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Chautauqua ~ Historical Literature #1
July 28, 1997; By: Ondamitag

From the Book The Geographic Location of Potawatomie Bands: 1795 to 1846
by Dr. David A Baerreis

The Period of American Domination (Part #1)

The attempt to establish peace through negotiations at Fort McIntosh on January 21, 1785 was without success because of the continued hostility of the tribes. The Potawatomie were not even among the tribes present at this conference. A second attempt was made at Fort Harmar on January 9, 1789. This treaty was negotiated with the Wyandot, Delaware, Chippewa and Ottawa as in the previous case and they are the ones to be compensated for land cessions, primarily in Ohio. The Potawatomie, however, were included in the negotiations to the extent that article 14 of the treaty (American State Papers. Class II, Vol. 1 Indian Affairs p. 7. Washington, 1832) specifically establishes a peace treaty with both the Potawatomie and the Sauk. The absence of the Potawatomie in these early and abortive attempts at land negotiation appears significant in showing that the Potawatomie were not regarded as the occupants or owners of land in the Ohio region. Certainly there is no evidence indicating the presence of Potawatomie villages in such an easterly location.

Even after the negotiations at Fort Harmar, the Potawatomie continue to appear in the ranks of the Indian tribes maintaining hostilities with the Americans. There is some evidence to suggest that they are somewhat reluctant allies of the anti-American group. Antoine Gamelin, by order of Major Hamtramck, was sent in April 1790 to carry speeches of Governor St. Clair to the Wabash [Meaning the "Wabash Tribes" or the "Wabash Confederates" of Wea & Piankeshaw, Kickapoo, Mascouten and at times Eel River. BKL] and Miami. While in one of their villages on May 2 he mentions that "...a few days after I passed by their village [on his first trip], seventy warriors, Sauteux and Outawais, from Michilimackinac, arrived there; some of them were Poux, who, meeting in their route the Sauteaux and Outawais, joined them. We told them what we heard by you; that your speech is fair and true. We could not stop them from going to war. The Poux told us, that, as the Sauteaux and Outawais were more numerous than them, they were forced to follow them" (American State Papers. Class II, Vol. 1-- Indian Affairs, p. 94, Washington, 1832).

Continued efforts to bring in the tribes, including the Potawatomie, to negotiate a peace, resulted in a similar explanation in an Indian speech to Major Hamtramck, delivered by Lagesse, a Potawatomie chief: "Me, Lagesse, the first and great chief of the Pattawatamies, take upon myself to answer for the entire nation here represented. We are very glad to hear from you, but sorry we cannot comply with your request; the situation of our affairs in this country prevents us. We are every day threatened by the other Indians, that if we do not take a part with them against the Americans, they will destroy our villages. This alone, my Father makes it necessary for all the chiefs to remain at home" (Ibid. p. 241).
In 1793, United States commissioners again attempt to draw up a treaty with the dissident tribes. The Indians themselves attribute, in a document presented to commissioners; the lack of success to the fact that they are acting as a "whole confederacy" and that previously not all of the tribes had been represented. This same point of view had been taken in a document sent to the Congress of the United States as early as December 18th, 1786. "All treaties carried on with the United States, on our parts, should be with the general voice of the whole confederacy." The constituent members of the confederacy appeared to vary. The group which met at a Huron village near the mouth of Detroit river in 1786 consisted of "The Five Nations, Huron's, Ottawa's, Twichtwees, Shawnees, Chippewa's, Cherokees, Delaware's, Potawatomie, the Wabash Confederates. "The second group in 1793 was an even more heterogeneous assemblage, the message being signed by the "Wyandots, Seven Nations of Canada, Delaware's, Shawnees, Miami's, Ottawa's, Chippewa's, Seneca's of the Glaize, Potawatomie, Connoys, Munsees, Nantekokies, Mohicans, Messasagoes, Creeks, Cherokees." Perhaps the momentum toward unified action among the tribes in the northwest. At any rate, no agreement can be reached on the boundary between Indian and white land so that again the attempt at making a treaty is a failure.

