Turkey Foot or Me-sa-sa was a chief of the Ottawa Indians.
Turkey Foot's Indian name was Me-sa-sa. Little is known of his youth, but as white Americans increasingly moved into what is now northwestern Ohio, Me-sa-sa led his fellow Ottawans against the whites. In 1794, he lived with his followers at Blanchard's Fork on the Auglaize River in what is now northwestern Ohio.
Me-sa-sa was one of the principal leaders of the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. General Anthony Wayne and his Army of the Northwest marched against Indian forces in northwestern Ohio along the Maumee River. The Indians prepared to attack him in an area known as Fallen Timbers. It was a place where a tornado had knocked down many trees, and the natives intended to use the fallen trees for protection. The Indians expected the Americans to arrive on August 19, but the white soldiers did not arrive until the next day. The natives fasted before the battle for spiritual and cultural reasons and to avoid having food in their stomachs. The likelihood of infection increased if a person was wounded in the stomach and there was food in it. By August 20, the natives were weak from hunger.
Although the Indians used the fallen trees for cover, Wayne's men quickly drove the Indians from the battlefield. As the Indians were retreating, legend has it that Chief Me-sa-sa jumped on top of a boulder at the base of Presque Isle Hill, hoping to rally his forces. According to surviving accounts, Me-sa-sa was immediately shot and died next to the boulder. His attempts to rally the Indians failed. The white Americans had thirty-three men killed and roughly one hundred wounded, while the Indians lost approximately twice that number. The fight became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
Following the battle, the boulder where Me-sa-sa was shot become a shrine in his memory. Locals routinely found offerings, such as beef, corn, and trinkets, on the boulder. The boulder became known as Turkey Foot Rock. It is still visible today at the site of the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
For the next year, Wayne attempted to negotiate a treaty with the Indians. The natives realized that they were at a serious disadvantage with the Americans, especially because of Great Britain's refusal to support the Indians. On August 3, 1795, the Treaty of Greeneville was signed. Representatives from the Miami Indians, the Wyandot Indians, the Shawnee Indians, the Delaware Indians, and several other tribes agreed to move to the northwestern part of what is now the State of Ohio. Me-sa-sa's attempts to drive the whites from the region had failed. Not all Indians concurred with the treaty, and bloodshed continued to dominate the region for the next twenty years as Americans and Indians struggled for control.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.