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Native Americans





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Source:  Helm, History of Cass County (1886), pp. 252-255:

The Miamis – At an early period in the history of the Algonquin family, while it inhabited the region of the northern lakes and before the general dispersion of the tribes, the Miamis were recognized, not so much by a distinct name, in the sense of a specific division, as by particularities of manner and habit, or otherwise, from location. Then, in common with the Ottawas and adjacent bands, their chief occupation appears to have been fur-gathering, for they were hunters and trappers, and had acquired considerable notoriety in that particular calling. From the contiguity of their location and similarity of habit with the Ottawas, as separate bands, they were probably distinguished by the appellation of Touatouas, or ‘Twa-twas, indicating that they were of the hunters, or were hunters, the Ottawas being especially known by that name, from which the modification of the term derives its significance. The tribal relation was not recognized until the severance from the parent stock was consummated. This probably did not take place prior to the year 1600, since nothing is heard of them for a number of years after that time. Having separated themselves, however, they located somewhere to the southward of Lake Nipissing, or on the peninsula east of Lake Michigan. Here they aptness in catching the beaver and other fur-bearing animals of the higher grades insured their early acquaintance with traders of the class that traversed the country. The strifes incident to competition in trade, and the jealousies engendered thereby in the end, induced a resort to every species of chicanery consistent with securing a good trade. They were designated first, by the English traders and others, as Twightwees, or Twig-twees. Later, through the agency of these deceptions, practiced by the English no doubt to offset the superior diplomacy of the French, the name became obnoxious. At this junction, the French, to maintain the ascendant and secure their confidence thereafter, called them M’ Amis (Miamis) – my friends – significant of the confidential relationship existing between them. The general correctness of this version of the incidents connected with the name of this ancient tribe has, in addition to its probability, the acceptance, in substance, at least, of some old writers whose statements are every way worthy of credence.

The first historical account we have of this tribe was in the year 1669, in the vicinity of Green Bay, where they were visited by the French missionary, Father Allouez, and subsequently by Father Dablon. It is stated that from Green Bay they passed to the south of Lake Michigan, in the vicinity of Chicago. At a later date they settled on the St. Joseph’s, of Lake Michigan, and established there a village; another on the river Miami of Lake Erie (Ke-ki-ong-a), now Fort Wayne), and a third on the Wabash (Ouiatenon, on the Wea Plains, a few miles below La Fayette, Ind.). Charlevoix says that these villages were established as early as 1670, for at that date the Miamis had been in possession, occupying the territory surrounding, for many years anterior thereto. A portion of them remained at Detroit and above that point until near the close of the seventeenth century, when they were induced to emigrate southward and join the other Miamis in the southern part of the Michigan Peninsula. During the major part of the latter half of that century they had been and were in alliance with the French, and through their instrumentality the principal settlements of them were made in northern Indiana and Illinois. French missionaries were among them at those several villages as early as 1670-79, as we find from the records of the Jesuit priests, who were themselves familiar with the facts stated. Simultaneous with or prior to the visitation of these points by the priests, rude forts had been erected by the authorities of the French Government, for the protection of trade and the maintenance of their supremacy over these, their Indian allies. One of these forts had been erected at the instance of Sieur de La Salle, at Ke-ki-ong-a, in 1669 or 1670, and in 1679, after his plans had been interfered with at Kekionga, by war parties of the Iroquois passing that way, and another at the mouth of St. Joseph’s, of Lake Michigan. Within about the same period, the exact date of which does not now appear, a similar fort or post was erected and maintained at Ouiatenon – all within the jurisdiction of New France, and within the region occupied by the Miamis.

At a very early period, but just at what time is not now to be ascertained, the Miamis, because of their extensive dominion, power and influence, and of the numerous consanguinous branches acknowledging their relationship, came to be known as the Miami Confederacy. In 1765 the confederacy was composed of the following branches, with the number of warriors belonging to each:  The Twightwees, at the head of the Maumee River, with 250 available warriors; the Ouiatenons, in the vicinity of Post Ouiatenon, on the Wabash, with 300 warriors; the Piankeshaws, on the Vermillion River, with 300 warriors; and the Shockeys, on the territory lying on the Wabash, between Vincennes and Post Ouiatenon, with 200 warriors. At an earlier date, perhaps, the Miamis, with their confederates, were able to muster a much more formidable force, as the citation from the history of the
Five Nations would seem to show.

From what has already been shown concerning the extent of territory claimed by and conceded to belong to the Miamis, it will appear that the lands in Cass and adjoining counties came into possession of the United States Government through the agency of treaties with that nation, an account of which will elsewhere appear, notwithstanding the fact that there was a show of title in the Pottawatomies, who, by sufferance, had been permitted to exercise rights of possession over a portion of these lands, which was ceded by them to the United States, subject to the higher claim of the Miamis. The Great Miami Reserve, so called, lying south of the Wabash River and east of a line running due south from a point opposite the mouth of Eel River, and extending east through Cass, Miami and Wabash, including a portion of Grant County, was the last of their extensive possessions in the State of Indiana, to which they yielded their ancient right. They dwelt in permanent villages, thus indicating a higher civilization than that of the nomadic tribes of the farther West. For this purpose they selected the most beautiful sites on the banks of rivers and small streams. While their principal sustenance was derived from hunting and fishing, their selections for village sites and their treaty reservations, whether of large or small tracts, are, proverbially, the very best lands for agricultural purposes. They were a war-like tribe, and were allies of England in the wars between that country and this. Their chiefs were able leaders, the most conspicuous of whom, as a statesman and warrior, was Little Turtle. Their prowess in the field is historical under the leadership of this celebrated chief, who, as commander of the allied Indian forces, defeated Gen. Harmar October 19, 1790, and Gen. St. Clair November 1, 1791, the most disastrous reverses suffered by the whites at the hands of the Indians.

And not less conspicuous is the war-like character they sustained in their defeat by Gen. Wayne at the battle of Fort Wayne, August 20, 1794; by Gen. Harrison at the battle of Tippecanoe, November 7, 1811; and by Col. Campbell on the Mississinewa, in December, 1812. Francis Godfroy, Lewis Godfroy, his brother, and Shap-pa-can-nah, or Deaf Man, were noted war chiefs, and participated in the battles.