Eventually this resistance is broken down and prolonged negotiations by General Anthony Wayne at Greenville, Ohio begun on June 16th and ending August 10th, 1795 result in the Treaty of Greenville which established peace on the frontier and the first of a long series of land cessions to the Americans in the northwest. Negotiations here involved an extremely large number of Indians, 1,130 in all being listed and of these 240 were Potawatomie. The Potawatomie are not, as the earlier attempts at treaty negotiation indicated, primarily involved in the land cessions except perhaps in several small tracts where western forts are located. Nevertheless, they do receive compensation. Perhaps the policy of united front was an important factor in their receiving this compensation. A factor was certainly that throughout the proceedings of the conference, the Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomie, maintained that "we three are faithful allies, and one of us speaks for the whole, when in council" (Ibid. p. 568). Yet even though the three tribes are close allies and speak as one, cooperation even between the specific Potawatomie bands represented at the conference seems to be at a minimum.

The lack of unity among the Potawatomie comes out clearly in a speech of a Potawatomie chief. The Sun states that his village is located "a day's walk below the Wea towns on the Wabash" (Ibid. p. 580). This is also the first indication we have of Potawatomie villages in this waurter. They are evidently a relatively small group, for in his speech The Sun states:
"We, the Pattawatamies present, are in three classes. One from the river Huron, one from St. Joseph's, and that to which I belong from the Wabash; and as you intend to give the goods designed for us in bulk to that nation, I am afraid the division amongst ourselves will be attended to with difficulty and discontent. I pray you, father, to make the division among us, and thus preserve proportion and harmony" (Ibid.).

The Potawatomie Band of the Huron felt equally insecure and distrustful. Okia, a chief from this group spoke as follows:
"I come from the river Huron, near Detroit. My fathers have long possessed that country. The other Potawatomie presently live on the St. Joseph's and in that direction. All my old chiefs are dead; you therefore see young chiefs only from my towns, who are unaccustomed to speak in council. You told us you would deliver the presents in bulk to the Pattawatamy nation. In this case, I am afraid my people will not get a due proportion, and I am too proud to complain to you, should they be unfairly distributed; therefore, as I live detached from the others, and intend to return home with the Chippewa's, by the way of fort Defiance, I beg my father would let me have my proportion separatel"(Ibid. p. 581).

Since these three Potawatomie Bands are the only groups mentioned, it seems unlikely that all of this tribe is directly represented at the council. It also seems probable that in the troubled period immediately preceding the conference some Potawatomie had moved down on the Wabash, but that they are not yet settled there in any great strength.

After the Treaty of Greenville in 1795 the Potawatomie appear with increasing frequency in treaties involving land cessions. They are among the participants in a treaty negotiated by William Henry Harrison in 1803 at Fort Wayne on the Miami of the Lake. This primarily involved a clarification of some provisions of the 1795 treaty and the Potawatomie are probably concerned largely through the presence of the one small band on the Wabash [the upper or northern Wabash River in Indiana]. The Potawatomie are also involved in the Treaty of 1805 held at Fort Industry on the Miami of the Lake which is concerned with tracts 53 and 53 of Royce's map of Ohio. The Potawatomie are specifically mentioned only in article 5 of this treaty where we find:
"To prevent all misunderstanding hereafter, it is to be expressly remembered, that the Ottawa and Chippewa nations, and such of the Pattawatamy nation as reside on the river Huron of lake Erie, and in the neighborhood thereof, have received from the Connecticut land company, and the company incorporated by the name of Other proprietors of the half million acres of land, lying south of lake Erie, called Sufferers Land, the sum of four thousand dollars in hand, and have secured to the President of the United States, in trust for them, the further sum of twelve thousand dollars, payable in annual installments, of two thousand dollars each."

Now there is a Huron River located in Ohio within the tract ceded. The question may well arise, as to whether these are the Potawatomie who live on this river and are therefore being paid for the land which they held in the area. Again we can only state that there is no evidence for Potawatomie occupation this Far East. The treaty negotiations were being held at Fort Industry, located at the present Toledo, Ohio, immediately below the Michigan State line, some distance west of the tract under consideration. This was immediately south of the area of Potawatomie occupation in Michigan and it should be recalled that the Potawatomie of the Huron were present at the treaty of Greenville. Okia, a chief of this group, specifically says in a speech quoted above; "I come from the river Huron, near Detroit."

If the Potawatomie were not actual occupants of this area, why were they compensated so generously for the land? The answer is perhaps to be seen in the political situation of the time. Officially America and Britain were at peace but relations were nevertheless strained and the latter were attempting to use the Indians as a pawn in the anticipated renewed struggle between the two nations. The Potawatomie, Ottawa, and Chippewa who lived in the vicinity of Detroit were of crucial importance to the United States simply because they were just across the Detroit River from Malden, the center of British intrigue in the area. If they could be kept loyal, then it would be unlikely that he other tribes would be seriously influenced by British propaganda and presents. Payments to the Potawatomie, as well as the Ottawa and Chippewa, may have been largely a matter of expediency to keep these groups faithful allies. It is to be noted that the payments were carefully spaced over a period of six years.

