Pottawatomie Indians

Meaning “people of the place of the fire,” and hence sometimes known as the Fire Nation. Also called:

Atsistarhonon, Huron name.
Kúnu-háyanu, Caddo name, meaning “watermelon people.” Ndaton8atendi, Undatomdtendi, Huron name.
Peki’neni, Fox name, meaning “grouse people.”
Tcåshtalálgi, Creek name, meaning “watermelon people.”
Wah-hō’-nā-hah, Miami name, meaning “fire makers.”
Wáhiú¢axá, Omaha name.
Wáhiúyaha, Kansa name.
Woraxa, Iowa, Oto, and Missouri name.
Woráxě, Winnebago name.
Names by which the Pottawatomie Indians are known

Connections. The Pottawatomie Indians belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family, being most closely affiliated with the Chippewa and Ottawa.

Location. The ancient home of this Potawatomi tribe was evidently in the lower peninsula of Michigan. (See also Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.)

Pottawatomie Indian Subdivisions and Villages

In the course of their later history, the Pottawatomie Indians became separated into several distinct bands but these do not seem to have corresponded to any old, well-determined classification.

Pottawatomie Indian Villages:

  • Abercronk, not certainly Pottawatomie, in northeastern Porter County, Ind.
  • Ashkum’s Village, on the north side of Eel River, about Denver, Miami County, Ind.
  • Assiminehkon, probably Pottawatomie, In Lee County, Ill.
  • Aubbeenaubbee’s Village, in Aubbeenaubbee Township in Fulton County, Ind.
  • Checkawkose’s Village, on the south side of Tippecanoe River, about Harrison Township, Kosciusko County, Ind.
  • Chekase’s Village, on the west side of Tippecanoe River between Warsaw and Monoquet, Kosciusko, Ind.
  • Chichipe Outipe, near South Bend, St. Joseph County, Ind.
  • Chippoy, on Big Shawnee Creek, in Fountain County, Ind.
  • Comoza’s Village, on Tippecanoe River in Fulton County, Ind.
  • Kinkash’s Village, on Tippecanoe River, Kosciusko County, Ind.
  • Little Rock Village, on the north bank of Kankakee River about the boundary of Kankakee and Will Counties, Ill.
  • Macon, location unknown.
  • Macousin, on the west bank of St. Joseph River, Berrien County, Mich.
  • Mangachqua, on Peble River in southern Michigan.
  • Maquanago, probably Pottawatomie, near Waukesha, in southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Masac’s Village, on the west bank of Tippecanoe River in the northeastern part of Fulton County, Ind.
  • Matchebenashshewish’s Village, on Kalamazoo River probably In Jackson County, Mich.
  • Maukekose’s Village, near the head of Wolf Creek in Marshall County, Ind.
  • Menominee’s Village, on the north side of Twin Lakes near the site of Plymouth, Marshall County, Ind.
  • Menoquet’s Village, on Cass River, lower Michigan.
  • Mesheketeno’s Village, on Kankakee River, a short distance above the present Kankakee in northeastern Illinois.
  • Mesquawbuck’s Village, near Oswego, Kosciusko County, Ind.
  • Mickkesawbee, at the site of the present Coldwater, Mich.
  • Milwaukee, with Foxes and Mascouten, at or near the present Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Minemaung’s Village, near Grantpark, Kankakee County, Ill.
  • Mote’s Village, just north of Tippecanoe River near Atwood, Kosciusko County, Ind. Ind.
  • Muskwawasepeotan, near Cedarville, Allen Count , In
  • Natowasepe, on St. Joseph River about the present Mendon, St. Joseph County, Mich.
  • Nayonsay’s Village, probably Pottawatomie, in the northeastern part of Kendall County, Ill.
  • Pierrish’s Village, on the north bank of Eel River, just above Laketon, Wabash County, Ind.
  • Pokagon, in Berrien County, near the west bank of St. Joseph River just north of the Indiana line.
  • Prairie Ronde, about the boundary of Cass and Van Buren Counties, Mich.
  • Rock Village in northeastern Illinois. Ind.
  • Rum’s Village, about 4 miles south of South Bend, St. Joseph County, Ind.
  • Saint Joseph, a mission on St. Joseph River near the south end of Lake Michigan.
  • Saint Michael, a mission in southern Wisconsin.
  • Sawmehnaug, on Fox River, Ill.
  • Seginsavin’s Village, on Rouge River near Detroit, Mich.
  • Shaytee’s Village, probably Pottawatomie on Fox River, Ill.
  • Shobonier’s Village, near the present Shabbona, De Kalb County, Ill.
  • Soldier’s Village, in northern Illinois.
  • Tassinong, probably Pottawatomie, in Porter County, Ind.
  • Toisa’s Village, on the west bank of Tippecanoe River, nearly opposite Bloomingsburg, Fulton County, Ind.
  • Tonguish’s Village, near Rouge River in the southern part of Oakland County, or the northern part of Wayne County, Mich. Mich.
  • Topenebee’s Village, on St. Joseph River opposite Niles, Berrien County,
  • Waisuskuck’s Village, in northeastern, Ill
  • Wanatah, in La Porte County, Ind., a short distance east of the present Wanatah.
  • Wimego’s Village, on the north bank of Indian Creek, in the northern part of Case County, Ind.
  • Winamac’s Village, near the present Winamac, Pulaski County, Ind.
  • Wonongoseak, probably Pottawatomie, between the northern and southern branches of Elkhart River, apparently in Noble County, Ind.

