On Monday, October 4, 2021 Albion City Council unanimously approved the adaptation of the resolution to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of each October. The updated resolution includes the names of additional tribes of the Native Nations peoples who lived in mid-Michigan. Click here to read the amended resolution and the 2019 version that passed nearly unanimously.
Some of the history of the Native Nations compiled from various sources is below.
Table of Contents
The Potawatomi (Bodewadmi), Chippewa (Ojibwa), Ottawa (Odawa)
The Potawatomi “Bode wad mi” are one of the three original tribes of Michigan.
The Potawatomi “Bode wad mi” along with the Odawa/Ottawa and the Ojibwa/Chippewa are known as the people of the Three Fires.
They call themselves Anishinabe. The Potawatomi “Bode wad mi” are the “Keepers of the Fire”.
As the legend of the three tribes describes: “The oldest brother, Chippewa (Ojibwa), was given the responsibility of Keeper of the Faith. The middle brother, Ottawa (Odawa), was the Keeper of the Trade, and the youngest brother, Potawatomi, was responsible for keeping the Sacred Fire; hence the name, “Keeper of the Fire.”
Ojibwa – In 1807, the Ojibwe joined three other tribes, the Odawa, Potawatomi and Wyandot people, in signing the Treaty of Detroit. The agreement, between the tribes and William Hull, representing the Michigan Territory, gave the United States a portion of today’s Southeastern Michigan and a section of Ohio near the Maumee River. The tribes were able to retain small pockets of land in the territory.
The popularity of the epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1855, publicized the Ojibwe culture. The epic contains many toponyms that originate from Ojibwe words. Toponyms are place names based on features.
An Ojibwe named Boy Chief, by the noted American painter George Catlin, who made portraits at Fort Snelling in 1835. In 1845 he traveled to Paris with eleven Ojibwe, who had their portraits painted and danced for King Louis Philippe.
Shabbona (from either the Ottawa Zhaabne or the Potawatomi Zhabné meaning “indomitable” or “hardy” in both languages, but was recorded to mean “built strong like a bear” or “built like a bear”) was born around 1775 of the Odawa (Ottawa) tribe either on the Maumee River in Ohio, in Ontario or in a Native American village in Illinois. Shabbona’s own biography places his birth on the Kankakee River;
The Odawa, said to mean “traders”, are an Indigenous American ethnic group who primarily inhabit the land in the Eastern Woodlands region, commonly known as the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada
The Ottawa are an Algonquian-speaking tribe that was driven out of Ontario, Canada by the Iroquois and moved west into Michigan.
Once in Michigan, the tribe aligned with The Council of Three Fires (Ojibwa, Odawa and Potawatomi) and moved further south across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The Odawa became very closely intermixed with the Potawatomi at this time.
Shabbona was said to be a grandnephew of Pontiac, the famous Ottawa leader. Shabbona was granted his chief status at a very young age. The son of an Ottawa warrior who had fought with Pontiac during Pontiac’s War, Shabbona himself would become a lieutenant under Shawnee chieftain Tecumseh and, during the War of 1812, later participated in the Battle of the Thames where Tecumseh was killed.
The Anishinabe Group of Tribes
The related tribes called themselves Anishinabe. The Potawatomi “Bode wad mi” are the “Keepers of the Fire”. On August 29, 1821, the Bode wad mi, Odawa and Ojibwa (“The People of the Three Fires”) held council with representatives of the United States government and signed a treaty, which left them only five reservations, and certain land grants in Michigan. Many were moved to Oklahoma and Kansas territories. Those who would not leave were driven out by military force or hid away from the government. Small bands traveled to Northeast Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Canada.
After various wars and migrations, the tribes moved to the Great Lakes Area.
The Anishinaabe are a group of culturally related indigenous peoples present in the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States. They include the Ojibwe (including Saulteaux and Oji-Cree), Odawa, Potawatomi, Mississaugas, Nipissing and Algonquin peoples. The Anishinaabe speak Anishinaabemowin, or Anishinaabe languages that belong to the Algonquian language family.