In general the same comments might be made in reference to the other treaty negotiated in 1805 in which the Potawatomie participated, the Treaty of Grouseland, August 21,1805. The major point involved here was the Miami claim that land ceded by the Delaware was actually theirs, and that they therefore deserve to be compensated too. [Actually it was the Wea Deer Band of Piankeshaw's that gave the land to the Delaware to live on, it was land belonging to the Wea Nation, not the Miami, as the Miami never lived that far west & south in Indiana. BKL] Perhaps again, it was simply the nuisance value of the Potawatomie due to their close proximity to some Miami villages that led to their being included in the treaty payments. Certainly in the treaty itself we find a very clear statement as Article 4, that the related Miami tribes are to be considered the owners of the Wabash country:
"Art. 4: As the tribes which are now called the Miami's, Eel River, and Wea, were, formerly, and still consider themselves, as one nation, and as they have determined that neither of those tribes shall dispose of any part of the country, which they hold in common; in order to quiet their minds on that head, the United States do hereby engage to consider them as joint owners of all the country on the Wabash, and its waters, above the Vincennes tract, and which has not been ceded to the United States, by this or any former treaty; and they do further engage, that they will not purchase any part of the said country, without the consent of each of the said tribes: Provided always, that nothing in this section contained shall, in any manner, weaken or destroy any claim which the Kickapoo, who are not represented at this treaty, may have to the country they now occupy, on the Vermillion river." [The Wea and Piankeshaw were always a separate nation from the Miami; we formed a confederacy with the Miami under Little Turtle and then Tecumseh to try to keep the whites from taking more land. Thus putting this into the treaties we hoped would stop individuals or individual tribes from giving away more land, but alas it didn't work out that way. BKL]

The Potawatomie did sign this treaty and they are specifically mentioned only in article 5, which states that he Delaware had the right to cede the land they did in the treaty of August 18, 1804. The impression is clearly given that the Potawatomie have no fundamental claim to territory in this area. This is borne out in a letter from William Henry Harrison to the Secretary of War in March 1803:
"The Potawatomie, so far from having any claim to land on the South East side of the Wabash, acknowledge that they have trespassed upon the Miami's by settling on the north bank of that river." (Harrison, William Henry. Messages and Letters. Indiana Historical Collections, VIII, p. 80, 1922)

This picture of Potawatomie occupation in the more southerly regions and also in the country immediately to the west of this area probably undergoes a marked alteration around this time. One factor in this changing situation was doubtless the unrest, in part stimulated by the British and in part capitalized upon by them, which has been previously mentioned. The local factor in the situation is the fact that around 1805 Tecumseh and [His brother]the Shawnee Prophet began spreading a new messianic religion that advocated a return to old customs and that soon became a focus for anti-American sentiments in the region. A portion of the Potawatomie became an adherent to this new religion, two leaders among them being Poque and Shaubena. On the other hand Gomo and his followers maintained an opposition to this group and maintained their loyalty to the Americans. After considerable opposition had developed to a village of the Shawnee Prophet in Ohio, a settlement was established in 1808 by the Prophet and his followers on the upper Wabash, at the mouth of Tippecanoe Creek. [This was an ancient Wea Village called Kethtippecanunk, located on the Tippecanoe River, not creek, in Tippecanoe Co., Indiana. It was a Wea village long before Tecumseh and his brother the Prophet use it for their cause. Kethtippecanunk was burnt to the ground and destroyed with the Wea village of Ouiatenon in 1791. BKL] This center might well be regarded as a magnet, which would tend to attract the Indians with a similar orientation, including the Potawatomie.

