Haywood, Carl N. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume 75 (1987)
Clifton, James A.
Wisconsin death march: explaining the extremes in old northwest Indian removal, pp. 1-40 PDF (18.7 MB)
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Although these Chippewa were cer- ing in all other attempts to dislodge and to tainly victimized by a few American of- relocate groups Of Old Northwest Inficials and punished by events under no dians. These features in combination conindividual's control, ultimately they ditioned the resort by Americans to coeremerged from this confrontation as vic- cion or deception. In sequence, the first of tors. During the three years following the these was a serious, prolonged, public abortive effort to dislodge them, they ef- dispute over the legitimacy of a treaty fectively maneuvered, procrastinated, and obligation, with the Indians vehemently negotiated to a standstill those function- denying the right of Americans to demand aries still bent on their dislocation, and in the surrender of particular tracts and their the end achieved their major goal of re- resettlement and with their adversaries maining on reservations within their pre- hewing to the right to evict. Next, such a ferred habitats in Wisconsin and Michi- dispute had to be moved to a crisis point, gan by explicit treaty-specified right, with the Indians adamantly rejecting furMoreover, the Chippewa were not alone ther American efforts at verbal persuaamong the Indians of the Old Northwest sion and the various incentives proffered. in successfully thwarting American ef- Finally, there had to be present politically forts to implement the removal policy, influential local Americans with strong Systematic study of the diverse responses vested interests in securing the dislocaof the two dozen groups of Indians in the tion, transportation, and resettlement in region subject to the various tactics of particular places of the Indians involved. Americans to move them west makes this These interests were varied and intereminently clear and contributes further twined. They included some combination insights into the distinctive features of the of local political prestige, career enhanceChippewa case. ment, visionary dreams of ecclesiastical Of the more than forty efforts between colonies, control of patronage resources, 1825 and 1855 to bring about the west- profound power needs, ideological conward resettlement of Old Northwest In- victions, the need for immediate income, dians, there were just four where outright the aim of thwarting rivals, the lure of force, or—as in the Chippewa example— capital accumulation, and others more or furtive deception and trickery, were less distinguishable in the historical employed to produce the results desired record.6 by. federal administrators. In these few Lacking one or more of these three concases, the coercive tactics used con- ditions, American authorities did not use tributed to extraordinary hardship and force to drive Indians west in a manner fatalities, consequences that can be, in that fits the "Trail of Tears" stereotype. some part, plausibly attributed to the ac- Ordinarily, officials relied on personal intions of American authorities. The other fluence, on oral argument (enumerating three involved Black Hawk's band of re- what they defined as the positive incalcitrant Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo in ducements for moving and the disincen1831—1832, certain villages of the Indiana tives for remaining), and on the disposiPotawatomi in 1838, and the Winnebago tions of the Indians to cooperate in what intermittently over the course of a decade must be defined as encouraged, but not and more after 1838.' forced, migrations. Similarly, numerous Although each of these four cases had groups of Old Northwest Indians, someits own distinguishing features, they times differing with Americans on the shared a series of specific common ante- stipulations in treaty engagements, somecedents, one or more of which were lack- times not, did not press the issue, but in2
This material may be protected by copyright law (e.g., Title 17, US Code).| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright