Massacre 1769: The Search for the Origin of the Legend of Starved Rock

William L. Potter Publication Series, no. 10

Mark Walczynski

11060 pages, maps, illustrations | 2013

According to the Legend of Starved Rock, the last of the Illinois Indian tribe fled to the summit of the bluff where they were surrounded by the Potawatomi and Odawa Indians. Unable to obtain food or water, Illinois men, women and children were destroyed by starvation. Was this account a horrific historical event, or nothing more than fanciful fiction, based on fragments of many events, popularized by the creative pens of imaginative nineteenth-century writers? Massacre 1769: The Search for the Origin of the Legend of Starved Rock reviews the earliest and most influential accounts of the well-known legend, traces the history and culture of the Illinois Indian tribe from its earliest contact with Europeans, and closely examines the event of 1769, the murder of Odawa war chief, Pontiac, at the hand of an Illinois man, the incident that, according to the legend, precipitated the destruction of the Illinois tribe at Starved Rock. With careful examination of archaeological excavations and surveys at or around Starved Rock, and extensive study of the well-documented historical record, Massacre 1769 at last brings clarity to this event, proving again that history is even more enthralling than fiction. This text is suitable for both scholar and history enthusiast alike.

About the author:

Mark Walczynski is retired from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Law Enforcement. He holds a master’s degree from California State University – Dominguez Hills, in humanities with a special concentration in history, and he is a graduate of the Illinois State Police Academy in Springfield, Illinois. His work on Starved Rock has been published in scholarly journals including the Journal of the Illinois State Historical SocietyLe Journal, and in historical guidebooks, such as American Indian Places. The author of Starved Rock State Park, the First 100 Years, he contributed to the DVD The Early History of the Illinois Indians, and served as an historical consultant for Starved Rock and The Illiniwek. Mark currently teaches history, philosophy, and criminal justice courses at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Illinois and is Park Historian for the Starved Rock Educational and Historical Foundation.


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