Piankashaw Locations (ca. 1783-ca. 1795), pp. 136-145
power of the United States, and gave them provisions, whisky, and some presents. The Indians for their part, expressed their friendship for the United States; most of them left the conference on September 12th "highly satisfied with the treatment they received." (Harmar, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 51-52, see also Denny, Dft. Ex. A-36, pp. 309-311; Buell, D M . Ex. A-35, pp. 156-157) One jarring note in the conference was the arrival on September 11 of news of an Indian attack near the forks of White River on 15 men on their way from Vincennes to the Falls of the Ohio which, in Denny's words, "had like to have frightened off all the Indians who had been invited" to the meeting at Vincennes. (Denny, Dft. Ex. A-36, p. 311) The attacking Indians were not identified. This incident illustrates the fragile nature of peaceful coexistence of the frontiersmen and the Indians.
Before Harmar left Vincennes on October 1 for winter quarters he established a permanent military post there, leaving one of his officers, Major John Francis Hamtramck, in command with 95 men. (Harmar, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 53-54) It is mainly through Hamtramck's reports to Harmar that we learn of the activities of the Piankashaw and other Indians on the lower Wabash River for the next several years.
Among the instructions that the newly appointed Governor of the Northwest Territory, (U. S. Continental Congress, Dft. Ex. A-29, pp. 610, 686) General Arthur St. Clair, received in October 1787 was an injunction to ''examine into the real temper" of the Indian groups in the Northern Department (including Piankashaws), to try to reach peaceful settlements with them, to try to make friends of all the
influential Indians, to obtain, if possible, additional lands, and to make the Whites respect Indian boundaries. (Thomson, Dft. Ex. A-16, pp. 78-79) St. Clair was authorized to hold a treaty with the Indians if he judged it to be necessary. (Idem; see also U. S. Continental Congress, Dft. Ex. A-16, p. 77)
By November 1787 there had already been talk in the west of a general Indian treaty which was to be held at Fort Pitt and Hamtramck, at Vincennes, sent a messenger at Harmar's request to inform the "Wabash Indians" about it. (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 45, 60) These "Wabash Indians" accepted the wampum Hamtramck sent along to confirm the message except for the Miamis, who were closer to the British centers than the other Indians of the Wabash. Hamtramck thought that the other "nations of the Wabash" (probably meaning the Weas, Kickapoos, Piankashaws, and Delawares) were
well enuff disposed to be our friends but they are menaced by the upper Indians who have ordered them to cease all communication with us: (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 60-61)
The situation had caused Hamtramck to hold a number of conferences with the Indians trying to keep them reconciled with the United States.
He succeeded in this so well that by January 1, 1788 he wrote that
About four hundred Indians are now in the vicinity of the village [Vincennes] and throws in a considerable trade. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 61)
The tribal affiliations of these 400 Indians are not given, but presumably they included some Piankashaws.
Apparently numbers of Indians also gathered near Fort Pitt some time before the end of January, 1788, who expected the United States
to hold a treaty with them. Whether any Piankashaws were present is not stated. When no official came to meet with them there, the Indians dispersed a M er sending a message to Congress, and they were-rumored to be uneasy. St. Clair was doubtful about being able to resolve matters, but concluded that a treaty "ought to be made." He selected the Falls of the Muskingum River (about 70 miles up from its mouth) for the site and the Indian groups were invited to meet there the first of May. The "Nations upon the Wabash" were among the groups invited to this treaty, but St. Clair thought few of them would attend because of the distance. (St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-16, pp. 89-90) He was correct in this judgment; no Piankashaws or other Indians located on the Wabash are mentioned as being present at the treaty when it finally was held after numerous delays at Fort Harmar in January 1789.
That the disposition of the "Wabash Indians" was not completely reliable is evidenced also by frequent Wea Indian hostilities in Kentucky in the Spring of 1788. (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 76-77) Even some of the Indians around the village of Vincennes, probably including Piankashaws, attacked a military party on the Ohio River a few days after it left the post there. (Spear, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 82-83; Harmar, Dft. Ex. A-56, 86-87; Harmar, Dft. Ex. A-36, pp. 431-432)
Possibly as a result of these depredations by Indians near him Hamtramck tried to ascertain the number of warriors in the different groups who lived on the Wabash River and at the Miami village. At Terre Haute about 120 miles above Vincennes he estimated were 30 warriors (ca. 120 persons); at the Vermilion River village about 60 miles above Terre Haute were 200 warriors-(ca. 800.persons). (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex.
A-56, pp. 78, 80) He does not say what Indians lived at these two locations, but probably the Indians at Terre Haute were largely Piankashaws since the year before some Piankashaws who were identified as being from Terre Haute had visited Hamtramck at Vincennes. (see above) The composition of the Vermilion River village at this time is not certain, but probably a number of Piankashaws also still resided there. It is interesting to note that Hamtramck in this census locates the nearest Indian village at Terre Haute, though he constantly refers to Indians being in the town of Vincennes and its vicinity.
