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Fort Miami (also known as Fort Miamis) was built in the principal Miami village of Kekionga in what is now present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana. Originally built by the French as a military and trading outpost, it served to protect the trading routes of New France (Poinsatte [2021] 1976: 29). The fort would eventually be overtaken by the British during the French and Indian War. Fort Miami was the site of several battles over the course of multiple conflicts between Europeans and the Northeastern Indian tribes during the latter half of the 18th century, which lead to the repeated destruction of the fort. These include the Destruction of Fort Miami and the Attack on Fort Miami during the French and Indian Wars, the Capture of Fort Miami during Pontiac’s Rebellion, and both Hardin’s Defeat and Harmer’s Defeat during the Northwest Indian War. Fort Miami was permanently destroyed by American forces during the campaign associated with the final battle of the Northwest Indian War and replaced with Fort Wayne, the namesake of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Currently, the site of Fort Miami is marked with an Indiana State Historical Marker located next to Fort Wayne’s historic Guldin Park and can be visited by the public during all hours.

Fort Miami Historical Marker (Location)

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Fort Miami Historical Marker (Front)

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Fort Miami Historical Marker (Front)

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Twightwee Treaty of Lancaster

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Instructions to Major General Wayne for holding a treaty with the North Western Indians and form of the Treaty

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Miami Treaty of St. Mary's

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Indian Grants in Indiana by Treaties of Oct. 23rd, 1834 - Little River

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Miami Chief Little turtle

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Pontiac and Robert Rogers

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The Miami people are Algonquian-speaking group of indigenous North American Indians. The Miami lived in established settlements in what is now northeastern Illinois, northern Indiana, and the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. They also expanded into Detroit and Ohio; however, they later withdrew from this territory and settled in Indiana (“Miami | People” n.d.). In approximately 1715, Fort Miami was built by France in what is now the Northeastern corner of Indiana. France had specifically adopted a strategy of building forts in areas with friendly indigenous populations or places with significant strategic value. The area where Fort Miami was built had both of these qualities, as it was both an existing trading hub and a strategically valuable military location. A quality that could help France counter-balance British influence in North America. As tensions rose between the French and the British, Fort Miami became the site of several conflicts, particularly during the French and Indian War, during which it was the site of two battles: Destruction of Fort Miami in 1747 and the Attack on Fort Miami in 1752 (Poinsatte [2021] 1976: 24-28). After the French left the area, the British would eventually take control of Fort Miami in 1760 (Poinsatte [2021] 1976: 34). Prior to this though, the British had already stated to foster a relationship with the Miami. In 1748, the Miami (referred to as the Twightwee) along with the Iroquois Confederacy (referred to as the Six Nations) signed a treaty with the colony of Pennsylvania. This would grant the extension of Pennsylvania into Ohio lands, and would allow the British colonists to use the Miami as a buffer between the colony and the French (Harmar 1791a; “Twightwee Treaty of Lancaster” n.d.).

In 1763, during Pontiac’s Rebellion, Fort Miami was captured in battle so named the Capture of Fort Miami. Pontiac’s rebellion began in 1763 as tensions rose between Native peoples in the region and the British who had taken control over most of the French territory in the area.  As more British settlers began encroaching into this territory, Native peoples demanded that the British and their allies respect their trade, travel, and hunting rights along the land paths and water routes in the lands centered between the Niagara Falls, present day Ohio, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. In the agreement with Britain, Natives peoples had relinquished control over French settlements and military posts while also promising traders and military personnel access to land and water routes. However, they did not appreciate Britain’s unwillingness to honor the terms of their agreement, which included a ban on British settlement, or the building of new forts. During the war, Native peoples who had aligned themselves with Pontiac were able to capture and destroy many significant British forts all over the region, including Fort Miami. Eventually, the rebellion would end in a mutual compromise by both sides that would maintain Native mobility in the region (Kaja 2016).

During the Northwest Indian War, Fort Miami became a repeated target for the United States and its allies. As it was significant strategic point in the region, both culturally and geographically, The United States launched multiple campaigns in order to capture and destroy the fort. A broad coalition of Native peoples, including the Miami, referred to as the Northwest Coalition allied themselves with the British in hopes of preventing the United States from overtaking their lands. As a result, Fort Miami is the site of two major battles of the Northwest Indian War (Hardin’s defeat and Harmar’s Defeat) and associated with two other major battles, St. Clair's Defeat and the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Both Hardin’s and Harmar’s defeats were a part of a single campaign where over the course of a month, their forces travelled over 350 miles, destroyed hundreds of Native homes, over 20,000 bushels of agricultural goods, and killed between 100-120 warriors in between the two major engagements. Yet the campaign ultimately ended in failure due to poor performance, poor leadership, unreliable militia, faulty logistics, and a gross misunderstanding of strategic context regarding the Northwest Coalition (Matthaidess 2015: 9-11). Many of these failures would be outlined in the Harmar’s testimony given in a Court of Inquiry to investigate his conduct (Harmar 1791b). However, despite these victories, The Northwest Coalition ultimately lost the war in the Battle of Fallen Timbers fought in Fort Miami, Ohio as part of a campaign led by General Anthony Wayne.

