Egushawa (c.1726 – March 1796), also spelled Egouch-e-ouay, Agushaway, Agashawa, Negushwa, and many other variants, was a war chief and principal political chief of the Ottawa tribe of North American Indians. His name is loosely translated as "The Gatherer" or "Brings Together" (c.f. Ojibwe agwazhe'waa, "to quilt something(s); to blanket someone(s)"). As a leader in two wars against the United States, Egushawa was one of the most influential Native Americans of the Great Lakes region in the late eighteenth century.
Background[edit | edit source]
Egushawa first appears in historical records in 1774, when he signed an indenture granting an island in the Detroit River to Alexis Masonville in 1774, not far from the British Army outpost of Fort Detroit. Nothing is known for certain about his life before that time. He was likely born in the Detroit River region, in what is now Michigan or Ontario. He came to prominence as a successor to Pontiac, the famous Ottawa leader, to whom he may have been related. Egushawa may have fought against the British during the French and Indian War (1754–1763) as an ally of the French.
American Revolution[edit | edit source]
When the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) began, Egushawa was living in a village at the mouth of the Maumee River, the location of the present-day Toledo, Ohio. Egushawa supported the efforts of the British in Fort Detroit to recruit American Indians allies in order to attack U.S. settlements in Kentucky. In April 1777, he traveled with British officials to Vincennes to help forge an alliance with some of the Wabash tribes. For his efforts, Henry Hamilton, British lieutenant governor at Detroit, awarded Egushawa a sword in June 1777.
Egushawa saw much action in the war. He accompanied St. Leger's expedition in upstate New York, taking part in the bloody Battle of Oriskany on 6 August 1777. In 1778, he was the main chief with Hamilton's expedition to recapture Vincennes after it had been taken by Colonel George Rogers Clark of Virginia. Clark made a surprise return to Vincennes in 1779 and captured Hamilton, but Egushawa escaped. In 1780, his war band accompanied Captain Henry Bird's invasion of Kentucky, in which two American "stations" (fortified settlements) were captured.
In the 1783 peace treaty which ended the Revolutionary War, the British ceded the land of their Native American allies to the United States. Without British military support, Native Americans were compelled to sign various peace treaties which ceded portions of the Northwest Territory to the United States, culminating with the Treaty of Fort Harmar in 1789. Egushawa opposed these treaties and did not consider them to be binding.
Northwest Indian War[edit | edit source]
After the Revolutionary War, Shawnees of the Ohio Country began to forge a confederacy to oppose U.S. occupation of the land ceded by the British. These efforts were clandestinely supported by the British, who had refused to abandon Fort Detroit and Fort Mackinac as called for in the 1783 peace treaty. Egushawa was initially reluctant to take part in the Northwest Indian War, but he joined the native confederacy after the defeat of an American army led by Josiah Harmar in October 1790.
As a war chief, recruiter, and a diplomat to the British, Egushawa became one of the most prominent leaders in the war. In 1791, he probably led the Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi contingent at the Battle of the Wabash, the most severe defeat ever suffered by the United States at the hands of American Indians. In 1794, Egushawa was seriously wounded in the American Indian defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which brought an end to the war. It was the last time he saw combat.
Recuperating, he lived on the Maumee or Raisin Rivers. He continued to urge fellow American Indian leaders to support the British Crown. With the British distracted by European wars, however, military support was not forthcoming, and so Egushawa agreed to negotiate a peace treaty with the Americans, one of the last chiefs to do so. He signed the Treaty of Greenville on August 3, 1795, ceding much of present Ohio to the United States. He died near Detroit shortly thereafter, probably leaving no descendants.
References[edit | edit source]
- Curnoe, Greg. Deeds/Nations, Directory of First Nations Individuals in South-Western Ontario, 1750–1850
- Horsman, Reginald. "Egushawa". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online .
- Sugden, John. "Egushawa". American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 1999.
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