Dockett No. 99, Anthropological

An Anthropological Report on the Piankashaw Indians, Dockett 99 (a part of Consolidated Docket No. 315; Dr. Dorothy Libby)

Piankashaw Locations (ca. 1796 -ca. 1805)(Part 1, pp. 178-188)/pg. 178/


In December of 1796 a traveler, Mr. Austin, noted that at Louisville he saw "a Number of Indians from the Nations over the Ohio, Piankishas Delawares and Wyatenas." (Austin, Dft. Ex. A-6, p. 527) These Indians probably were on hunting or trading trips. In his description of the town of Vincennes, where he went from Louisville, Austin wrote the following sentences about the Piankashaws.

The Aborigines which are settled on the Wabash, near Vincennes, are much reduced and some nations entirely extinct. The Piankishas had a Town within One Mile of St Vincennes but its now destroyed and there Number reduced to about 120 men [ca. 480 persons]. they have not any Town or fixed place of residence but wander about from place to place always calling Vincennes their Home. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-6, p. 530)

From the Wabash Austin went to the Illinois Country. He arrived in St. Louis, located opposite Cahokia on the west (Spanish) side of the Mississippi. In his journal notes covering this visit he recorded information he was told concerning local Indian trade. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-6, pp. 533-535)

The Aborigines which Trade to St. Louis are the Kakapoos Piankishas Piorias Sioux Shawanees (west of the Mississippi) and Osages on the Missouri. There is none of the above Indians that confine there Trade to St. Louis Except the Osages. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-6, p. 535)

From these statements it seems apparent that some Piankashaws lived on the lower course of the Wabash River and hunted and traded at Louisville on the Ohio River but who considered Vincennes as their "home" region, and others who treated the area of St. Louis on the Mississippi as their center.

Apparently, too, at this time they had /pg. 179/ no large village. It seems possible that some Piankashaws trading at St. Louis were living in southwestern Illinois as some had several years earlier. If there were still really 120 Piankashaw men of the group near Vincennes left, the population of these Indians, at least, could not have diminished as spectacularly as Mr. Austin thought it had.

The next notice found concerning the Piankashaw Indian locations, except for their probable inclusion as "Miami" in a casual mention in 1797 of "Small parties of Chavanoes [Shawnees], Loups, Peoriae, Illinois, Miami, Otave, Mascutin, Kikapoux, and Pouteatamia nations" being scattered over the Spanish territory, (Trudeau, Dft. Ex. A-89, p. 529) is in a letter written April 30, 1799 by the Secretary of War. He informed St. Clair, who as Governor was also Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northwest Territory, that he was sending St. Clair an open letter addressed [see footnote 52] due the Indians from the Treaty of Greenville, and to have the delivery of the treaty goods certified. The Secretary's letter indicates that the Piankashaws, among others included in the Treaty of Greenville provisions, were intended to receive the goods stipulated.

William Henry Harrison, who was appointed Governor of Indiana Territory in May 1800 and moved to Vincennes to undertake his duties,/pg. 180/ in what seems to be his first general report on Indian affairs in Indiana Territory to the Secretary of War, remarked that he had much difficulty with the small tribes in this immediate neighbourhood--Viz--the Peankashaws, Weas & Eel river Indians (Harrison, Dft. Ex. A-228)

He complained of their being the "greatest scoundrels," getting intoxicated frequently, brawling, killing livestock, breaking fences and into houses, and killing people. Harrison reported, further, that the Indians could raise "Five-hundred Warriers" with ease, although he did not think they were inclined to make an attack on the Americans. Harrison and the Indian chiefs blamed the drinking of large quantities of whiskey for much of the turmoil.

Their Chiefs and their nearest relations fall under the strokes of their Tomhawks & Knives- This has been so much the case with the three Tribes nearest me--The Piankashaws, Weas & Eel River Miamis that there is scarcely a Chief to be found amongst them- (Idem) Among other chiefs killed were the Weas, Little Beaver and Little Fox, who had signed the Treaty of Greenville for the Weas and Piankashaws. (Idem)

That not all the Piankashaws lived near Vincennes at this time may be suggested by a later statement in the same letter in which Harrison reports that the Delawares wanted part of their annuity in agricultural implements and livestock and that "The Kaskaskias and Peankashaws request the same thing--" (Idem. See also Dft. Ex. A-19, p. 64) From this lumping of the two groups, it seems possible that the Piankashaw group living in southwestern Illinois near the Kaskaskias in earlier /pg. 181/ years was still there.

