Indian tribes will gather in Shawnee National Forest

Monday, September 10, 2001

MARION, Ill. -- The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to issue a permit for the gathering of thousands of American Indians in the Lake of Egypt area of Shawnee National Forest next month.

The Tecumseh's Dream session, which will be combined with an annual gathering to honor ancestors, will be held Oct. 11-14 at the Lake of Egypt Recreation Area at the south end of Lake Egypt in Johnson County.

Tecumseh's Dream refers to a 200-year-old Indian vision by Chief Tecumseh, who dreamed of unifying 50,000 American Indians to stop the white man's encroachment upon their lands.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Becky Banker said Forest Service officials have discussed the event with organizers over the past year. She announced last week that the permit had been approved following an environmental analysis.

John Taylor, a Shawnee forester who works with special-use permits for the forest, said members of various tribes -- Utes, Shawnee and Cherokee, among others -- visited the forest before making the request.

The gathering will be non-commercial and closed to tourists.

While the original Tecumseh's Dream calls for 50,000 Indians, spokespersons W. "Pete" Richardson, a member of the Abenaki of Mazipskwik Tribunal Council, and Edna H. King, Tribal Council member of the Indian Nation Anishinaabekwe, said they "just wanted a good turnout." That now figures to be from 2,000 to 3,000 people.

Details of the gathering are still incomplete, but the meeting is expected to attract Native Americans of all tribes.

According to Banker, Indian leaders of the rally have emphasized that the meeting is not a protest or march. The purpose is to get Indian and non-Indian educators together for a peaceful conference.

A number of workshops will be held during the gathering, including discussions on the possibility of establishing a holiday to honor past and present Native American leaders, historical inaccuracies in textbooks and various forms of tribal government.

Jim Windwalker of the American Indian Foundation for Law and Justice, will conduct a workshop on Indian rights.

Banker said spokesmen for the meeting stress that the Shawnee gathering will benefit American Indians as they work to solve some of the problems that exist on and off reservations.

The Shawnee National Forest was chosen as the meeting site because of its central U.S. location and because Chief Tecumseh was a Shawnee.

335-6611, extension 133

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