Thus we have developing a new factor which would encourage the movement of Potawatomie in larger numbers into this region and tend to destroy the exclusive claim of the Miami tribes to the region. While this ferment was going on in the area to the south, a treaty was negotiated by William Hull, Governor of the territory of Michigan at Detroit on November 7, 1807, with the Ottawa, Chippewa, Wyandot, and Potawatomie. The treaty resulted in a cession of a large tract of land in the southeast quarter of the lower peninsula of Michigan by the portions of the four tribes occupying the region, yet at the same time reserving from this land cession small tracts of lands surrounding the villages still remaining in the area. The land cession can be regarded as another causative factor pushing the Potawatomie southward and westward. During this period the Potawatomie, as well as the other tribes, still relied extensively on winter hunts to provide a large portion of their food during this season as well as to provide a large portion of their food during this season as well as to provide furs which could be bartered for guns and powder and other items of white manufacture need by the Indian. The restriction of Indian land to the small areas about their villages did not eliminate this economy, for the Indians still retained hunting and trapping rights over the broader territory, but the implications of white expansion were that only a small population could continue to exploit the territory. Increased white settlement clearly meant a marked diminution of wild life and would accelerate a tendency for the Potawatomie near Detroit to join their fellow tribesmen at the St. Joseph River as well as those in Illinois and Indiana. This tendency would have been present before this treaty since white settlement of the region preceded the treaty mentioned above.

The extent of white settlement in the area prior to the treaty is indicted by a report which C. Jouett, Indian agent at Detroit, transmitted in 1803 to Henry Darbron, then Secretary of War (American State Papers. Class II, Vol. 1 Indian Affairs, pp. 758-59. Washington, 1832). It is evident from this report that the area along Lake Erie, the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River, as well as along the lower reaches of creeks and rivers emptying into this region, had already been rather heavily settled by white farmers. A very large proportion of these farmers had already purchased their farms from the former Indian occupants of the area.

Shortly after this, on September 30, 1809, the Potawatomie along the Delaware, Miami and Eel River Miami participated in another treaty with the United States. William Henry Harrison, Governor of Indiana, negotiated this. As in the earlier treaties of Fort Industry and Grouseland in 1805, there seems to have been no real reason for Potawatomie participation and compensation other than perhaps in broader aspects of diplomacy in a futile attempt to maintain peace on the frontier. This appears to be borne out in a separate article attached to the treaty in which it is stated: "As the greater part of the lands ceded to the United States, by the treaty, this day concluded, was the exclusive property of the Miami nations, and guarantied to them by the treaty of Grouseland, it is considered by the said commissioner, just and reasonable that their request to be allowed some further and additional compensation should be complied with (Ibid. pp. 761-62)."

It was not long after this that the sporadic raids and discontent broke out into active war. In 1811, General Harrison marched on and destroyed the village of the Shawnee Prophet previously mentioned. The defeat of the Indians in this engagement only temporarily quieted the frontier for on June 18, 1812 the war between the Americans and Indians merged with the war between the British and Americans. While a preponderance of the Indians on the northwestern frontier sided with the British, the Potawatomie were divided in their allegiance. This divided allegiance is specifically seen in the attack on Fort Dearborn and the subsequent capture and slaughter of large part of the garrison when evacuation was attempted. The leaders of the attack were Potawatomie chiefs Blackbird, Nus-cot-nu-meg from the Kankakee, and Senachewin, leader of the Prairie Band, while on the other hand Black Partridge, Wau-bun-see and other friendly chiefs opposed the attack and aided in rescuing the survivors. (Kellogg, Louise P. the British Regime in Wisconsin and the Northwest, pp. 286-87. Madison, 1935.) Despite this attitude, Governor Ninian Edwards of the Illinois territory organized an expedition in October 1812 against the Kickapoo and the Potawatomie. One of the Major results of this party was to raise the village of Black Partridge at the head of Peoria Lake. Because of this misdirected activity, all of the Potawatomie could for a period thereafter be regarded as in the British camp, since they then joined the forces of Tecumseh in the Detroit area. Documents from British sources, however, indicated that the allegiance of the Potawatomie as a whole was not securely attached to either side. (Dickson and Grignon Papers- 1812-1815, Wis. Hist. Collections, XI, pp. 271-315, 1888).

American action against the Indians, after initial setbacks, was prosecuted vigorously. In 1813 General Benjamin Howard marched to Gomos village, twenty-five miles above Peoria and burned it. As a result of the expedition, the more friendly Potawatomie chiefs began to approach the Americans and ask for peace. Black Partridge, the Potawatomie who had been of considerable assistance to the victims of the Chicago massacre, met with Governor Clark in St. Louis early in January, 1814, to ask for peace. The second shift in allegiance of the Potawatomie can not be considered as solely the result of the campaign of the previous year since during this period Thomas Forsyth, Indian agent at Lake Peoria, had been very active in influencing the tribe. (Kellogg, Louis P. the British Regime in Wisconsin and the Northwest, pp. 305-311. Madison, 1935). This movement culminates in a treaty of peace which was signed with the Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee, Seneca and Miami and with the Bands of the Potawatomie who "adhere to the grand sachem Tobinipee and to the Chief Onoxa." This treaty was negotiated by Major General William Henry Harrison and Lewis Cass at Greenville, Ohio, July 22, 1814, and not only was aimed at establishing peace between the American and British but also sought Indian aid in the war with Great Britain.