Another reference by Spanish officials (in May 1800) to "Miamis," which probably referred at least in part to Piankashaws, stated that they were among the Indian tribes who lived in the vicinity of St. Louis. (DeHault de Lassus, Dft. Ex. A-38, p. 306)

The Indians complained to Harrison of White settlement on Indian lands, the destruction of Indian game by Whites, and their generally abusive treatment of the Indians. (Idem) At a conference held in Washington in January 1802 a group of Miami, Wea, and Potawatomi Indians made formal complaints on these points and others which stemmed from the delay in fulfilling of some of the agreements made at the Treaty of Greenville. (Dft. Ex. A-251) Among other points raised were requests that the boundary be run for the Vincennes tract, that annuities in cash or goods for the Indians of the Wabash be paid to all the groups that should receive them, and that Fort Wayne be the location for annuity payments to the Potawatomi, Miami, Delaware, Shawnee, Eel River, Wea, Kickapoo, Piankashaw, and Kaskaskia Indians.

The Miami chief Little Turtle, the only Indian in the group mentioned by name, took the responsibility of speaking for all the Indians of the Wabash and Illinois area. The Indians were promised that their complaints would be looked into and that Harrison would settle with them the boundary to the lands around Vincennes. (Idem) Harrison was ordered to settle both the boundary of the Vincennes tract and the question of the use of Saline Springs on Saline River, located in the present Gallatin County, Illinois. (Dearborn, D M . Ex. A-l8O. See also ibid., Dft. Ex. A-181) Harrison began negotiations by assuming the validity of the grant to the French of Vincennes in the /pg. 182/ land speculators' transaction of 1775 (discussed above)

This would make the tract which the United States might rightfully claim extend from Point Coupee on the Wabash River, 12 leagues above Vincennes, to the mouth of the White River, 12 leagues below Vincennes, 40 leagues east of the Wabash River, and 30 leagues west. (Harrison, Dft. Ex. A-30, p.l6) The Secretary of War would gladly have taken all the lands specified in this transaction both those "sold" to the speculators and those "reserved" to the French of Vincennes. (Dearborn, Dft. Ex. A-18, p. 53) Harrison felt, however, that the Indians would not agree to such a large cession or even to the part "reserv'd" to the French of Vincennes. (Harrison, Dft. Ex. A-30, p. 16) Another hindrance to the negotiation was the fact that no Piankashaw chiefs had taken an active part in the proceedings of the Treaty of Greenville where an undefined area at and around Vincennes was recognized by the Indians as ceded to the United States, and the Wea chiefs who had signed the Treaty for the Piankashaws at that time were now dead. (Idem) Harrison's instructions were to acquire as much land as he could, but not to antagonize the Indians. (Dearborn, Dft. Ex. A-18, pp. 53-55, 63-64)

Harrison held a conference at Vincennes in August and September of 1802 to settle the question of the extent of the Vincennes tract and other problems. Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Eel River, Kaskaskia, Wea, and Piankashaw Indians were present and it soon become evident that the Indians would not accept the boundaries of the 1775 deed. (Dawson, Dft. Ex. A-30, pp. 21-28; see also A Citizen of the World, Dft. Ex. A-18, p. 139, for a criticism of this meeting) A statement by "A Citizen of the World, /pg. 183/ which included in its criticism of conditions in Indiana Territory the agreement of September 17, 1802, indicated that not all the chiefs were present who should have been, "And although sent for and solicited to come, they absolutely refused. (Idem) Harrison after much difficulty finally reached a preliminary agreement to a compromise boundary with the Indians and got them to agree to empower four chiefs to sign a formal treaty establishing the boundary at a later meeting to be held at Fort Wayne. None of the four chiefs chosen as representatives to conclude the final agreement was at the meeting in Vincennes, nor was a Piankeshaw among the four chiefs selected. The chosen representatives were Miami and Potawatomi chiefs who lived in the upper Wabash area. Little Turtle was one of them. (Dawson, Dft. Ex. A-30, pp. 27-28)

