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Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America$
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Damian Alan Pargas

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056036

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056036.001.0001

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The Underground Railroad in “Indian Country”

The Underground Railroad in “Indian Country”

Northwest Ohio, 1795–1843

(p.70) 3 The Underground Railroad in “Indian Country”
Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America

Roy E. Finkenbine

University Press of Florida

From the establishment of the Greenville Treaty Line in 1795 to Wyandot removal in 1843, northwest Ohio constituted a “land apart” from the waves of white settlement that overwhelmed the eastern part of the Old Northwest. Native Americans—primarily Shawnee, Ottawa, and Wyandot—constituted the dominant population there, in what was often referred to as “Indian Country.” This region lay astride the primary northbound routes traversed by fugitive slaves from Kentucky, western Virginia, and beyond, heading to Canada via the Detroit River borderland or the western half of Lake Erie, and freedom seekers were frequently assisted by Native Americans. This chapter explores two regions in particular. One is the stretch of Ottawa villages along the Maumee River, where runaways were welcomed and protected, then taken to Fort Malden, Upper Canada, each year when Ottawa warriors went to receive their annual payment of goods for fighting on the British side during the War of 1812. The other is the Wyandot Grand Reserve at Upper Sandusky, which sponsored a maroon village of fugitive slaves called Negro Town for four decades. These two case studies serve as a point of departure for arguing that “Indian Country” was a unique space of freedom.

Keywords:   Native Americans, Ohio, Shawnee, Ottawa, Wyandot, Negro Town, Maroon, Fugitive slaves

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