Since the treaty of Ghent was signed in the same year, the need for Indian allies was of short duration. In the following year, 1815, several treaties were concluded that brought the news to the Indians that the war was over and attempted to establish friendly relations. One of these was concluded between the United States as represented by William Clark, Ninian Edwards and Auguste Chouteau and the Potawatomie who lived on the Illinois River. The treaty with the Illinois band was concluded at Portage des Sioux, July 18, 1815. Basically, the treaty simply concluded peace but it is most interesting in connection with it to note that Clark, Edwards and Chouteau in commenting on the treaty negotiations state:
"The Potawatomie now occupy and assert a right to the land on the Illinois river which is contained in the cession made by the Sacs and Foxes in 1804, and, it is certainly to be apprehended that, without some adjustment of the dispute, the surveyors appointed to survey the military land within the Illinois Territory will meet with some serious opposition." (American State Papers. Class II, Vol. 2 Indian Affairs, p. 10, Washington, 1834).

A letter from the War Department, November 10, 1815, signed by George Graham, Chief Clark, to William Clark, Governor of Missouri Territory, states in reference to the above claim:
"It is believed the Potawatomie can have no well-founded claim to the lands ordered to be surveyed for the Military bounty lands. As they have, however, been in the habit of hunting on these grounds, and as the deprivation may be attended with some inconvenience to them, Governor Edwards has been authorized to give them two thousand dollars as compensation" (Ibid. p. 12).[The Potawatomie were considered "squatters" by the other tribes who called Indiana their home. The penatrated the country in large numbers squatting where they will and making villages. BKL]

The difficulty which quite clearly had arisen from Potawatomie expansion during this period of frontier warfare was finally settled by a treaty concluded between Ninian Edwards, William Clark and August Chouteau, the United States commissioners, and what are described as "the united tribes of Ottawa's, Chippewa's, and Potawatomie residing on the Illinois and Milwalky rivers and their waters, and on the southwestern parts of Lake Michigan." The concept and mention of the "united tribes" occurs again with considerable frequency in councils and treaty negotiations during this period. In general, one obtains a clear impression that so far as treaty negotiations and councils were concerned; they were a "united nation" if they happened to agree in their previous discussions. If there should be any disagreement, and particularly if any payment is to be made, Each group very clearly acted as an independent unit. In this particular instance a treaty with the "three nations" is appropriate since the Milwaukee village is repeatedly described as a mixed Potawatomie, Ottawa and Chippewa community. The treaty concluded August 24, 1816, at St. Louis, Missouri, relinquished all claims to land ceded to the United States by the Sauk and Fox through the treaty of November 3, 1804. The Potawatomie, this latter area apparently consisting of a region that had been dominated by the Potawatomie for some time, also ceded a distinct tract of land in the northeastern part of Illinois. It should be noted that one additional provision of the treaty relinquishes to the tribes involved, all of the land in Sac and Fox cession of 1804 lying north of a line drawn due west from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. This move, which is hard to rationalize since it was evidently felt that the group had no right to this land anyway, gave to the Potawatomie a valuable tract which they later had to reacquire by the treaty of July 29, 1829.

This immediate post-war period marks a definite acceleration in the rate of land cessions in which the Potawatomie were involved. On September 29, 1817, Lewis Cass and Duncan McArthur met with the Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware, Shawnee, Potawatomie, Ottawa and Chippewa at the foot of the Rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie to negotiate another treaty. The amounts of land ceded at this time have been summarized as follows:
Gross Quantity (acres of land) Ceded, viz:
Wyandots = 3,360,000
Pattawatamies, Ottawa's, and Chippewa's = 512,000
Delaware's = 8,320
Total = 3,880,320

Regranted and Reserved, viz:
Wyandots and Senecas = 128,440
Pattawatamies, Ottawas, and Chippewas = 39,680
Shawnees and Senecas = 11,900
Delawares = 5,760
Total = 185,780
(American State Papers. Class II, Vol. 2 Indian Affairs, p. 149, Washington, 1834).
In Article 8 of this treaty, special grants are made to individuals. It is these special grants to individuals, to chiefs, and as special reserves, that constitutes the acreage in the second part of the above table. Grants to individuals become even more numerous in subsequent treaties, the individuals including persons married to Potawatomie children and their descendants.

