Thursday, September 16, 2010
History of Fort Quiatenon, By Sharon Powell
Photographs by: Sharon Powell
Established by the French in 1717, Fort Quiatenon was the first European settlement in Indiana. Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, the fort is a historical landmark and a significant part of America’s Heritage. During the 18th Century, Fort Quiatenon had become a major trading post and home to more than 3000 residents and several Indian villages. The land provided a hunting ground for both Native Americans and tradesmen residing within the area. Europeans had designated Fort Quiatenon a meeting ground, and resting place for wayfarers settling in America from England and Quebec. The French occupied the fort as a military outpost to prevent British expansion into the Ohio and Wabash territories.
Throughout much of the 18th Century Europeans and British policies governed early colonial settlers. The British and French Revolution paved the way for the establishment of civilized colonies and lifestyle changes due, in part, to the impacts of the industrial revolution. Canals, railways, steam-powered engines and machined tools began to change the shape of American lifestyles. During this time, Native Americans were also being affected by the changes, including British policies and monarchy confining all trade to posts while prohibiting the traffic of liquor and other products into the area. British policies forced negative changes for many Native Americans, leaving them feeling threatened and inconvenienced by British rule. In addition to being a military trading post. Fort Quiatenon was also home to many Indian tribes, including the Wea, Miami, and Fox tribes who depended heavily upon the resources of land and animals. Bison, Buffalo, Beaver and fur bearing animals were plentiful within the area and provided the resources for surviving the socioeconomic trends and ruggedness of colonial lifestyles. A small number of Miami Indians still reside in Indiana today. Approximately 2500 Native Americans help preserve the history of Colonial America.
British Tax on Colonies
British policy was often difficult for Native Americans to follow. The French and British military conflicts made life difficult for area residents. British soldiers were engaged in battle against Native Americans and French soldiers until the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1759 when British General James Wolfe captured Quebec. The victory allowed the British to begin taxing colonist to help pay for the losses incurred by the war while placing additional hardships onto Indian nations. Native Americans fought to defend their right to land and began joining forces in an effort to eliminate the rigid confines of British rule.
A surge of Indian villages and uprising began to escalate after the conclusion of the war. Indian tribes settling near the banks of the Great Lakes Region and Ohio River, joined forces with various tribes residing along the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers. It was during this time that a major revolt involving Fort Quiatenon occurred in 1763 by an Ottawaian Indian Tribe leader known as Pontiac. Pontiac’s Rebellion against British forces took control of Fort Quiatenon, transforming the land into meeting grounds for raids against Kentucky settlers. Chief Pontiac forged ahead, taking control of several outposts during the uprising while establishing him-self as a threat to military leaders. The rebellion was a controversial issue for military leaders and it was not until the Supervisor of Native affairs, Sir William Johnson appointed Deputy Colonel George Croghan to negotiate a peace treaty with Pontiac, ending the uprising. Chief Pontiac was later assonated by an Indian tribesman’s for organizing hostilities among the Illinois Indians.
Military forces declared Fort Quiatenon useless due to the attack and allowed Native Americans control up until 1791. Indian revolts on area residents continued to escalate causing military forces to engage in heavy battle. Kentucky Militiamen, General Charles Scott was in charge, and later instructed to burn several Indian villages along the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers. Fort Quiatenon was not spared and the settlement was soon abandoned and suffered decay.
One hundred thirty-seven years passed before a physician relocating to Lafayette, IN purchased the land in 1928. Recognizing the historical value of Fort Quiatenon, Dr. Richard B. Wetherill constructed a replica of the blockhouse trading post pictured above. Indian Hogan’s and replica of a colonial oven used during the 18th. Century is also pictured and remains a significant part of America’s heritage.
Fort Quiatenon was rich with artifacts and became a historical landmark and county Park in 1968. During the fall of the year, The Feast of the Hunters Moon is celebrated. Annual gatherings are formed in an effort to preserve American heritage and the historical value recognized within the fort. Local residents share recreations of 18th Century trade and lifestyle. Music, Dance, Colonial and Military costumes and artisans continue to pay tribute to the historical value of the fort.
1.) Robert M. Taylor, Jr., Errol Wayne Stevens, Mary Ann Ponder, Paul
Brockman, Indiana: A New Historical Guide, Indiana Historical Society, 1989 2.) http://www.ask.com/wiki/Pontiac's_War
4.) http://www.askjeeves.com (searchengines)