Content Warning: This post discusses specific names of Myaamia people impacted by Removal. It is possible that you may have a personal connection with some of those individuals.
In the previous blog post, we saw that our efforts to delay Removal frustrated the Removal contractors, leading them to threaten us with military force. By the end of September 1846, U.S. Army troops had arrived at Peru to force us to remove. We also saw that the arrival of the soldiers caused some Myaamiaki to flee north to seek refuge with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.
During the first days of October 1846, the Removal contractor Alexis Coquillard, accompanied by men he had hired and by the U.S. Army troops, went out to Myaamia villages to force Myaamiaki to leave our homes and go to a prison camp at Iihkipihsinonki ‘Peru, Indiana.’
Coquillard hired Elias Murray and Zenus Henderson, a speaker of Myaamiaataweenki ‘the Miami language,’ to “assemble the Raccoon Party,” and took them to Iihkipihsinonki. The Raccoon party included the relatives of previously-deceased Waapeehsipana, uncle of Principal Chief Toohpia ‘Francis LaFontaine.’ As Toohpia was the husband of Pakankihkwa ‘Catherine Richardville,’ daughter of Pinšiwa ‘JB Richardville,’ the two of them and their children were exempted from Removal. Toohpia’s other relatives were not exempted and were captured by the Removal agents. (See the July 2, 2021 blog post for additional information about exemptions from Removal.)
Murray then captured other Myaamiaki from the Waapaahšiiki Siipiiwi ‘Wabash River’ and the Pwaawikamisiipi ‘Little Wabash River.’ The confluence of these two rivers is known as the Forks of the Wabash at Wiipicahkionki ‘Huntington, Indiana,’ where the 1840 Removal treaty was signed. Murray dispatched others to northern Whitley County to capture Waawiyaasita’s band, but as noted in the previous blog post, most of that band had already fled further north toward Michigan.
Elias Murray dispatched his son Julius Murray and Joseph Roubidoux, their interpreter, to capture Mihtekwahkia’s ‘Coesse’s’ village. Roubidoux was a descendant of Myaamia akimaahkwia ‘female chief’ Tahkamwa and a speaker of Myaamiaataweenki. Elias Murray reported, “They brought in a considerable number from [Mihtekwahkia’s] village.” There they were informed by Tawtaw* that Waawiyaasita’s party had fled north. Murray and Roubidoux brought in everyone from Mihtekwahkia’s village, except Mihtekwahkia’s wife and her sister, who refused to accompany them until they heard from the Chief Mihtekwahkia, who was already at Iihkipihsinonki.
These are only a few examples of the capture and forced Removal of Myaamiaki from their homes. Within the first five days of October, more than 300 Myaamiaki were captured and held at Coquillard’s Removal camp at Iihkipihsinonki.
In the next installment, to be posted on October 5, we will continue to follow this story of the Myaamia Forced Removal.
* This name was poorly recorded, and as a result, we do not know what it means or how to spell it using the modern spelling system.
This early map of Iihkipihsinonki ‘Peru, Indiana’ shows the Wabash & Erie Canal just to the north of the Waapaahšiiki Siipiiwi ‘Wabash River.’ The red dot identifies the location of the Removal camp where Myaamaki were held until they were loaded onto canal boats. Map image courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. https://www.loc.gov/item/73693386/
Post written by Diane Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. Diane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.