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DEVAU, Retor, CLAUDE – Volume IV (1771-1800)

d. 14 April 1784 at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade (La Pérade, Que.)


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MYEERAH (Myecruh, Mayar, Maera, Mieray, Mea ire, Walk-in-the-Water; the name refers to an insect that travels on the water’s surface), Wyandot chief; fl. 1805–16; d. c. 1817 in the Detroit River region.

In 1805 Myeerah signed the Treaty of Fort Industry by which a number of Indian tribes, including the Wyandots, ceded part of what is now northern Ohio to the United States, and in subsequent years he was prominent in land negotiations with the Americans. By the time of the War of 1812 he had become the acknowledged leader and main spokesman of the Wyandots living by the Detroit River in the vicinity of Brownstown (near Trenton, Mich.). Myeerah tried to pursue policies favourable to the Wyandots rather than simply pro-British or pro-American. More than once he pointed out that the British had deserted the Indians on previous occasions, but he also caused consternation among the Wyandots by throwing away his American medal when visiting Washington, D.C., in the winter of 1808–9.

On the eve of the War of 1812 Myeerah cast his influence on the side of neutrality, but under considerable pressure from the British and the Wyandot chief Roundhead [Stayeghtha] he joined the British and went to the vicinity of Fort Malden (Amherstburg), Upper Canada, where other Indians were gathered. He fought at Maguaga (Wyandotte), near his home, in August 1812, participated in the capture of Detroit the same month, and was at the battle of Frenchtown in January 1813.

Myeerah did not, however, identify Indian interests with the British cause to the extent that Roundhead or Tecumseh did. When in the late summer of 1813 American general William Henry Harrison prepared to advance in the Detroit River region, Myeerah secretly informed the Americans that he would break from the British. At first he suggested coming to their aid once they reached Sandwich (Windsor), Upper Canada, but he decided instead to withdraw from any action to avoid the possibility that the Indian-hating American militia would attack him and his followers in spite of their intention to desert the British. Thus he simply retired from the field as the Americans advanced, notified Harrison, and allowed the general to direct his movements. On 14 October, after the battle of Moraviantown, he signed an armistice with the Americans. When a formal treaty between the Wyandots and the Americans was made in July 1814 Myeerah did not attend because he was too ill to travel, but he was acknowledged by a Wyandot chief at the council as the “Principal chief” of the Brownstown band. In September 1815 he signed the Treaty of Spring Wells, near Detroit, a document that recorded the peace between the United States and the Ojibwas, Ottawas, and Potawatomis and reaffirmed previous agreements with the Ohio valley tribes. A letter of 4 June 1816 refers to Myeerah’s stand on a measure desired by the American government. It is likely that he died about 1817.

An American resident of the Detroit region who had known him in his last years later described him as having “a fine, commanding person, [being] near six feet in height and well-proportioned, and as straight as an arrow. He was mild and pleasant in his deportment.”

Reginald Horsman

[James Foster], The capitulation, or a history of the expedition conducted by William Hull, brigadier-general of the North-western Army, by an Ohio volunteer (Chillicothe, Ohio, 1812); repub. in War on the Detroit . . . , ed. M. M. Quaife (Chicago, 1940), 211. Indian affairs: laws and treaties, comp. C. J. Kappler ([2nd ed.], 2v., Washington, 1904), 2: 78, 117–19. Letter book of the Indian agency at Fort Wayne, 1809–1815, ed. Gayle Thornbrough (Indianapolis, Ind., 1961), 35. Messages and letters of William Henry Harrison, ed. Logan Esarey (2v., Indianapolis, 1922), 2: 537, 573. Mich. Pioneer Coll., 13 (1888): 320–21; 40 (1929): 60–61, 75–76, 461. Norton, Journal (Klinck and Talman), 285. “Policy and practice of the United States and Great Britain in their treatment of Indians,” North American Rev. (Boston), 24 (January–April 1827): 422–24. [John Richardson], Richardsons War of 1812; with notes and a life of the author, ed. A. C. Casselman (Toronto, 1902; repr. 1974), 39, 70. L. U. Hill, John Johnston and the Indians in the land of the Three Miamis . . . (Piqua, Ohio, 1957), 81–82. B. J. Lossing, The pictorial field-book of the War of 1812 . . . (New York, 1868), 279. H. R. Schoolcraft, Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States . . . (6v., Philadelphia, 1851–57; repr. New York, 1969), 2: 226.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Reginald Horsman, “MYEERAH,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 14, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/myeerah_5E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/myeerah_5E.html
Author of Article:   Reginald Horsman
Title of Article:   MYEERAH
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1983
Year of revision:   1983
Access Date:   April 14, 2024