(revised 12.29.99)
This is a single part of what will be, by my classification, about 240 compact tribal histories (contact to 1900). It is limited to the lower 48 states of the U.S. but also includes those First Nations from Canada and Mexico that had important roles (Huron, Micmac, Assiniboine, etc.).

This history's content and style are representative. The normal process

at this point is to circulate an almost finished product among a peer group for comment and criticism. At the end of this History you will find links to those Nations referred to in the History of the Miami.

Using the Internet, this can be more inclusive. Feel free to comment or suggest corrections via e-mail. Working together we can end some of the historical misinformation about Native Americans. You will find the ego at this end to be of standard size. Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to your comments...Lee Sultzman.

Miami Location

Northern Indiana and the adjacent areas of Illinois and Ohio. Most of the Wea and Piankashaw were driven from this area by the Iroquois during the 1650s and retreated west to Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Beginning about 1680, they began a gradual return to Indiana which was largely completed by 1710. The Wea and Piankashaw were removed to Missouri during the 1820s and in 1832 moved to the Marais des Cygnes River in eastern Kansas where they later merged with the remnants of the Illinois. In 1867 the combined tribe was forced to relocate for a final time to northeastern Oklahoma. Most of the Miami remained in Indiana until 1846 when 600 left for Kansas only to be moved to Oklahoma after the Civil War. Descendents of the Miami who remained in northern Indiana still live in their original homeland of northern Indiana.


Perhaps as many as 15,000 in 1600, the French estimated the combined population of all groups of the Miami at around 8,000 in 1717. During the next 20 years the Miami, as well as the neighboring Illinois, suffered a rapid population decline from several epidemics

the most important of which was malaria (ague) which became common in the Mississippi Valley during this period. By 1736 the Miami numbered less than 3,000. British estimates after 1763 varied between 1,800 and 2,700 depending on whether the Wea and Piankashaw were included with the Miami. The first accurate count by the Americans in 1825 gave about 1,100 Miami and Eel River, 327 Wea, and a little more than 150 Piankashaw - total of about 1,600. By 1846 the combined population of the Piankashaw, Wea, and Miami in Kansas stood close to 1,000. The Miami who had remained in Indiana (heavily intermarried) numbered between 500 and 1,500 depending on how much of the mixed-blood population was included. When their land was allotted in 1872, only 247 of the Indiana Miami chose to identify themselves as Native Americans.

The tribal status of the Indiana Miami was terminated by administration order in 1897, but the 1910 census still listed 90 Miami in Indiana. After the Passage of the Indian Reorganization Act (1934), they organized as the Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana in 1937. Its 6,000 members are concentrated mainly in Allen, Huntington, and Miami counties in Indiana. Tribal offices are in Peru, but they have never succeeded in regaining federal status - the latest refusal being in 1992. The only official Miami tribe is the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma at Miami in the northeastern part of the state. There are also some descendents of the Wea and Piankashaw within the Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma in the same area. From a low point of 129 in 1909, the enrollment of the Oklahoma Miami has grown to more than 2,100.


The Miami called themselves Twightwee (Twatwa), their name for the cry of the crane and the symbol of the Atchakangouen (Miami Proper). Miami comes from their Ojibwe name, Oumami (Oumamik, Owmaweg, Omaumeg) "people of the peninsula" altered by the French and English into our familiar form of Miami (Maumee). Other names were: Naked Indians, Pkiwileni (Shawnee), Sanshkiaarunu (Wyandot "finely dressed people"), Twatwa (Tawatawa "naked"), and Wayatanoke.


Algonquin. Closely related to the language spoken by the Illinois. Both Miami and Illinois were apparently closer to Ojibwe than the dialect of their neighbors: the Fox, Sauk, Kickapoo, and Shawnee.


A loose association of six independent tribes:

Atchakangouen (Atchatchakangouen, Miami Proper), Kilatika, Mengkonkia (Mengakonia), Pepikokia, Piankashaw, and Wea (Newcalenous, Ouiatenon). By 1796 the Pepikokia had been absorbed by Piankashaw, and the divisions after this time were: Eel River, Miami, Piankashaw, and Wea.
Chicago (Wea) (IL), Chippekawkay (Piankashaw) (IN), Choppatee's Village (IN), Elkhart (Potawatomi) (IN), Kekionga (Kiskakon) (Atchakangouen) (IN), Kenapacomaqua (Wea) (IN), Kethtippecahnunk (Potawatomi-Wea) (IN), Kokomo (IN), Kowasikka (Thorntown) (IN), Le Baril (OH), Little Turtle's Village (IN-OH), Maramek (IL), Meshingomesia (IN), Milwaukee (WS), Missinquimeschan (Piankashaw) (IN), Mississinewa (IN-OH), Neconga, Ouinatenon (Wea) (IN), Osaga, Ouiatenon (Wea) (IN), Papakeecha (Flat Belly's Village, Pahedkeecha) (Piankashaw) (IN), Piankashaw (IN), Pickawillany (Pickawillanee) (OH), Seek's Village (IN), St. Francois Xavier (Mascouten) (WS), Tepicon (2) (IN), Vincennes (IN), Wepecheange, and White Raccoon's Village (Raccoon's Village) (IN).

More of an association than confederation, each of the six bands was independent of the others with its own chief. In both language and culture, the Miami closely resembled the Illinois. So much so, the French initially got them confused, even though these two peoples often were hostile to each other. More so than other Great Lakes Algonquin, the Miami appear to have retained strong links to the earlier Mississippian culture. The most noteworthy characteristic was the unusual amount of respect and ceremony accorded to their chiefs. The hereditary Miami chiefs also had religious functions, but many of these were curtailed when they failed to cope with the new European epidemics. As a result, the Midewiwin curing society became powerful during the late 1600s, and this apparently caused a leadership crisis within the Miami which lasted until the 1750s. At the same time, the Jesuit missionaries caused further divisions by the acceptance of Christianity by some of the Miami. Despite this, much of the traditional authority of Miami chiefs has been retained to the present, and it still takes a unanimous vote of the tribal council to override his decisions.

Most of their diet came from agriculture, but the Miami were noted for a unique variety of white corn which was generally regarded as superior to that of other tribes. Their summer villages, located in river valleys for the fertile soil, consisted of framed longhouses covered with rush mats. A separate, larger structure was used for councils and ceremonies. After the harvest, the village moved to the nearby prairies for a communal buffalo hunt, then separated into winter hunting camps. Among other tribes in the region, the Miami had the reputation of being slow-spoken and polite but had an inclination towards fancy dress, especially their chiefs. Tattooing was common to both sexes, and like the neighboring Illinois, there were harsh penalties for female adulterers who were either killed or had their noses cut off.


Unlike other Algonquin tribes in the Ohio Valley and western Great Lakes, the Iroquois conquest did not force all of the Miami to abandon their homeland during the 1650s. Perhaps because they were enemies of the Illinois Confederacy, the Iroquois found the Miami useful as allies, but the Wea and Piankashaw were forced to retreat west into northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Clashes with the resident Winnebago at first forced the Miami west towards the Mississippi, but shortly afterwards the Winnebago were defeated by the Fox and followed by a near annihilation at the hands of the Illinois. These defeats ended most resistance by Wisconsin's original tribes to the relocation of refugees from the east, and the Wea joined with the Mascouten to relocate farther to the northeast. The French first mentioned the Miami in 1658 when the Jesuit Relations of that year placed them (apparently a group of Wea) near Green Bay living in a mixed village with the Mascouten. However, Iroquois attacks in the area, apparently forced the Miami to relocate farther inland on the Fox River in 1660, and some groups even moving to the Mississippi River near the Illinois-Wisconsin border.

