The Potawatomi name means "those who keep/tend the hearth-fire," which refers to the hearth of the Council of Three Fires.
The Potawatomi are mentioned in French records in the early 17th century where they lived in what is now southwestern Michigan. During the Beaver Wars they fled to the area around Green Bay to escape attacks by both the Iroquois and the Neutral Nation, who were seeking expanded hunting grounds.
As an important part of Tecumseh's Confederacy, Potawatomi warriors took part in Tecumseh's War, the War of 1812 and the Peoria War. Their allegiance switched repeatedly between the British and the Americans as power relations shifted between the nations.
At the time of the War of 1812, a band of Potawatomi inhabited the area near Fort Dearborn, in the current location of Chicago. Led by the chiefs Blackbird and Nuscotomeg (Mad Sturgeon), a force of about 500 warriors attacked the evacuation column leaving Fort Dearborn; they killed a majority of the civilians and 54 of Captain Nathan Heald's force, and wounded many others. George Ronan, the first graduate of West Point to become a fatal casualty in combat, was killed in this ambush. The incident is referred to as the Battle of Fort Dearborn. A Potawatomi chief named Mucktypoke (Makdébki, Black Partridge), counseled against the attack and later saved some of the civilian captives who were being ransomed by the Potawatomi.
French period (1615–1763)
The French period of contact began with early explorers who reached the Potawatomi in western Michigan. They also found the tribe located along the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin. By the end of the French period, the Potawatomi had begun a move to the Detroit area, leaving the large communities in Wisconsin.
English period (1763–1783)
The British period of contact began when France ceded its lands after the defeat in the French and Indian War (aka Seven Years War). Pontiac's Rebellion was an attempt by Native Americans to push the British and other European settlers out of their territory. The Potawatomi captured every British frontier garrison but the one at Detroit.
The Potawatomi nation continued to grow and expanded westward from Detroit, most notably in the development of the St. Joseph villages adjacent to the Miami in southwestern Michigan. The Wisconsin communities continued and moved south along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
United States treaty period (1783–1830)
The United States Treaty period of Potawatomi history began with the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War and established the United States' interest in the lower Great Lakes. It lasted until the treaties for Indian Removal were signed. The US recognized the Potawatomi as a single tribe. They often had a few tribal leaders whom all villages accepted. The Potawatomi had a decentralized society, with several main divisions based on geographic locations: Milwaukee or Wisconsin area, Detroit or Huron River, the St. Joseph River, the Kankakee River, Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers, the Illinois River and Lake Peoria, and the Des Plaines and Fox Rivers.
In 1984 the Village of Tinley Park, Illinois hosted a large Thanksgiving celebration. They invited the Potawatomi who had moved to Oklahoma. The intervening years had been good to the Potawatomi since we "borrowed" their land and sent them to Oklahoma. Seven Potawatomi returned in the tribal plane. Several of them had blond hair and blue eyes.
The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has several tribal enterprises that provide services to our citizens and create a substantial economic impact in our communities. Our businesses further the success and prosperity of the Nation; provide employment opportunities for tribal citizens and revenue to support tribal operations.
Our enterprises provide the economic foundation to diversify and expand our current business operations and provide for expanded economic growth in our communities.
With more than 2,000 employees, Citizen Potawatomi Nation operates a variety of tribal enterprises including First National Bank, Grand Casino Resort, FireLake Discount Foods and the Community Development Corporation.