Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Great Battle


The marker, erected in 1925, says "Site of Legendary Battle between the Shawnee and Federated Indian Tribes in 1802". The "Federated Indian Tribes" refers to Anishinaabe, People of the Three Fires, in this area primarily the Potawatomi, who were pushed out of the general Detroit area by the Iroquois in the 1600s and 1700s. The story of this battle was remembered through oral tradition and only written down much later. It was a running battle, following the river routes from what is now the center of town up the Portage River banks. Generations of settlers found weapons and remnants of battle as they built homes and farms in the area.

The point of the battle is believed to be an expansion attempt by peoples from the Washbash valley in what is now Indiana into the Potawatomi's farmland and hunting land. Although the story of this particular battle was not recorded by any European or US historian of the time, the story continues to be known locally.

The oral history of this battle was collected and written down by Flavius Josephus Littlejohn, who was not an anthropologist but was himself a popular storyteller, in the late 1800s. His book, "Legends of Michigan and the Old Northwest", was described by historian Sue Stillman as "A white man's attempt at an Indian's style of oratory and story telling." It is assumed that he added his own decorative details to the story of the Three Rivers battle.

2 comments:

Someone's Mom said...

Interesting. I love blogging, look at all we learn.

Sue

In Three Rivers, Michigan said...

Yes, that's another thing about the midwest - just when you start to think it is boring, all this deep history starts showing up.