- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2016

BATTLE GROUND, Ind. (AP) - In 1908, an 85-foot marble obelisk went up at Tippecanoe Battlefield. Dressed in military uniform, a stone statue of William Henry Harrison looks out across the wooded field where his forces clashed with Tecumseh’s Confederacy in 1811.

“Erected jointly by the Nation and the State, in memory of the heroes who lost their lives in the Battle of Tippecanoe,” one of the monument’s plaques said.

Other plaques at the base of the obelisk list names of those who died in Harrison’s troops - distinguishing between officers and privates. The pan-Native American forces that opposed Harrison receive a passing reference outlining casualty figures for the belligerents.

“There is certainly not an obelisk dedicated to the native people that fell there,” said Second Chief Ben Barnes of the Shawnee Tribe.

But the tribes of Prophetstown will have their own dedicated site - the Circle of Stones - commemorating what was lost.

Located in the northeast of the park near the observation deck and basketball court, the circle includes a number of stones bearing plaques representing the known Native American tribes that lived at Prophetstown: Ojibwe, Delaware, Kickapoo, Miami, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Wea, Wyandot, Winnebago, Fox, Sac, Creek and Menominee.

Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa - also known as The Prophet - had built a religious movement centered around pan-Native American unity and a return to a traditional way of life, said Adam Jortner, an associate professor in history at Auburn University. Jortner wrote “The Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier.”

Tenskwatawa also preached that Native Americans couldn’t sell land, viewing land as a natural resource held in common by all Native Americans, rather than a marketable commodity.

“Prophetstown is, I think, an attempt to create a capital for this new unit,” Jortner said.

But Harrison, while governor of the Indiana Territory, had his own objectives.

“Harrison has a goal to make Indiana a state, not a territory,” Jortner said. “Prophetstown is essentially in his way.”

In 1811, Harrison led a group to force the native people from Prophetstown. After the Battle of Tippecanoe, he marched his force there and razed it.

The destruction of Prophetstown would not be the end of hostilities between the Native Americans and U.S. settlers. The Battle of Tippecanoe precipitated the War of 1812, which would pit the U.S. government against many of the tribes in the old northwest territory, Jortner said.

The Battle of Tippecanoe also marked a turning point in Native American removal policies in the U.S. Before Harrison’s mission, authorities in the U.S. had mostly tried to negotiate for chunks of native land, Jortner said. After the Battle of Tippecanoe, the U.S. government would escalate to claiming all native land, and forcibly removing the tribes that lived there, he said.

The Circle of Stones will have an additional marker to represent any tribe whose participation in the events was lost to history. Outside of the ring, another plaque will present a brief message from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. All the stones came from within Prophetstown State Park. The site is ADA accessible.

Angie Manuel, interpretive naturalist at Prophetstown, said the site is neither a monument nor a memorial.

“We don’t want to label it a memorial because it’s more than that,” Manuel said. “For most people, it’s going to be a learning opportunity.”

Prophetstown State Park will hold a grand opening at 11 a.m. Nov. 4. DNR staff, local elected officials and representatives of Native American nations will attend.

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Source: (Lafayette) Journal & Courier, https://on.jconline.com/2ewsdNY

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Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com


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