Pottawatomie Tribe
Kansas Native Americans

The Pottawatomies, Ottawas and Chippewas have a common or similar language, manners and customs, and, at the beginning of the present century, were bound by compact to support each other peace and war.

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The Pottawatomies were divided into two bands--the Northern, of Wisconsin and Michigan (Pottawatomies of the Woods), and the Southern, of Illinois and Indiana (the Prairie Band). Their homes were scattered from Lake Superior to the southern shore of Lake Erie, and to the Illinois River, they having crowded the Miamis from the vicinity of Chicago.

The first treaty between this tribe and the United States was made at Fort Harmar, on the Muskingum River, in Ohio, the Commandant at the fort, Arthur St. Clair, being Commissioner on the part of the United States. This, like the treaty negotiated at Greenville by Gen. Anthony Wayne on the 3d of August, 1795, that negotiated at Fort Wayne by William Henry Harrison in June, 1803, and several that succeeded, was a treaty of peace and settlement of boundaries with the Pottawatomies, in common with the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Ottawas and other tribes. At the Greenville treaty, the first annuities were paid the Pottawatomies, the amount at that time being $1,000. This treaty was signed "by the chiefs of the Pattawatimas of the River St. Joseph," and of the "Pattawatimas of Huron."

During the war of 1812 with Great Britain, a portion of the tribe allied themselves with that nation, and, under the leadership of Sunawe-wone, chief of the Prairie band, made war upon the Americans, and were engaged in the massacre at Fort Dearborn, Chicago. A treaty was made with this band at Portage des Sioux, on the 18th of July, 1815, William Clark, Ninian Edwards and August Choteau being United States Commissioners. By the terms of this treaty, the tribe again placed themselves under the protection of the United States, were reinstated in their privileges, and solemnly agreed to preserve "perpetual peace and friendship" with that nation. The treaty was signed by Sunawe-wone, and it is said that it was never broken by his band. In the following September, a general treaty with the remainder of this tribe and others was made near Detroit.

By the treaty of August 29, 1821, at Chicago, the Pottawatomies of the St. Joseph River, Michigan, ceded a large portion of their land, reservations being granted to John, James, Abram, Rebecca and Nancy Burnett, "which are children of Kaw-kee-me, sister of Top-ni-be," principal chief of the Pottawatomie nation. Land was also reserved to the Bertrands and the Beaubiens.

On September 26, 1833, a treaty was concluded at Chicago, by which the united Pottawatomies, Ottawas and Chippewas ceded to the United States about five million acres. By this treaty, the Pottawatomies were assigned a tract between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers for a permanent home. Their first location was in the irregular triangle afterward known as the "Platte Purchase," but then a part of the Indian Territory. In 1836, the land thus occupied became a part of Missouri, and those of the Pottawatomies who had removed to the reservation, numbering between one and two thousand, again removed to a tract above the northern line of Missouri, in what is now Southwest Iowa, their village being on the river near the present site of Council Bluffs.

By treaty of February 11, 1837, the United States agreed to convey "to the Pottawatomies of Indiana a tract of country on the Osage River, southwest of the Missouri River, sufficient in extent and adapted to their habits and wants."

The tract selected was in the southwest part of what is now Miami County. The Pottawatomies of the Woods and the Mission Band settled on this tract, made many improvements, and remained nine years, when the United States granted to the tribe the tract bought from the Kanzas Indians. The two bands disposed of their lands on the Osage and in Iowa, for the sum of $850,000, and in 1847 removed to the new reservation. The treaties were made June 7 and 17, and the tract granted is described as "a tract of land containing 576,000 acres, being thirty miles square, and being the eastern part of the lands ceded to the United States by the Kansas tribe of Indians, January 14, 1846, adjoining the Shawnees on the south, and the Delawares and Shawnees on the east, on both sides of the Kansas." This tract comprised a part of the present counties of Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee, Jackson and Shawnee.

In 1850, a band of Michigan Pottawatomies, numbering about six hundred and fifty, joined the tribe at St. Mary's. The two bands occupied the reservation in common from 1847 until November 15, 1861, when a treaty was made with the tribe, by the provisions of which "land was to be allotted in severalty to those members of the tribe who have adopted the customs of the whites, and desire to have separate tracts assigned to them," and a portion of the reserve was to be assigned, in a body, to those who should prefer to hold their land in common. The Mission Band generally were allotted land in severalty. The Prairie Band elected to continue tribal relations.

An accurate census of the tribe was taken, showing the names and ages of those desiring lands in severalty, and of those desiring lands in common, and designating the chiefs and head men of the tribe--each adult to choose his own allotment, and each head of a family choosing for the minor members--chiefs to be assigned one section; head men, one half-section; heads of families, one quarter-section; and each other member of the tribe, eighty acres. These tracts were to be free from taxation until such time as any allottee should have his land conveyed to him by patent, in fee simple, with power of alienation, when such person should cease to be a member of the tribe, take the oath of allegiance and become a citizen of the United States, his land being subject to levy, taxation and sale.

Article 4 provided that those members of the tribe desiring to continue tribal relations and hold lands in common should have an undivided tract, equal to the same quantity for each person, as those received who chose allotments.

Article 5 provided for the sale of the remaider of the lands to the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western Railroad, at $1.25 per acre, under certain conditions.

Lands were conveyed to John F. Diel, John Summaker, and M. Gerilain, in trust, for school and church purposes, for St. Mary's Catholic Mission, and a reservation of 320 acres, including Baptist Mission buildings to the Baptist Board of Missions.

