Longtime Chicago Alderman Ed Burke committed a forehead-slapping gaffe on Tuesday.
He started by angering local American Indians with his resolution proposing a “Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation” to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Dearborn in Chicago.
Joseph Podlasek, executive director of Chicago's American Indian Center, told the Chicago Tribune
that Burke’s resolution failed to include the Native American point of view, particularly that of Potawatomi tribe members who not only were killed in the fighting, but also tried to warn U.S. soldiers.
So, Burke reached out to Podlasek to find some common ground—and suggested they smoke a peace pipe.
What was Burke puffing on?
Podlasek told the Tribune
“[Burke] said maybe we should all sit down and smoke a peace pipe. That's very offensive. Our pipes are very sacred items to us.”
Burke apologized for the comment, sort of. “If I’ve insulted him, I apologize,” he told the Tribune
“I think the term peace pipe is something that is commonly understood in North America to be a symbol of reconciliation and conciliation. That was my only intention. . . . I viewed it as an opportunity, if that is a symbol of reconciliation and friendship, to incorporate that into the commemoration ceremonies.”
The Battle of Fort Dearborn occurred in 1812, when 35 soldiers, 12 militiamen, 14 settlers and 15 Potawatomi were killed near the banks of the Chicago River.