Column: Pioneer Indiana

In 1975, Jessamyn West wrote a novel based on a true yet astonishing Indiana story. “The Massacre at Fall Creek” recounts the 1824 murders of nine Indians in Madison County and the ensuing trial and death sentences of the white male perpetrators.

In the last chapter, a respected white preacher by the name of Caleb turned to his Native American acquaintances to reflect on the executions they witnessed: “This will be remembered as a great day both for the red man and the white man. On this day for the first time white men punished their own kind for killing Indians. ... Now we will live peacefully together.”

Caleb’s prediction, like West’s book, was fiction. The executions at Fall Creek were not long remembered, nor did the case lead to lasting peace.

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