In June 1788 only a few Weas and Vermilion River Indians were on raids in Kentucky. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 88-89) In July several Piankashaw war parties were out around Vincennes, one of which was led by a Vermilion River Piankashaw named La Grosse Tete. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 89-90; Taitro, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 92-94) Another party, probably composed of the Indians frequenting Vincennes, and thus probably including some Piankashaws, attacked supply boats near the mouth of the Wabash River, killing and wounding a number of Americans and taking most of the provisions. (Ferguson, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 104-105; Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 105-107; Peters, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 109-110) Other identifications reported by Hamtramck were that the attacking Indians may have been Cherokees (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56; p. 107) or that they were "the Kikapos who lives near the Illinois River." (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 119)
Possibly in retaliation for the last attack, Patrick Brown, an American citizen of Kentucky, in August 1788 led 60 men on a raid against
Indians visiting Vincennes on their way. They killed some Indians belonging to the band of La Demoiselle, a Piankashaw, and to that of the Miami chief, Pacanne, who was furnishing Hamtramck with information on Indian movements on the Wabash; Brown's men also stole some of their horses. Both of these Indian groups bad been friendly to the Americans. (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 114-117, 150) St. Clair located the site where these Indians were attacked as on the upper part of Embarrass River which flows from the west into the Wabash River a few miles below Vincennes, probably within Royce's Area 110. (St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-16, p. 159. Some of the Indians at Vincennea were alarmed by the attack and went to the Weas; others remained in the vicinity of Vincennes. The remnants of Pacanne's band went to Terre Haute to await Pacanne's return from the Miami. (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 117) At the same time St. Clalr, who derived his information of the Wabash area largely from Harmar and Hamtramck, identified Terre Haute as the place "where the Piankashaws reside," (St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-16, p. 158) another indication that at this time a group of Piankashaws were settled there.
Tension continued between the Indians living along the Wabash and the Kentuckians. (See, e.g., Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 124) As a result of this, and possibly directly as a result of Brown's raids, Hamtramck reported on November 28 that the "Piankishas who were in the village [Vincennes]" had gone to make e settlement near Kaskaskia, and that they were joined "by the greatest part of the Vermillion Indians and some other nation." (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 139)
also reported that the two women and the baby killed in September on the west side of the Wabash River near Vincennes had been killed by
two Indians of the Village [Vincennes), who had some of their near relation killed by Major Brown. (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 139)
By implication these Indians at Vincennes were also Piankashaws, since Brown had killed only Piankashaws and Miamis and it is doubtful that Hamtramck would refer to Pacanne's Miamis as Indians of Vincennes.
On March 28, 1789 Hamtramck reported that he finally had in confinement the Piankashaw chief "La Grose Tete" who had been with the Indian party that murdered two persons at Little River in July of 1788. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 91, 161-162; Taitro, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 93-94) He intended to use the prisoner to exert pressure on "the first chief of that nation" who was
a man of reason and a good Indian to whom I can represent the conduct of some of his chiefs and demand of him satisfaction for the blood of those people that this prisoner has murdered and will give so much solemnity to the affair as to make the nation believe that his pardon will be the last act of lenity of the United States if they do not change their conduct. (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 162)
He could pursue this course to bring the Indians to heel without danger because, as he said, there were few Piankashaws left near his post to protest it. (Idem) (As stated above, many of the Piankashaws at this time had moved from the Wabash to form a settlement near Kaskaskia.) By the middle of June 1789 Hamtramck reported that he had had
the Indians of the Illinois with me respecting Gross fete (the Indian who was confind) and altho' he had made his escape before they arrived the affaire was setled amicably and on strong promises from the chiefs that it would - be the last impropriety that their nation should comit. (Ibid., Dft Ex. A-56, p. 176)
Despite the fact that Hamtramck refered to these Indians as "Indians of the Illinois" it seems likely that they were the Piankashaws who had moved to the Illinois country the preceding year.
Hamtramck sent two of these "Illinois Indians" on an embassy to "the Indians on the Wabash" inviting them to cease their depredations or they would be "severely chastised." (Idem) In response to this message "a number of them" came "down from the Weeya" with protestations of their peaceful intentions. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 178-179) The Indian promises, however, did not prevent the Kentuckians from continuing to attack them in defiance of United States policy. (See, e.g., ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 182, 183)
Some of the Piankashaws who had moved west in the fall of 1788 lived on the west side of the Mississippi River and proved to be troublesome to the Americans in Kaskaskia. In asking for help from Hamtramck to restore law and order one prominent Kaskaskia citizen complained in October 1789
Every day are we threaten'd with being murdered & having our houses & village burnt, the Piankashaws steal our horses & take them to the Spanish side where they live and where we dare not, even allowing we had sufficient forces, follow them, so that truly speaking our situation is desperate & even pitiful.
