The Potawatomi Trail of Death began today in 1838. More than 850 Tribal members walked 660 miles from Indiana to Kansas. Written and visual records provide insight into this turbulent time and help present-day Potawatomi remember and honor their ancestors’ trials.
In this episode, we’ll hear about the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 and its effect on tribes, discuss the connection between cartography and Indigeneity, and learn the history of an artist who documented the Potawatomi Trail of Death in the late 1830s.
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.
Because George Winter’s sketches and paintings serve as the only artistic record of any forced removal, CPN Cultural Heritage Center staff chose to use his pieces as key features within the Forced From Land and Culture: Removal gallery.
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 »
After the Potawatomi arrived in present-day Kansas, Indian agents R.W. Cummins and A.J. Vaughan established a pay station and trading post at Uniontown located south of the Kansas River and west of present-day Topeka, Kansas. The settlement served as a commercial hub for Tribal members, and its position along the Oregon-California Trail made it a Read More »
In late summer 1838 near Twin Lakes, Indiana, U.S. General John Tipton called a meeting with the Potawatomi around Chief Menominee’s village. Menominee refused to give up what remained of his people’s land. However, the federal government claimed ownership due to prior treaties and documents signed by him and other Potawatomi representatives. Militia placed Menominee Read More »
Excerpt from George Winter’s journal regarding Mis qua buck [Red Iron]. “Mus-qua-buck…. whom I had sketched unconsciously to him at the time while sitting on a stump of a tree watching some young Indians playing some game. He was completely disencumbered of all those gaudy trappings which the Indians [sic] who are immediate neighbors of Read More »
An excerpt from George Winter’s journal regarding Pash Po Ho. Winter was a participant and chronicler of the Potawatomi Trail of Death. “Pash Po Ho was an aboriginal gentleman-he was considered the best dressed Pottawattamie Indian in the nation, and was exceedingly graceful when mounted upon his handsomely equipped pony. “The heavy plated bit-handsome bridle-the Read More »
Illustrating collaborative efforts between the Cultural Heritage Center and Indiana University is the 1837 painting of the Council of Keewaunay between Indiana Potawatomi and U.S. emigration agents. University staff at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology photographed the paining and provided a digital copy to the Archive and Research division for exhibition and research Read More »