After the Battle of Fallen Timbers, General Wayne’s forces destroyed Fort Miami and replaced it with a new fort named after himself as a way to secure the United State’s newfound control over the region In July of 1795, the Miami Confederacy met with the United States in Greenville, Ohio in order to negotiate a peace settlement. During these negotiations, Little Turtle (a prominent Miami chief who had played a major role in the Western Confederacy's military victories over Harmar and St. Clair), acted as a principal spokesperson for the Miami. However, this peace would not last for long. By July of 1800, the United States had taken control of the French town of Vincennes, making it the capital of the Indiana Territory. As a result, William Henry Harrison facilitated westward this expansion by voiding the titles the Native peoples had to their lands through treaties (Mann 1999: 2).    

Because of the destruction of their cultural capital Kekionga alongside Fort Miami after the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the Miami people were put into a vulnerable political position as other Indian communities migrated into the area due to displacement and drawn in by the movement started by Tenskwatawa and his brother Tecumseh. This created a regional power shift as well as tension between the Miami and these tribes, as many of the tribes began to sign treaties with the United States causing the Miami to lose their hegemony of the area. Additionally, the rhetoric of Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh threated the Miami people’s traditional avenues of diplomacy as it polarized relationships between European settlers and Native peoples (Bottiger 2013: 10-11). In October of 1818, the United States government and leaders of the Miami people met in St. Mary's, Ohio to sign a treaty in which the United States purchased land from the Miami. This was a as part of a large-scale effort by the Untied States to purchase land from indigenous people and move them to lands west of the Mississippi River (“Miami Treaty of St. Mary’s” n.d.). As a result of this treaty, most of the Miami people were pushed to the Big Miami Reserve before ultimately being relocated west of the Mississippi to what is now Oklahoma in the 1840s. However, some of the Miami people chose to remain in Indiana, as individuals who had received land allotments through treaties with the United States had been allowed to stay, there continues to be a community of Miami people living in Indiana today (“Indian Grants in Indiana by Treaties of Oct. 23rd, 1834 - Little River” n.d.).

Bottiger, Patrick. 2013. “Prophetstown for Their Own Purposes: The French, Miamis, and Cultural Identities in the Wabash—Maumee Valley.” Journal of the Early Republic 33 (1): 29–60.

Harmar, Josiah. 1791a. A Treaty Held by Commissioners, Members of the Council of the Province of Pennsylvania, at the Town of Lancaster, with Some of the Chiefs of the Six Nations at Ohio, and Others, for the Admission of the Twightwee Nation into the Alliance of His Majesty, &C. In the Month of July, 1748. United States--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia: Printed by John Fenno, M.DCC.XCI.

Harmar, Josiah. 1791b. The Proceedings of a Court of Enquiry, Held at the Special Request of Brigadier General Josiah Harmar, to Investigate His Conduct, as Commanding Officer of the Expedition against the Miami Indians, 1790: The Same Having Been Transmitted by Major General St. Clair, to the Secretary of the United States, for the Department of War. Published by Authority. United States--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia: Printed by John Fenno, M.DCC.XCI.

IHB. n.d. Fort Miamis. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.in.gov/history/state-historical-markers/find-a-marker/fort-miamis/.

“Indian Grants in Indiana by Treaties of Oct. 23rd, 1834 - Little River.” n.d. In.gov. Accessed April 24, 2021. https://digital.library.in.gov/Record/ISL_p16066coll68-53.

“Instructions to Major General Wayne for Holding a Treaty with the North Western Indians and Form of the Treaty.” n.d. In.gov. Accessed April 24, 2021. https://digital.library.in.gov/Record/IHS_ONWT-1441.

Kaja, Jeffrey D. 2016. “‘“Sometimes Bad People Take the Liberty of [Stragling] into Your Country”’ the Struggle to Control Mobility during Pontiac’s War.” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14 (2): 225–57.

“KIILOONA MYAAMIAKI | Miami Tribe of Oklahoma |.” 2018. Miamination.com. 2018. https://miamination.com/.

“List of Battles Fought in Indiana.” 2021. Wikipedia. January 30, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battles_fought_in_Indiana.

Mann, Rob. 1999. “The Silenced Miami: Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Evidence for Miami-British Relations, 1795-1812.” Ethnohistory 46 (3): 399–427.

Matthaidess, Edwin III D. 2015. “Our Loss Was Heavy: Brigadier General Josiah Harmar’s Kekionga Campaign of 1790.” Apps.dtic.mil. May 23, 2015. https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/AD1001665.

“Miami | People.” n.d. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Miami-people.

“Miami Treaty of St. Mary’s.” n.d. In.gov. Accessed April 24, 2021. https://digital.library.in.gov/Record/ISL_p16066coll38-8.

Nation, Miami. 2018. “Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana.” Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana. 2018. https://www.miamiindians.org/.

Neal, Andrea. 2013. “Indiana Policy Review.” Inpolicy.org. August 12, 2013. https://inpolicy.org/2013/08/land-of-three-rivers-from-miami-capital-to-fort-wayne/.

Poinsatte, Charles R. (2021) 1976. Outpost in the Wilderness: Fort Wayne, 1706-1828. Fort Wayne, Ind.: Allen County, Fort Wayne Historical Society.

“Twightwee Treaty of Lancaster.” n.d. In.gov. Accessed April 24, 2021. https://digital.library.in.gov/Record/ISL_p16066coll38-11.