Here is a detail from that same mural showing the 1600 acres given to Billy Caldwell, the United States’ appointed chief and the chief negotiator for the Anishinaabe on the Treaties of Chicago.
Caldwell sold parcels of the reserve, which was granted to him personally and his heirs by President Martin van Buren. But he chose to go into exile with the Anishinaabe, and never lived there. He is buried on the east side of the Mississippi – in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Now lawyers are arguing about one parcel of Caldwell’s original reserve.
Half wooded, half developed with multimillion dollar real estate, it seems this one parcel may never had had the title cured, so to speak, by presidential sign off, and may still, indeed, belong to Sauganesh’s heirs.
Prediction: no Native people will ever live here in the near future, but many lawyers will get very, very rich arguing about the fate of this parcel of Potawatomi land.
Billy Caldwell meeting Tecumseh as he walked away from battle to his death on October 5th, 1813. I think about that meeting.
Caldwell was said to have been like “the right hand” to Tecumseh, yet he wound up negotiating away the land and treaty ensured rights for three or more Nation Nations with the Americans – as the type of accommodationist “chief” Tecumseh had threatened to kill following the Treaty of Fort Wayne (1795 – signing away over 3 millions acres of land on present day Indiana and Illinois for Monopoly Money).
Caldwell/Sauganesh to me is a tragic figure. Neither white nor Native, at odds with both at different stages of his life, he may have truly worked for what he thought to have been the best outcome for the Ojibwa, the Ottawa, the Anishinaabe but in the end they lost everything and he went into banishment along with them. What was he thinking when he saw Tecumseh on his death march that day? And what was Tecumseh thinking when he saw him?
Perhaps Tecumseh was singing his own death song. Perhaps the great Shawnee War Chief was repeating the lines he had been quoted as saying previously regarding death:
“When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.