Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Culturally and linguistically, the Potawatomi are connected to the Ojibwe and the Odawa forming the Nishnabe (the Original People). Traditionally, they form an alliance known as the Three Fires in which each group functions to serve the Nishnabe as a whole. The Bodewadmi, are the "Keepers of the Fire," and the word Potawatomi means "People of the Place of the Fire."
Historically, the Potawatomi were a powerful Great Lakes nation that controlled millions of acres in what are now Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. They were one of the initial tribes to forge both a business and kindred bond with the French, controlling much of the northern fur trade during the 1700s. The Potawatomi fiercely resisted Anglo encroachment and proved to be formidable opponents to both the English and Americans.
By the end of the 18th century, tribal villages were being displaced by white settlements, creating tension that ultimately ushered in the treaty era. Through a series of treaties, beginning in 1789, their land was dramatically reduced in size, and with the passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act the Potawatomi were forcibly removed west of the Mississippi to a reservation in eastern Kansas.
In 1861 the Potawatomi signed a treaty with the United States officially dividing the tribe. The signers wanted to sell portions of it and have their land allotted, while the other group (Prairie Band) desired to hold the land in common. Stipulations of the treaty required its signers to surrender their tribal membership and take U.S. citizenship. Doing this, these Potawatomi became the first American Indians granted citizenship and the foundation for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
In 1867 the Citizen Potawatomi signed another treaty allowing tribal members to sell their allotments and using the proceeds to purchase lands in Indian Territory, resettle in the area surrounding Shawnee. Today the Citizen Potawatomi Nation is preserving and perpetuating their heritage with a Cultural Heritage Center that houses the Nation's museum, archives, research and community-events facilities.