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During the War of 1812, the Point Pelee people fought as British allies alongside Capt. William Caldwell, when they became known as “Caldwell’s Indians.” As a result, the British promised them formal title to their homelands.
The Caldwell First Nation served as allies of the British during the War of 1812. In consideration of this service, they were promised land at Point Pelee. The First Nation band continued to occupy Point Pelee, with the support of the Canadian government, up until the late 1850s. In the 1920s, many of the band members were forced out of Point Pelee when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police along with local law enforcement agencies burned the homes of band members in the area in an effort to force them from their traditional lands.
Before his marriage, while in Fort Niagara, William Caldwell had a relationship with a Mohawk woman. They named their mixed-race son, born about 1782, Billy Caldwell. The boy was first raised with his mother’s people. In 1783 Caldwell married Suzanne Baby, daughter of Jacques Baby dit Dupéron. Together they had eight children, five sons and three daughters. In 1789 his father brought his son Billy Caldwell into his family and gave him an education. Billy Caldwell later lived in the United States after 1818, where he became a prominent representative of the Potowatomi people in Illinois and Iowa. He was sometimes known to them as Sauganash, their term for a British Canadian. He died in 1822.
In 1977 the powers to be along with with Indian leaders from eight Southwestern Ontario bands to tried to solve a ticklish problem from out of the distant past. At issue were the somewhat meagre remains bones, pottery, lint knives and clay pipes of an almost unknown people who lived around Lake Erie hundreds of years before the first Europeans wandered by. Their graves are spread about this region, including one particular burial site east of Huron Church Road and the Third Concession in Windsor. This site, dated by its pottery at be tween 900 and 1,100 AD, lies where the city planned to build an E.C. Row Expressway doverleaf. From this shallow sand gravesite, more than 40 years ago, the skeletons of 27 individuals men, women and children and the few possessions they were buried with were removed by archeologists.
Since the late 1930s, however, the site has been used as a source of gravel and sand, possibly destroying its archeological value. But those ancient Indians helped to focus attention on a small yet widespread contemporary Indian band which for 140 years has tried vainly to claim Point Pelee and Pelee Island as its native homeland and whose chief now seeks to keep bulldozers and road graders from the burial site. The leader of the tiny Caldwell band, Carl Johnson, almost alone among his band members lived with his family in this area. And in a long-accepted provincial custom, the nearest Indian band to a disputed site argues the native cause. Johnson, from the town of Essex, whose band members numbered fewer than 80 scattered between Chicago and Toronto, gathered support from the eight nearest Indian bands in Southwestern Ontario. The chiefs, representing bands from Walpole Island to London, agreed to try to resolve the conflict between Caldwell demands that the site not be touched and the citys need to build the cloverleaf for the expressway.
The crumbling bones and crushed pottery fragments from the burial site are stored now in steel cabinets in the archives of Ottawas National Museum of Man. “These remains are part of Canadas heritage,” a museum spokesman said. They are inspected every year to check on their condition. You can say theyre lovingly cared for.” “They’re not the heritage of Canada, at all,” Chief Johnson said,
“Those people didnt know what Canada was. Canada would be nothing to them at that time”.
There are copies of documents that shows the band, under a Chief William Caldwell, began to demand their own land back in 1835. But historians, archeologists, and governments alike have suggested the Caldwell Band are misguided in thinking Point Pelce and Pelee Island are their ancestral lands. The problem of identity lies in the Caldwells name and the time it first appeared in region records.
The confusion arises front the fact there were three Caldwells, who appear to represent at least two different families, who dealt with Indians on the Upper Canada frontier. “Williapt Caldwell Sr., was an Irish-American colonist, a United Empire Loyalist, a man throughout his life actively involved with Indians in the Lake Erie-LakeOntario area. “The Indians he led in battle, principally Shawnee and Delaware, and may Have thought of him as chief. . . but they werent Point Pelee Indians.”
Clifton said Williams son, Billy, who became a noted if unsuccessful entrepreneur on the frontier, was dubbed a Potawatomi chief after his death in Chicago. But the Potawatomis did not cross into Canada until the third decade of the 19th century. A third Caldwell, John Sr was born about 1800, Clifton said, and, in documents in the mid-1800s, he is listed as chief of an Ojibway band in southern Ontario which was always referred to as “Caldwells Band” and which resided at Point Pelee but that was in the 1850s, far later than Chief Johnson says his people took the name Caldwell.
In 1976 a Mr. Johnson pointed to a copy of an 18th century map of the north shore of Lake Erie, which indicates a small but unnamed settlement at Point Pelee. “That’s us,” he said. “Thats where we were in the late 1700s.” Johnson said the chief of the Caldwell Indians at Point Pelee were not invited to take part in the great land purchases in 1790 by Alexander McKee. We werent invited, and yet our land was sold from under us. We claim that purchase was illegal.” Clifton and others say the reason no Caldwell chief was invited to that deal was because there wasnt a chief called Caldwell at that time.” And so the confusing argument continued wrapped into the added enigma of the unknown people whose grave awaits the discussions of other Indians at Windsor City Hall.
One of the few First Nations in Canada without a reserve changed that in 2020, marking a major milestone in the small community’s 230-year fight for a homeland.
The Caldwell First Nation, previously known as the Chippewas of Point Pelee, announced on Monday that it secured reserve status for an 80-hectare property on the band’s traditional territory in what is now Leamington, Ont. on the north shore of Lake Erie. Read the rest here– CLICK
Tribal Name: Caldwell First Nation
Band No. 165 Traditional Name: Alternate Names: Chippewas of Pelee, Point Pelee Indians, Pelee Island, and Caldwell’s band of Indians. Related Tribes: The Chippewa (also called Ojibwa in Canada) are an Anishinaabe-speaking indigenous nation with people within the borders of present-day Canada and the United States. The Anishinaabe are the largest Native American/First Nation peoples north of Mexico, with nearly 78,000 people among various groups in Canada from western Quebec to British Columbia.
- William Caldwell was portrayed in Walter D. Edmonds’ popular 1936 historical novel Drums Along the Mohawk.
- In the 1939 movie by the same name, directed by John Ford, John Carradine portrayed Caldwell
others… about native lands etc..