The specific treaties in which the Potawatomie were involved at this time include the treaty made at St. Mary's in Ohio on October 2, 1818. Only a few small tracts were withheld from the tracts ceded at this time. Then on August 29, 1821 a treaty was concluded at Chicago who included a large number of individual land grants. The treaty of Prairie du Chien, August 19, 1825, came to no definite conclusion in regard to the Potawatomie since it is mentioned that "as the Millewaukee and Manetcowalk Bands are not represented at this council, it cannot be now definitively adjusted." This is in itself interesting in specifically mentioning a Menitowoc Band at this time. It would suggest that perhaps there is again a northward expansion of the Potawatomi, moving toward the Door County area in Wisconsin, which they subsequently occupied. Then on October 16, 1826 a treaty concluded at the mouth of the Mississinewa on the Wabash, again includes a large number of individual land grants.

Around the time of this treaty several important points become clear-points that represent policy decisions that markedly affect the course of Potawatomie history. Immediately following the treaty of 1826 mentioned above, the commissioners, Lewis Cass, J. Brown Ray, and John Tipton prepared a report, which they sent to James Barbour, Secretary of War. In this letter, dated October 23, 1826, they deal with the difficulty of establishing clear ownership of the land and changes in ownership, which we have summarized above.

It is difficult to ascertain the precise boundary of Indian claims. The lines of demarcation between the different tribes are not distinctly established, and in fact, their title rests more upon possession than prescription. The tribes are frequently intermingled, and each has sometimes a common interest in the same district of country. North of the Wabash, the Miami's and Potawatomie are in this condition. At the Treaty of Grouseland, in August 1805, the right of the former tribe to the country upon the Wabash and its tributaries was recognized, but time and subsequent circumstances have materially affected this arrangement. At the treaty of St. Mary's in 1818, it was considered important to procure a cession from the Potawatomie of the country south of the Wabash, and the entire cession from the Vermilion to the Tippecanoe was made by that tribe;[All the land from the Vermillion River to the Tippecanoe River belonged to the Wea and Piankeshaw, it never did belong to the Miami or Potowatomie. Those two tribes were working cloely with the government for money and reservations, whereas the Wea and Piankshaw were still hostile; thus the reason the goverment was granting the land to the other tribes and compensating them instead of the rightful owners. BKL] and it seemed to be generally admitted by both of these tribes that there was a common and undefined interest in the country north of the Wabash. These circumstances rendered it proper to treaty with the Miami and Potawatomie for the whole tract to be purchased, in order as well to do justice by them, as to prevent a resort to hostilities, the usual arbiter of Indian disputes. In treating, however, with the Potawatomie, we were sensible that there title to the most valuable section of the country was not as valid as that of the Miami's, and therefore the consideration paid to them is much less than that paid to the others (American State Papers. Class II, Vol. 2, Indian Affairs, p. 683. Washington, 1834).

This analysis of the situation appears quite close to that presented in the preceding sections. But toward the close of this same letter we have the aspects of policy toward the Indian emerging that bring a marked change in the situation. It was impossible to procure the assent of the Potawatomie or Miami's to a removal west of the Mississippi. They are not yet prepared for this important change in their situation. Time, the destruction of the game, and the approximation of our settlements, are necessary before this measure can be successfully proposed to them. It was urged, as far as apparent that further persuasion would defeat every object we had in view. It was then important that the Indians should be separated into bands, by the intervention of our settlements. As long as they can roam unmolested through the country, we may in vain expect either to reclaim them from the savage life they lead, or to induce them to seek a residence where their habits and pursuits will be less injurious to us. We could not purchase any particular district near the center of the Potawatomie country; but that tribe freely consented to give us land for the road described in the treaty, and for the settlement along it. Such a road may at times be useful to them in traveling, and it will readily furnish them with a market for their game, and the means of procuring their accustomed supplies; but, what is more important to us, it will sever their possessions, and lead them at no distant day to place their dependence upon agricultural pursuits, or to abandon the country. (Ibid. p. 684).

