Most know the horrific story of the Trail of Tears, but the Ohio Historical Society fears not as many know the history behind the removal of Native Americans in the Midwest.
“Between 1818 and 1838, the American Indians of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois gave up most of their land except for small reserves,” according to the Ohio Historical Society. “The Wyandot alone relinquished title to four and a half million acres. The Miami ceded 6,700,000 acres in Indiana, and 297,000 acres in Ohio.”
Removal conditions were never good—people were packed on overcrowded steamboats, others had to make the entire journey by foot, wagon or horseback. Anyone who put up a fight was tied up to make them easier to transport. Cold, wet weather and inadequate food, clothing and shelter led to sickness and many died along the way.
A three-year grant of $359,994 from the National Endowment for the Humanities will allow the society to educate more people about this history.
The society and its partner, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Community College, have designed Native Americans in the Midwest: Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges, a cooperative agreement to educate community college faculty on the history of Midwest tribes.
Randall Buchman, a Ohio historian and professor emeritus of history at Defiance College, says the history has been ignored for far too long.
“The story of events after their removal has received very little attention in literature and textbooks,” he told the Defiance College Dispatch before a conference on the removal last year. “To help understand our common heritage in a diverse culture, we need to review and reflect on this chapter of our past. There are contradictory views on the subject, and they point out the need to be examined to give a more complete historical context.”
The grant will allow that. It runs this year through 2015 and will allow the society and Northeastern to host three conferences for community college faculty and administrators where they will be immersed in Native history of the Midwest.
The first conference will focus on Ohio’s Native American history and feature presentations by scholars, a visit to Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, and a discussion about how to teach Native history. It will be held August 12-15 around Columbus, Ohio.
Applications for participation in the three-year program are due by April 5 and open to community college faculty and administrators who teach humanities in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, or Oklahoma and have an interest in Native American history.
“This grant is an excellent opportunity for OHS to deepen our connections with regional educators interested in understanding Ohio’s historic Native American tribes,” said Sharon Dean, director of museum and library services for OHS, in a press release.
For more information about the program, or to apply visit BCCC-NAM.org.