Pottawatomie Indian History

Shabbona, Pottawatomie Indian
Shabbona, Potawatomi Indian. This was engraved from daguerreotype, taken when Shabbona was 83 years old.

Shortly before the Pottawatomie Indians  were encountered by the French they seem to have been living on the lower peninsula of Michigan. According to native traditions, the Ottawa, Chippewa and Pottawatomie reached the upper end of Lake Huron in company from some region farther east, and the Pottawatomie crossed from that point into the peninsula.  By 1670 they had been driven to the neighborhood of Green Bay west of Lake Michigan, whence they slowly moved south until by the end of the century they had established themselves on on Milwaukee River, at Chicago, and on St. Joseph River. After the quest of the Illinois Indians about 1765, they took possession of still more of what is now the northern part of the State of Illinois and extended their settlements eastward over southern Michigan as far as Lake Erie. After 1795, against the protests of the Miami, they moved down the Wabash and advanced their occupancy as far as Pine Creek. They sided actively first with the French against the English and then with the English against the Americans until a general peace was brought about in 1815. As White settlers increased in numbers in their neighborhood, the Pottawatomie Indians gradually parted with their lands, the greatest cessions being made between 1836 and 1841, and most of them retired beyond the Mississippi. Part of the Prairie band of Pottawatomie returned to Wisconsin, while another band, the Pottawatomie of Huron, are in lower Michigan. A few escaped into Canada and are now on Walpole Island in St. Clair County. Part of the Pottawatomie living in Wisconsin sold their lands and received in exchange a reservation in southwestern Iowa. These received the name of Prairie Pottawatomie. In 1846 they also disposed of their Iowa territory and in 1847-48 passed over into Kansas and established themselves just east of the Pottawatomie of the Woods, who had come from Indiana in 1840 to occupy a reserve on Osage River, in Kansas. In 1846, however, the latter re-ceded this and settled the following year between the Shawnee and Delaware Indians in the present Shawnee County, Kans. The Pottawatomie of the Prairie remained in Kansas and received allotments there, but the Pottawatomie of the Woods went to a new reservation in Oklahoma in 1869-71 near the Kickapoo. A few have accompanied the Kickapoo to Mexico.

Pottawatomie Indian Population

Mooney’s (1928) estimate for the Pottawatomie Indians, as of the year 1650, is 4,000. Estimates made between 1765 and 1843 vary from 1,200 to 3,400,but it would seem that they must have averaged 2,000 to 2,500. In 1908, 2,522 Pottawatomie were reported in the United States, distributed as follows: Citizen Pottawatomie in Oklahoma, 1,768; Prairie band in Kansas, 676; and Pottawatomie of Huron, in Calhoun County, Mich., 78. A few besides these were scattered through their ancient territory and at various other points. Those in Canada are all in the Province of Ontario and number about 220, of whom 176 are living with Chippewa and Ottawa on Walpole Island and the remainder, no longer officially reported, are divided between Caradoc and Riviére aux Sables, where they reside by permission of the Chippewa and Munsee. The United States Census of 1910 returned 2,440, of whom 866 were living in Oklahoma, 619 in Kansas, 461 in Michigan, and 245 in Wisconsin, while the remainder were scattered in 11 other States. The United States and Canadian Indian Office Reports of 1923-24 give 2,227 in Oklahoma, 803 in Kansas, and 170 on Walpole Island, Ontario, but those in Michigan are not separately entered. The United States Census of 1930 returned 1,854, of whom 654 were in Kansas, 636 in Oklahoma, 425 in Wisconsin, and 89 in Michigan. In 1937 there were 142 in Michigan, 311 in Wisconsin, 1,013 in Kansas, and 2,667 in Oklahoma: total 4,133.

Connection in which the Pottawatomie Indians have become noted:

In the form Pottawatomie the name of this tribe is used as a designation of counties in Kansas and Oklahoma and a post township of Coffey County, Kans., and in the form Pottawattamie as the designation of a county in Iowa.


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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