Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation

The Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation is a federally recognized tribe of the Potawatomi people headquartered near Mayetta, Kansas. The Prairie Band are governed by a democratically elected tribal council.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a tribal unit that originated in the Great Lakes area many years ago. After the first contacts with non-Indians in 1641, land became a central issue that intensified with the expansion of the 13 colonies. During this time, the Potawatomi people held no real concept of land ownership. However, the U.S. Government, in its first treaties with the Indians, established boundaries for tribal land. In the numerous treaties that would follow, the Potawatomi agreed to sell land to the U.S. Government. Those early concessions soon led to more drastic policies.

The 1830 Removal Act revolved around a dream that the Indian “problem” could be eliminated forever by persuading the eastern Indians to exchange their lands for territory west of the Mississippi. During this forced migration west, the Potawatomi made temporary stops in Missouri in the mid-1830s and then Iowa in the 1840s. The tribe controlled up to five million acres at both locations. After 1846 the tribe moved to present-day Kansas. Although the area lacked the beauty of the Great Lakes, the circumstances of removal left the tribal people little choice. However, with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 Kansas opened this territory to white settlement and initiated a stream of immigrating white settlers. Additional white migration to Santa Fe and Oregon areas made land like the Kansas Territory suddenly doubly appealing. In this context, Indians posed a threat to this expansion and were, as a result, victimized by less-than-ethical land deals.

Soon after, railroad interests, religious groups and politicians got involved in new treaty negotiations. But the tribe also experienced an internal divide: 1,400 members wanted the land divided into allotments coupled with the promise of eventual citizenship. However, a small group of 780 Potawatomi stood firm for communal holdings. They were neither interested in obtaining citizenship nor rejecting their heritage, and they held firm in their belief that no single person owned the land. This group became what is now the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. With the conclusion of the railroad treaties of the 1860s, the Potawatomi settled upon the 11 square-mile reservation expecting to live in peace. But, as so many times in the past, continued development overlooked the interests of the tribe.

In 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Act or the General Allotment Act of 1887. The government deemed this law a “virtual necessity.” They said they could no longer protect Indian lands from further settlement and the demands of the railroads and other enterprises. The basic premise of the General Allotment Act was to give each Indian a private plot of land on which to become an industrious farmer. To hasten assimilation, the law provided for the end of tribal relationships, such as land held in common. It stipulated that reservations were to be surrendered and divided into family-sized farms which would be allotted to each Indian. The supreme aim was to substitute white civilization for tribal culture. The Potawatomi persistently refused to recognize their allotments of land or the right of the government to make such a disposition. Persuasion consisted of withholding federal payments and giving double allotments of their land to whites, Indians from other tribes, and the residing agent’s relatives due to the Prairie Band resistance.

The Indian Reorganization act dealt with Indian self-government, special education for Indians, Indian lands and a Court of Indian Affairs. The Potawatomi looked favorably on the termination of the allotment policies of the Dawes Act and the return of surplus lands to the Potawatomi because, by this time, the tribe had lost close to fifty thousand acres as a direct result of this law. Indians living on the Potawatomi Reservation, however, greatly opposed self-government. Basically, the tribe opposed the foreign concept of the formation of a new governing body. In the history of the tribe, most decisions were made by the entire tribe, not a few individuals. Many tribal members were older people who were suspicious of anything they didn’t fully understand. All future dissent of the tribe can be directly traced to a form of government imposed on the tribe. A ruling body was never part of the Potawatomi story, and though changing times dictated this concept, it was never accepted nor were the leaders that became part of the new tribal body politic.

In 1954 the House of Representatives drafted a resolution with the express purpose of withdrawing federal supervision over five Indian tribes as soon as possible including the Potawatomi Tribe. Potawatomi strategy to avoid termination included a grass roots campaign. It included signing and sending petitions of protest to the government. Multiple delegations from the Potawatomi Tribe went to Washington D.C. to testify in front of congressional committees and to lobby policy-makers. Thankfully the message of Potawatomi unity came across strong and clear, and Congress withdrew the Potawatomi name from the termination list.

Within the last decade, the nation has experienced a revitalization: The introduction of gaming activities has initiated an improvement in social, educational and cultural leadership programs. As a result, the nation is able to provide a wide range of opportunities for employment and business development while contributing to the economic viability of the region. Today, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation can once again look optimistically to the future and to the preservation of a valued culture.

http://www.pbpindiantribe.com/tribal-history.aspx

Lianna Onnen (Chairman)
Tel: (785) 966-4000
Fax: (785) 966-4009
16281 Q Rd
Mayetta, KS66509-8970

Website: http://www.pbpindiantribe.com/

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a tribal unit that originated in the Great Lakes area many years ago. After the first contacts with non-Indians in 1641, land became a central issue that intensified with the expansion of the 13 colonies. During this time, the Potawatomi people held no real concept of land ownership. However, the U.S. Government, in its first treaties with the Indians, established boundaries for tribal land. In the numerous treaties that would follow, the Potawatomi agreed to sell land to the U.S. Government. Those early concessions soon led to more drastic policies.

