From Sept. 4 to Nov. 4, 1838, the United States forcibly removed a band of 859 Potawatomi and marched them from northern Indiana to present-day Kansas. A caravan in remembrance of this history is held every five years to honor victims and survivors. The next observance will be in 2023, said Janet A. Pearl, member-at-large, Potawatomi Trail of Death Association.
February 2022 is the 155th anniversary of the Treaty of 1867, the last of several treaties that the Citizen Potawatomi signed with the U.S. federal government. This treaty was the final push for the first Citizen Potawatomi families to move from Kansas to Indian Territory. The U.S. Government officially ended treaty negotiations with Native American tribes in 1871.
The once-bustling Potawatomi reservation settlement of Uniontown in present-day Kansas is today a small cemetery. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation have rich histories tied to the area that was the center of the tribes’ universe in the mid-19th century. Stories passed down for generations about the community located along the Oregon Trail inspired recent geological research from experts in the state.
On Nov. 15, 1861, nearly 80 Potawatomi headmen and Tribal members gathered with federal officials to sign the Treaty of 1861. The agreement created two separate Potawatomi tribes on the Kansas River Reservation, establishing the Citizen Potawatomi and Prairie Band.
After removal west of the Mississippi, the Potawatomi utilized the limited available resources to survive. The Tribe’s expedition to present-day Missouri and Iowa put them in first-hand contact with other groups also experiencing displacement, including Mormons.
Aug. 29 marks the 1821 Treaty of Chicago’s 200th anniversary. The agreement between the United States, Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi included the cessation of almost 4 million acres of Native land and forever impacted the tribes’ hold in the Great Lakes region.
The Potawatomi census book of 1862 remains a vital foundational document for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. The artifact documents the Nation’s beginning, and members and staff of CPN have spent almost 15 years attempting to gain custody from the St. Marys, Kansas, historical society.
The Bergeron Potawatomi family roots begin along the Kankakee River in Bourbonnais Grove, Illinois, with Watchekee, the daughter of Potawatomi/Odawa Chief Shabonna and Monashki.
The first Oklahoma land run took place on April 22, 1889, and established present-day Oklahoma City and Guthrie in one day. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s historical ties are with the Land Runs of 1891, which took place on Sept. 22, 23 and 28.
More than 850 Potawatomi made the journey, and 42 perished, mostly children and elderly. Written and visual records help chronicle this trying time in the Tribe’s history, and utilizing these resources help Tribal members and others acknowledge the tenacity and resilient spirit of the Potawatomi people.