According to Moses Dawson, an apologist for Harrison who published a biography on him in 1824, the reason given by Harrison for conducting the treaty in the peculiar way he did was that he did not think he had the powers to conduct a formal treaty, (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-30, p. 26-27) despite his having received specific instructions to do so. The boundaries agreed to in the preliminary agreement were not the same as those later included in Royce Area 26, but were defined as follows:

beginning at Point Coupee on the Wabash river, thence running a westwardly line four leagues, thence southwardly by a line drawn parallel to the general coursr of the Wabash river until it will be intersected by a westwardly line drawn from the confluence of the White river and Wabash river, thence from the point /pg. 184/ of intersection aforesaid along the said line by the confluence of the White and Wabash rivers in an easterly direction twenty-four leagues, thence northwestwardly by a line drawn parallel to the general course of the said Wabash river, until it will intersect an easterly line drawn from Point Coupee aforesaid, on the Wabash river, thence by the line last mentioned to Point Coupee, the place of beginning. (Ibid., Dft. Ex. A-30, pp. 2?-28)

The preliminary agreement had empowered the four representatives also to give the right of making salt at Saline Springs to the United States and the use of a tract four miles square at the spring. Fifteen chiefs signed this agreement, including three Piankashaws--"Nontour," "Grosble," and "Troisfesses." (Idem) Protests were made by the Indians about Harrison's actions at this meeting, but they achieved no official support. (See, e.g., Dearborn, Dft. Ex. A-18, pp. 86-87; ibid., Dft. Ex. A-182; Jefferson, Dft. Ex. A-72, pp. 396-400)

One further comment by Dawson concerning this preliminary agreement has a bearing on the final boundaries surveyed for the Vincennes tract. The remainder of this year [1802] was occupied in fixing the boundaries of the Vincennes tract, which had been obtained at the meeting of the council at Vincennes in September. Considerable difficulty was found by the real situation of the country being mistaken-and in order to include the lands settled on by citizens of the United States, it was found necessary to run the lines in a different direction to that intended-- but fortunately the words of the instrument signed by the Indians were so vague as to admit of considerable deviations in the direction of those lines--and though the tract was somewhat less in extent than was contemplated, yet every purpose was answered so far as including the settlements (Dawson, Dft. Ex. A-30, p. 46) /pg. 185/

From this explanation it seems likely the the differences in the wording of the final boundary from that of the boundary described in the preliminary agreement were due to Harrison's investigations after the agreement was signed.

The Secretary of War, while bringing up several points for clarification, sent his approval to Harrison on the tentative boundary at Vincennes, and directed him to hold the treaty for its confirmation at Fort Wayne soon. (Dearborn, Dft. Ex. A-18, pp. 86-87) The conference was held in June of 1803. At this meeting extremely strong opposition was expressed by the Indians to the preliminary agreement, and only by threats oi the withholding of annuities, private conferences with various Indian chiefs, and; the private maneuvering and pressures of Little Turtle and the Potawatomis, was the treaty accomplished. (Dawson, Dft. Ex. A-30, pp. 47-50; See also Johnston, Dft. Ex. A-249) The Vincennes tract, as bounded by the first article of this treaty, was described as follows:

Beginning at Point Coupee on the Wabash, and running thence by a line north seventy-eight degrees, west twelve miles, thence by a line parallel to the general course of the Wabash, until it shall be intersected by a line at right angles to the same, passing through the mouth of White river, thence by the last mentioned line across the Wabash and towards the Ohio, seventy-two miles, thence by a line north twelve degrees west, until it shall be intersected by a line at right angles to the same, passing through Point Coupee, and by the last mentioned line to the place of beginning (7 Stat. 75) /pg. 186/

The United States acquired the Saline Spring (Royce Area 47) by this treaty as a direct cession, rather than as the lease agreed to in preliminary agreement (7 Stat. 75). The importance of this salt spring to the Whites in the area may reflect earlier native dependence on it. In a "Petition of the Vincennes Convention," made to the Congress of the United States on behalf of the citizens of Indiana Territory and passed by the Territorial legislature at Vincennes (William Henry Harrison, President) on December 28, 1802, which discusses a number of items, the importance of Saline Spring to the White settlers is indicated by the following paragraph:

