This past summer a "Native American" wedding took place in our area and was described as the first one in northern Ohio in 200 years. Here is one more opportunity given me to render a contrary opinion. Actually, I've learned not to describe something as the first, last, oldest, newest, largest or smallest unless I know absolutely and without a doubt that it is a pure fact.
The facts of the case are that almost a century ago several American Indians gathered at Rye Beach west of Huron for a wedding based on their tribal traditions. The chief of this group was Thunderwater, who had a cottage at Rye Beach built "in the Indian style", whatever that was. He was from Cleveland, and estimated that at least 12 Indian families lived there.
In June of 1908 Louis Keokuk Palmer, a son of Chief Thunderwater, married a young woman from Cleveland who had distant American Indian ancestry. Louis Palmer was described as being a resident of Huron. The couple had been married in a civil ceremony in Cleveland in April and then waited until good weather in June to celebrate the ancient customs.
After the ceremony of joining the couple together, three days of tribal dancing and feasting was to take place. Part of the formal ceremony was for the groom to drag his bride from her tent by her hair, but it was believed that this part would be omitted. After all was said and done she would be allowed to take her place as a member of her husband's Fox and Sac tribe.
There were, of course, American Indians living in this area when the first settlers came. Mostly they had used our area for commonly-held hunting grounds since they had no concept of ownership or private property. The idea of someone owning land and controlling it was impossible for them to comprehend. There was good hunting and trapping and excellent sugar bushes were found along the Vermillion River near Wakeman and in the Huron River valley at the southwest edge of Norwalk.
There were towns and settlements in our area, but some of them were inhabited by primitive Americans who cannot be defined as American Indians. After trading posts were established at places such as Huron, some Indians established homes in that vicinity and at other points along the lake shore.
Most of these early Firelands residents were of the Wyandot tribe. There were also Ottawas, and in Milan Township in particular were found Delawares and the Renappi or Lenni-Lenape (as they called themselves). Most of these people left when the War of 1812 started, many of them moving to Indian lands in Sandusky and Seneca counties, and farther southwest around Upper Sandusky. Those who remained here were often elderly, and described as sad remnants of once-proud nations.
When the western part of the Western Reserve was purchased by treaty in 1805 at Toledo, the treaty was signed by representatives of the Wyandot, Ottawa, Chippewa, Munsee, Delaware, Shawnee and Pottawatomie nations. Each of these nations was considered to own the area between Bellevue and the Cuyahoga River, and between Lake Erie and Plymouth.
The purchase of this tract and its subsequent settlement was just one of many major changes which have taken place here in northern Ohio.