A Place in Between
a French and Miami family
on the Wabash
by Jennifer Yantis Harrison
Tahquakeah lived in a nebulous place between cultures. Born 1796, his father was Michel Brouillette [brew-YEHT], a French trader from Vincennes. His mother was of the Miami tribe. Tahquakeah was born on the prairies north of Terre Haute, close to the banks of the Wabash River.
Tahquakeah was known by several names, a testimony to his place between cultures. His Miami name, Tahquakeah, means Autumn. His French name was Jean Baptiste Brouillette, or J.B. Brouillette. He was also known as Captain Brouillette. Captain was not an actual military title but a label applied by white people denoting respect. He was also known as Brewet and Bouriet, anglicizations of his French name.
Tahquakeah was not alone in his place between cultures, there were numerous others. The children of inter-racial marriages and unions were called metis [meh-TEE] by the French. Their knowledge of disparate languages and familiarity with customs of Europeans, colonials and Native Americans allowed them to span a cultural bridge. Their skills and knowledge often thrust them into mediation between two worlds.
1836 portrait of "Brewett"
Tahquakeah married Kekenakushwa, or Cut Finger, the eldest daughter of Frances Slocum. Frances Slocum, known as Maconaquah to the Miami, was a well-known white captive of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. She had been captured at the age of five.
After two marriages and having a family, Frances was discovered by her Quaker family in 1837. She was 64 years old, and had long forgotten her English tongue. She and her family lived in a double log cabin on the Mississinewa River.
Because of her notoriety, an unusual amount of information was collected and preserved about her life. Fortunately Tahquakeah's path intersected with her own, or he may have been unknown to us today.
A Place in Between is the story of a French and Miami family caught in the middle of colonial expansion. The story of the Brouillettes reflects the early development and clash of cultures in the Old Northwest.
1999. All rights reserved,
Created June 30, 1999. Rev. Mar. 8, 2004