Potawatomi Indians

Known to themselves as the Bodewadmi, or the "Keepers of the Fire," the Potawatomi Indians are a tribe of Native Americans who traditionally lived in the region of the northern Mississippi River and areas of Michigan. They were members of the Council of Three Fires, which was an alliance combining the Ottawa, the Ojibwa, and the Potawatomi tribes into one unified group. This allowed them to hold off the Sioux and Iroquois forces over the years, letting the Potawatomi maintain their lands until the upheavals of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Thanks to the Potawatomi arts of storytelling, music, and crafts, their history and ways have been kept alive long enough for modern Potawatomi and museums to help them to never be lost. The language of the Potawatomi is derived from Algonquian but has the most in common with that spoken by the Odawa tribe. This language is not spoken by many individuals in modern times; however it has managed to be passed down through the ages along with their other traditions. There is a movement in the works to try and revive the tongue before it is lost forever.

Expansion of white men into North America caused the Potawatomi to migrate from Michigan to Wisconsin, then areas of Illinois and Indiana. During the 1800's they lost much of this land to the United States government. The Treaty of Chicago was thrust upon the Potawatomi, followed by a forced march, known as the Trail of Death, during which many passed away. They were relocated to Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas, where some of their reservation land remains to this day. Modern censuses show that the population of the Potawatomi has grown from an estimated 1,500 to 28,000, spread throughout the United States.

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