After their destruction of the Huron Confederacy in 1649, the Iroquois had pretty much blocked French access to the western Great Lakes until a peace was arranged between them in 1667 which also extended to the tribes of the western Great Lakes. This provided much-needed relief to the refugee tribes in Wisconsin and allowed the French to resume their fur trade in the west. The first recorded meeting between the Miami and Europeans occurred in 1668 when Nicolas Perrot met them at their fortified village near the headwaters of the Fox River in southern Wisconsin. Perrot made a second visit in 1670, and meanwhile the Jesuit, Father Claude-Jean Allouez, had also made contact. By 1673 the Wea had separated themselves from the Mascouten and moved south to a new village near Chicago. The Miami, however, maintained close trading ties with the French at Green Bay and provided the guides which led Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet to the Mississippi River in 1673.

There is a tendency to look upon the French exploration and fur trade in the Great Lakes as a single, united effort, but this was not really true. Competition between French traders was often as nasty as any intertribal rivalry. When Robert LaSalle attempted in 1679 to open trade with the tribes of the Illinois Confederacy living on the Illinois River, rival traders at Green Bay took advantage of the traditional animosity between the Miami and Illinois and secretly urged the Miami and Mascouten near the south end of Lake Michigan to block his access. LaSalle, however, slipped past this and managed to establish Fort Crèvecoeur on the upper Illinois in 1680. LaSalle left the trading post in the charge of Henri de Tonti and returned to Canada, but as the Illinois and other tribes concentrated in the area, the Iroquois reacted to the tendency of Illinois hunters to kill all of the young beaver in the Ohio Valley, and the peace of 1667 came to a violent end with the beginning of the second phase of the Beaver Wars (1680-1700).

The Miami also were concerned by the French trade with their Illinois enemies and allied with the Iroquois. In the fall of 1680, they joined a large Seneca war party attack on Fort Crèvecoeur and the Illinois villages. Forewarned, Tonti and the other French left the post and fled to Green Bay, but thousands of Illinois remained in the Illinois Valley and were massacred. The survivors withdrew west of the Mississippi, but, as Iroquois allies, the Miami were able to reestablish themselves in their old homeland. Until the outbreak of war with the Dakota (Sioux) in 1692, they continued to occupy the Chicago and part of the Mississippi Valley, but Allouez found Miami villages on the St. Joseph River in southern Michigan in 1680. He also discovered two groups of Mahican living near them on the upper Kankakee River in northern Indiana (later absorbed), but the Iroquois did not always appreciate the Miami's sense of hospitality.

The alliance with the Iroquois quickly soured when the Miami also allowed groups of Shawnee (Iroquois enemies) to settle among them. Threatened by their one-time allies in 1682, the Miami switched sides and allowed LaSalle to arrange a peace between them and the Illinois. Afterwards, the Miami Confederacy began to concentrate near Fort St. Louis, LaSalle's new trading post on the Illinois. The Seneca could not ignore the presence of 20,000 Algonquins trading with the French along the Illinois River and returned in force to the area in 1684. The attacks first hit the Miami villages in Indiana and then swept west into Illinois only to meet defeat by an new alliance of Miami, Illinois, and French. The Seneca failure to take Fort St. Louis in 1684 is generally regarded as the western limit of Iroquois expansion and the turning point of the Beaver Wars. The French strengthened their forts afterwards and began to provide arms to an alliance of Great Lakes Algonquin which they had created against the Iroquois. Coinciding with the King William's War (1688-97) between Britain and France, the alliance went on the offensive in 1687.

By the 1690s the Iroquois were in serious trouble and retreating back across the Great Lakes to New York. They were, however, still dangerous. Not only did marauding Iroquois war parties continue to make travel dangerous on the Illinois River for French traders, but the Seneca destroyed the Miami village near Chicago in 1687 while its warriors were absent. During their return to New York with the captured Miami women and children, the Seneca left behind a trail of half-eaten children until Miami warriors caught up and killed most of them. The manpower which eventually defeated the Iroquois was almost entirely Algonquin. The French role was largely limited to supplying arms and keeping the fragile alliance together by reconciling disputes among its members, but this was crucial. Despite the constant threat of Iroquois attack to both tribes, the traditional dislike between the Miami and Illinois was so strong that Henri Tonti was forced to give presents to both in 1685 to keep them fighting the Iroquois and not each other. By 1688 even this proved inadequate, and the Miami left the area of Fort St. Louis and returned to northern Indiana.

Following in the wake of the Iroquois retreat, by 1700 all of the Miami were "back home again in Indiana" with most of their villages concentrated along the upper Wabash and Kankakee Rivers while the Wea and Piankashaw settled on the middle and lower Wabash in the western part of the state. They had also occupied the St. Joseph River Valley in southern Michigan for a number of years but had been forced to abandon it during 1695 when it was occupied by another French ally, the Potawatomi. The King William's War between Britain and France ended in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick which placed the Iroquois League (without their asking) under the protection of Great Britain. In general, the French emerged from the war in good position and had no desire for another confrontation with the British over their continuing war with the Iroquois. They were receptive to the peace overtures made by the League in 1696, but, unfortunately, after years of warfare and victory within their grasp, their allies were not as ready to make peace. Besides lingering hatreds, there was the serious issue of the return of prisoners captured and adopted into the Iroquois. The French efforts to force a solution only created suspicion they would break with their allies and make a separate peace with the Iroquois.

Peace between the Iroquois and the French and Algonquin was finally arranged in 1701, just as another war broke out in Europe between Britain and France - Queen Anne's War (1701-13). The fighting spread to North America but did not really affect the Great Lakes. The Iroquois were exhausted and (except for the Mohawk) kept their promise to the French and remained neutral in the conflict. All of which should have placed the French in a dominant position if not for decisions of the French government in 1696 which had destroyed the fabric of the Algonquin alliance. Coinciding with a glut of beaver fur on the European market, the French monarchy had finally succumbed to Jesuit protests about the destructive nature of the fur trade on native societies and issued a proclamation curtailing trade in the western Great Lakes. The French governor of Canada, Louis Frontenac, delayed implementation but in the end was forced to close forts and trading posts. When the French surrendered their chief means of influence, trade goods and presents, their carefully constructed alliance came undone.

The other bad decision was that in their rush to make peace and insure Iroquois neutrality at the start of another war with Britain, the French allowed the Iroquois to retain their claim to the Ohio Valley by right of conquest during the Beaver Wars. Since the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 had placed the League under British protection, this eventually opened the area for British claims and laid the seeds for future conflict. However, for the moment, it allowed the Iroquois to skillfully switch to trade and diplomacy to undo the French military victory. Using the lure of British traders at Albany, the Iroquois began to draw French allies like the Ottawa and Wyandot into their influence. Frontenac's stubborn resistance to the royal decree finally brought his dismissal in 1698, but his successor solved the problem in 1701 by allowing Antoine Cadillac to build Fort Pontchartrain at Detroit for trade with the tribes of the western Great Lakes.

