Kenneth Leland was raised on a fifth-generation, family farm in northern Indiana. Beside a quiet country road, three miles from his father’s corn fields, stands a monument to Menomni. Okama Menomni was the leader of the last group of Neshnabek, or Potawatomi, to be banished from the state named after America’s aboriginal inhabitants. A few hundred feet from that monument is an oak-covered hillside that slopes to the shores of a small lake where Leland set opening scene in the fall of 1811 in his debut novel The Land Between Flowing Waters.
In the 1950s, scouting was a popular activity in Marshall County, Indiana. The property beside the Menomni Monument, just south of the lake, was the summer camp and winter jamboree site for many boys and young men. As a youth, Leland knew almost nothing of the Neshnabek who had lived there originally, very little of their customs or experiences, why they seemingly disappeared or where they had gone. Still, there was an air about the place that a farmer’s son could feel just by walking over the land, by sleeping in its forest.
Scouting taught the importance of service to others, brotherhood, and vigilance. As Leland learned in later (much later) life, these are Neshnabek values par excellence. And so it was from this personal background that Leland chose to write of a Neshnabek community caught up in the fight to survive the War of 1812.
Kenneth Leland currently lives and writes in Toronto, Ontario. For more information, please visit Kenneth Leland's website.
1812 The Land Between Flowing Waters: Four families struggling to survive in the time of the 1812 war. The Benjamins found freedom from slavery in Upper Canada and now, must defend their new homeland from impending American invasion. The Babcocks are pacifist Quakers who have found a place of peace, security and tolerance in the British province, yet they too are threatened as the war begins to flow around them. For Kshiwe, Kmonokwe and their children, 1812 is just another season of fear among First Nations people facing extinction. In the shadows of Tecumseh and Brock, all join in the fight to survive.