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Potawatomi Trail of Death

The Trail of Death was the forced removal by local militia of 859 Potawatomi people from their lands in Indiana, to reservation lands in Kansas, in the November of 1838. The journey left more than 40 people dead, mostly children.

The removal came a result of the 1833 Treaty of Chicago and the Indian Removal Act. Chief Menominee, leader of the Yellow Creek Band in the Twin Lake’s area, had refused to leave their lands, after arguing that other people had sold the band’s lands. Of this, he said “My brother, the President is just, but he listens to the word of young chiefs who have lied; and when he knows the truth, he will leave me to my own. I have not sold my lands. I will not sell them. I have not signed any treaty, and will not sign any. I am not going to leave my lands, and I do not want to hear anything more about it” (quoted from The Centennial of the Trail of Death by Irving McKee). The Governor of Indiana, William Wallace, authorized General John Tipton to form a local militia and remove them from their land. On the morning of August 30, 1838, the militia ambushed the Potawatomi at Twin Lakes, destroyed their homes, and began the march.