Trail Of Death Journey

Journal notes walking the "Trail of Death" tracing the Potawatomi Indians forced removal from Indiana to Kansas in 1838. This blog is in process of being re-ordered and moved to

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Location: Marion, Indiana, United States

Professor Emeritus


Graduation finished about noon. As I rode my moped home I saw students loading their rooms into their parent’s cars and trucks in the misty rain. It was time for me to pack too—so I finally gathered the stuff I’d been listing in my head during the Baccalaureate and Commencement addresses. There’s not much…

--Go-lite pack @ 15 oz,
--sleeping pad @ 7 oz
--Moonstone sleeping bag @ 28 oz
--Go-lite umbrella @ 7 oz,
--Patagonia fleece @ 7 oz,
--Nylon running shorts @ 2oz
--Fleece night cap @ 3 oz
--2 water bottles @ 4 oz
--Writing materials @ 4oz
--Research notes @7 oz
--Toiletries & misc @ 4 oz
--Electonics @ 9 oz
TOTAL of about 7 pounds on my back.

I’ll be wearing the rest:
--Columbia desert pants
--Wal-mart Starter® shirt,
--Desert sun hat & sunglasses
--New Balance ® 806 sneakers
--4 pr liner socks

FINALLY I’m packed and ready to go. Just in time. Sharon will drop me off tomorrow afternoon in at the Twin Lakes statue of Chief Menominee near Plymouth Indiana and I’ll start my 660 mile trek in the path of the Potawatomi Indian removal to Kansas.

A student yesterday upon hearing of my walk asked, “Why in the world would you want to go to Kansas?” That, of course, was exactly the question the Potawatomi asked. ;-)
To join me for a day or week call 765-618-0990
To send a postcard or note see the mail drops below in previous post.


I'd love to get a short note or or post card while walking from you...When I go into a Post Office hoping for something and they say, "Sorry, nothing for you here" I walk away with my head down for the next week. I know..everybody is busy so I understand, but if you want to make this walker happy a short note to one of my mail drops along the way is a real pick-me-up on a long walk like this. And I always answer every one. I guess I like to hear from friends because I have 15 hours a day while walking to ponder friendship, your news, what's happening elsewhere--it is my "newspaper" of sorts. So if you want to write a note here are my mail drops on this walk. (If I beat your note to the PO I'll leave a forwarding address to the next PO so it will still catch me)

Address mail to Keith Drury-General Delivery at these addresses by these dates.
Keith Drury-General Delivery
May 5 Logansport In 46947-9999
May 11 Danville IL 61832-9999
May 18 Decatur IL 62525-9999
May 25 Exeter IL 62621-9999
June 3 Paris MO 61944-9999(
Married 39 yrs today).
June 9 Lexington MO 64067-9999
June 16 Paola KS 66071-9999


I still have not packed... grading papers every waking hour... in the Spring I always wonder why I've assigned my student so much writing--which only means I have to read it all. (They think likewise).

I have about 5-6 people who have talked about walking some of this trek with me so far--but usually only one of five every actually shows up--no matter, I can walk-without-thinking alone as easily as with someone else.

The way I have this scheduled is in one-week segments so I should take each weekend off... I'll hitchhike home each weekend at the beginning or Sharon plans to come to meet me on some weekends. The Indian removal journey took 1-2 days a week off on average. There was so much sickhness and death the first 3-4 weeks that they sometimes had to stay 2-3-4 days to get the number of sick down under 100. I will try to stay on track with their rough schdeule which gives me a "Sabbath day" or two each week. Most treks I've done (and most other trekkers) find a day off a week or two actually INCREASES their total mileage -- there's a lesson in that I think.

OK back to grading--my reward for getting this done is getting to leave and start walking... I'm ready..wish I could leave tomorrow! Maybe I'll just give them all A's and leave early!