Cadillac began by asking the Wyandot and Ottawa from Michilimackinac to settle at his new post but ended by inviting almost every tribe in the region, including the Miami. The unfortunate result was that Ottawa, Wyandot, Miami, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Fox, Sauk, Mascouten, Kickapoo, and even Osage moved to Detroit, and the overcrowding and competition for the area's limited resources aggravated rivalries which further weakened the alliance. The French lacked enough trade goods and influence to "keep the lid on" the mess they created. The Miami established a village near Detroit in 1703 and were soon caught up in this conflict. Smallpox broke out among the Illinois in 1704 and soon spread to the Miami. Two years later the Wea were asking for French officers and missionaries to be sent to their village at Ouiatenon on the Wabash - an indication of a growing crisis within the Miami between traditional chiefs and the rising power of the Midewiwin. The French, however, lacked the resources to respond at the time.

Oddly enough, actual war between the Miami and other French allies began well to the north of the mess at Detroit. In 1706 the Wyandot and a group of Miami living near Michilimackinac attempted to prevent an Ottawa attack on the Dakota at the west end of Lake Superior by threatening to attack the Ottawa village if the warriors left. The Ottawa retaliated with an ambush that killed five Miami chiefs and drove the Miami to the protection of the French fort. Before the brief war was over 50 Miami and 30 Ottawa were dead, and the fighting had spread to Detroit. The French attempted to reconcile the parties but deliberately allowed the responsible Ottawa chief Le Pesant to escape which made the Miami furious. The tense situation escalated into open revolt in 1712 with an attack on Fort Pontchartrain by the Fox. The French were saved by their Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi allies, but the Fox Wars (1712-16 and 1728-37) clearly demonstrate how far the French alliance had fallen into disarray. In the midst of the French war with the Fox, Sieur de Vincennes had to mediate a separate war that had broken out between the Miami and Peoria (Illinois).

Meanwhile, all of this turmoil in the French alliance had not escaped the attention of the Iroquois and British. To shorten the long trip required for French allies to trade with the British, the Iroquois had given permission for Albany traders to build a trading post in their homeland at Oswego in 1727. Within a year 80% of the beaver at Albany was coming from French allies in the Great Lakes. The French reaction to this competition was to encourage the Miami after 1715 to move closer to Detroit to keep them away from British traders, but the Miami moved instead in the opposite direction into southern Indiana and western Ohio. An unknown epidemic (probably malaria) began in the Mississippi Valley in 1714 and persisted until 1717 marking the beginning of a rapid decline in the Miami and Illinois populations. The constant epidemics weakened the authority of the older chiefs tied to the French alliance, and the new leadership of the Miami was interested in exploring increased trade with the British.

The French established a new network of trading posts at Michilimackinac, La Baye, Chequamegon, St. Joseph, Pimitoui, Niagara, and Fort Chartes. There were also new posts for the Miami at Forts Miamis, Ouiatenon, and Vincennes (Fort Wayne, Lafayette, and Vincennes Indiana respectively), but it was too little and too late. By the 1730s most of the Miami and Wea trade was going to the Iroquois and British at Oswego. To make matters worse, British goods were of higher quality and less expensive, so the erosion of the French trade monopoly continued in spite of their new posts. Dissatisfaction with the French goods and prices sometimes turned violent. After a brawl between a French soldier and Wea warrior at Fort Ouiatenon in 1734, the Wea attacked and plundered the entire post. Taking advantage, British and Iroquois traders began to visit Ohio and trade direct.

With the start of the King George's War (1744-48), the Miami and Wea stood beside the French, at least to the extent of continuing the war against the British-allied Chickasaw south of the Ohio. However, this relationship became increasingly strained after a British blockade of Canada cut the supply of French trade goods. By 1747 even the always-loyal Wyandot had rebelled and were trading with the British. The Miami of Chief Memeskia (La Demoiselle to the French) in western Ohio had joined the revolt and sacked another French post because there were no annual presents. The Miami and Wyandot rebels even signed a treaty at Lancaster in 1748 with Pennsylvania allowing the British to build trading posts in Ohio. Mingo, Delaware, and Shawnee (members of the Iroquois covenant chain) had settled in Ohio and were defying French claims to the area. The French were in grave danger of losing, not only Ohio, but the entire Great Lakes.

British traders established a post at Memeskia's village at Pickawillany (Piqua, Ohio). After he had signed the Lancaster treaty, Memeskia became known to them as "Old Britain" and began inviting tribes from as far west as Illinois to visit his village for trade with the British. By 1751 even the Illinois, normally devoted to the French, were conspiring in an attempt to break the French trade monopoly. However, the Piankashaw response to the Illinois overtures was to launch an attack on the Kaskaskia. French demands to La Demoiselle to expel the British traders were ignored, so the French decided on force. The problem was the Detroit tribes were reluctant to attack the Ohio tribes trading with the British. In desperation, the French organized a war party of 250 Michilimackinac Ottawa and Ojibwe under the command of the Métis, Charles Langlade and in June, 1752 destroyed Pickawillany. "Old Britain" was killed and eaten by the Ottawa, and the other French allies trading with the British were quick to "digest" the message.

If the Miami had any thoughts of avenging Memeskia, they put them aside when they were attacked by the Fox later that year. The French followed their attack on Pickawillany by lowering prices and increasing their supply of trade goods. The rebellion began to collapse, and in the fall the Wyandot renewed attacks on the Chickasaw as part of the alliance. The following July, the Miami, Potawatomi, and Sauk apologized to the French, rejoined the alliance, and returned the Iroquois wampum belt they had accepted at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1748. With their allies falling into line, the French began to build a line of new forts across western Pennsylvania to isolate Ohio from British traders. Unfortunately, both Virginia and Pennsylvania also claimed Ohio, and a demand brought in 1754 by Virginia militia major George Washington to halt the construction and abandon these forts ended in a fight with French soldiers which started the last French and British war for North America, the French and Indian War (1755-63).

The Miami were French allies during the war but not especially active in the fighting. They even tried to make peace with the British through a treaty signed with Pennsylvania trader George Croghan in 1757, but after raids by the Shawnee and Delaware against the frontier, this was rejected by the Virginia legislature. Other French allies brought smallpox back to the Ohio Valley from Fort William Henry in New York that fall, and the resulting epidemic spread throughout the Great Lakes taking its toll on the Miami. The French defeat became almost certain after the fall of Quebec in September, 1759, and British troops occupied most of the French forts including Vincennes, Miamis, and Ouiatenon in Indiana the following year. Perhaps anticipating a renewal of British trade, the Miami made no effort to oppose the takeover, but things had changed. No longer forced to compete with the French, the British ended annual presents to chiefs and placed high prices on their trade goods restricting the supply, especially gunpowder.

Over the years, the tribes had become dependent on these items for survival, and tribal chiefs distributed the annual presents they received to their tribesmen in a show of generosity designed to reinforce their authority. For obvious reasons, the reaction to this British stinginess was severe. An attempt by the Seneca in 1761 to lead an uprising failed when it was discovered by the British during a Detroit meeting with the tribes of the old French alliance. Meanwhile, the British had assumed the French role of mediating intertribal disputes and prevented a war between the Miami, Ottawa, and Potawatomi over western Ohio. There were crop failures and sickness in the Ohio Valley during 1762, and the unrest grew. Many of the Miami accepted the teachings of Neolin, the Delaware Prophet, but they interpreted his message in a gentle way. Perhaps they remembered the British had ended their dispute with the Shawnee when they joined the Pontiac Rebellion against the British in 1763. More likely, they had serious doubts about the chances of Pontiac's success, and after they captured Fort Ouiatenon, the Miami were very careful to insure that no harm befell their British prisoners.

Pontiac failed to take Detroit and, threatened by his own people, abandoned his village and retreated west. The Miami allowed him to settle in northern Indiana but were urging all the while that he come to terms with the British. After meetings at Detroit and Ouiatenon, Pontiac made peace at Detroit in 1765 followed by a second agreement at Fort Oswego (New York) in 1766. However, Pontiac's peace did not extend to his more militant followers. The Kickapoo attacked a British expedition sent to take control of the Illinois country in 1765 but in the process killed three Shawnee chiefs who were part of its escort. The Kickapoo still hated the British, but they did not want a war with the Shawnee and used the Miami to ask the British to mediate and "cover the dead."

Stunned by the scale of the native revolt which captured six of nine forts in the region, the British took measures to end the discontent. Trade goods were restored to previous levels, and the Proclamation of 1763 issued stopping further settlement west of the Appalachians. Feelings were still strong against the British, and Pontiac himself fell victim to these in 1769 when, after an argument, he was murdered by a Peoria at Cahokia (Illinois). Pontiac may have fallen into some disrepute because of his dealings with the British, but he still commanded considerable loyalty within the old French alliance. The Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Ottawa, Winnebago, Fox, Sauk, Kickapoo, and Mascouten all united against the Illinois to avenge his death, and the resulting genocidal war almost destroyed the Illinois. The Miami, however, had made their peace earlier with the Illinois and took no part in this. In the shift of tribal territories following the Pontiac Rebellion, the only change made by the Miami was when the eastern groups abandoned western Ohio to the Shawnee and moved to Indiana.

The Kickapoo occupied much of central Illinois and the lower Wabash Valley after the destruction of the Illinois, and with the Piankashaw and Wea formed a loose, anti-British coalition known as the Wabash tribes. The rest of the Miami, however, were more attached with the Wyandot, Ottawa, and Potawatomi who lived near Detroit. The period of peace after the Pontiac Rebellion was very brief. Within a few years, the British were under heavy pressure from their colonies to rescind the 1763 proclamation and open the Ohio Valley to settlement. American frontiersmen were simply moving in and squatting in defiance of the law. The British could not stop this, but their most serious opposition came from wealthy colonists heavily invested in the Ohio lands claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia. Virginia had chartered the Ohio Company in 1749 with a grant of 500,000 acres. Its investors included, among others, Lawrence Washington whose interest upon his death in 1752 passed to his younger half-brother George.

Threatened with revolt, Sir William Johnson, the British Indian agent for North America (also a land speculator), met with the Iroquois at Fort Stanwix (New York) in 1768 and got them to agree to cede Ohio in order to protect their own homeland. Further treaties were made with the Cherokee in 1774 to extinguish their claims to Kentucky and West Virginia, but no one bothered to consult the Shawnee, Mingo, and Delaware who actually lived there. Their protests to the Iroquois League ignored, the Shawnee made overtures to the Miami, Piankashaw, Wea, Illinois, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Wyandot, Ottawa, Delaware, Mascouten, Ojibwe, Cherokee, and Chickasaw. Meetings were held at the Shawnee villages in 1770 and 1771, but Johnson was able to thwart the formation of an alliance. Meanwhile, the Delaware made plans to leave the disputed area, and in 1770 obtained permission from the Piankashaw to settle in southern Indiana leaving the Shawnee and Mingo to fight the invasion by themselves.

As settlers moved into the area, there were confrontations. After clashes between Virginia surveyors and Shawnee in Kentucky during 1773, frontier vigilantes massacred groups of Shawnee and Mingo near Wheeling, West Virginia, and native retaliation started Lord Dunmore's War (1774). The Shawnee asked the other Ohio Valley tribes for help, but William Johnson kept the Miami, Wyandot, and Detroit tribes out with threats the Iroquois would enter the war on the side of the British. He also prevented the Wabash tribes from helping the Shawnee by invalidating the claims of the Wabash Company to the lower Wabash. The Delaware also chose to remain neutral, and the Shawnee and Mingo were defeated after a furious battle at Point Pleasant (West Virginia) in 1774 and later forced to sign a peace renouncing all their claims to Kentucky.

By the time the Revolutionary War (1775-83) started the following year, American frontiersmen were pouring into Kentucky and western Pennsylvania. The British were well aware one of the main causes of the revolution was the American demand for the Ohio Valley, so they withdrew their garrisons to Detroit and began urging the Ohio tribes to attack the new settlements. Most at first, including the Miami, chose to remain neutral, but the British were successful with the Detroit tribes, Ojibwe, St. Joseph Potawatomi, Chickamauga (Cherokee), Mingo, and part of the Shawnee. Armed by the British, the Chickamauga attacked the Tennessee frontier in 1776 while the Shawnee struck Kentucky. The raids and reprisals by "civilian war parties" quickly grew into a brutal, all-out war between red and white in the Ohio Valley. Ironically, by 1778 the British and Iroquois were both encouraging a war which was the natural result of their self-serving agreement at Fort Stanwix ten-years before.

In the midst of this, the Americans became aware the British had withdrawn, or greatly reduced, their garrisons in the Illinois country. George Rogers Clark, Kentucky land speculator and militia leader, passed this information to Virginia governor Patrick Henry and in January, 1778 received orders to raise a small army to capture it. Clark left Kentucky in May with 200 men and, after winning the allegiance of the French settlers by pointing out that France and the United States were allies, took the British forts at Vincennes (Fort Sackville) and Kaskaskia in August. The British reacted to the loss of the Illinois Country and, with the help of the Detroit tribes, re-occupied Fort Sackville in December. The French at Vincennes switched sides, but Clark recaptured Fort Sackville after a daring mid-winter march across southern Illinois from Kaskaskia achieved complete surprise. Following a brief siege, the British surrendered in February, 1779.

Perhaps thinking the American conquest would restore French rule, the Piankashaw and other Wabash tribes (who had avoided the British since the Pontiac Rebellion) welcomed the Americans and even offered to help Clark retake Vincennes and attack Detroit. Even the Miami, who so far had been mostly neutral in the war, were willing to cooperate. Clark may have been a diplomat winning over the French in Illinois, but he was a warrior when it came to Native Americans. Like most of the Kentucky frontiersmen, he simply hated them, and this became very apparent when he spurned the Piankashaw and Kickapoo offer of assistance and massacred the British native allies taken prisoner at Fort Sackville. If the Miami had any thoughts of joining the Americans, they ended with Clark's insults and heavy-handed brutality. Rather than securing the Ohio Valley for the United States, Clark's victories actually escalated the war west of the Appalachians. By the beginning of 1780, the British were planning a major offensive to seize the entire Mississippi Basin.

