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United We Stand...

It is said that history is written by the victorious. Most history books teach that America's expansion West was "Manifest Destiny"; that the only outcome for the States was to sweep across the country and claim all of the land from Massachusetts to California. This notion has become fact, but it met with resistance all along the way and that resistance continues to this day. This is the story of such resistance.

The time was 1785, two years after the official end of the American Revolution. The American frontier was located in such states as Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. A group of Native American tribes had united to collectively fight for their land. This group, which became known as the Northwest Indian Confederation, was comprised of many tribes including the Chippewa, Delaware, Iroquois, Miami, Ottowa, Potowatomi, Shawnee and other smaller groups. When they formed between 1785 and 1787, their goal was to reclaim hunting grounds lost to American settlement. Their strategy was to team with the British who continued to hold a military presence on the frontier despite their loss in the American Revolution.

The presence of the Confederation in the frontier regions began to seriously effect trade. President George Washington began to send troops into the region to protect the property of its citizens. Washington's last words to his General were, "General St. Clair, in three words, beware of surprise... again and again, General, beware of surprise." The regiment led by General Arthur St. Clair was sent into Ohio (Which was Indian territory enforced by previous treaty with the U.S.) to attack villages of the Miami, Shawnee and the Delaware. 1400 troops camped along the bank of the Wabash River on the night of November 3, 1791. Just before sunrise 1200 warriors, led by Michikinikwa, Little Turtle, the Miami war chief, attacked the sleeping camp. It was one of the most lopsided battles in American history (More than three times the amount of Americans killed than at Custer's Last Stand). St. Clair lost half of his troops and was forced to flee, leaving cannons, guns and supplies for the Confederation. Little Turtle lost a handful of warriors in the skirmish, which came to be known as St. Clair's Defeat.

The response of the United States was swift and forceful. The region was now in serious danger of being unprotected. The British as well as the French or Spanish could claim the Territory. The U.S. government led by President Washington feared the country would not survive without a strong Western border. Washington decided to send America's most experienced troops to deal with the Northwest Indian Confederation.

President Washington sent General Anthony Wayne (called 'Mad Anthony' for his exploits during the American Revolution) and 1,000 well-trained troops to Ohio and Indiana. The Confederation attacked Wayne and his troops at Fort Recovery in Ohio with 2,000 warriors. They were soundly defeated by Wayne and his seasoned soldiers. Discouraged, Little Turtle resigned his leadership and several tribes quit the Confederation.

Wayne pressed on. He confronted the 1,300 warriors that remained near the British held Fort Wayne in what became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The warriors of the Confederation were quickly defeated and rushed for the promised aid of the British. The British were not ready for another war with America, though. They betrayed the Confederation and would not allow them into the protection of the Fort.

The Confederation was soundly beaten and the British were forced out of their Northwest forts. Little Turtle and other chiefs signed the Treaty of Grenville, which gave the United States most of Ohio and parts of Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. The treaty did not end the resistance, however as not all of the people agreed with the signing of the treaty.

Tecumseh, who became a great leader, stated that the land, like the air and the water, was owned by no one and was held in common by all people. He later formed a larger Confederation which fought fiercely against expansion during the War of 1812. His story is one of many that demonstrate that people fought American Expansion, often with justice on their side. That resistance continues today, as Native American Sovereignty is still an issue in elections and in treaties with the United States.

The Team


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - Three wars, thousands of troops and 100 utterly unconquerable Seminoles
Nick - A warrior, a prophet and a general unravel the Creek nation
Stephanie - Sequoyah's talking leaves, or how the Cherokees took back their voices
Nick - Let's lose Chief Win 'Em All
Nick -- Still walkin' the Trail of Tears