October 18, 1846 The First Death
Content Warning: This post discusses the death of a child.
Despite Removal Agent Joseph Sinclair’s earlier report that those who had been sick were recovering, today on the Mihsi-Siipiiwi ‘Mississippi River,’ Myaamiaki aboard the steamboat Colorado experienced the first death of the journey, a piloohsa ‘infant’ from Waawiyaasita’s band. In the September blog post, we saw that members of Waawiyaasita’s band had fled north towards the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi in Michigan as soon as they heard that soldiers were coming to force them to remove. Not everyone from that band fled, however, as evidenced by the presence of this piloohsa.
Although the historical record does not mention either of the child’s parents, it is easy to imagine that the mother of this infant was with her piloohsa when the child died.
As that Waawiyaasita mother was sitting on a deck of the steamboat, holding her dead piloohsa in her arms, she must have wondered if her child might have survived had they fled north with the others from the Waawiyaasita band, instead of getting on the boats.
Whatever her thoughts, this mother was on the Colorado holding her dead baby, waiting for the next stop where she could bury her piloohsa. As we will see in the next blog post on October 20, that next stop is at St. Louis.
Post written by Diane Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. Diane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.