It is evident from this that the United States has moved into a new era in relation to its policy toward the Indians of the northwest. The policy of the United States is not to be a simple treating and maintenance of peace with Indian nations on the frontier but to either train the Indians to become sedentary farmers like the other pioneers of the area, or to simply move west of the Mississippi into the new frontier. With this change in policy in mind it is perhaps of some value to review the situation and see where the Potawatomie still remained. By this time their settlements in Michigan were limited to the small section in the southwestern portion of the state adjacent to the St. Joseph River. They still claimed territories in Indiana and Illinois but these were confined to the far northern portions of the state. All of this implied a considerable compression in range, a serious factor to a group that still relied upon hunting. Perhaps it was this pressure, but the period appears to be marked by a northward expansion of the Potawatomie. Their earlier southward movement had progressed to such an extent that for a period in the latter eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Milwaukee became a northern frontier of Potawatomie settlement, rather than an area near the southern limits as it had once been. But now there is an increased expansion along the western Lake Michigan shore. The band centering at Manitowoc is one example of this just previously mentioned.

The final phase of Potawatomie history to be treated is primarily a matter of recording the final extinguishments of Potawatomie title to the lands east of the Mississippi and the removal of the Indians west of the Mississippi. Officially that is what was done although actually a sizeable portion of them resisted this forced removal. Part of them resisted removal by moving northward in Wisconsin in lands that were regarded as Menominee property and by that tribe ceded to the United States. As late as 1870 state and national laws were passed to force stray bands to remove, but were not carried out. Others fled to Canada, and probably a significant number simply remained in their former territories and settled down to a sedentary existence. Although the Potawatomie of the Huron had ceded their lands in 1807, a portion of this Band had never moved. Publics V. Lawson reports that a remnant of this group took lands in severalty in 1888 and all became citizens. In his report, published in 1920, he states that they number about 100 members and reside on the Kalamazoo river in Calhoun County, Michigan, in the vicinity of Athens. (Publius V. Lawson, "The Poptawatomi." Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 19, No. 2, p. 99, 1920).

The steps preparatory to Indian removal included the treaty of September 19, 1829, at St. Joseph, Michigan in which the scattered bands in eastern Michigan were consolidated on 99 sections of land on the St. Josephs River. Then a series of large land cessions were made (August 20, 1828 at St. Joseph River; July 29, 1829 at Prairie du Chien; October 20, 1832 at Camp Tippecanoe [Kethtippecanunk Village]; October 26, 1832 at Tippecanoe River; and October 27, 1832 at Tippecanoe River. In all of these cessions, with the exception of that of October 20, 1832, each instance the Potawatomie involved so far as actual residence in that region was concerned, were confined to one or more small tracts within the originally broader region. A modification of this policy was made in the treaty of September 26, 1833 at Chicago, Illinois. At this time in part consideration of the cession of lands in Wisconsin and Illinois the Indians were given a tract of land of not less than 5,000,000 acres west of the Mississippi. With this established as the definite objective of further _?_, work was begun immediately with the cession of September 27, 1833 at Chicago, Illinois to begin to extinguish the title to the small reserves that had been given to the Potawatomie. This program proceeded rapidly and the title to four small tracts was extinguished in Indiana in 1834 in four treaties concluded between December 4 and December 17. The number of these small tract cessions increased to nine in 1836 and on April 11 in the treaty concluded at Tippecanoe River in Indiana a provision was specifically included in the treaty that the Indians were to move west of the Mississippi within a period of two years. This provision became a fairly general one and finally on February 11, 1837 in a treaty at Washington, D.C. this was the major treaty provision to take care of number of bands with which this requirement had not been specifically made.

For the most part the Indians were reluctant to move west of the Mississippi, even when the time period expired. The manner in which the removal was finally accomplished is adequately treated in a number of accounts that have recently been supplemented by a paper of Leon M. Gordon II, "The Red Man's Retreat from Northern Indiana" (Indiana Magazine of History, volume XLVI, No. 1, pp. 39-60, March 1950). The corresponding picture of settlement and dispersal in Wisconsin has been treated by Publius V. Lawson in his article, "The Potawatomie" (The Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 41-116, April 1920).

The Godfroys: Wea & Miami Indians & Their French Families;
A History & Genealogy Throughout Time. Volume-II History 2014

With Permission; Brenda Haffner-Lindley, ca. 1998

1997 Ondamitag


1997 Ondamitag
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