Collection: The home of Little Turtle

Little Turtle at the Treaty of Greenville

During the summer of 1795 Gen. Wayne met the Indians in a great peace council at Fort Greenville. Several hundred Indians from many tribes, led by their greatest chiefs, were present. But the greatest of all these chiefs was Little Turtle, the Eel River Miami Indian. Most eloquently and fervently did he plead the cause of his people. When it became apparent that Gen. Wayne would demand the cession to the United States of much of the present state of Ohio, Little Turtle made this memorable speech: “The prints of my ancestors’ houses are everywhere to be seen in this region. It is well known to all my brothers present that my forefathers kindled the first fire at Detroit; from thence he extended his line to the headwaters of the Scioto; from thence to its mouth; from thence down the Ohio to the mouth of the Wabash and from thence to Lake Michigan. I have now informed you of the boundaries of the Miami nation where the Great Spirit placed my forefathers a long time ago and charged him not to sell or part with his lands but to preserve them to his posterity. This charge has now been handed down to me.” No one can read this passionate appeal without high regard for this Indian who with patriotism for the land of his fathers had done his best...

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Indian Villages in the Eel River Valley

Here we must pause to note a difference of opinion as to the exact location of the Turtle’s Village. Calvin Young in his very interesting book on Little Turtle has attempted to show that this village was in the northeast part of Whitley county, northwest of Blue River Lake, where Blue River divides that lake from what is known as Little Devil’s Lake. He produces good evidence to show that there was an ancient Indian village on that favorable spot. Blue River is a tributary of Eel River and that would harmonize the many references about the Turtle Village...

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Eel River Trail and Portage

The purpose of this booklet, however, is not to revive a forgotten Indian name but to remind the readers of much history and many events of their own communities before the coming of the white man. It is only one hundred years since white men and women began to settle along Eel River. But generations, yes centuries before this time human beings lived along Eel River. Yes more than a century before permanent white settlements began, French and British traders were carrying on an extensive trade with the Indians, and Eel River, the Kenapocomoco, was a great highway of trade and travel. Then when the determined conflict began between the Americans and the Indians for the possession of the great Northwest Territory, the Kenapocomoco furnished a stage and many characters for this great drama. On its banks at least four battles were fought. Eel River villages and Eel River Indians furnished many warriors for this great conflict and produced the greatest Indian chief of their race, Me she kin no quah, the Little Turtle. The Eel River Trail and Portage One hundred fifty years ago the most important Indian center in the great Northwest Territory was Ke ki on ga, where Fort Wayne now stands. It had a most commanding location where the St. Joseph and the St. Marys rivers unite to form the Maumee. Here the Indians of...

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We have yet to deal with some very important history on the lower course of the Kenapocomoco. Seven miles above the mouth of Eel River about half way between the villages of Hoover and Adamsboro there existed for a century or more one of the most important Miami Indian towns in Indiana. Its Indian name was Kena-pe-com-a-qua, which the reader will recognize as one form of our word Kenapocomoco, or Eel. When it was founded we do not know. The early settlers of Kentucky and southern Indiana knew of it as the place from which marauding bands of Indians would descend upon the frontier settlements. Many unfortunate white captives were brought to this place and burned at the stake. The early Americans learned to know this place as one of the largest and most dangerous Indian settlements in the Northwest. So great became the ravages that it was decided that something must be done. In 1790 a Frenchman, Antoine Gamelin, was sent from Vincennes to visit the Indian country and see what could be done to make for peace. He visited Kenapecomaqua on April 18, 1790. While he was received friendly yet he could accomplish nothing. He learned that the warriors here were up in arms and that this was a gathering place for warriors from farther north who were on their way south to attack white settlements. Gamelin...

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Little Turtle as a Traveler

Little Turtle was really a great traveler for that day. Before he made peace with the white man he was familiar with every Indian trail in the Northwest Territory. From his home here on Eel River he made trips to almost every important Indian village. lie had gone as far northeast as Montreal and as far south as New Orleans. Beginning with the treaty of Greenville in 1795 he attended most all of the treaty meetings during the next fifteen years. He visited the capitals of Ohio and Kentucky and made at least three visits to the national capital. Shortly after the treaty of Greenville, Little Turtle visited the national capital which was then at Philadelphia. Here he met President Washington himself who presented him with a handsome sword in recognition of his great genius and the high esteem in which he was regarded by the leading Americans of that day. President Washington also presented him with one of the best guns to be had at that time. Little Turtle prized this very much for he was fond of hunting. While on his visit to Philadelphia he had many unique experiences. Here he met the philosopher, Volney, with whom he had many conversations. Here too he met the famous general, Kosciusko, who presented him with a brace of pistols and an elegant robe made of otter skin, worth several...

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