Potawatomi Books, Gary E.  Mitchell]


Go back to previous page Return to table of contents

Apart from Removal policies, of the Manifest-Destiny mind-controlled U.S. citizens, location, religion, and assimilation played a huge role in the make-up of the final tribal form. That is, of course, not a total explanation, but they were important factors leading to the development of tribes over the years.

For instance, generally, Citizen Band ancestors originated in Michigan and Indiana. The Forest and Hannaville Bands lived in both areas, which is true of the Canadian Potawatomis, while the Prairie Band ancestors originated in the Wisconsin and Illinois areas.

Still there were other aspects to this eventual tribal split. Many Americans believed that Christianity would so benefit the red men in heaven that any suffering on earth was justified and saw American policy as both necessary and beneficial. In their minds, the Indians must be taught to worship the true God.

Thus, religious affiliation provided a determining factor in some villages, and they readily adopted the religions such as the Catholic and Baptist faiths. Jesuit missions, for example, were established near Green Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, and on the St. Joseph River near the Indiana- Michigan line.

The Jesuit program included converting the tribal members to their faith and leading them into the ways of the white society. As a result, these villages more readily adapted to the assimilation program.

Another determining factor was the Potawatomi villages located in Michigan and Indiana were closer to the advancing white civilization, while the villages in Wisconsin and Illinois were more isolated.

More inter-marriage between the French and Potawatomis occurred in the Michigan and Indiana areas which also led these villages to faster assimilation into the white society.

But the villages in Wisconsin and Illinois wanted to hold onto their traditional ways and generally refused to accept Christianity or the culture of the whites. They were to be branded as savages because of this decision. This basic misunderstanding of the Indian people's culture and belief system led to long-term problems between the two races.

Again, the tribe had to pay a big price --- removal --- a solution that was applied to all the Indian tribes, whether they accepted the white ways or not.

We usually associate the removal of Indians with the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829- 1837).

However, these ideas were rooted in the early days of this country and its subsequent development. It just gained momentum with each passing year as the country grew larger and needed more space.

All these ideas culminated in what historians called the "Blackest Chapter" in American history. Within this caveat, life changed drastically for all the Indian tribes in the Great Lakes area, as well as those located in the South.

First published in the Topeka Capital Journal, Thursday, March 9, 1995 and later reprinted in the Potawatomi Traveling Times in Crandon, Wisconsin, 1996.
Go back to index - - 8 - - Go on to next page

Return to: Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe Language
A Kansas History & Kansas Heritage Group site.