Potawatomi (people)

Encyclopedia Article


The Potawatomi tribe is a Native American group that originally resided in southwest Michigan and whose language is in the Algonquin family. The tribe worked under a democratic clan chief system, with each village having its own leader. After the fall harvest, the tribe broke up into smaller winter hunting groups, meeting up again in the summer in larger groups, which included the Anishanaabe and Ottawa tribes, near lakes and rivers.

In the mid 1600s, the Potawatomi were driven out of their traditional lands by other Native American groups, relocating to upper Michigan near what is now Canada to occupy a single village. They were allies with the French through the 18th century and fought the British in Pontiac's Rebellion. They also participated in the Revolutionary War on the side of the British, Little Turtle's War, and the Black Hawk War of 1832. They were later moved to a reservation in Kansas but continued to fight for traditional land and recognition on the 20th century.

Photo Credit: 

"Chief Kack-Kack and the Prairie Band of Potawatomi, circa 1920," photograph by Potawatomi Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior.

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