Signal of Peace

Riding into any American city, large or small, will likely bring encounters with memorials of one type or another to the “vanished people” of the First Nations. Vanished or banished as the case may be, and with Indian Removal in full swing as national policy by the time the white colonial frontier reached the west side of Lakr Michigan (Ininwewe-gichami) banishment is really the more proper term.
Indian Removal, in defiance of all the hundreds of treaties approved by Congress with Native Nations up to that point, was a law enacted by President Andrew (Sharp Knife) Jackson in 1830 dictating the forced removal of Native Nations on the east side of the Mississippi to the arid territories of Oklahoma and Kansas.
Jackson, possibly the most corrupt president until the present administration came along to claim that title, earned many nicknames in his day – but the Creek named him Sharp Knife for forcing the cessation of half their treaty right lands after the War of 1812 – 23 million acres in southern Georgia and Central Alabama.
Along the Chicago River where the People of the Three Fires ( Ojibwa, Ottawa, Anishinaabe) held their lands, white settlers gained a foothold after the defeat of the Northwestern Alliance of Native Nations at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. That military defeat led to the cessation of two thirds of the state of Ohio, along with a minor clause ceding rights for white traders to settle in just 6 miles of land along the mouth of the Chicago River. The Loop, it’s called today – midtown in America’s Second City.
It was not long before new treaties were being signed with (or forced upon) the People of the Three Fires.
In 1821, they were persuaded to sign away all lands in Michigan Territory (so-called) south of the Grand River long with what is now the Indiana coast of Lake Michigan.
The second Treaty of Chicago, signed in 1833 forced the Nations of the Three Fires into exile west of the Mississippi and took the land west of the lake into modern day Wisconsin for the growing American Empire, er, Republic.
Cycling into Chicago now there is little trace of the old trading post at Fort Dearborn, and even less of the Natives who long lived here undisturbed.
This bronze statue of a Lakota chief on horseback with an upraised spear is called “Signal of Peace”
It stands on the shore of the Lake looking west across the bike path and the giant skyscrapers of the Loop.
Given to the city by art patron Lambert Tree, sculpted in bronze by C. E. Dallin.
It was first displayed at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, a World’s Fair in honor of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of America.
The Expo was a money loser for financiers when William Cody was refused permission to feature his Wild West Show. Cody set up shop outside the Expo grounds, drawing audience away from the lavish Exposition.
Lakota Medicine Man Sitting Bull (Tatanka-Iyotanka) was no longer a member of Wild Bill’s traveling show at that time, having been assassinated three years earlier over his feared involvement in the Ghost Dance Movement.
The mayor of Chicago was murdered by a deranged office seeker two days before the Exposition closed. A mass murderer named H. H. Holmes preyed upon the crowds.
The Hearst publications paid him the modern equivalent of $200,000 for his jailhouse memoirs; he was said to have lured away and murdered 200 people or more.
The day I arrived in Chicago to take this picture a high speed car wreck occurred just a few blocks north on Lake Shore Drive involving four cars, seven other victims, and one fatality. The statue is called Signal of Peace, but I have my doubts.


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