Thursday, July 21, 2011

Leatherlips must die

Chief Leatherlips was actually Chief Shateyaronyah (Sha-tey-ya-ron-yah) of the Wyandots in the present day Columbus/Dublin Ohio area. Leatherlips was the name he was given by the white settlers for always keeping his promises and being trustworthy. This was at a very nervous time for all as a state of war was looming again with the British. Tecumseh and his brother The Prophet were trying to get the pan-Indian tribe confederation going and aligning themselves with the British against the Americans. Everyone was choosing sides again.

Leatherlips, a signer of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, decided to continue siding and cooperating with the Americans in the early 19th century while Tecumseh was trying to build his confederacy. This did not sit well with Tecumseh and the Prophet, so in May of 1810, a Tecumseh loyal party of Wyandots led by Chief Roundhead (who happened to be Leatherlips brother) traveled from the area of Tippecanoe IN into what is now the Dublin OH area to carry out a trial. The three-hour council trial, mainly about some trumped up witchcraft charges rather than his dealing with the Americans, not surprisingly resulted in him being found guilty and sentenced to death. Local whites settlers who liked the Chief, pleaded with the Indians to spare his life and attempted to bribe the other Wyandots. Failing that they felt they were not able strong enough to resist them physically and feared further retaliation against their settlement if they interfered. The Chief was allowed a final meal, dressed in his finest clothes, painted his face, then did his death chant as he walked calmly to his execution spot and kneeled before his open grave. He was then killed by two tomahawk blows to the head.

William Sells who witnessed the execution wrote an account of the event. This account was preserved and seventy-seven years later read aloud by Colonel Sam Thompson to members of the Wyandot Club, a local fraternal organization. Following the address, the club formed a committee to procure a proper grave marker for the site of Chief Leatherlips’ burial. The one-acre tract of land where the Wyandot Chief was buried was purchased for the site of the monument. The inscription reads “Leatherlips A Chief of the Wyandot tribe of Indians was executed on this spot June 1, 1810. Erected by the Wyandot Club of Columbus, Ohio 1889.”

The Dublin Arts Council, in part, to memorialize the local heritage of Native American's history hired Boston artist Ralph Helmick to create the giant sculpture of the head of the Wyandot Chief Leatherlips and it was dedicated on July 1, 1990, 180 years and one month after his death.  The monument is a twelve-foot high limestone statue, built in Scioto Park facing the Scioto River just down the road from the execution spot and marker.

a memento at the Leatherlips marke- 12/31/2010

For more information about the execution of Leatherlips, click here.

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