In April an expedition left Detroit to attack Kentucky with 600 warriors. Picking up strength from the Miami and Shawnee in western Ohio, it had doubled in size when it reached the Ohio River. During the next three months, it brought unprecedented waves of death and destruction throughout Kentucky before returning to Ohio with 350 American prisoners, mostly women and children. Meanwhile, Spain had entered the war against Great Britain, and the British attacked St. Louis in May with a force of 1,000 Fox, Sauk, Potawatomi, Menominee, and Winnebago. St. Louis held with heavy losses, but the British burned Cahokia before leaving. Clark retaliated by attacking the Shawnee villages on the Mad River in western Ohio in August, and in February, 1781 Spanish soldiers burned the British fort at St. Joseph, Michigan. The Delaware, who had been American allies, joined the British after Daniel Brodhead's Pennsylvania militia destroyed their capital at Coshocton, Ohio. By 1782 no tribe was neutral in the Ohio Valley, and despite the efforts of the French at Vincennes to keep them out, even the Wabash tribes and Peoria (Illinois) had joined the fight against the Americans.

Throughout 1782, the British agent at Detroit, Simon De Peyster, urged the tribes to form an alliance, and to this end, he had mediated disputes between the Miami and Potawatomi; and the Ojibwe and Winnebago, Fox, Sauk, and Menominee. The Revolutionary War ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and George Rogers Clark's victories in Ohio and Illinois had extended the United States border to the Mississippi. The British, however, had made no provision in the treaty to protect their native allies, and this allowed the Americans to treat them as "conquered enemies." The Ohio tribes had never been defeated, but the Iroquois had almost been destroyed in 1779. Retaliating for earlier raids in New York and Pennsylvania, three American armies had invaded the Iroquois homeland and burned 40 villages forcing them to flee to Canada. Immediately after the war, American negotiators, as a condition of peace at the second Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784), forced the Iroquois to cede much of their New York homeland and reconfirm their Ohio cessions in 1768.

The Mohawk of Joseph Brant were conspicuous by their absence at the Fort Stanwix, and remaining in Canada, they were still hostile to the United States. The previous year, De Peyster had brought Brant west for a meeting of the Ohio tribes at Sandusky, and his influence was instrumental in the creation of the formal alliance the British had wanted. Its first council fire was at the Shawnee village of Wakatomica but was moved to Brownstown (south of Detroit) after Wakatomica was burned by the Americans in 1787. Officially, the British told their former allies to cease attacks on American settlements, but they made it quite clear they would be willing to support th with trade and arms against the Americans. Meanwhile, the British used the American failure to pay the claims of British loyalists (Tories) as an excuse to continue to occupy forts on American territory in defiance of the Treaty of Paris.

Despite the ominous signs, there was a lull in the fighting after 1783 during which 12,000 frontiersmen poured across the Ohio River to squat on native lands. Short of civil war, there was little the American military commander, Colonel Josiah Harmar, could do to prevent this. To pay Revolutionary War debts, Congress had already sold land rights to the Ohio Company and John Symmes representing a New Jersey syndicate. The squatters were paying nothing for the lands they were taking, but they hated Native Americans and could very easily start a war. Since it was obvious the Ohio tribes no longer recognized the authority of the Iroquois, the United States needed to reach an agreement with them over its claim to Ohio. Unfortunately, Americans viewed the western alliance as a British plot (true in many ways), and decided they would only negotiate with the individual tribes.

The Treaty of Fort McIntosh (1785) signed with the Wyandot, Delaware, and the Detroit Ottawa, and Ojibwe agreed to the Muskingum River as the frontier between settlement and native lands. A similar agreement was signed the following year with the Shawnee at Fort Finney (Greater Miami Treaty) (1786). The chiefs who signed these treaties, however, did not represent the alliance or sometimes the majority of their own tribes, many of whom were willing to fight for the Ohio River, not the Muskingum, as the boundary. On the other side, the American negotiators signed for a weak government in Philadelphia which could not control the frontiersmen who would not be satisfied until they had the entire Ohio Valley. Treaties and diplomacy soon gave way to violence. The Miami village of Ouiatenon became a important staging point for raids into Kentucky forcing its French inhabitants to evacuate.

At the beginning of 1786, there were 400 American settlers scattered among the French population on the lower Wabash River at Vincennes. In keeping with a long-standing tradition of the frontier economy, they raised corn and converted much of it into whiskey which was sold to anyone willing to pay - including the Piankashaw, Wea, and Kickapoo in the vicinity. After several confrontations over this trade, a war party of 400 to 700 Miami (Wea) arrived in Vincennes and told the French they had come to kill the Americans. The French stalled, and the Americans moved into their forts and sent to Kentucky for help. This was the perfect opportunity for George Rogers Clark, who had been petitioning Congress since 1783 for a war against the Ohio tribes and had volunteered to lead it. Clark arrived at Vincennes in the fall with some hastily recruited Kentucky militia, half of whom immediately deserted when there was no fighting, but Clark kept the others together and sent an expedition to Kaskaskia (Illinois) to arrest a British trader and three Frenchmen as a Spanish agents. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and just as Clark was about to start a major war, Colonel Harmar ordered him to disband and go home.

Many members of the alliance chose to fight American encroachment in 1786 by attacking the settlements north of the Ohio River. At their council that fall, Joseph Brant made a speech which convinced the alliance to demand the Ohio as a boundary. Moderates, however, were able to gain agreement for a temporary truce to allow time for its demands to reach Congress. If there was no reply, raids would resume in the spring. Their timing could not have been worse. The Americans were in the process of recreating their government under a new Constitution, so there was not time for a "minor matter" like peace in Ohio. Congress did not receive the message until July, and the raids had already resumed. During the summer, Benjamin Logan's Kentucky militia retaliated by attacking and burning the Shawnee villages in western Ohio.

The American governor, Arthur St. Clair, made a final attempt to resolve the dispute and in December, 1787 asked the alliance for a conference at Fort Harmar on the falls of Muskingum. The council agreed to meet and decided to settle for the Muskingum as the border, but there was serious disagreement to this decision. Joseph Brant demanded the repudiation of all treaties ceding any part of Ohio and left the meeting in disgust to return to Ontario. The Miami, Kickapoo, and Shawnee were also opposed, but the Wyandot convinced the Delaware and Detroit tribes to attend. With half of the alliance determined to ignore any agreement, the period preceding the peace conference was anything but peaceful. In July Fort Harmar soldiers building the council house for the meeting were attacked by an Ottawa-Ojibwe war party. The Kickapoo ambushed an army convoy bringing supplies to Vincennes at the mouth of the Wabash, and the Miami killed land speculator, John Symmes, while he was exploring the upper Miami River.

The Fort Harmar Treaty (January, 1789) ceded all of Ohio east of Muskingum but was worthless as soon as it was signed. Although the Wabash tribes attempted to make a separate peace with the Americans, they were attacked in the summer of 1789 by Patrick Brown's Kentuckians. The Piankashaw and Vermilion Kickapoo moved west afterwards and got even by raiding American settlements in Illinois. With the Wea, Piankashaw, and Kickapoo on the Wabash River deferring to the leadership of the Miami war chief Michikinikwa (Mischecanocquah "Little Turtle"), militant factions of the Miami and Shawnee established a consensus within the alliance favoring war, and the last hope of a peaceful solution was lost. Realizing the militants had taken control of the alliance, the Americans decided to resolve ownership of Ohio through force. Treaties having failed, they had no other choice - the United States needed the land!