Homelands of Anishinaabe and Anishinini, ca. 1800
The word Anishinaabeg translates to “people from whence lowered”. Another definition refers to “the good humans”, meaning those who are on the right road or path given to them by the Creator Gitche Manitou, or Great Spirit. Basil Johnston, an Ojibwe historian, linguist, and author wrote that the term’s literal translation is “Beings Made Out of Nothing” or “Spontaneous Beings”. The Anishinaabe believe that their people were created by divine breath.
The 1821 Treaty of Chicago
Representatives of the Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi (Council of Three Fires) met on August 29, 1821. The treaty was proclaimed on March 25, 1822. The treaty ceded to the United States all lands in Michigan Territory south of the Grand River, with the exception of several small reservations. Also ceded by the Native Americans was a tract of land, easement between Detroit and Chicago (through Indiana and Illinois), around the southern coast of Lake Michigan, while specific Native Americans were also granted property rights to defined parcels.
Potawatomi chief Metea gave the following speech in defense of his land at the signing of the Treaty of Chicago:
We meet you here to-day, because we had promised it, to tell you our minds, and what we have agreed upon among ourselves. You will listen to us with a good mind, and believe what we say.
we have counselled among ourselves, and do not know how we can part with the land. Our country was given to us by the Great Spirit, who gave it to us to hunt upon, to make our cornfields upon, to live upon, and to make down our beds upon when we die. And he would never forgive us, should we bargain it away.
Treaty: Treaty Between the United States and the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi Indians Signed at Chicago, Illinois
A digital replica of the actual Treaty of 1821 is embedded above.
Source: The National Archives Office of Innovation partnered with the Indigenous Digital Archive project of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, to provide context about and connection to the National Archives’ holdings of the Ratified Indian Treaties, newly conserved and scanned for the first time thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor.
The direct link is: https://digitreaties.org/treaties/treaty/102248724/
The Trail of Death
Trail of Death Memorial
Not all the Potawatomi from Indiana removed to the western United States. Some remained in the East, while others fled to Michigan, where they became part of the Huron and Pokagon Potawatomi bands.
Long ago, the Potawatomi depended on nature to survive. They lived a nomadic life. They hunted, fished, grew crops and gathered food to eat.
After they were forced onto reservations, they lived through years of poverty. At times during the early 1900s, they hardly had enough to eat.
Trail of Death
2021 marks the two-hundred-year anniversary of the 1821 Treaty of Chicago, during which the land on which we are presently living and working was ceded under great pressure to the United States, with the acknowledgment that the Potawatomi and other Indigenous parties to the treaty would retain their inherent right to hunt, fish, and gather here.
Yet, within a decade, the U.S.—under President Andrew Jackson and then-Secretary of War Lewis Cass (the namesake for Albion’s Cass Street)—implemented the Indian Removal Act. In 1838, armed militia marched Potawatomi out of their homelands to new reservations in Kansas Territory in an event known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death.
Professor Allison Harnish, Albion College
Spring Arbor Historical Marker
Text from the front and back of the historical Marker is below:
As early as 1825 large numbers of Potawatomi
encamped at this location. One of the most prominent Huron Potawatomi located here was Wabkezhik (Whapcazeek), who was wounded
during the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe Creek when General William Henry Harrison’s troops dispersed a concentration of Indians near present-day Lafayette, Indiana.
At negotiations for the 1833 Chicago Treaty, Wabkezhik was one of many Michigan Potawatomi who opposed federal
government resettlement plans.
Huron Potawatomi Village White settlers arrived in Spring Arbor Township around 1831.
In May 1835 Methodist deacon William Smith and Dr. Benjamin Packard platted the 128-lot village of Spring Arbor on the site of a Potawatomi Indian settlement bounded by present-day South Cross and Hammond Roads.
The men then established a Methodist seminary in the village. The panic of 1837 discouraged
investment and led to the demise of the school.
In 1839 Methodists moved the seminary to Albion. In 1845 the present village was founded one mile northeast of here.
Location of the historical marker: https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/publications/pdfs/ArcGISOnline/StoryMaps/mhc_historical_markers/pdfs/MHC381994014.pdf
Spring Arbor really wasn’t in Spring Arbor, but one mile southwest of the present-day village and Spring Arbor College. The state historical marker is in Falling Waters Park, located at the intersection of Hammond and Cross Roads. It was at this site that a native Potawatomi burying ground was located, and an Indian village just to the west. One of the most prominent members was Chief Whapcazeek, who was wounded during the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe. The village was called “Falling Waters,” aptly named because of the different streams in the area that traveled in different directions from the location.
