- The Potawatomi originate in the Great Lakes region and speak Potawatomi, an Algonquin language. The Potawatomi were one of three Indian nations composing the Three Fires Council, the other two being the Ojibwe and Odawa.
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Catholicism, Methodism, Midewiwin. The Potawatomi / pɒtəˈwɒtəmi /, also spelled Pottawatomi and Pottawatomie (among many variations ), are a Native American people of the Great Plains, upper Mississippi River, and western Great Lakes region. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a member of the Algonquin family.
Potawatomi speak a language of the Algonkian language family and have lived in the Great Lakes region for at least four centuries. Throughout their history, the Potawatomi have moved and been moved many times, but their aboriginal territory was in Michigan’s lower peninsula.
Because of being scattered arount the country, Bodwéwadmi people speak several dialects according to geographic areas. Books One and Two – The Old Potawatomi language and this book – contain the language that is spoken predominantly in Forest County, Wisconsin.
Learn Potawatomi through conversations. Potawatomi, or Bodwéwadmimwen, is the native language of the Potawatomi people. Created in collaboration with the Pokagon Tribe of Potawatomi as a part of their language revitalization efforts, this course delivers a blend of learning features, exercises, and personalized review with an award-winning ...
- Important Dates
- Potawatomi Population: 2000 Census
- Daily Life
- The Adventure of A Poor Man
Early Potawatomi were hunter-gatherers living on the west side of the Great Freshwater Sea, Lake Huron. They clustered in what is now southern Michigan, residing in villages beside streams and lakes, which provided abundant fish and waterways for traveling. By the end of the 1500s the Potawatomi had also settled in northern Indiana. In the 1600s European settlers moved westward from the Atlantic coast. As the settlers pushed west they displaced the tribes who, in turn, moved farther westward...
c. 1640:The Potawatomi meet their first Europeans, French traders in search of beaver and missionaries seeking converts to the Roman Catholic faith. 1656:The Iroquois win the war against the Algonquin confederation (which includes the Potawatomi). Potawatomi flee to northern Michigan and Wisconsin. 1690:The Iroquois’s hold on Michigan weakens; Potawatomi resettle in lower Michigan and move into Illinois and southern Wisconsin. 1761: The Potawatomi switch allegiance from the French to the British; they later help the British by attacking American settlers during the American Revolution. 1795:Representatives of defeated Potawatomi sign the Treaty of Greenville with the United States, ending hostilities. U.S. government takes over Potawatomi lands for white settlement. 1830: The Indian Removal Actis passed. United States forces Native tribes to leave their lands and resettle on reservations. 1953–54:The Prairie Band successfully fights to avoid termination of its federal tribal status...
Traditional Potawatomi religion is not a separate practice, but runs through every aspect of tribal life. Religion connects the tribe to their community, to nature, to their ancestors, and to the supernatural world. Potawatomi are connected to their ancestors through the Great Chain of Being (Matchimadzhen), which links past, present, and future generations. Supernatural beings include the cultural hero, Wiske, and his more evil brother, Chipiyapos. Potawatomi people communicated with the spirit world and gained protection and guidance through visions. They achieved visions through fasting (not eating) and through the power of a personal medicine bundle, a collection of sacred objects. A number of religious leaders ranging from various types of shamans (pronounced SHAH-munz or SHAY-munz) to the priests of the Midéwiwin society, provided spiritual direction for Potawatomi communities. The Midéwiwin, or Medicine Society, was open to both men and women of any village who had special po...
The Potawatomi spoke a version of the central Algonquin language that shares many sounds and words with the languages of the Sac and Fox (see entry), and Kickapoo tribes. In structure the Potawatomi language is similar to southern Ojibway and Ottawa.
Historically each Potawatomi village was ruled by a chief, called a wkema,or leader. The chief, a senior member of the clan and a man of good character, was selected by his village. If he were strong and wealthy enough he could rule over several villages, but this did not happen often. The chief was assisted by a council of adult males who approved the chief’s decisions and a society of warriors called the wkec tak.A man called the pipelighter carried announcements, arranged ceremonies, and called council meetings. Relationships among the widely scattered Potawatomi villages (they had villages in four states) were kept strong through social ties such as marriage. As the Potawatomi nation expanded new villages were founded, but the people retained close ties to their old villages and clans. The clans, such as the Bear Clan and the Wolf clan, were large extended family groups that originally had animal symbols.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau 16,164 people said they were Potawatomi in 2000. Because the census no longer provides statistics for groups with populations less than 50, no figures are available for the Hannahville and Huron Potawatomi. Other tribe members identified themselves this way: “2000 Census of Population and Housing. Matrix 7: American Indian and Alaskan Native summary file.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Data User Services Division, American FactFinder, 2004. In 2007 each Potawatomi community lived on its own reservation. Federally recognized tribes were sovereign (in charge of their land and affairs). They had their own governments, laws, police, and services, similar to any other independent country. Most Potawatomi groups are governed by elected tribal councils.
In early times the Potawatomi were hunter-gatherers, living according to the seasons. They settled near rivers, streams, or lakes and hunted the creatures that flourished there. After European contact they traded the pelts of the small animals they captured to the French and later to the British. After the Potawatomi were forced to flee northward to escape the Iroquois about 1640 they learned agricultural methods from their new neighbors, the Sac, Fox, Kickapoo, and Winnebago and became farme...
As of 2007 the Potawatomi held a wide variety of jobs. Many of the Prairie band, who lived on a reservation in Kansas north of Topeka, had turned to the gaming industry and had opened a casino and bingo parlors. The Prairie Band Casino and hotel, a $37-million complex, opened in 1998 and provided jobs for many people both on and off the reservation. In the first half of the twentieth century the Hannahville Potawatomi in northern Michigan relied on farming and forestry. They farmed small plot...
As children Potawatomi learned to bravely accept hardships like hunger and danger. Both boys and girls played with toys that prepared them for traditional adult roles in the tribe. Boys used bows and arrows, while girls played with cornhusk dolls. In the 2000s some tribes run Native American schools on their reservations, while other children attend public schools. Potawatomi people in the late twentieth century have turned their energies to the revival of Native language skills and cultural...
Originally Potawatomi summer homes were rectangular wigwams on the shores of lakes and rivers. They used saplings that grew nearby as a skeleton for the wigwam, draping it with woven mats or sheets of bark. A smoke hole in the roof provided ventilation. Dome-shaped winter wigwams were smaller to conserve heat. Later some Potawatomi lived in log cabins like their white neighbors.
Traditionally fish was a staple in the Potawatomi diet. They also hunted wild game, such as muskrat, squirrel, raccoon, porcupine, turtle, duck, goose, and turkey. Meat from wolves and dogs was featured at certain rituals. Later large game such as buffalo and deer became common. The Potawatomi also gathered local wild foods, such as wild rice, red oak acorns, sap for maple syrup, grapes, chokecherries, plant roots, and a large variety of berries. Farm crops included corn, beans, squash, and t...
Before their contact with white settlers the Potawatomi relied heavily on their oral (spoken) tradition to pass down stories and rituals from one generation to the next. They also used a system of pictographs (picture symbols) to help people remember complicated rituals and story details. These pictographs were drawn on birch bark scrolls. Potawatomi elders told stories to instruct Potawatomi children in how to live a respectful and spiritual life. In the twenty-first century many Potawatomi...
The following story emphasizes the need to show respect for the dead by performing the proper rituals and reveals the importance of hospitality in Potawatomi society. The story begins with a poor man with few friends leaving for a hunting expedition. He kills a deer and sets up camp to cook it. Suddenly two strange, silent men appear.