Weather Updates

Ald. Burke changes Fort Dearborn resolution to appease Native Americans

Updated: July 8, 2012 6:53PM

The City Council’s most powerful alderman and resident historian tried Wednesday to appease Native Americans whom he offended as he sought to turn the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Dearborn into a “Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation.”

Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) introduced — and the full City Council promptly approved — a substitute resolution that includes language Native Americans might find less one-sided.

The resolution originally sought to recount the history of the battle at a location that is now 18th and Prairie and set the stage for a city celebration marking the 200th anniversary Aug. 15. It made only scant reference to the Native Americans who engaged in the battle.

Burke initially noted that he made the City Council aware of the anniversary — but in the revised resolution he said he did so “in partnership with the American Indian Center and the Chicago Native American Community.”

The rewrite comes one day after Burke apologized to Native Americans for suggesting that they and descendants of the occupants of Fort Dearborn may want to “smoke a peace pipe” as part of the bicentennial celebration of the Aug. 15 battle of the War of 1812.

Joseph Podlasek, of the American Indian Center, called the peace pipe reference derogatory to Native Americans.

Fran Spielman

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.