And your Memorialists further beg leave to represent that one of the most indispensable articles of life (Salt) is very Scarse and difficult to be obtained, That for the want of a sufficient number of Salt Springs in their Country, that difficulty must increase with the population, and if effectual methods are not taken to secure the Timber in the neighbourhood o£ the Salt Springs from being willfully or carelessly wasted and destroyed, they will in a very few years indeed be utterly destitute of that very valuable article; that there is but one Salt Spring known in the Country of any value, and that is situate below the mouth of the Wabash River, Commonly called the Saline, and is very advantageously placed for the accommodation of most of the inhabitants of the Territory, and has, moreover, been lately ceded by the Indians to the general Government.(Dft. Ex A-53, p. 465)

In return for the spring the United States promised to deliver each year a quantity of salt to the Indians not exceeding one hundred and fifty bushels, and which shall be divided among the several tribes [i.e., Delawares, Shawnees, Potawatomis, Miamis, Eel Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos, Piankashaws, and Kaskaskias] in such manner as the general council of the chiefs may determine (7 Stat. 75) /pg. 187/ A further cession, dependent on the approval of the Kickapoos, Eel Rivers, Weas, Piankashaws, and Kaskaskias, granted to the United States, was the right of locating three tracts of lands (of such size as may be agreed upon with the last mentioned tribes) on the main road between Vincennes and Kaskaskias, and one other between Vincennes and Clarksville for the purpose of erecting houses of entertainment for the - accomodation of travellers (7 Stat. 75)

The last article of the treaty provided that if any settled areas fell outside the boundaries described in the treaty the lines would be altered to include them, but that an equal quantity of land would be left the Indians at either the west or east end of the tract (7 Stat. 75-76). A glance at Royce Area 26 indicates that at least one alteration was made on the northern boundary and another on the southern. (See Royce, Indian Land Cessions, map 19) This provision was probably a safeguard inserted by Harrison to make sure he could alter the boundaries where he deemed it desirable without violating the treaty. This treaty was signed by two Kickapoos, three Shawnees, four Delawares, and two Potawatomis in addition to the four representatives, "Richerville," Little Turtle, "Tuthinepee," and Winnemac." According to Dawson, the Delaware, Shawnee, and Kickapoo Indians came to - the treaty because of the threat of withholding annuity goods from those groups not present at the meeting and of withdrawing from them the friendship and protection of the United States, (Dawson, Dft. Ex. A-30, p. 48) /pg. 188/

According to Dawson, one of the Delaware chiefs, "Buckingehelos," protested against the treaty and declared with vehemence that nothing that was done at Vincennes [in the preliminary agreement] was binding upon the Indians; that the land-which was there decided to be the property of the United States, belonged to the Delawares; and that he had then with him a chief, who had been present at the transfer made by the Piankishaws to the Delawares of all the country between the Ohio and White rivers more than 30 years before. (Dawson, Dft. Ex. A-30, p. 49)

This protest would make the date of the claimed "transfer" of the lands about 1770 which is in general agreement with the date of the invitation extended by the Piankashaws to the Delawares to share part of what is now southern Indiana with them during the early 1770's (discussed above) It is also in general agreement in respect to time with the statement of the Piankashaw chief, Tobacco's Son, in scolding the Delawares in 1779 when he said he had given the Delawares permission to settle in the area.

No statement has been found that the Piankashaws had made a "transfer" of the lands in southern Indiana, until Dawson reported the one quoted above by a Delaware Indian in 1803. The real cause of the Indian opposition is uncertain. Perhaps it was the extent of the lands included. Royce Area 25, as finally established by Harrison, does include all of the lands confirmed to United States citizens and militia, as well as the lands formerly settled by the French and large unsettled areas. The Treaty of Greenville which was the basis for the bounding of the Vincennes Tract had described the area to be bounded merely as "The post of St. Vincennes on the river Wabash, and the lands adjacent, of which the Indian title has been extinguished." (7 Stat. 51)

Footnote 52: As noted earlier, a certificate for receipt of annuity goods due Piankashaws from the Treaty of Grenville was signed by "Troi-face," (i.e., Troia Fesse?) on September 12, 1796; Dft. Ex. A-335).


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