I find myself thinking (even dreaming) about this walk--probably as an escape from the mounds of grading before me this weekend. While I am excited about the story to be experienced and told, right now I'm most anticipating "just walking." College professors like me only "work" eight months but in reality I simply cram 11 months of labor into those eight months. Right now I am looking forward to "nothing." That is, I am wanting to just walk for 12 hours a day thinking about nothing whatsoever except the next step I need to take, or blisters on my feet, or thiking about the fact that I'm thirsty, or noting the heat of the sun or the coming rain--simple things that humans have thought about for thousands of years.

Sometimes people ask why I do trekking. Thay assume "You must really get a lot of ideas while walking, right?" Actually, no. Mostly I think about nothing at all. I "fast" thinking, and talking, and (usually) even writing--on wilderness trips I don't even take a pen and paper. I look forward most to rebooting my mind...doing a "disk defrag" of my mind—clearing out half-thought thoughts, deleting wasteful thinking, opening up fresh disk space of the mind. That is what I yearn for right now in the midst of the final flurry of grading and exams.

This walk will be different. I am writing on it (thus this blog) but I’ll be tracing the steps of other walkers—almost a thousand Indians forced to leave Indiana so we could plant our own corn and soybeans. It is a sad tale yet a story of great hope and love at the same time. So, while I’ll be emptying out my mind of the usual things, I’ll be filling it with different stuff. I want to feel the pain of the two million footsteps those Indians took to get to their new land in Kansas. And I want to feel their remorse and despair…but also their hope and happiness too.

And I especially want to feel what the white folk who conducted this removal felt. They are not all bad men—indeed one of them is a hero of sorts—a guy stuck with doing a bad thing the best way possible. And I especially want to feel what the young priest who went along felt. This trip for me is not so much a trip of the mind, but one of the heart.

The sooner I start the better. Which means I need to go pack…at least I should go pack.


I have been reading all year getting ready for this journey, the letters from people who went on the journey, especially the Priest and the "conductor" of the removal. But now it is time to actually get gear ready--yet I'm not ready for that. I have another week of classes--where I have to grade final "papers" then a week of exams grading, then graduation..then I'm off... I plan to leave the day after graduation, the last day of April so I can starting walking may 1st. When will I pack? Who knows... I'm packing in my head now, but I probably won't do it until the night before. Oh well, this trek is not like my normal wilderness backpacking treks on the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail where you go a week without a store. I'll pass some little store daily I suppose, so I'm not freaking out yet. My head is working in "background" but most of my attention is on finishing my semester strong, not on this walk. I should have given myself a few days cushion--no matter I'll just do it.


May-June 2006 Trail of Death Journey
In 1838 Americans were moving west and wanted the fertile land of Northern Indiana. The problem: the Potawatomi Indians were in the way and owned the land by treaty. Through a series of deals and decisions the State of Indiana initiated the “removal” of nearly a thousand Potawatomi 660 miles to Kansas. It is called the “trail of Death” because almost daily as they crossed Indiana and Illinois children and old folk died.

The famous chief Menominie who had refused to cave in and give up his land to the state was known as the “Potawatomi preacher” insisting on twice daily Christian worship and total abstinence from alcohol. A young Catholic Priest, Father Petit accompanied the tribe on the journey and kept a careful diary as did the commander of the troops.

Keith Drury, religion professor at Indiana Wesleyan University is walking this 660 mile route as he writes the book, “Meditations for Christians along the Trail of Death.” The book will integrate two areas—the history of the event and religion, reflecting on events in 1838 from a religious (particularly Christian) perspective. The walk will begin near May 1, 2006 and for the year before this walk Keith Drury has been researching the history of the journey.

More resources will appear on this site one he takes the walk and the book as well will be available here. Until then his email address is and you might also get captivated by this story by reading some of the resources available on the web:

Tentative schedule of 2006 Drury walk
First week of May (RED)
Second week of May (PINK)
Third week of May (LIGHT GREEN)
Last week of May (BLUE)
First week of June (YELLOW)
Second week of June (GREEN)
Third week of June (BLACK)

Want to join me?
If you are a friend or student and you might like to join me on a few days or a week of this trip let me know by writing or (once the trip has started) call my cell phone at 765-618-0990 and leave a message; I’ll check messages every evening