DARKE COUNTY – The Darke County Park District conducted an open house and ceremony at Shawnee Prairie Preserve Wednesday to celebrate the acquisition of a replica peace pipe for permanent display in the center’s Tecumseh Room.
The pipe is a replica of one presented by Major Gen. (and future President) William Henry Harrison to the Shawnee tribe at the signing of the Second Treaty of Greenville, July 22, 1814.
Unlike the First Treaty of Greenville in 1795, no land was ceded by the Indians to white settlement. Its purpose was to form an alliance between various Indian tribes and the United States, then at war with Great Britain.
The replica is made of silver and was fashioned by silversmith Steven Smithers of Massachusetts.
Funding for the pipe was provided by the Treaty of Greenville Bicentennial Commission, the Harry Stephens Fund, the Rotary Club of Greenville and the Darke County Park District.
People representing historical personages were on hand to perform the ceremony and to educate attendees on the significance of the pipe.
U.S. government dignitaries were Uncle Sam (represented by Tom Miller), Gen. William H. Harrison (Daniel Schipfer), Michigan Territorial Gov. Lewis Cass (John Burkett), and Bud Clark, an actual descendant of explorer William Clark, among others.
Many Native American presenters contributed to the performance, including Shawnee Warrior Tecumseh (portrayed by David Morris) and Shawnee Chief Black Hoof (Rusty Cottrel). Both spoke to the crowd in character, explaining the motivations for their pleasure, or displeasure, to the treaty signing.
A smudge stick was lit to purify the air prior to the presentation. This was followed by a drum ceremony and traditional Native American dance before the lighting of the pipe.
An added bonus for visitors was the presence of writer James Thom, author of a number of historical fiction books, on hand to autograph copies of his books and meet with visitors.
Darke County Park District Director Roger Van Frank said, “I would like to thank those groups that participated last night and especially the Treaty of Greenville Bicentennial Commission, the Harry Stephens Fund and the Greenville Rotary for their financial support in the project of the making of the re-strike of the Peace Pipe given to the Shawnee by William Henry Harrison 201 years ago.”
He added, “This pipe will remain on display in the Tecumseh Room at the Nature Center with the intention to help tell the story of a peoples and their leaders from 200 years ago.”
The Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 4267 Ohio Route 502, in Greenville. Trails are open from sunrise to sunset.