Legislator reflects on Trail of Death observance

Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal legislator Alan Melot, who lives in Joplin, Missouri, joined the 2023 Potawatomi Trail of Death caravan, and shares his reflections on the journey and his hopes for the future of the event.

Remembering the Trail of Death and its impact on the Potawatomi people

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.

Trail of Death illuminated in Two-Moon Journey

In 1838, American militia members evacuate Simu-quah, a young Potawatomi girl, and the rest of her family from their village at Twin Lakes in Indiana and force them to begin a long march to Kansas. Seeing her father, a local headman (or chief), chained in the back of a prison wagon, Simu-quah resolved to help Read More »

Gallery remembers the Potawatomi Trail of Death

Amidst an era of increased expansion by non-Native settlers into the United States’ western frontiers, a single piece of legislation codified federal policy on the topic of removing tribal people from their lands. On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law. This legislation authorized the federal government to forcibly Read More »

Chronicling the Potawatomi Trail of Death – Part 9

Diary of William Polke Saturday, 15 Sept. 1838 “Early on this morning we were on our way, and travelled without interruption unit 12 o’clock. When we arrived at an unhealthy and filthy looking stream, at which, from the reports of the citizens of the country, we were forced to encamp. The young men among the Read More »

Chronicling the Potawatomi Trail of Death – Part 8

Diary of William Polke Friday, 14 Sept. 1838 “Left Lagrange encampment at an early hour and proceeded at a quick pace on our journey—passing over a dry and seemingly unhealthy portion of the country. Our party continues to mend in health. Occasionally however, and indeed not unfrequently, persons thro’ weariness and fatigue take sick along Read More »

Chronicling the Potawatomi Trail of Death – Part 7

Diary of William Polke Thursday 13 Sept. 1838 “We commenced our journey this morning about nine o’clock, and after traveling until four this afternoon, reached the encampment near Lagrange—some 18 miles from the camp of yesterday. With the exception of the sultry heat of noon-day and the excessive dust of the roads, our marches are very Read More »

Chronicling the Potawatomi Trail of Death – Part 6

Diary of William Polke Wednesday, 12 Sept. 1838 “At half past 8 o’clock we struck our tents and started on the march. At 11 we reached and forded the Tippecanoe River. A little after 12 we passed the Battle Ground and at one arrived at our present encampment (Battle Ground).“ “Distance from the encampment of Read More »

Chronicling the Potawatomi Trail of Death – Part 5

Diary of William Polke Monday, 10 Sept. 1838 “The morning was early employed in preparations for a removal. Nothing of any note occurred during the morning. At 10 o’clock we got under way and proceeded on our journey, leaving behind us of sick and attendan[ts] two. The day was hot—we had the advantage [how]ever, of Read More »

Chronicling the Potawatomi Trail of Death – Part 4

Diary of William Polke Sunday, 9 Sept. 1838 “Physicians came into camp today, and reported three hundred cases of sickness, generally of a temporary character, and which they are of opinion, may be removed by a two-day course of medicine. A kind of medical hospital has been erected today, which is likely to facilitate the Read More »