(Hello my friend),
The Citizen Potawatomi Nation came into being with the Treaty of 1861. The Tribe acquired its reservation for cash with the Treaty of 1867 using the meager proceeds of the forced sale of the last of our remaining lands in Kansas.
The Civil War had left us stripped bare. We were a poor and pitiful people. 1867 began the post-Civil War Long Depression that lasted until 1896. Our arrival in Oklahoma in 1872 was not just due to being broke and hungry, but because U.S. Army Capt. George Armstrong Custer was on a killing rampage.
His commander, 5-foot-5-inch Gen. Philip Sheridan, coined the phrase “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead,” and authorized the 1864 command of U.S. Army Col. John Chivington of the Colorado Volunteer U.S. Cavalry to massacre the Black Kettle Band, mainly women and children, on the Washita River.
Chivington was notorious for justifying the scalping and killing Indian children because “nits make lice.”
It was this environment of inhumanity that restrained our people from claiming their new reservation immediately after the Treaty of 1867. But more shocks were to come.
What we faced had we started for Oklahoma from Kansas in 1867 was a dual threat. Our people split into two groups, one in the far north and one in the far south end of the reservation. Citizen Potawatomi on the south were confronted by a group of Absentee Shawnee, who were called “Absentee” because they were not present when their lands were granted in Northeastern Oklahoma and Delaware, who had been expelled from Texas by the Texas Rangers. They laid claim to our purchased reservation, and a violent confrontation ensued.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs allotted the Absentee Shawnee parcels of land on our reservation. Citizen Potawatomi in the northern part of the reservation were dead in the path of the oncoming railroad boom. It took many years and much displacement to resolve these disputes.
The southern claim finally ended with our quasi-victory in federal court in 1996.
Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Tribal Chairman. My congratulations to Vice-Chairman Linda Capps and Secretary/Treasurer D. Wayne Trousdale on their uncontested re-election for four-year terms. I also want to express my gratitude to Dr. Kelli Mosteller, CPN Cultural Heritage Center Director, on the grand opening of the restored center after the disastrous 2014 flood caused by the City of Shawnee.
John “Rocky” Barrett
(He Leads Them Home)