kokomo neehi eeweemaacihi
A Brief History of Kokomo and His Family
By John Bickers and George Ironstrack

In the spring of 1864, in the town of Wabash, Indiana, a young Myaamia (Miami Indian) man named Pimweeyotamwa enlisted in the United States Army to serve in the 101st Infantry Regiment fighting in the United States Civil War. Pimweeyotamwa, also known as Eli Goodboy, served with the 101st until June of 1865.[1] As a member of the 101st., Pimweeyotamwa would have likely participated in many key events in the Civil War, including the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman’s March to the Sea.[2] Pimweeyotamwa likely had much in common with his fellow soldiers in Company K. Many of them came from rural backgrounds and had grown up farming, hunting, and fishing the river valleys of northern Indiana. But Pimweeyotamwa was unique among his particular “band of brothers,” in that his Myaamia family had ties to the northern Wabash River Valley that stretched back to long before the state of Indiana existed. In a strange twist of fate, Pimweeyotamwa was fighting to preserve the Union of a country that had diminished his people’s homelands and forcibly removed hundreds of Myaamia people west of the Mississippi.

Current residents of Howard County County, Indiana should also consider Pimweeyotamwa unique among his fellow soldiers because he was the grandson of the man often called Kokomo, the namesake of the county seat. Since the incorporation of the town of Kokomo in 1865, many interesting stories and myths have circulated about the man people call “Chief Kokomo,” yet few of these stories have addressed his family in any detail.

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aanteekwa kiilhswa is the second month of the Myaamia lunar calendar.  It is named for the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), which usually nests and breeds during this month. During the winter months, aanteekwa often gather in large groups but as the nesting period begins this behavior comes to an end.  In the midwest, aanteekwa are some of the earliest birds to build nests and lay eggs.  Like the other lunar months named for birds, aanteekwa kiilhswa typically occurs during the transition from pipoonwi (winter) into niipinwi (summer).  Usually by the beginning of aanteekwa kiilhswa, maple sugaring is in full swing.

aanteekwa*

aanteekwa*

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*American Crow image from wikimedia commons

Mahkwa Kiilhswa (Black Bear Moon) is one of two lunar months named for the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus).  It typically occurs around the Gregorian months of January and February.  To the best of our knowledge, this month is associated with mature female bear giving birth to their cubs.  Female Black Bears have a litter of cubs every 2 years, and litters range from 1-5 cubs.  Following birth, cubs stay with their mother for 1-2 years. Mahkwa were an important source of food for Myaama people, with Black Bear tenderloin being a particular delicacy.  Mahkwa also plays a prominent role in Myaamia aalhsoohkaana (Winter Stories).

black-bear_233_600x450

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Ayaapia Kiilhswa (Buck Moon) is one of two lunar months named for the White-tailed Deer.  To the best of our knowledge, this month is associated with the end of the rut (breeding cycle) and the older male deer losing their antlers.

789px-White-tailed_deer

ayaapia (White-tailed Deer buck)*

Today, there is a lot of variation within White-tailed Deer populations regarding when bucks drop their antlers.  It appears that historically, the older White-tailed Deer bucks dropped their antlers after younger males.  The loss of antlers marks the end of the rut (the breeding cycle) for these more mature male deer.

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*photo from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/may01/k5437-3.htm

We Remember the Myaamia Forced Removal

aya eeweemilakakoki (Hello my relatives), 170 years ago today, the United States government began the forced removal of Myaamia people from our historic homelands in the Wabash River Valley. On October 6, 1846, Myaamia people boarded canal boats near Iihkipihsinonki (“the Straight Place,” near Peru, Indiana) and on the next day loading concluded near Kiihkayonki (Fort Wayne, Indiana). All told, in just over a month of forced travel, over 320 Myaamia people were moved via canals and rivers to Kanza Landing (Kansas City, Missouri) in the Unorganized Indian Territory. At least, six Myaamia people died on the journey and many more died over the following winter. This removal also fragmented the Miami Nation, as five families were exempted from the removal and remained behind on individual or family reserves in Indiana. As we move through the early days of kiiyolia kiilhswa and celebrate the fall harvest, we should all take a moment and reflect on this very difficult journey and remember the Myaamia people who suffered being separated from their homes and their families in the fall of 1846. It is through their struggles that the Miami Nation endured on a new national land base west of the Mihsi-siipiiwi (Mississippi River). If you would like to read more about Myaamia Aancihseeciki (the Myaamia Forced Removal), follow this link to download “A Cultural Exploration of the Myaamia Removal Route.”