The 1830 Removal Act revolved around a dream that the Indian “problem” could be eliminated forever by persuading the eastern Indians to exchange their lands for territory west of the Mississippi. During this forced migration west, the Potawatomi made temporary stops in Missouri in the mid-1830s and then Iowa in the 1840s. The tribe controlled up to five million acres at both locations. After 1846 the tribe moved to present-day Kansas. Although the area lacked the beauty of the Great Lakes, the circumstances of removal left the tribal people little choice. However, with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 Kansas opened this territory to white settlement and initiated a stream of immigrating white settlers. Additional white migration to Santa Fe and Oregon areas made land like the Kansas Territory suddenly doubly appealing. In this context, Indians posed a threat to this expansion and were, as a result, victimized by less-than-ethical land deals.

Soon after, railroad interests, religious groups and politicians got involved in new treaty negotiations. But the tribe also experienced an internal divide: 1,400 members wanted the land divided into allotments coupled with the promise of eventual citizenship. However, a small group of 780 Potawatomi stood firm for communal holdings. They were neither interested in obtaining citizenship nor rejecting their heritage, and they held firm in their belief that no single person owned the land. This group became what is now the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. With the conclusion of the railroad treaties of the 1860s, the Potawatomi settled upon the 11 square-mile reservation expecting to live in peace. But, as so many times in the past, continued development overlooked the interests of the tribe.

In 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Act or the General Allotment Act of 1887. The government deemed this law a “virtual necessity.” They said they could no longer protect Indian lands from further settlement and the demands of the railroads and other enterprises. The basic premise of the General Allotment Act was to give each Indian a private plot of land on which to become an industrious farmer. To hasten assimilation, the law provided for the end of tribal relationships, such as land held in common. It stipulated that reservations were to be surrendered and divided into family-sized farms which would be allotted to each Indian. The supreme aim was to substitute white civilization for tribal culture. The Potawatomi persistently refused to recognize their allotments of land or the right of the government to make such a disposition. Persuasion consisted of withholding federal payments and giving double allotments of their land to whites, Indians from other tribes, and the residing agent’s relatives due to the Prairie Band resistance.

The Indian Reorganization act dealt with Indian self-government, special education for Indians, Indian lands and a Court of Indian Affairs. The Potawatomi looked favorably on the termination of the allotment policies of the Dawes Act and the return of surplus lands to the Potawatomi because, by this time, the tribe had lost close to fifty thousand acres as a direct result of this law. Indians living on the Potawatomi Reservation, however, greatly opposed self-government. Basically, the tribe opposed the foreign concept of the formation of a new governing body. In the history of the tribe, most decisions were made by the entire tribe, not a few individuals. Many tribal members were older people who were suspicious of anything they didn’t fully understand. All future dissent of the tribe can be directly traced to a form of government imposed on the tribe. A ruling body was never part of the Potawatomi story, and though changing times dictated this concept, it was never accepted nor were the leaders that became part of the new tribal body politic.

In 1954 the House of Representatives drafted a resolution with the express purpose of withdrawing federal supervision over five Indian tribes as soon as possible including the Potawatomi Tribe. Potawatomi strategy to avoid termination included a grass roots campaign. It included signing and sending petitions of protest to the government. Multiple delegations from the Potawatomi Tribe went to Washington D.C. to testify in front of congressional committees and to lobby policy-makers. Thankfully the message of Potawatomi unity came across strong and clear, and Congress withdrew the Potawatomi name from the termination list.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is headquartered near Mayetta, Kansas.

16281 Q Rd

Mayetta, KS66509-8970

In the course of the history of the Prairie Band Potawatomi, language and culture has degenerated to a highly critical state of being. This means that there are less than ten remaining fluent speakers nationwide, many who are isolated within their own community. The language is being used less and less frequently, or not at all. Due to time constraints and budgeting, the tribal members are not becoming speakers of the language and are being taught only words and phrases. There are some adults who can understand the language but are not fluent speakers. The language of the Potawatomi is from the Algonquin rootstock. At one time the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi were one nation. Throughout time, these three split apart and became their own nations. Currently in the nine bands of Potawatomi, there remain fewer than 25 speakers. The Potawatomi language will become extinct in less than a decade if members don’t start acquiring and using it daily toward a goal of becoming fluent. Once the language is gone, the Potawatomi people will lose their cultural identity.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Language and Cultural Department saw the need to create a plan for the revitalization of the Potawatomi language and culture. It was necessary for a group of Department staff and community members to identify key areas and prioritize them, which then evolved into a strategic plan. With limited resources, it is the intent that the work can be organized in the most efficient manner to fulfill the goals and objectives. The main goal is to revitalize the language and culture so the Prairie Band Potawatomi people will remain strong in their own self-identity.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Language and Culture Department is dedicated to the revitalization effort of “The People.”  Since 2007 language classes have been offered through a series of sessions that are dedicated to teaching the language and cultural ways to adults and families.  The classes are partially funded by a grant from the Administration for Native Americans(ANA) and are held in the PBPN Language/Cultural Department located in the basement of the Firekeepers Elder Center and at the Language House, a former residence located on 158th Road on the Reservation.

Current Info:

Within the last decade, the nation has experienced a revitalization: The introduction of gaming activities has initiated an improvement in social, educational and cultural leadership programs. As a result, the nation is able to provide a wide range of opportunities for employment and business development while contributing to the economic viability of the region. Today, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation can once again look optimistically to the future and to the preservation of a valued culture.

Lianna Onnen (Chairman)
Tel: (785) 966-4000
Fax: (785) 966-4009
16281 Q Rd
Mayetta, KS66509-8970
Website: http://www.pbpindiantribe.com/