The Circle Newspaper Features Capitol Art Debate; This Day in History: Greatest Defeat of U.S. Army by American Indians

The Circle Newspaper just ran a front page article on the Capitol art debate titled: “Art glorifying the conquest of Indians needs to leave state capitol,” written by HMS volunteer Scott Russell. The article could help boost attendance at the state Art Subcommittee public hearings on Capitol Art. One of the first will be in Minneapolis, Thursday, November 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board building 2117 W. River Road North–put it on your calendar. It could help give more visibility to our petition (we are over 370 signers now.)

Perhaps best of all, the article highlighted art by Ariana Poyirier, a sixth grader at Oshki Ogimaag Community School in Grand Portage, one of the schools that has participated in our art project. We got a nice letter from the school saying this project had contributed to school pride. Ariana’s art shows up in The Circle’s printed article, but not the on-line article. So for those of you who haven’t seen print version, here is Ariana’s art and artist statement.

Eagle Woman by Ariana Poyirier
Eagle Woman by Ariana Poyirier

Eagle Woman: My painting is of a transformation of eagle to girl/girl to eagle. The image has to do with my connection to the eagle. The eagle is important to me and to my community and a symbol of our culture. To me, my painting reminds me of my Grandma. Family is important in our culture. We are connected. Cedar and beadwork on the border … are also important to my culture. We drink cedar tea by boiling it in water. It is used for medicine. I put the beads around the girl because I do beadwork. This is a traditional craft in our culture. I am proud to be a Native American from Grand Portage and I am part of Minnesota.

This Day in History: The Battle of the Wabash (or St. Claire’s Defeat)

On this day in history, November 4, 1791, the U.S. government suffered its worst defeat in a battle against Native Americans. (Yes, a worse defeat than Custer at Little Big Horn; U.S. forces suffered three times the casualties.)

The battle occurred less than 10 years after the end of the Revolutionary War. The Wikipedia entry on St. Claire’s Defeat gives the following summary:

After the war, the United States laid claim to lands east of the Mississippi and south of the Great Lakes. The Native American tribes had largely sided with the British during the war, but were not a party to the Treaty of Paris which ended the war. They did not recognize American claims to lands northwest of the Ohio river. A confederacy of more than 1,000 American Indians from the Great Lakes region participated in the battle in the disputed territory. The U.S. force  numbered about 1,000, led by General Arthur St. Clair. The battle was fought near present-day Fort Recovery, Ohio. The confederacy’s attack caught U.S. troops by surprise.

The American casualty rate, among the soldiers, was 97.4 percent, including 632 of 920 killed (69%) and 264 wounded. Nearly all of the 200 camp followers were slaughtered, for a total of 832 Americans killed. Approximately one-quarter of the entire U.S. Army had been wiped out. Only 24 of the 920 officers and men engaged came out of it unscathed. Indian casualties were about 61, with at least 21 killed.

St. Claire was forced to resign. The defeat resulted in the first Congressional investigation of the executive branch.



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