These Indians have hatred enough to the Americans without being pushed on by white men, for this reason I am fearful of Ducoigne's life this winter, as the Piankashaws threaten hard because he is a friend of America.(Edgar, Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 199)[see footnote 40]
Apparently not all of the Indians (possibly including Piankashaws) in the Kaskaskia area were involved in these depredations since some of them visited Hamtramck about this time "with new protestations of their fidelity." (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, p. 205)
By this time it was becoming more apparent to the central government of the United States that some decisive steps would have to be taken to quiet and reassure both the Whites and the Indians living in the Wabash and Illinois area. (See, e.g., Knox, Dft. Ex. A-56, 210-212; Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-7, pp. 12-14; St. Clair, D M . Ex. A-103, pp. 123-124) In October 1789 the President of the United States sent instructions to St. Clair to sound out the Indians and to present the alternative to them of peace or war, and gave him authority to carry out either. (Knox, Dft. Ex. A-7, pp. 96-97; Washington, Dft. Ex. A-103, pp. 125-126) In December of 1789 the Secretary of War again wrote to St. Clair, who, by this time, was on his way down the Ohio to attend to Indian affairs and White land claims on the Wabash and Mississippi, concerning the matter and stressing the fact that the President was
extremely desirous of a general treaty with the Wabash Indians as the only rational foundation of peace. (Knox, Dft. Ex. A-16, p. 225)
Governor St. Clair went to Kaskaskia first, but sent a speech to
Hamtramck at Vincennes to forward to the "Indians of the Wabash and those of the Miami village" to prepare them for St. Clair's intended arrival at Vincennes. (St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-103, pp. 130-132)
Then, in a letter written in March 1790 to the Secretary of State to inform him of the western lands to which Indian claims had been extinguished, St. Clair pointed out that the lands
from the mouth of the River de la Panse [present-day Wild Cat Creek which flows into the Wabash River several miles upstream from Lafayette], and from thence to the Ohio, and between that River and the Shawanese & Wyandot Boundaries [set forth in Treaty with the Shawnees, January 31, 1786 (7 Stat. 26-27) have been considered as the property of the United States so far at least as those Nations were interested in them--but between the Ouabash and the Ohio are the Ouiatanons, the Piankishaws, and the Miamies; with whom no treaties have been held, and whose claims are not known with any degree of precision.(Dft. Ex. A-16, p. 23)
Hamtramck had to delay sending St. Clair's message to the Indians until March 16 when a French inhabitant of Vincennes, "Capt. Pier Gamelin," set out with it; (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 222-224) "Pier" was forced by the Indians to give up the journey at the Vermilion village, and in April Antoine Gamelin was sent to carry the message further (St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-7, p. 87; Gamelin, Dft. Ex. A-7, p. 93; Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-103, p. 135; St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-103, p. 136) Antoine Gamelin, after his return, described his reception at the various villages along the Wabash. Concerning the Piankashaws, who were located at Vermilion River, he reported
The first chief, and all the chief warriors, were well pleased with the speeches concerning the peace; but they said they could not give presently a proper answer, before they consult the Miami nation, their eldest brethren. They desired me to proceed to the Miami town, and, by coming back, to let me know what reception I got from them. (Gamelin, Dft. A-7, p. 93)
The chief also warned Gamelin that the speech probably wouldn't be accepted there; his prediction turned out to be accurate. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-7, pp. 93-94) On Gamelin's return down the Wabash he again stopped at the various towns. When he arrived at the Vermilion village Gamelin found only two chiefs there, the remainder of the tribe having gone hunting. These chiefs warned Gamelin that one of the absent Piankashaw warriors, Grosse Tete, "appeared to have a bad heart," (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-7, p. 94) that is, to be an enemy of the United States.
Hamtramck thought Gamelin's reception by the different Indian villages on the Wabash did not promise peace. (Hamtramck, Dft. Ex. A-7, p. 87; Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 232, 233) St. Clair, learning of these happenings while he was in the Illinois country, felt the same; he decided it would be useless to try to hold a treaty with the Wabash Indians, and began planning a military expedition to force them into submission. (St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-16, pp. 244-245, 287; Innes, Dft. Ex. A-7, p. 88; St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-7, pp. 92-93, 94-95; Harmar, Dft. Ex. A-56, pp. 236-237; Knox, Dft. Ex. A-7, pp. 98-99; St. Clair, Dft. Ex. A-103, pp. 136, 150-152)
to Piankashaw Locations (ca. 1783-ca. 1795), pp. 146-156
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