Thursday, July 16, 2009
Life on an Indian Agency July event report
This season we introduced a new July event, Life on an Indian Agency. Everyone who attended had a great time learning just what it took to operate a United States Indian Agency in the early to mid-1800s. John Johnston's tenure as an agent ran from 1802 until 1828. Johnston's job made him put on many hats - Native Americans were contacted, worked and treated with, traded with, as well as simply cared for on an agency. Treaties were worked on and completed, negotiations undertaken, but there were simpler everyday tasks to perform as well - Native men and their families were cared for, fed, and given a safe haven in times of need. At one time, during the War of 1812, the members of the Delaware Nation - counting in the hundreds - were brought to Johnston's agency to be cared for on their trek to their new home in the west. As might be expected, the local inhabitants of the nearby city of Piqua were not too happy. They even went so far as to petition the governor of Ohio to have the natives removed.
The event this weekend touched on many of these things. Jim Johnson of Troy, a member of the Shamanic Institute, represented the native aspect. Set up in the Indian Agency office, Jim spoke of native beliefs and customs while helping anyone who wanted to, to make a medicine bag. Sycamore Springs Clothiers, owner and operated by Beverly Smith and Kitty Thompson, represented the trade end of the business. Johnston carried many items on his land for trade. John Heater and Sheri Barhorst were on hand to demonstrate European and Native weaving. Nancy Weatherhead worked on the lucette, creating a knotted cord as Mrs. Johnston and her daughters would have done.
The day's special feature was a talk given by Robert Bowman on the Johnston's son, Abraham Robinson Johnston. Known to the family as Robinson, he was killed during the pivotal battle of the western campaign of the Mexican War, dying in 1846 at the Battle of San Pasqual. Bob used a powerpoint presentation to showcase the all too brief life and death of John Johnston's second son. Also in attendance that day were Richard Rozevink and David Bennett representing the agency during the War of 1812, when General William Henry Harrison was encamped at Upper Piqua before going to free Fort Wayne (IN) from the seige laid to it by the British and opposing Indians.
This event will repeat in the 2010 season with a special first person presentation of John Johnston's mother, Elizabeth Bernard Johnston. Elizabeth will speak of what it was like for the family to live in an agency house and to deal with the danger brought to it by the war.
Mark your calendars!