Fort Finney
Fort Finney

In 1786 a treaty was signed with the Indian near the location of the confluence of the Great Miami & Ohio Rivers, the current location of the Miami Fort power station owned by CG&E.
In 1785 a fort named Fort Finney was built on the bank of the Ohio River above the mouth of the Great Miami.  Today the Miami Fort Power Plant is located just slightly south of the area where the fort was located, near the I275 Bridge that crosses over the Ohio River into Kentucky. A great view of the area can be seen from "The Point" trail located at the end of Shawnee Park.

The purpose of the fort was to protect the United States commissioners and troops during negotiations with the Indians, preliminary to the treaty that was entered into on January 31, 1786 and was completed on February 1st.  This agreement paved the way for settlement of the Northwest Territory.  The importance of this treaty has been overlooked.
The fort was named for Captain Walter Finney.  It was the first place of habitation by white men in this region.  The United States flag was raised with a store set up and provisions and goods that appealed to the Indiana.
Only the Shawnee Indiana were expected to surrender land, but Wyandot and Delaware tribes were also invited to Fort Finney.  The treaty was a supplement to one made at Fort McIntosh in January of 1785.  It was made in concern that there had been complaints among the Indians and was principally intended to include Shawnees who had failed to appear at Fort McIntosh.  George Rogers Clark, Richard Butler, and Samuel Parsons were the representatives of the United States.  These three Indian commissioners determined that the other tribes would help restrain the Shawnees from doing violence to the U.S. troops.  Great diplomacy was necessary to convince the Shawnees to attend, taking weeks of negotiations.

On January 14, 1786, there were 450 Indiana present, which greatly outnumbered the U.S. troops.  About 130 were Delaware and Wyandot, with women and children among them.  For entertainment, dancing was held in the council house outside of the fort.  The war dance was performed in breechcloth and their faces and bodies were painted.  Tomahawks and scalping knives were present, which caused the commissioners and soldiers to sense danger.  The commissioners had their soldiers cook and serve food to the Indians in the council house.  As the Shawnees always selected old and decrepit women to do the cooking, when they saw the U.S. soldiers serving food, they laughed and shouted at them in derision, crying out, "Here come the old women with warrior coats on"!  an Indian's most insulting contempt was to call someone an "old woman".

Then on January 31st, three hundred face-painted Indian warriors filed into the council house.  Their demeanor was sullen and suspicious.  a warrior of the Delaware named Bohengehelus addressed General Clark. "I assigned the hatchet into the hands of my kings.  I have ceased to war and have come to council fire to promote peace..."  another Delaware chief, Texapxie, advised the Shawnee to follow his example, to lay down the hatchet and nevermore take it up.
The first article of the treaty required that three Indian hostages be held until all the U.S. prisoners, white and black, taken in the war with the Shawnee Nation, were restored.  This demand angered the Shawnee.  The Shawnee's old council sachem (the supreme chief), named Molunthy, and the war chief, Kehenepelathy, took the lead.  The war chief made a boisterous and threatening speech, which caused his warriors to whoop at every pause.  His speech briefly stated that it was not their custom to give hostages and that God had given them the land and they did not understand why they were expected to measure it out.  He stated that they wanted no part in trading land for goods.  The war chief then flung upon the table a black and white wampum (belt) to signify peace or war, the choice to be made by the commissioners.
General Clark pushed the sacred wampum off the table with his cane.  Every Indian started from his seat and gave out peculiar savage sounds.  Clark then rose, stamped his foot on it, then ordered them to leave.  They did so and all night debating was heard in the bushes near the fort while the troops held their guns ready.
The war chief was for war, but the old Shawnee sachem, Molunthy, was for peace. The latter prevailed and the next morning he presented a white string, canceling out what the chief warrior had said, and prayed that they would have pity on the women and children.

After the treaty was signed on February 1st, five Shawnees were left as hostages.  This was the first surrender of territory by Indians west of the Alleghenies.  It was the first acknowledgement by any sovereignty of the United states.
By the treaty at Fort Finney, the United States was acknowledged to be the sole and absolute sovereign of all the territory ceded to them by the treaty with Great Britain in 1784.  The Shawnee were to leave southern Ohio and their hunting grounds would become Indiana.  Beyond which lines none of the citizens of the United states shall settle, nor disturb the Shawnees in their settlement possession. This laid the foundation for settling the Northwest Territory, which had begun to be surveyed in this area in 1798.  The treaty failed entirely in securing peace, as the tribes more distant west than the Shawnee were in no way disposed to cease their incursions.

The troops remained at Fort Finney for several months.  St. Patrick's Day was celebrated by getting drunk and by evening only six men were fit for duty.  The next day one man died from the effects of alcohol.  Lt. Denny's diary at the fort ends in July 1786, when he was ordered to Fort Harmar.  It is unknown when Fort Finney was abandoned but it was before the settlement of North Bend, Ohio, by Judge John Cleves Symmes in 1789.
Note: General George Rogers Clark was a hero of the American Revolution.  His brother was William Clark, who in 1804 accompanied by Meriwether Lewis in an exploration of the western states.

Source:  "History of Dearborn County and Ohio Counties, Indiana", written in 1885 and also "The Mouth of the Great Miami", by Marjorie Burress