Few Americans realize today, how crucial the conquest of the Ohio Valley was for the survival of the United States in 1790. Enormous Revolutionary War debts made its currency worthless, the new nation was in danger of economic collapse unless these could be paid though the sale of Ohio land. The situation was so critical that a normally ineffective Congress put aside its differences long enough to pass the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 - its only real accomplishment under the Articles of Confederation (established how settlements were organized into territories and subsequently admitted as states). Taking Ohio was also a factor in the American decision to replace the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution. The new central government was then able to create the United States army whose main purpose during its first 100 years was to fight Indians.

Nor was it accidental that the first president was George Washington, a man thrust into history by his efforts to make good on his claims to land in Ohio. After inheriting his half-brother Lawrence's interest in the Ohio Company in 1752, Washington's attempts to force the French out of Ohio started the French and Indian War (the first worldwide conflict), but he ultimately added to his original holdings with grants for service in the Virginia militia during the conflict. The Proclamation of 1763 made his titles worthless, so it is obvious why Washington chose the rebel side in the Revolution. Ineffectual government, afterwards, denied him the fruits of victory after 1783, so Washington took a leading role in writing the new constitution and, as president, directed a war which finally took Ohio. When he died in 1799, George Washington owned 63,000 acres of land. Mount Vernon, his personal estate on the Potomac was large, but the majority of his land was west of the Appalachians in the Ohio Valley.

So the stage was set for Little Turtle's War (1790-94), with both sides facing a situation from which they could neither retreat nor compromise. Meanwhile, the British were gleefully sitting in their forts and supporting the western alliance to keep the Americans out of Ohio. Their aid to the Ohio tribes was entirely self-serving and had nothing to do with defending Native American claims to their land, since the British had never admitted there was such a thing. Despite their protests of needing a native buffer to protect Upper Canada from American expansion or the American failure to pay the Loyalist claims, the British were perfectly aware of the American dilemma, and there is little doubt they fully intended to recover through an economic collapse what they had lost through force of arms during the Revolutionary War.

However, to take Ohio, the Americans first had to create an army, since they had not had one since 1783. All that was immediately available were state militia of questionable leadership and reliability. The new president was too impatient to allow the time needed for this, or perhaps he underestimated his enemy. The alliance was well-armed by the British and could muster 2,000 warriors when required. This made them formidable enough, but they were led by the Miami war chief Little Turtle, the son of a Miami father and Mahican mother, who turned out to be something of a military genius adept in the tactics of allowing an enemy to advance until exposed and vulnerable. The initial American efforts to take Ohio were disasters. Washington ordered Josiah Harmar - a revolutionary soldier known better for his hard-drinking than his skills as an Indian fighter - to destroy the Miami villages on the upper Wabash. On October 22nd, Little Turtle caught Harmar's 300 regulars and 1,200 militia fording the Wabash near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana and sent them back to Fort Washington at Cincinnati with over 200 casualties.

In November Major John Hamtramck attacked the Wabash villages, but this was small compensation for Harmar's debacle. Washington was accustomed to adversity, and after Harmar resigned in March, 1791, he commissioned Arthur St. Clair a major general and commander of the American forces in Ohio with specific instructions to be careful of "surprise." St. Clair, however, was disliked in Kentucky and had trouble recruiting an army. He eventually assembled 2,000 militia at Fort Hamilton (just north of Cincinnati) and moved north in the fall. Despite Washington's warnings, St. Clair was surprised on November 4th near the future site of Fort Recovery, Ohio and almost overrun by Little Turtle's early morning assault of 1,200 warriors. The confused retreat degenerated into a complete rout with the soldiers abandoning their weapons and wounded. The alliance lost 56 warriors in the greatest Native American victory over an American army, while St. Clair lost over 600 killed and 400 wounded from a total force of 2,000. The mouths of the American dead were found later filled with dirt, the only piece of Ohio they would ever get.

When the news reached Washington, he went into a rage. St. Clair resigned from the Army but remained as governor of the Northwest Territory. The Americans could not afford to lose, and when Washington calmed down, he sent "Mad Anthony" Wayne to Ohio. Wayne was neither mad nor rash, but a deliberate and methodical man who soon proved to the alliance that he was going to a more serious threat than his predecessors. Wayne spent almost two years training his "Legion," a large group of disciplined regulars to back the skittish militia. Meanwhile, he began building an extensive supply system of roads and forts aimed directly at the Maumee River villages (Toledo, Ohio) which were the heart of the alliance. The Miami watched his careful preparations and began to call him "Blacksnake," because like the blacksnake (who they considered the wisest of all snakes), Wayne sat quietly and waited for the right moment to strike.

While Wayne prepared, the Americans (worried a military confrontation could lead to war with the British) continued efforts to negotiate a settlement. The Iroquois attempted to mediate the dispute in 1792, but after Little Turtle's easy victories the previous two years, the alliance was in no mood for compromise. Calling the Iroquois "coward red men," they threw the American proposal in the fire, and the representatives of the once powerful Iroquois League were fortunate to leave the meeting with their lives. Two other American peace commissioners, John Hardin and Alexander Trueman, were not so lucky and were murdered by the Shawnee enroute to a conference. The Americans kept trying and in the fall, the council met at Auglaize (Defiance, Ohio) to consider its position for another meeting with the Americans that coming summer. Joseph Brant and the British continued to encourage resistance, but Little Turtle was beginning to have doubts about facing Wayne.

Following the alliance's victories in 1790 and 1791, raids had continued against the settlements, but the "Black Snake" had kept his army intact and refused to scatter it across the frontier in small garrisons. Meanwhile, the alliance was coming undone. An American attack on the Wabash tribes in 1791 had captured a large number of women and children, and the following year the Wea, Piankashaw, and Kickapoo had made peace to get them back. With the Wabash tribes neutral, the Fox and Sauk left the alliance in 1792 because there was not enough food to feed them. Unlike the year before, the American delegation for the peace conference in 1793 arrived safely, mainly because it included Hendrick Aupamut, a Stockbridge Indian with many relatives among the Delaware. The meeting reached an impasse in July and ended without any resolution. In October Wayne received orders to begin his advance into Ohio.

Little Turtle ambushed one of Wayne's supply columns near Ludlow Spring, Ohio, but Wayne was still able to establish himself for the winter at Fort Greenville 80 miles north of Cincinnati. In the spring, the British responded to Wayne's move north by building Fort Miami at the falls of the Maumee River. Many of the alliance tribes took this as a sign of support, but it was a bluff. The British had already decided to reach an accommodation with the Americans rather than risk war. Wayne ignored the new British fort and resumed his advance in July supporting it with a chain of forts extending north from Fort Greenville. Alliance warriors attacked Fort Recovery but failed to capture it. On August 13th, a war council was held on banks of the Maumee. Only the Shawnee, Miami, and Wyandot favored continuing the war. Lacking a consensus, the council asked Joseph Brant to negotiate a truce with the Americans, but he refused and sided with the militants. With reluctance, the alliance decided to fight.

