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Native Heroes Essay Contest Entry

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Writer's First Name: Age: Essay Title or Subject: E-mail Address (to notify you if you win!!)
John J. Peloquin Adult John Shopedoke (sp.?)  
School Name (if any) City and State/Province Tribal Affiliation (if any)
  Riverside, CA  
I've know of a Native Hero that should be honored. His name was John Shopedoke (sp.?). He was a chief of the Forest band Potowatomi in Wisconsin and his relatives are tribal leaders to this day. John and his family were friends of my grandfather and his family. Many of our family stories told by my grandfather involved John- who must have been a bit of a philosopher too, given his comments on the white man's ways and modern devices as related in my family's tales. For example, my grandfather's family were one of the first to have a motor car in the area they lived. My grandfather and his brother Jess were driving along one day and saw John walking the same direction, so they stopped and offered him a ride- John accepted and started to get into the back seat. Jess and my grandfather said, "John, why don't you sit up here with us so we can hear what you say and we don't have to turn around to talk with you etc.". John replied- "No, thanks. The front seat goes too fast", which I think says a lot about what really is important. Just maintaining his human dignity as an Indian in those times (the early 20th Century) was heroic enough, but when a white man murdered his brother and the local sheriff didn't do anything, John tracked the criminal down in Missouri and brought the criminal back to justice. Quite an heroic deed in any time, but given the bigotry and pig- headed resistance John must have encountered in his quest to find justice for his brother, John's actions were that of a true hero. His descendants and relatives living today, I would hope, would have more to say on the matter and about John- but maybe not, since they might not have seen John's actions as particularly exceptional, nor as much a commentary on modern life as did my metis ancestors who, unlike John and his family, were between red and white worlds.

SO: John Shopedoke is my nominee for a Native hero.


John J. Peloquin, Assistant Research Biochemist
Department of Biochemistry
University of California, Riverside. 92521


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