The French built Fort St. Philippe (Fort Miamis) west of this area by 1722, to command the land portage here between the Maumee and Wabash Rivers. It was important to the French to protect the area in their political competition with the British as a strategic location for the potential profit from fur trading with the native people Europeans were ready to supply the goods Native Americans wanted, such as metal tools, utensils, weapons, manufactured cloth materials and decorative items. Because beaver was the fur most desired in Europe for hat making and deerskin for leather trappings, the Native Americans had a trading opportunity to utilize. Participating in this trade arrangement changed lifestyles of the native people. Once this lifestyle became a part of their culture, a dependency relationship between the Native Americans and the traders developed. It established an economic and political relationship in this part of the New World that lasted for over 300 years. Native Americans furnished not only furs but also military clout. As allies to either the French or the British, they created a balance of power between the European nations struggling for position in the New World. Eventually, four additional forts were erected here: a second French garrison that later was taken by the British was established northeast of Headwaters Park. This was followed by three American forts near this point. Fort Wayne, built on the high ground overlooking the confluence of the rivers and the Miami town of Kekionga, was dedicated on October 22, 1794. In 1976, a replica of the last fort built by Anthony Wayne was erected within the boundaries of Headwaters Park.
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