Little Turtle, however, had been among those urging caution and negotiation. Called a coward in the course of the debate, the man who had given the alliance its greatest victories was replaced on the eve of battle. His replacement was the Shawnee war chief, Bluejacket, not the mythical Ottawa Turkey Foot of some accounts. Little Turtle accepted his demotion with grace and continued to support the alliance as the Miami war chief. Estimates of how many warriors Bluejacket actually had when he faced Wayne a week later at Fallen Timbers varies from 700 to 2,000. The hard-fought battle was not really significant from the standpoint of casualties, or the tribes involved, as by what happened afterwards. Driven from the field, the retreating warriors saw the British at Fort Miami close their gates to them rather than risk a fight with the Americans.

Wayne spent the next three days destroying crops and villages in the area and, after marching his Legion to the gates of the British fort, turned around and returned to Fort Defiance on the Auglaize. A month later, he moved into northeastern Indiana, destroyed the Miami villages on the upper Maumee, and built Fort Wayne. Having insured a hungry winter for the alliance, the "Blacksnake" returned to Fort Greenville and waited. In November the Jay Treaty was signed between Great Britain and the United States in which the British, among other things, agreed to finally leave their forts on American territory. Defeated and abandoned by their British allies, the alliance had no choice but to come to terms with the Americans and make peace. In August, 1795 the alliance chiefs signed the Treaty of Fort Greenville ceding all of Ohio except the northwestern part and some of southeastern Indiana. The last battle of the American Revolution was over, and settlers poured into the new lands. Kentucky became a state in 1792; Tennessee in 1796; and Ohio in 1803.

Little Turtle and the Miami had symbolically been the last to sign at the treaty at Greenville and afterwards settled on the upper Wabash southwest of Fort Wayne. Little Turtle established his village on the Eel River, and, as was often the case when dangerous enemies had been defeated, the Americans lionized him. He was given a large house and invited to visit the president. Washington presented him with a sword, and Little Turtle so valued this he was buried with it. Little Turtle reciprocated to all of this adulation by becoming the Miami "peace chief," and as the most prominent former enemy, he became the most prominent peace chief and a strong force supporting the Greenville Treaty and accommodation with the Americans. His opposition, or rather lack of support, was an important reason for the failure of Bluejacket's attempt to bring back the alliance in 1801.

Little Turtle introduced smallpox vaccination among the Miami by allowing his family and himself to be vaccinated first, but his efforts to stop the spread of alcoholism among the Miami failed. The extent of the problem is apparent from Indian Bureau records in which the agent reported in 1847 that, of 286 Miami in Kansas, 165 were "inebriates." Alcohol was a major problem on the frontier for both red and white because it was so widely available. Rather than a conscious plan to destroy Native Americans, "moonshine" was a traditional product of a frontier economy short on cash and lacking the roads needed to move crops to eastern markets. Excess grain was converted into whiskey which was easier to transport, and when the new federal government tried to limit production with taxes, the result was the Whiskey Rebellion during which President George Washington was forced to personally lead troops in 1794 to restore order in western Pennsylvania.

After 1795 the Delaware and some Shawnee left Ohio and settled with Miami permission along the White River in east-central Indiana. While American squatters continued to encroach on native lands beyond the Greenville Treaty line, William Henry Harrison, governor of the Northwest Territory, pressed the peace chiefs to cede more land for settlement. His work was made all the easier by the debts (often for whiskey) which the tribes accumulated with American traders. Needing money to pay these, they sold land, and in a vicious cycle, some of the money received was used to buy more whiskey leading to more debts. After the Kaskaskia (Illinois) ceded most of southern Illinois in 1803, the Piankashaw and Wea also ceded their claims to the area in a treaty signed at Vincennes the following year. Beyond the original 11.8 million acres of Ohio ceded in 1795 at Greenville, within ten years Harrison and other American negotiators had added more than 21 million acres. Especially annoying to the Miami was the selling by the Delaware of some of the Miami's land in southern Indiana.

Utilizing the traditional authority accorded to Miami chiefs, Little Turtle squashed most of the dissent, and the matter was finally resolved by treaties which compensated the Miami for their loss. The land sales added to an already volatile atmosphere of social disintegration fueled by defeat and alcoholism in which peace chiefs were often murdered by their own people. After receiving a religious vision in 1805, Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, began preaching a return to the traditional native values and a rejection of the white man's trade goods, especially whiskey. This in itself would have been good, but Tenskwatawa's brother Tecumshe added a political element of no additional sales of tribal lands placing the religious movement in direct opposition to the peace chiefs and the Americans.

In the spring of 1806, the Prophet's movement got an uneasy start when a series of witch-hunts by his followers in the Delaware and Wyandot villages turned most of these important members of the old alliance against him. However, his reputation grew after he predicted a solar eclipse that summer. Thousands of new followers visited his village, defiantly located on the grounds of deserted Fort Greenville, but with the active opposition of the older peace chiefs (especially Little Turtle), the strongest support for Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh came from the western tribes of the Ohio Valley. The Miami were interested, but Little Turtle's influence over his people kept them away. Tecumseh decided to ignore the peace chiefs and build his own alliance. In May, 1808 Tenskwatawa abandoned Greenville and relocated his capital, with the permission of the Kickapoo and Potawatomi, to Prophetstown on Tippecanoe Creek in western Indiana. The new location was no accident and was intended as a challenge to Little Turtle who lived nearby. In June Tecumseh visited Canada and secured promises of British aid in case of war with the Americans.

Ignoring Tecumseh's demand to stop all land cessions, the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Kaskaskia peace chiefs in September, 1809 sold 3,000,000 acres of southern Indiana and Illinois to the United States at Fort Wayne. Tecumseh was furious, refused to accept the treaty, and threatened the chiefs who signed it with death. In June his Wyandot followers executed the Wyandot chief Leatherlips and brought the calumet and wampum of the old alliance to Prophetstown. The reaction of Little Turtle and the peace chiefs meeting at Brownstown was to condemn the Prophet as a witch. In August Tecumseh met Harrison at Vincennes to protest the Fort Wayne treaty, but the exchange of harsh words almost resulted in a battle. Tecumseh and Harrison met the following summer but accomplished nothing. Afterwards, Tecumseh went south in the fall of 1811 to recruit the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Cherokee to his cause.

During his absence, the Potawatomi attacked American settlements in southern Illinois bringing the frontier to the point of war. Harrison raised an army at Vincennes and, after building Fort Harrison on the treaty line near Terre Haute, marched on Prophetstown in November. Disregarding Tecumseh's instructions to avoid a fight with the Americans while he was gone, Tenskwatawa ordered an attack on Harrison's camp. The Battle of Tippecanoe followed. The Prophet's warriors were finally forced to withdraw, the Americans burned Prophetstown. The defeat was significant, not so much in military terms, but for destroying Tenskwatawa's reputation as a prophet. When Tecumseh returned in January, his hard-won alliance of 3,000 warriors to stop American expansion had fallen apart. By the time war was declared between the United States and Great Britain in June, 1812, Tecumseh had only managed to regain one-third of his original following.

