 1998, the state of Indiana had more than $1.3 billion in surplus funds in its general account. This was about 57 days of state spending. The state had total surplus funds of more than $2 billion that was over 24 percent of its annual operatin

    July 23, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 22, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Indiana Democrats deal with divide on education On the face of it, the battles between Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and supporters and staff of Republican Gov. Mike Pence have been a unifying force for Indiana Democrats. But the scrapping has exposed a deep rift within the party o

    July 22, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Is Evan Bayh contemplating another gubernatorial run? This could be the saga of “LeBron Bayh.”Like a thunderhead brewing in the distance, you could see this one coming. This was the progression: former state Democratic Chairman Dan Parker announces he will not become a candidate for mayor of Indianapoli

    July 21, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Please go away already My wife is planning our summer vacation, which we will take in the fall. We took our spring vacation this summer. We got behind in 1984 and still haven't caught up. I don't have much input into the planning of these trips, but Mary Ellen did assign m

    July 21, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Internet, and future of communication One morning, I was chatting with some retired folks and the subject of paying bills on the Internet came up. One woman said she disposed of her computer years ago and pays her bills by mail. I commented she could get by just fine doing that. The othe

    July 20, 2014

  • FAITH BRAUTIGAM: Learning from others' mistakes through literature If you’ve ever been locked out of somewhere — your home, your car, your workplace — I expect you could tell me all the details of the incident, even if it was years or decades ago. Why? Our brains remember major events, and it’s a big deal to be stra

    July 20, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast
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