It is appropriate to mark, on this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, that this year marks the 180th anniversary of the removal of the Potawatomi from Marshall county in what became known as the Trail of Death. This article from the 1838 Richmond, Indiana, Richmond Weekly Palladium demonstrates that there were differing opinions on the humanity of the matter from the beginning.
The few Indians in German township were peaceably bought out and moved west before the township was settled, but there remained near Plymouth a band led by Chief Menominee.
In 1836, the “Treaty of Yellow River” ceded the Chief Menominee band’s reservation in Marshall county to the federal government. This was part of Col. Abel C Pepper’s series of nine suspicious treaties that the Indians protested had been falsified. When tensions rose between the Indians and white settlers, Father Louis Deseille, a Catholic missionary, sided with the Potawatomi and was ordered by Pepper back to South Bend under threat of arrest.
When the deadline passed, Indiana governor David Wallace authorized general and sitting US Sentator John Tipton to remove the Potawatomi to Kansas at gunpoint. In September 1838, Menominee’s band of 859 were surprised at their village at Twin Lakes, southwest of Plymouth. Tipton and his 100 volunteers burned the village and crops and forced the Indians to ride and march 660 miles in heavy heat to what is today Osawatomie, Kansas. Deseille’s replacement, Father Benjamin Petit, caught up with them at Danville, Illinois.
The journey to Kansas took 61 days, during which 42 members of the tribe died—most of them children and mostly of typhoid fever—and 61 escaped. Father Petit took ill and died on the return trip at age 27.
In 1841, Chief Menominee died. In 1861, the band was offered land and citizenship in Oklahoma. The county and town of Tipton were named after John Tipton.
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