The Half-Way Crucifixion of Chief Wahoo


( music for effect by Local Natives)

The Cleveland Indians are playing the last home game of the regular season today; it’s late September. If they win the rest of the games they are in the playoffs. I’ll be driving to the Jake (the former name of the of the stadium at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario), in Cleveland, Ohio. The Tribe wins the last ten games and makes the playoffs for the first time since 2007. I’ve been following the Tribe since the 50’s. The throw-back teams that included Minnie Minosa, Chico Carresquel, Tito Francona, Rockie Colavito, Larry Doby and others who only had to play 154 games per year; back when players made $15,000 a season and sold cars in the off-season.

The baseball team won the game but the Indians lost. The name “Cleveland Indians” insults those in Ohio that understand the history of the Cuyahoga Valley. Genocide. We massacred the race. We ran the tribes out of the state in the dead of winter. Instead of using gas chambers it is rumored that our Government dispensed small pox infected blankets. Like the Nazis, we exterminated the unwanted natives. I support the movement to change the team’s name to the Cleveland Blues, Rocks, Sliders or the original name, the Cleveland Spiders.


My unusual residence is on a road named after a Native American; Majestic “Iuka Avenue” In Columbus, OH-IO. Iuka is an abbreviation for a sad, sickly old Chickasaw Indian Chief by the name  Ish-ta-ki-yu-ka-tubbe. Why is this lovely avenue in the Ravine District named after this peculiar Indian Chief? What was a southern tribe doing up north? Paul Harvey would say “and now the rest of the story”.

jrr author

My hypothesis is that William Neil, the stage coach king, aggressive business man and farmer, the name sake of Neil House Hotel and Neil Avenue, owned a manure-load of land in north Columbus. His son, Captain Henry Neil was wounded in a bloody Civil War artillery battle in Iuka Mississippi. There were over 1600 causalities. I’m thinking that Iuka Mississippi was ringing in Henry Neil’s ear when he started developing Indianola Place and naming the streets.

Indianola Place is the site of the bars, restaurants and retail businesses just east of the campus of The Ohio State University . It also included some of the most historic homes, churches, fraternity and sorority houses as well. The stream named “Iuka Run” ran down Iuka Avenue and Indianola then across High Street and through the south oval; through what we call Mirror Lake and down to the Olentangy. Tycoon William Neil donated his lower 300 acres on the Olentangy River flood plain in 1870 to the State where The Ohio State University resides. The Federal Government had levied a substantial Estate Tax to pay for the Civil War and Neil’s estate planners must have convinced him to donate land rather than pay tax at his demise. Or, maybe he was one hell of a good guy? He gifted much of his estate to his children. William Neil was a great businessman and definitely in the top 10 persons in the history of Columbus, Ohio.

But, I digress. It so happens that a less-than-civil Federal Government stole all of the Mississippi land from Chief Iuka way back in 1832. Naming the street after the bloody Civil War battle in Iuka Mississippi was an unintentional way to pay homage to the Native American Chief Iuka. An excerpt of the treaty follows. Read it and weep.


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