Native people tribe
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Land cessions to the Americans began in 1807 and during the next 25 years drastically reduced their territory. Removal west of the Mississippi occurred between 1834 and 1842. The Potawatomi were removed in two groups: the Prairie and Forest Bands from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin went to Council Bluffs in southwest Iowa; and the Potawatomi of the Woods (Michigan and Indian bands) were relocated to eastern Kansas near Osawatomie. In 1846 the two groups merged and were placed on a single reservation north of Topeka. Arguments over allotment and citizenship led to their separation in 1867. The Citizen Potawatomi left for Oklahoma and settled near present-day Shawnee. Most of their lands were lost to allotment in 1889. The Prairie Potawatomi stayed in Kansas and still have a reservation. Several Potawatomi groups avoided removal and remained in the Great Lakes. Three are in Michigan: the Huron Potawatomi in the south-central; the Pokagon Potawatomi in southwest and northern Indiana, and the Hannaville Potawatomi of upper peninsula. The Forest County Potawatomi live in northeast Wisconsin, and the Canadian Potawatomi in southern Ontario have become part of the Walpole Island and the Stoney Point and Kettle Point First Nations.
Estimates of the original Potawatomi
population range as high as 15,000, but 8,000 is probably closer to the
truth. Although they had undergone 30 years of war, relocation, and epidemic,
the French estimated there were about 4,000 in 1667. Since all Potawatomi
bands had gathered into four villages near Green Bay at that time, this
probably was fairly accurate. Later estimates vary between 1,200 to 3,400,
but the Potawatomi had separated into many bands, and these estimates
failed to list all of them. Accurate counts were not possible until the
Potawatomi had been moved to Kansas. In 1854 the Indian Bureau listed
3,440 on the reservation, but some had left with the Kickapoo for northern
Mexico. The report also mentioned 600 "strolling Potawatomi,"
who had avoided removal and were somewhere in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
It also failed to include the 4,600 Potawatomi in Canada. The 1910 census
listed 2,440 Potawatomi in the United States, with another 180 in Canada
- total of 2,620. The current population of all Potawatomi in Canada and
the United States is almost 28,000.
Citizen Potawatomi - Federally recognized, the Citizen Potawatomi are the largest Potawatomi group. Most are descended from the Potawatomi of the Woods (southern Michigan and northern Indiana) including the Mission Band from St. Joseph in southwest Michigan. Acculturated and mostly Christian, it was easier for them to accept allotment and citizenship in 1861 than the more traditional Prairie Potawatomi. This led to a separation (not on the best of terms) in 1870 when the Citizens moved to Oklahoma. Allotment took most of their land in 1889, and they have kept only 4,371 acres, less than two acres of which is tribally owned! Most Citizen Potawatomi have remained in Oklahoma - the Indian Bureau listing 1,768 of them in 1908 - but during the dust bowl of the 1930s, many left for California. Headquartered in Shawnee, they are organized under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act with a current enrollment of more than 18,000.
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