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Michikinikwa

Michikinikwa ("Little Turtle") (1752-July 14, 1812) was a chief of the Miami tribe in what is presently Indiana. He was the son of a Miami chief, but owing to his mother being Mohican, he was compelled to earn the trust of the tribe before coming into a leadership position. This he achieved through demonstration of military prowess; one example was his bravery in an attack on his village by a French force. Through demonstration of his military acumen, Michikinikwa gained not only the leadership of his tribe, but also that of a confederation of several tribes.

The end of the Revolution led to strife in this area. The tribal confederacy was blamed for the deaths of 1500 white settlers in the region between 1783 and 1790, probably as a result of what they saw as lawful defense of their territory under previous treaties. Additionally, the British, allied with the confederacy, were recalcitrant in abandoning their fortifications in the region.

This led to a "punitive expedition" in 1790 by the United States Government, under the command of Gen. Josiah Harmar, about 1500 strong (but only 320 were regulars). Michikinikwa's forces defeated this expedition at the Maumee river[?]. A similar expedition in 1791 by Gen. Arthur St. Clair was routed by Michikinikwa's forces at the St. Mary's river[?], with 900 U.S. fatalities.

A third expedition under the command of Gen. Anthony Wayne gave Michikinikwa pause; after having observed the rigorous training of U.S. troops and after an exploratory attack on Fort Recovery[?] (June 30-July 1, 1794), Michikinikwa counseled negotiation rather than battle. He was overridden by the confederacy, and ceded command to Weyapiersenwah, although retaining leadership of the Miami tribesmen. The confederacy was defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers[?], which led to capitulation via the Treaty of Greenville[?].

In later life, Michikinikwa continuously advised cooperation with the U.S., refusing an alliance with Tecumseh and meeting cordially with George Washington. He died not far from his birthplace in 1812.



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