Where did all the Potawatomi Indians go?
In 1837 the United States Government entered into a treaty with five bands of the Potawatomi living in the State of Indiana by which it was agreed to convey to them by patent a tract of country on the Osage River, southwest of the Missouri, in the present State of Kansas (Pottawatomie County). This was set apart the same year and the Potawatomi of the Woods moved into it in 1840. In 1846, they ceded it back to the US Government and were given a reserve between the Shawnee and the Delaware, in the present Shawnee County, which they occupied in 1847. By a series of treaties, culminating in the Treaty of Chicago, 1833, the Potawatomi west of Lake Michigan surrendered their lands and received a large tract in southwestern Iowa. They were accompanied by a few Chippewa and Ottawa. In 1846 this reserve was re-ceded to the United States Government and in 1847-48 the tribes, now known collectively as the Prairie Potawatomi, moved to lands in Kansas just east of the lands of the Potawatomi of the Woods. Michigan Potawatomi did not come to this place until 1850. About the end of the Civil War some of the Prairie Potawatomi moved back to Wisconsin but the greater part of them remained and accepted lands in severalty. In 1869 the Potawatomi of the Woods began a movement to secure lands in Oklahoma, and by 1871 most of them had gone to Oklahoma. But why all of this moving around? Whose idea was it?
Basically, like many things in this country's history, commerce drove the tribes all over the map. The main industry behind the driving force was the railroad, who held vast amounts of money and with their deep pockets, controlled a good portion of the government. It was felt by the railroad that native Americans were simply in the way. To better understand this attitude, to the right is a copy of The Pottowattomie Reserve - a railroad newspaper that advertised lands in northeastern Kansas that it had recently "purchased" from the Pottowattomie tribe. It stated that "The Pottowattomie Nation, by treaty with the US, agreed to move [from their original lands west of Lake Michigan], assisted by their smart, intelligent and experienced traders, their zealous, business-like friends (their missionaries), and by the agents of the government, to the Pottowattomie Reserve." Then 30 years later, the government moved them again when the railroad bought up this desirable land. The most telling statement describing the railroads' attitude states, "The Indians have, for the last four or five years, been 'passing away' down south, 'into Indian country' . . . all are gone except a few quiet half-breeds whose places are being rapidly occupied by intelligent, enterprising, industrious, moral citizens [European immigrants]. . . hardly, indeed, has the light step of the Indian ceased to fall upon the grass, until the pressure of the present new-comer is felt upon the soil . . . with these advantages the new occupants will soon fill the reserve with thrifty, happy homes . . ."
The rest of the newspaper gives a brief description of the cities and towns in the area; the railroads available; fuel and lumber that are native to the area; and, descriptions and prices of the land. On the reverse side of the paper is a sectional map showing the area and identifying those lands that were still for sale by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Company. So . . . how much do you want to bet that some of these newspapers fell into the hands of the starving people in Scotland and Ireland? It would help to convince them to gamble their lives by sailing in a coffin ship.