Do Chicagoans know DuSable had a Native American spouse? We should always have a good time her, too | Laura Washington

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The struggle rages on over a proposal to rename Outer Lake Shore Drive, a 17-mile stretch from Hollywood Avenue to 67th Avenue, in honor of Jean Baptiste Level DuSable. The Chicago Metropolis Council is anticipated to vote on the identify change on June 23.

Someday after 1770, the Haitian-born dealer traveled from New Orleans and up the Mississippi River and based a thriving buying and selling publish on the mouth of the Chicago River, a spot the Potawatomi native tribe referred to as “Eschecagou.”

DuSable was the primary everlasting, non-indigenous settler of what would turn into the good metropolis of Chicago.

Native Individuals had been there lengthy earlier than. What do they are saying?

“I feel he’s cool. I feel he needs to be commemorated,” says Andrea Carlson. However, she provides, Chicago should additionally have a good time Kitihawa, the existential hyperlink to those that got here earlier than.

DuSable was married to Kitihawa, a member of the Potawatomi tribe, and thru that marriage he was native “kin.”

Carlson is a member of the Ojibwe tribe, a Chicago-based visible artist, and co-founder of the Middle for Native Futures. Carlson and Ohio State College scholar John N. Low are curating an upcoming exhibit within the foyer of the Marquette Constructing in downtown Chicago. It goals to “redress dangerous murals” that misrepresent Native historical past.

“It was (DuSable’s) proximity to his spouse, Kitihawa, that allowed for him to function beneath Potawatomi sovereignty. There was a number of energy in that relationship,” Carlson tells me.

“Quite a lot of the white settlers additionally took native wives due to that energy, due to that entry to the native group and commerce routes. However then they left their wives and went off to marry white ladies and traveled again East as soon as they’d made all their cash.”

DuSable stayed, had two kids with Kitiwaha and was “the primary non-native naturalized citizen of the Potawatomi folks.”

“We should always know who he’s,” Carlson stated. “However I don’t suppose it ought to come on the expense of indigenous folks.”

We also needs to know the place that grew to become Chicago first belonged to the Potawatomi and different native tribes. Land was violently stolen by white settlers. And know that, within the 1830s, by way of the Indian Elimination Act, the federal authorities forcibly eliminated the Potawatomi and different tribes.

Their ancestors returned. At this time, Chicago is house to greater than 65,000 Native Individuals who signify 175 totally different tribes.

When Carlson moved to Chicago from Minneapolis 5 years in the past, she was shocked by the ignorance about native historical past.

“Individuals have informed me to my face, ‘Properly, I assumed all of the natives had been killed off,’ like, not believing that native folks exist.”

Like Kitihawa.

And, Carlson stated, “like with most ladies in historical past we have now their names and little or no details about them.”

The Middle for Native Futures has commissioned native artist Chris Pappan to create a drawing of Kitihawa for the exhibit.

“We can provide her extra presence, and folks can relate to the face,” Carlson stated. “I feel that will be actually cool to have her picture round, so folks can say her identify.”

The controversy over renaming Lake Shore Drive for DuSable is a chance to assist reverse the “erasure” of Native folks.

The identify Kitihawa Level DuSable needs to be prominently celebrated on streets, statues, in displays and extra.

“And if we begin telling the reality, if you crack somewhat gap in it,” Carlson stated, “then all the reality needs to come back out.”

The Middle for Native Futures exhibition will open later this yr.

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