Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Well, not really. But I’ve just noticed that the town where I was born made USA Today. The monument at the Tippecanoe Battlefield was ‘defaced’. The so-called vandals wrote “America repent” and “Tecumsehs not dead” [sic] and “Give us back our spiritual capital.”

Everyone is appalled, of course…but me, I think it’s just political activism, and well deserved. For those of you who haven’t been to the Tippecanoe Battlefield, the huge white obelisk in question is to honor all the white dead of the Battle of Tippecanoe. The American Indians get a little tiny bronze plaque.

James Mitchner’s miniseries Centenniel had a very profound impact on me as a young child, where you get to watch the fictional version of the Sand Creek Massacre, as well as seeing how Native Americans were treated, both politically and personally. In third or fourth grade I did a project on the Cherokee Removal (and still hold a grudge against President Andrew Jackson for it), and then visited the historical locations in North Carolina and Georgia. In high school I wrote some impassioned essays for English classes. At Purdue I took Native American history classes and read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. In 1996 I visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield (though I still haven’t found that bumper sticker that says “Custer died for your sins”).

So suffice it to say that American Indian rights are a long-standing passion of mine. There are a couple of missions out west that work to improve conditions on the reservations that I’ve supported, and in some of my original fiction I’ve written about it, as well.

In any case, despite being an historian who maybe ought to be appalled at the defacing of a 100-year-old monument…I’m just filled with glee. Maybe it’s not such an anti-historian reaction; after all, the nature of the messages show that what some people think of as history is still alive and burning in the hearts of people today.

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