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Be Careful Who Your Heroes Are!
Anthony Wayne: Hero of the Mid-West
Americans love their heroes - movie heroes like Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, John Wayne (in virtually every movie he ever made), military heroes like George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Daniel Boone, and "Mad" Anthony Wayne.
Wait, who? Anthony Wayne. He is the war hero for whom the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana was named. War hero for his work in, as George Washington told him, "cleaning up the Indian problem" in the mid-West.
So what was the "Indian problem"? Well, we must remember that when the White settlers came to America they decided they wanted to take over the then untamed country. They entered into treaties with the Native Americans to take over parts of their land. Of course, the alternative would have been to go to war with the - as Andrew Jackson called them - "wandering savage," because if you can't have something, the next best thing is to fight someone for it. It's the American way of accomplishing a goal.
During the American Revolution the Cherokees joined forces with the British, who were their trading partners. Always out for revenge, militia from five states swooped down on the Cherokee, killing everyone they could find.
After the Revolution settlers streamed into Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio. More than 45,000 people moved to Ohio in the subsequent 20 years. The Indians, attempting to keep their hunting grounds, raided several settlements. The Americans suffered numerous defeats at the hands of the Indians.
President George Washington commissioned Anthony Wayne to lead an expedition in the Northwest Indian War. From 1793-95 Wayne won numerous battles against the Indians until their surrender and signing of the Treaty of Fort Greenville, ceding most of Ohio to the American invaders.
The treatment of the American Indian did not improve over the years.
In the 1830s, on the orders of President Andrew Jackson, 46,000 Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole and Choctaw Indians were forcibly snatched from their homes and marched 800 miles so that their property could be taken over by White Americans. The result was a great loss of life, including 4,000 of the 15,000 Cherokees who were forced to move.
Well into the twentieth century, suppression of Native ways continued. The government outlawed traditional native religious ceremonies and, in an attempt to "civilize" them, Indian children were taken from their families and forced into boarding schools to educate them. They were forbidden to speak in their native tongues, not taught their native ways, and were, in effect, "Americanized."
Today many Native Americans are living in poverty and suffer injustices not inflicted on White Americans. A case in point is the wrongful incarceration of Leonard Peltier, who you can read about on Hubpages and elsewhere.
So, is Anthony Wayne a hero, deserving of a city being named after him? Personally, I think the city would have been better served keeping its original name of Kekionga than naming it after a man hired by George Washington to beat the opposition into submission so as to take their land away.