August 06, 2009

Battle of Fort Dearborn Park

New park to be named 'Battle of Fort Dearborn'A new Chicago park will be named Battle of Fort Dearborn Park in a ceremony that will include Native American drumming and prayer.

Battle descendants and War of 1812 reenactors are expected to attend the event Saturday too.

The park is at the approximate site of a battle that was part of the War of 1812 between the United States and the British. After a group of U.S. soldiers and civilians evacuated Fort Dearborn, they were attacked by a group of Potawatomi Indians allied with the British.
History never dies

Park name forced neighbors, American Indians back to 1812

By Micah Maidenberg
Mark Kieras was drawn to purchase a home in the Prairie District six years ago because of its past. Prairie Avenue south of 18th Street still featured some of the mansions inhabited by turn-of-the-century captains of industry and was lined by graceful, mature trees. Kieras liked that. His new environment inspired the real estate agent to start reading local histories.

He came to learn about the Battle of Fort Dearborn. “This site at 18th and Calumet kept coming up. I kept reading—it was referenced four, five, six times. This is pretty significant here,” he said of the intersection, the approximate place of an Aug. 15, 1812, fight between American soldiers and hundreds of American Indians.

The battle, as described by author and historian Jerry Crimmins, is one of those foundational stories from Chicago’s early history.
Comment:  As the second story notes, the Prairie District wanted to name the park after Black Partridge, a Potawatomi Indian who saved a white woman from being tomahawked. The district also wanted to remove a "maudlin" statue of Black Partridge from storage and place it in the park.

John Low wrote to Kieras and asked why Potawatomi tribe wasn't involved in the naming process. A discussion ensued and the participants eventually decided on the "Battle of Fort Dearborn" name.

Below:  "John Low, executive director of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Col. Thomas Purple Jr., commander of a South Loop-based Illinois National Guard brigade and Tina Feldstein, president of the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, were among those who worked collaboratively to name a park at 18th and Calumet." (Frank Pinc/Staff Photographer)

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