It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a project proposal!


I grew up in a small town south of Pittsburgh, and I have always been fascinated by history. As I read about Native Americans, I thought to myself, “There really aren’t any Native Americans around here. Why is that?” So, I started looking into it[i].

As part of the Treaty of Paris (1783)[ii], the Northwest Territory (now the Midwest) was awarded to the United States. At the time, white settlements were just starting in the region, while the Native American tribes lived on much of the land.

Conflict between the United States and native tribes began almost immediately, with the outbreak of the Northwest War[iii]. This war lasted for ten years, with the forces of the United States eventually winning. The Treaty of Greenville (1795)[iv] ended this conflict. This treaty established a clear line dividing the White and Native American territories. It also included provisions allowing the tribes to sell their lands. As you can imagine, this treaty was broken with some frequency.

This is a fascinating time period, and I thought about focusing on it, but the sources are scarce, especially for the Native Americans[v].

After years of dealing with the loss of their land, Native American leaders began to resist. Tecumseh, a Shawnee Indian, became leader of this confederacy and traveled widely to encourage support from those on the fence and to organize.

In 1809, the governor of the Indiana Territory William Henry Harrison signed the Treaty of Fort Wayne[vi] with the Miami, Kickapoo, and Potawatomi tribes (among others), in which they ceded territory along the Wabash River.

Tecumseh, and other Native leaders, disputed the legality of this treaty, saying that the land didn’t belong to any one tribe, but, rather, to all. Harrison ignored this. This led to Tecumseh’s War in 1811, which, in 1812, became part of the larger War of 1812.

This project aims to map and analyze the rhetoric of Tecumseh’s War. As was pointed out in class, the focus is very broad, and I need to scale it down. One option would be to focus on Tecumseh’s travels, which would work. Another might be to focus on the treaties themselves, as the Treaties of Fort Wayne and Greenville are not the only two treaties involving Native American rights in this region in this time period. I’ll think about this over the weekend. Honestly, I could just focus on these treaties.


[i] As I said in class, I’ve also done research on the Holocaust and the AIDS crisis. I’m not sure what it says about me that I’m interested in these subjects, but, odds are, it isn’t complimentary.

[ii] The date is included because there are literally dozens of Treaties of Paris.

[iii] When I first researched this topic, it was called Little Turtle’s War, after Little Turtle, a Miami chief who was a Native American leader in the conflict. It is also known as the Ohio War.

[iv] There are only two Treaties of Greenville.

[v] Honestly, the sources for Tecumseh’s War aren’t exactly abundant, but I’ve found more of them.

[vi] Again, two treaties of Fort Wayne.