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Chief Cornstalk performance promoting peace 'great,' 'historical'

By MICHAEL HARRINGTON • Updated Jun 29, 2017 at 4:37 PM

MILAN — On Wednesday, during the second night of Ohio Chautauqua, the festival brought history to life once again with a performance by Dan Cutler as Chief Cornstalk, the Shawnee leader.

“The natives had gotten spoiled on trade goods. Neolin, a spiritual leader, preached that they should go back to the old ways. Cornstalk (1720-1777) was a disciple of Neolin and really fought hard for independence,” said Cutler on why Chief Cornstalk is important to the natural world, which is Ohio Humanities theme for this year’s tour.

Cutler’s performance focused on Cornstalk’s struggle to lead his people toward independence and hold back the westward expansion of settlers.

He followed the teachings of Neolin, who opposed European influence. He advocated for a return to the native traditions and reliance on the land.

Cornstalk continued fighting against the settlers’ advancement into Ohio, leading his people at the Battle of Point Pleasant.

“They fought hard at the battle, but after their losses, Cornstalk saw peace and cohabitation as the best way to ensure their survival,” Cutler said on Cornstalk’s decision to sign a peace treaty.

Cornstalk strived to keep the Shawnee’s neutrality in the upcoming American Revolution. He went to Fort Randolph to act as a hostage in accordance with the treaty, but he was murdered by American Militiamen in retaliation for a soldier’s death that Cornstalk had no part in. His murder outraged the American people who greatly respected his leadership.

Cutler dropped out of character to answer any of the audience’s questions. “Great. Informative. Historical,” Milan resident Dick Smith said regarding the quality of Cutler’s performance.

“Excellent and very informative,” said Barb Long, who also resides in Milan.

Chautauqua, a five-day festival beginning Tuesday, continues through Saturday at Milan Town Square with events scheduled for every night and featuring a portrayal of a different historical figure. Thursday spotlights Marie Frontczak, who will portray Frankenstein’s author and mother of science fiction, Mary Shelley.

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