CHICAGO — (August 8, 2012) The 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Fort Dearborn will be commemorated at the site of the 1812 battle. Several events will be held Saturday, Sept. 8 on Prairie Avenue and 18th Street in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood.
Several groups, including the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance (PDNA), will mark this important Chicago milestone at the 6th Annual Festival on Prairie Avenue.
The commemoration will be at 2:30 p.m. and will include:
— 1812 Infantry soldier reenactors and the Illinois Guard to provide a ceremonial honor guard.
— Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Eagle Staff veterans and elders to provide a prayer, as well as ceremonial Native American drumming and dance to open the ceremony. The American Indian Center, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian and Native American historians have joined in partnership for commemoration.
— The Chicago History Museum's Chief Historian to provide a historical overview focused on reconciliation and memorial.
— The IL Army National Guard, the Daughters of the War of 1812, the Pritzker Military Library and the Illinois Commission on the War of 1812 to honor Ensign George Ronan, who was killed on August 15, 1812 in the Battle of Fort Dearborn — and who was the first West Point graduate to die in battle.
— Invited political leaders include Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn, 2nd Ward Ald. Robert Fioretti, among others to
Apart from the commemoration, the Festival on Prairie Avenue is expected to attract several thousand attendees and will feature many educational opportunities and exciting attractions including: A Native American flute player and storyteller and Native American crafts, a War of 1812 encampment, tours of the Battle of Fort Dearborn Park, Glessner House Museum and Clarke House Museum, an Art and Crafts Fair, a stage with music performances and entertainment, pony rides, petting zoo, magician, balloon characters, carnival games, inflatable bounce houses and moon walks, face painter, character artist, pie-eating contest, food and more.
This year the Art and Crafts fair at the festival will feature many artists including:
— Jack Simmerling, an important artist, whose original art work and lithographs have been featured throughout Chicago and the United States.
— Dobrila Pintar, an outstanding artist whose works with Lampwork Beads, Lampwork Jewelry, Glass sculpture and metal smithing will also be featured at Chicago's 17th annual Chicago Artists Month.
QUOTES FROM ORGANIZERS AND PARTICIPANTS
"The PDNA could not be more thrilled and honored to be one of Chicago's main commemorations of this important Bicentennial," said PDNA President Tina Feldstein.
"This place is important because it provides a place of peace where there once was conflict," said John N. Low, a member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. "It memorializes an event that reminds us that early contact between non-Natives and Natives on this Continent were often difficult — and that rather than casting the parties as victims or victors, villains or heroes, it acknowledges that these were people first, often presented with difficult circumstances and choices. As much as this place was once a place of conflict, it now represents collaboration and reconciliation."
"The process of commemorating this important bicentennial anniversary has brought together a wide range of people and groups who are committed to bringing this history of Chicago to life," said Ald. Fioretti.
"Commemorating the Battle of Fort Dearborn is important because it helps all of us together and future generations understand who we are, and how we got here, and the sacrifices and bravery that went into the crucible that forged Chicago," said Jerry Crimmins, author of Fort Dearborn, published by Northwestern University Press in 2006.
"Fort Dearborn is an important part of the Illinois National Guard history as we trace our origins back to the militia," said Colonel Thomas Purple. "The Illinois National Guard holds Fort Dearborn in such high regard that many of the units within the state have an image of Fort Dearborn included in their unit insignia crests. By circumstance, the Illinois National Guard Armory on South Calumet Avenue is located near the battlefield. As part of the ceremonial honor guard, Guardsmen will participate in witnessing the commemoration which memorializes all those who lost their lives that tragic day."
"I look upon this commemoration as a time to celebrate together and learn more about each other each day. Remembering and knowing the past, prevents us from reliving it while allowing us to move forward in new directions. With the multi-cultural and multi generational gathering today, it is an honor to remember all American Indian people and the history of the first people of this country," said Joseph Podlasek, Executive Director of the American Indian Center.
"As Chicago has become an international city, commemorating this day reminds us that Chicago has always been a strategic global place," said Russell Lewis, Executive Vice President and Chief Historian for the Chicago History Museum. "The Battle of Fort Dearborn reflects the great diversity of people who lived in the Chicago area and struggled to make it their home, but also the importance of the Fort and of Chicago as part of a vibrant global economy."
"The John Kinzie Chapter and the Illinois Society of the National Society United States Daughters of 1812 are pleased to participate in the commemoration of the Battle of Fort Dearborn" said Kathy Haas, State President - Illinois Society, N.S.U.S.D. 1812. "It commemorates the Illinois Territory's early participation in the War of 1812 against the British, and the Bicentennial of the War of 1812."
"The Battle of Fort Dearborn is another important layer in the rich history of the Prairie Avenue Historic District." said William Tyre, Executive Director and Curator of the Glessner House Museum and author of the novel, Chicago's Historic Prairie Avenue; published by Arcadia Publishing in 2008.
2012 Festival on Prairie Avenue Saturday, Sept.8th from 12:00PM to 6:00PM
Commemoration of the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of Fort Dearbron, 2:30pm
Festival Location is 1800 S. Prairie Ave and Chicago Women's Park and Gardens
Festival suggested donation: $5 (children under 12 months Free)
Festival sponsors: PDNA and Doran's Landscape, Lakeside Bank, Hyatt McCormick Place with additional support from the Glessner House Museum and other South Loop area businesses.
Festival food sponsors: Café Society and Reggie's cook up a classic picnic barbecue with hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, wings and mac & cheese.
About the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance
The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance is a community organization serving thousands of residents and neighbors in the South Loop area of Chicago, whose mission is socially conscious and supportive neighbors creating an inclusive and welcoming community.
Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance (PDNA) website
About the Battle of Fort Dearborn - August 15, 1812
From roughly 1620 to 1820, the territory of the Potawatomi extended from what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin to Detroit, Michigan and included the Chicago area. In 1803 the United States government built Fort Dearborn at what is today Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, as part of a strategic effort to protect lucrative trading in the area from the British. During the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, some Indian tribes allied with the British to stop the westward expansion of the United States and to regain lost Indian lands. On August 15, 1812, more than 50 U.S. soldiers and 41 civilians, including 9 women and 18 children, were ordered to evacuate Fort Dearborn. This group, almost the entire population of U.S. citizens in the Chicago area, marched south from Fort Dearborn along the shoreline of Lake Michigan until they reached this approximate site, where they were attacked by about 500 Potawatomi. In the battle and aftermath, more than 60 of the evacuees and 15 Native Americans were killed. The dead included Army Captain William Wells, who had come from Fort Wayne with Miami Indians to assist in the evacuation, and Naunongee, Chief of the village of Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Ottawa Indians known as the Three Fires Confederacy. In the 1830s, the Potawatomi of Illinois were forcibly removed to lands west of the Mississippi. Potawatomi Indian Nations continue to thrive in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma and Canada and more than 36,000 American Indians from a variety of tribes reside in Chicago today.
About the Clarke House Museum
Built in 1836 for Henry B. Clarke, the Clarke House Museum is Chicago's oldest house. The house shows what life was like for a middle-class family in Chicago during the city's formative years before the Civil War. Its fascinating history began at a time when family members could see the campfires of Native Americans in the distance. Clarke House Museum website
About the Glessner House Museum
A National Historic Landmark, Glessner House was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, started in 1886 and completed in 1887. It remains an internationally-known architectural treasure in Chicago. A radical departure from traditional Victorian architecture, the structure served as an inspiration to the young Frank Lloyd Wright and helped redefine domestic architecture. Glessner House Museum website