Source: Frank Passic’s history at AlbionMich.com http://www.albionmich.com/history/histor_notebook/941009.shtml
Our Michigan Potawatomi neighbors—the Nottawaseppi Huron band of Potawatomi (NHBP), the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, and the Hannahville Indian Community—are survivors of this colonial violence.
A resolution recognizing the forced removal of Potawatomi people from their homelands east of the Mississippi River to Kansas and Oklahoma was introduced by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-IN), U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in 2020. Click here to read about that: https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/potawatomi-trail-of-death-resolution-introduced-in-u-s-senate
In recent years the NHPB has donated thousands of dollars to the City of Albion and Albion Township through the Firekeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board. These monies have supported several local community development projects, including parks and recreation programs for Albion children as well as the construction of an ADA-compliant pavilion in Holland Park, renovations to the Bohm Theatre, a new garage and equipment for the Albion Township’s Fire Department, and brownfield development projects.
Source: Professor Allison Harnish, Albion College
Indigenous Peoples Day
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. On October 8th, 2021 President Joe Biden signed a presidential proclamation declaring October 11th to be a national holiday. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, and is an official city and state holiday in various localities. It began as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day, which honors Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Many reject celebrating him, saying that he represents “the violent history of the colonization in the Western Hemisphere,” and that Columbus Day is a sanitization or covering-up of Christopher Columbus’ actions such as enslaving Native Americans. Indigenous People’s Day was instituted in Berkeley, California, in 1992, to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Two years later, Santa Cruz, California, instituted the holiday. Starting in 2014, many other cities and states adopted the holiday.
Michigan officially recognized Indigenous Peoples Day in 2019.
City of Albion Resolution
Resolution #2021-33, An Amendment to Resolution # 2019-11,
To Declare the Annual Recognition of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day
WHEREAS the City of Albion recognizes that the Indigenous Peoples of the
lands that would later become known as the America have occupied these lands since
time immemorial; and
WHEREAS the City recognizes that Albion is built upon the homeland and
villages of the Potawatomi (Bodewadmi), Chippewa (Ojibwa), Ottawa (Odawa) and
other Tribes of this region, without whom the building of the region would not have been
WHEREAS the City values the many contributions made to our community
through Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts
and the deep cultural contribution that has helped shape the character of the City of
WHEREAS the City of Albion has a responsibility to oppose the systematic
racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of
poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education, and
social crises; and
WHEREAS the City promotes the closing of equity gap for Indigenous Peoples
through policies and practices that reflect the experiences of Indigenous Peoples,
ensure greater access and opportunity, and honor our nation’s indigenous roots, history,
and contributions; and
WHEREAS Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation
of Native Nations to the United Nations sponsored International Conference on
Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas; and
Council Member____________________ moved, supported by Council Member
___________________, to approve the following resolution.
RESOLVED, the City of Albion hereby declares every second Monday in October
as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the City of Albion;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the City of Albion supports the proposition that
Indigenous Peoples’ Day shall be an opportunity to celebrate the thriving cultures and
values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region;
I hereby certify that the above resolution was adopted on October 4, 2021, in a
regular session of the Albion City Council, and this is a true copy of that resolution.
Click here to read the updated resolution and the original 2019 version that passed nearly unanimously with one dissent.
Other posts on this site that mention the Potawatomi Village in Spring Arbor and the connection to Albion College
New Year’s Hike
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New Year’s Day Albion – Walk the Trail
Get outside on the most excellent day of the year to date, Sunday, January 1, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. and take a short walk with
Indigenous Peoples’ Day
On Monday, October 4, 2021 Albion City Council unanimously approved the adaptation of the resolution to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of
Ménwabek Meadow Park Trail extension
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FALLING WATERS PARK (Spring Arbor)
Beverly Cunningham at Falling Waters Park dedication 1994 From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Beverly Cunningham, standing next to the
A Friend of Falling Waters Historic Park
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