Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another Reason Why the Menominees had no Official Chief from 1818 to 1827

In my previous post I described a nine-year period in which the Menominees were without an official leader. The source I was using put an emphasis on how both Oshkosh and Josette were young and got along with each other and weren't in any hurry to take charge of the tribe for those reasons.

But after giving it some thought, I now suspect that both Oshkosh and Josette were deliberately avoiding the polical spotlight because it was in the best interests of the Menominee people at that time to be unorganized.

As you may recall, the old chief, Tomah, had been an ally of the British. Tomah's death in 1818 coincided with the time when the Menominees had to accept the reality that the British were no longer in the picture.

I may have to back up and explain how this was a problem. The western theater of the War of 1812 was Indian Country and it was the last of a number of wars the Menominee Indians were on the wrong side of. Of course their numbers had also been reduced by the usual onslaught of European diseases. With British troops finally out of the area, the United States ceasefire policy was to acquire Indian land via purchase. (Military force, it was decided, would cause too many hard feelings.) . So although there weren't enough Menominee warriors left to defend their large territory, they must have known that the biggest threat to their land would be to have an organized government with a central leader. In other words, both Oshkosh and Josette avoided their opportunity of coming to power, because they knew that by doing so, they would only speed up the process of making arrangements for much of their land to be sold to the United States.

In my next post, I'll discuss how the Menominees' "chieflessness" affected the New York Indians as they prepared to come to the "Green Bay" area of what was then known as Michigan Territory.

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