Monoquet: Influential Indian Chief

By Waldo L. Adams
The Indian Chief, Monoquet, was the most influential of the five chiefs residing in Kosciusko county at the time white people came to the county.

Almost every writer on the Indian history of the county has written about him. However most of what Coplen, Nye and Armstrong have written about him has (been) derived from what Metcalfe Beck reported about 1835 when he had a personal conversationn with Monoquet.

At that time the old chief was far past his prime physically and without the great influence he wielded from 1795 onward through the War of 1812.

This article will not cover the life of the chief as the previous authors have done but will report on several additional bits of information as recorded by other sources of information. An appraisal of his influence during his prime manhood will also be attempted for it seems to this writer Monoquet's influence has suffered unnecessarily because of the hatred of the early pioneers for Indians and because the policy of the federal government was to destroy Indian influence as rapidly as possible.

Estimates Age at 60
Beck estimated Monoquet's age in 1835 as 60 years. This would place his birth at about 1775 or near the beginning of the Revolution. Thus during his early boyhood he and his associates must have known of the fighting between England and the Colonies.

The Colonial Government of New York and Pennsylvania tried to placate the fears of the Indians that victory over England might mean further inroads by the Colonial farmers into Indian territory west of the Appalachian mountains.

This concern of the Colonists and the Indians was shown by a great conference attended by General lafayette on orders from General Washington held in Johnstown New York in February 1778. Thus Monoquet's father could have attended that conference the news of which undoubtedly rapidly spread westward among the Indians. It was probably at this time Monoquet first heard of the possibility of losing his tribal lands, a fear that dominated his whole adult life.

Monoquet became a young warrior at age 15 or 16 as was common among sons of Indians fairly well schooled in the arts of Indian warfare. This would make his warrior experiences begin about 1785 near the end of the Revolution.

Border Warfare
Ten years of border warfare between the whites and the Indians followed. Monoquet must have known the great Ohio Indian chieftans who fought against the whites desire for their tribal lands. His experiences in Ohio surely convinced him that his people faced extinction.

In 1795 the great Battle of Fallen Timbers occurred on the Maumee River east of Fort Wayne. General Wayne led the whites into a victory over the Indians. That defeat brought on the Great Treaty of Greenville Ohio at which the Indians reluctantly began the surrender of their home lands.

Monoquet did not sign this treaty but his tribal chieftains did. It is very likely that Monoquet, then 25 years of age, was morose and angered at the turn of events that confirmed his early beliefs on the relations with the whites.

Fifteen years later Monoquet, then 40 years of age, was quick to "throw" in with Tucumseh's dream of Indians throwing the whites out of their tribal lands. He was a man now of greatest influence among the Kosciusko county Indians. Each of the four other Pottawatomie chieftains of Kosciusko county were with him at the Battle of Tippecanoe at Lafayette in 1812

Another Crucial Battle
Again fate made Monoquet a loser of a crucial battle, which must have convinced him it was useless to resist further. The War of 1812 went against the British and the Indians. Tecumseh was killed in Canada and the Indians hope of retaining their ancient tribal lands died with him.

Thus Monoquet became a "marked" man which the federal government noted and which the white settlers also knew. Monoquet began to fear for his personal safety. He could not know when a so-called friend might turn on him in his sleep and a knife in his heart would end it all, as had happened to Chief Pontiac who was stabbed in his sleep by an Indian he thought was his friend. Chief Aubeenaubbee was stabbed and killed by his son. Chief Waubee and Chief Papakeechie became fugitives and disappeared in Michigan.

Troubles between the whites and the Indians caused the federal government to grant each chieftain and his tribe an area exclusively theirs to have and to hold forever. No whites were to enter such reservations and Indians were forbidden to leave. It is clear now that the reservation idea was impractical and unworkable.

Reservations Small
The reservations were too small for the Indian hunters to provide meat for their families. Whiskey and idleness led to other crimes and after only five years, 1828-1833, the government persuaded Monoquet and his friends to give up their reservations in Kosciusko county.

Reservation days must have been very boring to Monoquet. He could not visit with his neighboring chieftains. The only way for him to learn what was "going on" was by word of mouth visits. He had already learned of the superiority of a gun over a bow and arrow. He had learned the iron or steel axe was a much better tool than his stone axe. Then he formed the whiskey habit and drank large quantities of it leaving the impression he was drunk much of the time.

An old store ledger of Jacob Smith, merchant at Clunette in 1824, reveals his craving for whiskey. One Friday he purchased eight gallons of whiskey for 25 cents per gallon. The following Tuesday he was booked at Smith's store for two more gallons. Perhaps he had a bad toothache, for, one remembers, there was no aspirin or other pain killer available in those days.

Prefers Calico to Deerskin
He also was a little vain in his clothing preferring colorful calico to deerskin. When he attended the great annuity days at Rochester he did not wish to go bare headed as in the old days but purchased a wide brimmed black hat. White men wore hats at important events. His hats cost $5 each but improved his ego and his self image. He purchased his first gun and accessories at Rochester annuity days, but was certainly short of powder because it was the policy of the government to be short with it.

Monoquet never left Kosciusko county. He died before the forced migrations of his people to Kansas. He did not died a natural death as he had hoped. His fears were realized when he became deathly ill from what his tribesmen believed was poison. The Indian lady from Chief White Pigeon's tribe had been visiting Monoquet's tribe. When he died she learned they were accusing her of the poisoning. Acting quickly she hurried north on the old trail.

Woman's Life Taken
Two of Monoquet's warriors found her one mile south of what is now Leesburg. They killed her for the suspected poisoning. Monoquet was given an Indian type burial south of his village. Some bones reported to be those of Monoquet have been seen in Kosciusko county. There is some mystery about them for their present owners fear reprisals from the Indians if they know about them.

From 1833-1844 various tribes were conducted west of the Mississippi River to Kansas and Oklahoma. These forced migrations of Indians, usually conducted by orders to General John Tipton from President Jackson have been referred to as the "Trail of Tears." Bill Monoquet, son of the old Chief, was one who left at that time. He loved the whites. In Kansas he became a wealthy influential Chief of his tribe.

Warsaw Times-Union Friday, July 2, 1976

(Marge Priser note: This article may contain discrepencies with other sources of information on this subject. There were no sources or references given, except the old store ledger of Jacob Smith. Whereabouts of this ledger are unknown. Please see the article written by Metcalfe Beck on Monoquet Village)