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


Day 54-55 Little Schuy Creek -- Mile 574
Oct. 27, 1838

As soon as the Indians ferried across the Missouri River they were hurried through Lexington and on their way causing the column to spread out along the shore of the Missouri as they headed to Little Schuy Creek for the night. The front part of the party reached reached camp by 4PM but the rest of the column must have straggled in hours later making the total miles for the day eight.

They camped two nights here since they had agreed to not walk on Sundays so the Indians could worship. However worship was not the only order of the day on this Sunday. In the morning chief Ash-Kum headed a delegation of Indian leaders to the headquarters protesting the "unrestricted power by I-o-weh whom they did not choose to acknowledge as a chief of the blood." This if not the first time a rivaling had emerged among the chiefs, not uncommon in the white man's dealings with the Indians, usually to the great disadvantage to the Indians.

The second issue they raised was their promised annunities. As part of the purchase and treaty settlement with the Indians the government promised various short or long term annual payments. Polke "hoped they would cease to speak of a subject which could not be of benefit to them" and apparently avoided addressing the matter. Did Polke know that the too-often practice of the government was to walk away from such deals eventually--sometimes right away? Is this why he avoided speaking on the subject? He was not an Indian agent and there is some evidence he thought this whole affair was questionable. If so was he wagging his head inside at what he was participating in? Did he know that the government almost always walked away from their promises? The trouble of course was that the Indians took the verbal promises to be binding while the government considered only written promises with any sort of seriousness--and even the written promises were often discarded "because the situation has now changed." I wonder what Polke knew this morning when the Indians, now approaching their new homes asked about their payments. As always Polke approached his diplomacy with tobacco--he offered some "in hopes that they would continue in peace and harmony." He did tell them he know of their anunities but did not act as an agent in the matter, presumably leaving that up the their new Indian agent in Kansas.

The journal reported the sad news of the day: "A child died in the night some time--the first for the last four weeks." Many of the children were already dead of course. Now after this child making 574 miles west he or she finally gave up and passed away. how sad.

AS FOR ME I got a great boost this morning. Kerry Kind, an old friend from Indianapolis showed up at my little brick motel this morning saying he was "going to walk with you a couple days." Kerry had gotten into his car at dark the night before and drove all night to catch me before leaving Lexington's only motel. We drove back down town where we asked the city police where we might park his van a few days and got invited into the early morning coffee-break briefing of the city's police force. Parking the van right outside the police department we headed west down the delightful and historic route 224 waling almost all the morning in 100% shade as we walked the border of the Missouri River chatting and theologizing together. The miles flow past as we talked and soon we were passing the party's Little Schuy camp ground before we even had a sit-down break.


Blogger kerry said...

It was great fellowship walking with you and never running out of great topics! As for the landscape, there were some nice spots, but we also talked our way through many hot, lonely featureless miles. I might have been able to do the whole trip with you, but I would never do this one alone. You amaze me. By the way, I can't even imagine doing even the two days, 40+ miles, without good shoes.

You're almost home now!

9:47 AM  
Blogger Keith.Drury said...

Thanks Kerry--I had a great time--like a 48 hour coffee break!

You are right about the "rewards" of this trip--- backpacking on the PCT or AT "pays well" with regular views... a road trip like this yields fewer paychecks from beauty--other than the beauty we saw in the people who without prompting stoped to help us out, offered water, advice, coffee, and even rides. I've been pondering how we Christians tend to imagine seeing God better in nature--- and "General Revelation" does reveal somewhat... but God never promised to be revealed there-- mountains are not made in the image of God--people are. So this trip has got me more aware of watching for that revelation of God's image in people I've met.

Thanks again for your company--and for the help carrying the tent lightening my load!


7:52 AM  
Blogger ncboman said...

hat's off to you for the hands on experience of reliving part of our history. ncboman

6:42 AM  

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