Column: ‘One of the greatest Indian chiefs’ led in war, peace


The Treaty of Greenville was a key event in Native American-U.S. government relations. Events leading up to it are described in a second-floor exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. / Submitted photo

For 30 years, he was a dominating figure on the Indiana frontier, at first resisting the white man’s encroachment and later giving in to the inevitable. The historian Calvin Young called him “one of the greatest Indian chiefs of all time.”

“Someday we will recognize him as our first great Hoosier and an American of national importance,” wrote Otho Winger, historian and Manchester College president, in 1942.

Indeed, Miami Chief Little Turtle’s name ranks with Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Harrison as a figure all Hoosiers should recognize. He died four years before Indiana statehood, so there’s no way to know if Little Turtle himself would have embraced or dismissed as patronizing the title “first great Hoosier.”

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