The 2018 Road, Day 9, Part 2: Tenkswatewa’s Bequest

June 4-5, 2018, Prophetstown State Park, IN-

I spent the day and night here at this underrated, but magnificent little Indiana state park.  The weather was just right, and I actually avoided the storm system which passed to the north of us, then, unfortunately, went southeast and wreaked havoc on eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

Prophetstown was a settlement of Wea people, who were part of the Miami Nation, with several French and British traders living among them, in the period immediately following the end of the American Revolution.  The Europeans exercised some influence over Tenkswatewa (popularly known as The Prophet), the spiritual leader of the Wea, and his brother Tecumseh, who was the Wea’s military and political leader.

The settlement was closely monitored by American forces, led by General William Henry Harrison, a native of Virginia, who had interests in American expansion into Indiana and Illinois.  In 1811, tensions were again mounting between the United States and the United Kingdom, basically over the rights to these very territories. The British, in what is now Michigan-and Canada-, were feeling boxed in, by the fact of the Louisiana Purchase.  American fur, and other agricultural, interests were pushing hard for a westward land link to Louisiana Territory.  As always, the indigenous people were caught in the middle.  Tecumseh and Tenkswatewa thought their lot lie with the British, so they held firm against any American approaches.  The upshot was that, on November 7, 1811, Harrison’s troops retaliated for what turned out to be a contrived, British-led attack on American settlers and attacked Prophetstown.  They found one old Wea woman there, and after moving her to a safe location, the American troops burned Prophetstown.  This was one precursor to the War of 1812.

Without further ado, some photos of the park, as it exists today.  Both Wea and more contemporary American buildings are preserved here.  The Wea structures shown are the chief’s house and the Longhouse, or Council House.

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Those who have followed this blog, for several years, may recognize a resemblance between this longhouse and that at Mission San Luis, in Tallahassee.  There was, in fact, much communication and trade between the nations of the Southeast and those of the Midwest, as well as with other regions.

Below, is a model of the village of Prophetstown, in miniature.

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Below, is one of several units for fur traders.

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Between the indigenous and white settlements, a section of short grass prairie is preserved.

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The next few scenes are those of the familiar Midwest farm settlement.

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Below, is a mound, possibly a burial mound similar to those found across the Midwest-such as the ones found near Chillicothe, Ohio and Cahokia, Illinois.

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Western Indiana is one of the areas where tall forest meets prairie.

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So, there is the background for tomorrow’s post:  The Battle of Tippecanoe, whose site I will visit, then.

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