Miami Chief Jean-Baptiste de Richardville’s strong business sense made him the richest man in Indiana at the time of his death. Today his house is recognized as the oldest Native American structures in the nation and the oldest house in northeast Indiana along with the oldest Greek Revival-style house in the state. On Tuesday, April 16, 2012 it was tagged as one of only 2,494 National Historic Landmarks and the only treaty house designated as a National Historic Landmark-the only extant treaty house in the nation.
National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Only 37 historic places in Indiana bear this national distinction.
Richardville was the son of a French fur trader father. He was known as The Wildcat, Pinsiwa. With his Miami Indian mother – Tacamwa, sister to the Miami war chief Little Turtle – he became one of the earliest entrepreneurs in our area. Together they built a trading empire based on control of the “long portage” between the St. Mary’s and Wabash rivers, completing a pathway for commerce that extended from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society (History Center) since 1991 maintains the property, Akima Pinsiwa Awiiki (Chief Richardville House), located at 5705 Bluffton Road in Waynedale. The house was built on land secured through the 1818 Treaty of St. Mary’s in 1827, funded in part through the 1826 Treaty Paradise Springs (Mississinewa). It is one of nine houses built for Myaamia (Miami) Chiefs through that treaty.
Join the Nation as they celebrate on Saturday, April 28 from 1-3pm the designation of the Chief Richardville House as a National Historic Landmark. Visitors may tour the interior of the house, see the room where Richardville lived and then, died in 1841, view the large safe in which he stored his wealth estimated to be $23 million (in today’s currency) at the time of this death, and learn more about the rich Native American history of this area.
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