meekaalankwiki mihši-maalhsa – mikaalitioni taawaawa siipionki
Mihši-maalhsa Wars Part IV- The Battle of the Taawaawa Siipiiwi

This article is the fourth of a five-part series on the history of our wars with the Mihši-maalhsa ‘Americans,’ which occurred from 1778-1794 and from 1812-1814. This fourth article focuses on the Battle of the Taawaawa Siipiiwi ‘Maumee River,’ also known as Fallen Timbers. If you want to hear the pronunciation of the Myaamia terms in this article, please visit our online dictionary –

In our last article on the Mihši-maalhsa Wars we looked at the Battle of the Wabash, also known as St. Clair’s Defeat. This battle was a near catastrophic disaster for the still very young United States, but the victory did not leave the allied villages of the Taawaawa Siipiiwi in a very strong position.[1] The British still refused to commit troops and especially artillery to aid the allies. More importantly, poor harvests in the summer of 1791 and floods in the fall of that same year left the allied villages in a terrible state. They struggled to provide enough calories after their crops had been destroyed by U.S. forces under Harmar in 1790. Furthermore, the continued presence of a large concentration of men from communities throughout the Great Lakes only further strained the limited agricultural stores and forced hunters to go farther from the Taawaawa Siipiiwi in order to bring in enough game.

In the fall of 1791, following the victory at the Battle of the Wabash, the Taawaawa Siipiiwi alliance held a council. They wanted to meet before all the villages temporarily split up into their winter hunting camps. During the council there was an active and lively debate over whether to continue to pursue the path of war against the Mihši-maalhsa or to use the recent victory over the U.S. Army as an opportunity to negotiate peace from a position of relative strength. The records of the council do not make clear what side Myaamia leaders took in this debate, but it seems that around the time of this council they became divided on whether to pursue peace or continue the war.[2]

The years of disruption and warfare were beginning to take their toll on Myaamia villages. The fall harvest in 1790 was destroyed by Harmar’s invasion and the following year’s crop was poor due to weather. As a result, in the winter of 1791-92, the tribes of the Taawaawa Siipiiwi alliance were reduced to begging for food from the British. Within Myaamia villages, some were beginning to wonder whether their communities could continue to sustain a seemingly never-ending conflict.

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by John Bickers and George Ironstrack

This post is the first in a new series of articles touching on Myaamia kinship and genealogy. It is the hope of the authors that Myaamia community members will be interested to learn more about how our Myaamia families are interrelated. Additionally, we hope that community members will request future posts covering the genealogy of different branches of our big Myaamia family.

In the winter of 1790-91, a British man by the name of Henry Hay came to stay at Kiihkayonki (Ft. Wayne). He spent the winter visiting with British and French traders and with nearly all the key Myaamia leaders of the era: Mihšihkinaahkwa (Little Turtle), Le Gris, Moohswa, Pinšiwa (J.B. Richardville), and Tahkamwa (Marie Louisa Richardville). Hay kept a very detailed journal, and this record provides rare tidbits of information about Tahkamwa, a very influential akimaahkwia (female civil chief).[1]

In their writings, Euro-American men rarely focused their attention on Myaamia women. Every village had female civil leaders, female war leaders, and women’s councils, but they rarely interacted with Euro-American men, except for those who married into the community. In Myaamia villages, face-to-face diplomacy was the responsibility of male leaders. However, Tahkamwa provides us with a rare example of an akimaahkwia who actively participated in her village’s public council sessions and who interacted with Euro-American men in a political environment. Her unique role was partly a result of her personal stature, knowledge, experience, and influence within her community. Her role was also partly the result of the absence of her brother Pakaana, the acknowledged akima (male civil leader) of Kiihkayonki. At the time of Hay’s visit, Pakaana was in the south on the Mihšisiipi (Mississippi River) negotiating with the Iihpaawala (Spanish) and hunting.[2]

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Over time, Myaamia people have lived in a wide variety dwelling types. The traditional home of the Myaamia is called wiikiaami (click to hear pronuncation).  A wiikiaami is a domed structure that could be covered in cattail reed mats or bark depending on the season. Often these were also lined with bulrush mats, which were decorated. The layers of mats created an insulated space, which kept these dwellings warm and dry. Wiikiaami is often called a wigwam in English. Today, wiikiaami is a word that Myaamia people can use for any house or dwelling.

kiikapwa wiikiaami

This Kickapoo wiikiaami is like those still built by Myaamia people. The image shows the layers of cattail mats used to keep homes warm and dry.

wiikiaami 2011

This wiikiaami was built by Myaamia people as a part of the Eewansaapita youth program in 2011. The cattail mats were provided by Dani Tippman. The group did not have enough to cover the roof, so a canvas tarp was used instead.

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The Good Path: Part II

August 27, 2012

aapooši peehkihkanaweeyankwi
Again we Travel a Good Path – Part II (1752-1780)

In our last post we examined the history of the Myaamia village of Pinkwaawilenionki, also known as Pickawillany, and the brief period of instability that centered on the creation and destruction of this Myaamia village on the Great Miami River (1747-1752).[1]  Following the collapse of this village, Myaamia communities returned to the relative stability that developed after the conclusion of the Beaver Wars.  Once again, villages could govern themselves by utilizing Myaamia knowledge, values, and beliefs to inform the multiple compromises that maintained good relations inside a village as well as with their neighbors both near and far.  Once again, no group – European or indigenous – had the power to force their beliefs or ways onto Myaamia people.[2]  No group had the power to force Myaamia people to leave their villages, and for the most part, Myaamia people could travel unimpeded throughout Myaamionki (the place of the Myaamia, our homelands).  However, just as before the Beaver Wars, travelers still had to respect their neighbors’ homes and resources, and Myaamia people still had to fear attacks from enemy groups as well as the outbreaks of disease epidemics, like measles and small pox.

In this period, Myaamia people were again able to live and change according to their own habits, practices, and beliefs.  In “Again We Travel a Good Path – Part I” we looked at how Myaamia people established relations with the French through intermarriage and exchange or trade.  In Part II we will look with more depth at the role of Myaamia mitemhsaki (women) in maintaining a healthy village and in guiding the changes villages had to continually make in order to thrive.

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Was “Aquenackwe” Little Turtle’s Father?

Was “Aquenackwe” Little Turtle’s father?  Probably not.  Like many Myaamia (Miami) children, I grew up with stories of family genealogy.  One common story that I heard was that my family descended from Little Turtle’s sister, Tahkamwa (Maria Louisa Richardville).  In family genealogies, Little Turtle and Tahkamwa’s father was always listed as “Aquenackwe” or “Aquenackqua” sometimes with the English “The Turtle.”  Later in life, as I began learn to speak our heritage language and started to investigate historical documents for myself, I learned how much confusion there was around this name and how small mistakes, made by amateur American historians, spread this confusion far and wide.

The confusion began in the late 1800s, as early midwestern historians misread an already poorly recorded version of the name Mihšihkinaahkwa.  Through a series of errors in hearing and writing, this common Myaamia name was replaced by “Aquenackwe” in the historical record.  This elder Mihšihkinaahkwa was born sometime in the early 1700s and died sometime in the mid to late 1700s.  The younger Mihšihkinaahkwa, who would become famous as the Myaamia war leader called “Little Turtle,” was born around 1750 and died in 1812.  These two men may have been father and son, but there is substantial doubt around that point as well.  The story of how the name of the elder Mihšihkinaahkwa became confused as “Aquenackwe” is an interesting one that shines a light on the difficulties that historians have had understanding Myaamia names and kinship.

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