The Potawatomi lived mainly in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ontario. They speak a form of the Algonquian language and were closely related to the Chippewa and Ottawa Indians. In the Great Lakes region, the Potawatomi tribe, one of the "Three Brothers", was located in southern lower Michigan and SE Wisconsin prior to European settlement.  Potawatomi were primarily farmers, and like the Ottawa, their numbers were small (4000 estimated).

potawman.jpg (234176 bytes)

Click for full size
Click here for full size image (220 kb)

Click for full size
Click here for full size image (459 kb)

Because this area was settled early by Europeans, the Potawatomi were forced to migrate out of the area, as the map below shows.  Many ended up on reservations in Iowa and Kansas.  Today, Potawatomi descendants can be found at several sites in Wisconsin and the UP.

Click for full size
Click here for full size image (276 kb)

We do not know the exact meaning of the word Potawatomi, but it is translated to something like "People of the Place of Fire." Potawatomi do not call themselves this name, but rather, they say, nIshnabe’k, which means "The People."

Here is a written sample of the Potawatomi language:
bozho nikan!
Ahaw nciwe’nmoyan ewabmlnan.
Iwgwien e’byayen m’sote’

This means:
Greetings, friend!
I am glad to see you.
Thank you for your visit here.

To hear this same greeting spoken in the Potawatomi language, click here.

Some of the text on this page is from:  project..ohiokids.org/ohc/history

This material has been compiled for educational use only, and may not be reproduced without permission.  One copy may be printed for personal use.  Please contact Randall Schaetzl (soils@msu.edu) for more information or permissions.