In May Tecumseh met with the alliance chiefs on the Mississinewa River near present-day Peru, Indiana. Little Turtle had grown sick and old by this time, but because of his opposition to Tecumseh, few Miami warriors joined the British. His attitude was shared by Black Hoof's Shawnee, Tahre's Wyandot, and Captain William Anderson's Delaware. Despite this, Tecumseh still had enough followers to raise havoc at the onset of the war. Michilimackinac was captured in July, and the American garrison abandoned Fort Dearborn (Chicago) but was massacred enroute to Detroit. Detroit surrendered in August after the Wyandot at Brownstown joined Tecumseh who was helping with the British siege of the fort. More forts fell or were abandoned, and raids struck American settlements the entire frontier west to Missouri. During a visit to Fort Wayne in July, Little Turtle died at age 70. Without his influence, most of the Miami promptly went over to Tecumseh and sent a war belt to the Delaware asking them to join them. The Delaware, however, chose to remain neutral.

The only bright note for the Americans was in September when the Prophet and his warriors failed to take Fort Harrison defended by Zachary Taylor and 50 regulars. Otherwise, disaster followed disaster. William Henry Harrison was given command of American forces in the Northwest and began to turn the tide. One his first actions was to attack the Miami villages on the Mississinewa to keep them from giving aid to Tecumseh. The Prophet was forced to abandon Prophetstown for a second time and retreated into Canada. In January, 1813 Harrison relocated the Delaware from Indiana to the Shawnee villages at Piqua, Ohio for their "safety." Then he moved his army to the upper Sandusky River in northwest Ohio and built Fort Meigs to protect the American settlements farther south. Two attempts by Tecumseh and the British to take Fort Meigs failed that summer, and after Oliver Perry's naval victory on Lake Erie, Harrison began his advance on Detroit. British resistance crumbled. Detroit fell without a struggle, and Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames in October while covering the British retreat across southern Ontario.

For the most part, native resistance ended with the death of Tecumseh. At the Second Treaty of Greenville (July, 1814), Harrison and the loyal chiefs of the Delaware, Seneca, Shawnee, and Wyandot officially ended hostilities with the Kickapoo, Miami, Ottawa and Potawatomi who had fought for Tecumseh and the British. A separate treaty was signed with the Piankashaw at Portage des Sioux just north of St. Louis a year later. Some of Tecumseh's followers remained in Ontario after the war but, after making peace at Spring Wells (September, 1815), returned to the United States. The War of 1812 ended in a draw between Britain and the United States, but the tribes of the Old Northwest had been decisively defeated. The Americans knew this and were quick to take advantage. After Indiana entered the union as the 19th state in 1816, pressure increased to extinguish the remaining native claims.

The first step was a treaty signed at Fort Harrison in 1816 with the Wea and Kickapoo confirming earlier cessions, but the major losses came two years later. In January, 1818 the Piankashaw confirmed previous treaties and ceded all of their land except for a two square mile (1280 acre) reservation on the Wabash. In October a series of treaties were concluded at St. Marys with the Indiana tribes, with the Delaware ceding all their land in Indiana and agreeing to move to Missouri. In their treaty, the Miami and Wea relinquished almost six million acres to the United States but kept seven reserves totalling almost a million acres in the northern part of the state. At the same time, nineteen Miami chiefs acquired separate sections of land in fee simple. By 1820 the Wea had signed a treaty at Vincennes ceding their Indiana land from the 1818 St. Marys Treaty and agreed to remove to Missouri. The actual move took several years with the last groups of Piankashaw not leaving Illinois until 1828, and some Wea remaining in Indiana until 1832. Ultimately, 150 Piankashaw and 330 Wea were settled on 160,000 acres in southwest Missouri near the Delaware and Kickapoo.

In general, these peoples had usually gotten along, but unfortunately, there was a serious dispute about the murder of six Delaware by Miami warriors in a separate incidents stretching back to 1809. The Delaware demanded payment, but the Miami reminded the Delaware they had allowed them to settle in Indiana after the Fort Greenville Treaty in 1795 (and even sell some of it in 1803) and offered only $500 to "cover the dead." The Delaware took this as an insult, and war between these old friends was averted only when the government intervened in 1827. The matter remained a sore spot between them, but in 1829 the Delaware sold their Missouri lands and moved to a new reserve in eastern Kansas north of the Shawnee. The Wea and Piankashaw followed suit in a treaty signed at Castor Hill (St. Louis) in 1832, but their new lands were south of the Shawnee, and over the years the dispute and near-war was slowly forgotten.

Meanwhile, the Miami lands in Indiana were being lost to treaties, debts, and taxes. Treaties signed in 1826, 1828, and 1838 took portions of their reserves until the final treaty signed at the Forks of the Wabash in 1840 ceded the last 177,000 acres of the big reserve for $550,000 - $325,000 of which was used to pay debts. Except for Meshingomesia's band - whose chief owned the land in fee simple - the Miami agreed to remove to Kansas within five years. On October 7, 1846, 555 Miami left Indiana by canal boat and were settled at the approach of winter along the Marais des Cygnes River in eastern Kansas on land adjoining the Piankashaw, Wea, and Peoria. The 500 to 1,500 Miami who remained in Indiana were heavily intermarried with whites so estimates of their number are difficult. The lands of Meshingomesia's band were divided among the 300 survivors in 1872 and soon lost to land speculators and tax sales. In 1897 the assistant U.S. attorney general terminated the tribal status of the Indian Miami. No explanation for this action was ever given.

Throughout the 1840s, approximately 1,000 Miami lived in eastern Kansas. By 1854 the Wea and Piankashaw had decided to form a single tribe with the 300 Kaskaskia and Peoria which were all that remained of the once-numerous Illinois Confederation. The United States, however, was anxious to open Kansas for settlement to facilitate construction of a transcontinental railroad and wanted to purchase native lands. In June 1854 at Washington, D.C., the Miami and combined Peoria-Miami tribe ceded more than 500,000 acres in exchange for 200 acre individual allotments plus ten sections to be held in common, but no offer of citizenship was made in return for the acceptance of allotment. White settlers flooded into Kansas to determine the question of black slavery with violence, and native lands were fair game for the heavily-armed squatters. The outbreak of the Civil War brought thousands of native refugees to Kansas fleeing the violence in Oklahoma. In the midst of this, Kansas became a state in 1862, and the following year, its legislature asked the federal government to remove Native Americans.

Action on this request had to await the end of the war, but in an omnibus treaty signed in 1867, the Miami and the United Peoria and Miami Tribe (merged group of Peoria, Wea, and Piankashaw), together with the Ottawa, Quapaw, Seneca, Seneca, Wyandot, Delaware and Shawnee, ceded their last Kansas lands and agreed to remove to Oklahoma. They purchased 6,000 acres in the northeast corner of the state in what is now Ottawa County. No sooner had the Miami left Kansas, than white squatters moved into their old lands before they could be auctioned. Army troops had to be used in 1870 to remove them. The Peoria and Miami lands in Oklahoma were allotted in 1893, and the excess given to Ottawa County in 1907. By the 1930s both the Oklahoma and Indiana Miami were completely landless, although the Oklahoma tribe has since acquired 160 acres which are held in trust. The United Peoria were terminated in 1950 but restored to federal status in 1972. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma never lost its federal recognition, something the Indiana Miami have never been able to regain.

First Nations referred to in this Miami History:

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