Me-sa-sa -- also known by the Anglo-American exonym "Turkey Foot" -- was a prominent Ottawa chief.
Little is known of Men-sa-sa's youth, but as white Americans increasingly moved into what is now northwestern Ohio, Me-sa-sa led his fellow Ottawans in defense against this encroachment. By 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 American Indian leaders present at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. General Anthony Wayne and his Army of the Northwest marched against American Indian forces in northwestern Ohio along the Maumee River. Assembled American Indian forces 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 American Indians intended to use the fallen trees for protection. The American Indians expected Anglo-Americans forces to arrive on August 19, but the white soldiers did not arrive until the next day. The American Indian troops 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, however, the group was weak from hunger.
Although the American Indians used the fallen trees for cover, Wayne's men quickly drove them from the battlefield. As the American 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. Thirty three Anglo-Americans were killed and one-hundred wounded in the Battle; American Indian forces suffered approximately twice the casualties. 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 American Indians. They realized that they were at a serious disadvantage with the Americans, especially because of Great Britain's refusal to support them. On August 3, 1795, the Treaty of Greeneville was signed. Representatives from the Miami, the Wyandot (Lenape), Shawnee, Lenape (Delaware), and several other tribes agreed, or were made to agree, to move to the northwestern part of what is now the State of Ohio. Me-sa-sa's attempts to drive invading Anglo-Americans from the region was unsuccessful. Few of Ohio's American Indian peoples, however, concurred with the treaty, and American Indians continued to resist Anglo-American encroachment onto history American Indian homelands for much of the two decades to come.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.