Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Borderland of Fear: Vincennes, Prophetstown, and the Invasion of the Miami Homeland

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Borderland of Fear: Vincennes, Prophetstown, and the Invasion of the Miami Homeland

Article excerpt

The Borderland of Fear: Vincennes, Prophetstown, and the Invasion of the Miami Homeland. By Patrick Bottiger. Borderlands and Transcultural Studies. (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. Pp. xxii, 244. $50.00, ISBN 978-0-8032-5484-8.)

Every fall the denizens of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, celebrate two noteworthy events in their county's history: the Feast of the Hunter's Moon and the battle of Tippecanoe. Celebrants are invited to experience their state's valiant past as reenactors play out their interpretations of life in a French trading fort or of fife-playing, costumed militiamen bravely marching from the burned cabins of an imagined Prophetstown in 1811. Visitors pay for the chance to eat rabbit stew, watch military maneuvers, and admire costumes near the site of the eighteenth-century Fort Ouiatenon. Later in the season, visitors solemnly lay wreaths at the Tippecanoe battlefield in praise of the noble dead and envision William Henry Harrison's charge against the Shawnee Prophet Tenskwatawa's ill-fated warriors. Both events demand that we embrace the performance of the historical narrative that Patrick Bottiger justly challenges us to revisit in The Borderland of Fear: Vincennes, Prophetstown, and the Invasion of the Miami Homeland.

Bottiger asks readers to reconsider the histories of Prophetstown and the battle of Tippecanoe and to look beyond the framework of competing Indian and American nationalisms. By framing Prophetstown's founding through a nativist/accommodationist lens, historians risk "situating all Indians within the context of American nationalism" (p. xv). The author begins his study by asking readers to look "east from Miami country" and consider the western Ohio River Valley as a borderland wherein power was contested between Native and non-Native peoples and where the Miami people expressed their sovereignty beyond the more easily recognized boundaries of nation, state, and empire. Bottiger argues that there were, in a sense, two Prophetstowns. One was a vibrant, multiethnic town established by the followers of Tenskwatawa. It was nominally governed by the Prophet, and its core group of residents was composed of Ho-Chunks, Potawatomies, Kickapoos, and Shawnees. …

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