Ohio History Journal

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Cultural Mediation, Cultural Exchange,

and the Invention of the Ohio Frontier



There was little rest for Alexander McKee during the autumn of 1793.

Over the course of the preceding three years, a loose confederation of Native

Americans from along the Maumee River Valley had looked to their British

allies for assistance. In their campaign to expel the United States from the

Ohio Country, the northwestern tribes had already frustrated two American

expeditions into the region. In October 1790, troops commanded by Josiah

Harmar had retreated in disarray after encountering unexpectedly stiff Indian re-

sistance at the headwaters of the Maumee. In November of the following

year, the confederated tribes had completely routed a second United States

army led by Arthur St. Clair. Now, the tribes along the Maumee watched

with mounting concern as a third force, with Anthony Wayne at its head,

poised itself to strike at the native stronghold.1

Comprised of the Miami, Shawnee, and Delaware tribes living along the

Maumee, together with individuals from other bands who had fled to the area

after the commencement of hostilities, the confederacy opposing Wayne was

as much a creation of McKee and the British government as of the Indians

themselves. To be sure, the tribes making up the coalition had voluntarily

come together for their mutual defense. They pursued their own interests and

set their own agendas. But the aid that McKee offered and the continued sup-

port that the British government promised served as the glue which held the

alliance together.



Larry Nelson is site manager with the Ohio Historical Society at Fort Meigs State Memorial.


1. This and the following two paragraphs are based on the correspondence found in the

John Graves Simcoe Papers, (MG23 H11) Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. See

also Earnest A. Cruikshank, ed., The Correspondence of Lieutenant Governor John Graves

Simcoe, With Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of Upper Canada, 5 vols.

(Toronto, 1923-31), passim; Wiley Sword, President Washington's Indian War: The Struggle

fbr the Old Northwest, 1790-1795 (Norman, Okla., 1985); Reginald Horsman, "The British

Indian Department and Resistance to General Anthony Wayne," Mississippi Valley Historical

Review, 49 (September, 1962), 269-90. For general studies, see Robert F. Berkhofer, "Barrier

to Settlement: British Indian Policy in the Old Northwest, 1783-1794," in David M. Ellis, ed.,

The Frontier in American Development: Essays in Honor of Paul Wallace Gates (Ithaca and

London, 1969), 249-76; Reginald Horsman, "American Indian Policy in the Old Northwest,

1783-1812," William and Mary Quarterly, 18 (January, 1961), 35-53; Robert S. Allen, His

Majesty's Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defense of Canada, 1774-1815 (Toronto

and Oxford, 1992), 57-87.