The Potawatomi Trail of Death was a tragic and forced removal of 859 members of the Potawatomi Nation from Twin Lakes near Plymouth, Indiana to the location of present-day Osawatomie, Kansas by the United States Forces in 1838. The forced march caused typhoid fever, stress and other illnesses which killed over 40 people, mostly children. Father Benjamin Marie Petit, who nobly marched with his congregations of natives, died in St. Louis in February 1839 as a result of the rigors of the journey. 1838 was the same year as the Cherokee Trail of Trails from the Smokey Mountains to Oklahoma yet the Cherokee Indians suffered more casualties. 15,000 Cherokees traveled on the trail and around 4,000 perished.
Yesterday I found myself on the Trail of Death as I left Battle Ground at Lafayette. It was a humbling experience for me, especially since it is Memorial Day weekend. I found I could somehow spiritually connect with the memory of the natives who perished along the treacherous trail. It is a great tragedy that most of the casualties were that of children.
The Trail of Death isn’t like a typical trail. There are certain historical markers which highlight several points of the Potawatomi Nation’s journey. As soon as I was outside Lafayette, I stumbled upon one of the markers. I walked over to a nearby field and picked some wildflowers to place at the foot of the marker.
The weather has been interesting as usual. Early afternoon was fine until the clouds started coming in. Soon the sky was nothing but a massive blanket of grey. The sky became darker and darker and thunder and lightening soon came in as well. Unforuntaly, there was nothing around the area I was walking at the time. There were no houses, porches, or trees in sight. Since I was surrounded by fields, I had nowhere to hide from the storm. Within 10 minutes, I was soaked from head to toe. My shoes were filled with water and it felt as if my feet were floating inside of my shoe! It was so incedible how quickly the massive amounts of rain came down.
Today I’m in Fowler, Indiana and I’m staying at a little Bed and Breakfast. I’m enjoying being dry for a bit, yet the temperature is near 90 degrees!