This treaty was made at the Pottawatomie Agency at Rossville, November 15, 1861, between William W. Ross on the part of the United States, and the chiefs and head men of the tribe. It was signed by Shawque (chief), To-penubbee (chief), We-weh-seh (chief), Shomen (brave), and Joseph N. Bourassa, George L. Young, B. H. Bertrand, M. B. Beaubien, L. H. Ogee, John Tipton and Lewis Vieux.

The Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western Railroad Company (Union Pacific) not buying the Pottawatomie lands, a treaty was concluded in 1867, providing for their sale to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company.

In 1870, those of the Christian or Mission Band who so desired removed to the Indian Territory, the last payment to the tribe being made in that year. The annuities, which amounted to about $80,000, had been for many years paid at Rossville.

The Prairie Band, which numbered 780 at the time of the treaty, was given 77,357.57 acres in a body, or a tract of about twelve miles square, upon which they still live. It is situated in Jackson County, and a full account of their present condition is found in the sketch of that county. There are now 440 Pottawatomies in Jackson County, 280 in Wisconsin, 30 in Iowa and 24 in Indian Territory.

Pottawatomie Missions
The first missionary to the Pottawatomies in the Indian Territory was Rev. Robert Simerwell. Mr. Simerwell was born in Ireland May 1, 1796. Emigrating to America in 1813, he resided at Philadelphia until May, 1824, when he was appointed by the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions teacher at the Carey missionary establishment among the Pottawatomies and Ottawas in Michigan. He was married, March 17, 1825, to Miss Fannie Goodrich, of Lexington, Ky., at the time of her marriage also a teacher at Carey.

After the removal of Rev. Isaac McCoy and Mr. Johnston Lykins to the West, the Carey establishment for a time was under the entire charge of Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell, their duties at that station being laborious in the extreme. Mr. McCoy, in his "History of Baptist Indian Missions," says of these faithful workers; "In those days, Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell, with two or three children of their own, could take the trouble of feeding, clothing, lodging, and teaching thirty-seven Indian children, besides such as were occasionally absent, making the whole number in their charge between forty and fifty."

In November, 1833, Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell removed to the Indian Territory, living at the Shawanoe Mission. Mr. Simerwell immediately recommenced his labors among the Pottawatomies, visiting the portion the tribe that were temporarily living with the Kickapoos prior to their removal farther north. He had a small book printed in their language, and often remained among them several days at a time, teaching them to read.

In 1837, as soon as the first band of Pottawatomies located on their reservation on the Osage River, Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell took up their abode among them. In the following year, Mr. Simerwell returned to Michigan to induce the tribe located there to join those in the West, but his mission was unsuccessful. At the mission on the Osage, comfortable buildings were erected and many improvements made while the Indians occupied that reservation. When they removed to the tract on the Kansas River, the Baptist Mission was established in what is now Mission Township, Shawnee County.

In the spring of 1848, a log mission house was built, under the superintendence of Dr. Johnston Lykins, into which Mr. Simerwell immediately gathered the Indian children, and, assisted by his daughter Sarah (now Mrs. Baxter) and Miss Elizabeth McCoy, organized the first Indian school in the county. In 1849, a larger and more commodious building was erected for the use of the mission. Mr. Simerwell continued his labors as missionary until his removal to Williamsport Township in 1854, at which place he died December 11, 1868. The mission was in operation until 1859. The Superintendents were Mr. Sanford, Mr. Alexander, Rev. John Jackson and Rev. John Jones.

St. Mary's Mission (Catholic)
St. Mary's Mission was originally established on Sugar Creek, Father Christian Hoeken being the founder. Twelve hundred Catholic Indians were connected with the mission. There were two schools, Madam Lucille Matheson having charge of the girls. The mission was transferred to the Kansas Valley in 1847, and first established south of the river. In the spring of 1848, Fathers Verreydt and Gaillaud, with four ladies of the Sacred Heart, started the Mission of St. Mary's on the north bank of the Kansas, Father Gaillaud remaining among the Pottawatomies, and being the first resident priest at the mission. A log church and two log houses were built that year, a labor school established, other missionaries were added to the working force, a little half-French, half-Indian, village, sprang up, and in a few years St. Mary's Mission was the most attractive spot on the banks of the Kansas. The location was on the north bank of the river, in the southeast corner of what is now Pottawatomie County.

The following account of the establishment is quoted from an article that was published in the New York Tribune of June 28, 1854. After mentioning the location and giving the names of the missionaries in charge--viz., Revs. J. D. Duerinek, J. Schultz and M. Guillaud--the writer says:

"Sermons are preached every Sunday, in Indian and English. The manual labor school is under their charge, assisted by eight lay brothers, and is in a flourishing condition. The number of boys admitted from October 1, 1852, till September, 1853, was seventy-seven, and the average number in attendance was fifty-two. The female department is under the charge of the "Ladies of the Sacred Heart"--a community of seven in number, three Ladies and four Sisters, who devote all their time to the school. The number of girls admitted from October 1, 1852, to September, 1853, was ninety-two, and the average attendance during the four quarters was sixty- seven. This missionary establishment enjoys great popularity among the Indians. Its site is said to be the most lovely spot in the Indian country. The mission buildings, with the adjacent trading houses, groups of Indian improvements and extensive corn-fields, all give it the appearance of a town.

The mission farm is large, and more than one hundred acres are under very profitable cultivation. The stock of horned cattle consists of 250 head, and these afford a considerable part of the support of the mission."

In 1872, two brick buildings were erected at St. Mary's for school purposes, and there is now a fine educational institution at the place. Father Maurice Guillaud died at St. Mary's Mission August 12, 1877.

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