Forest County Potawatomi | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Forest County Potawatomi

A Brief Introduction

Forest County Potawatomi | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeSimon Onanguisse Kahquados (1851-1930) of Forest County, Wisconsin, the last hereditary chief of the Potowatomi.

Simon Onanguisse Kahquados

Simon Onanguisse Kahquados (1851-1930) of Forest County, Wisconsin, the last hereditary chief of the Potawatomi. View the original source document: WHI 24374

The Potawatomi make up a part of the Anishinabe confederacy, known as the "Keepers of the Fire." The Anishinabe migrated to the Great Lakes region and Michigan before 1500. The Potawatomi entered Wisconsin in the 1650's, and built the village of Mitchigami in Door County as well as about 50 others along southern shores of the Great Lakes. Many Potawatomi, but not all, supported Tecumseh in a multitribal military alliance against American expansionism.

In the 18th and 19th century, the Potawatomi were forced to cede lands between Wisconsin and Ohio - about seventy percent of their original land base was lost by 1829. Five million acres were ceded in the 1833 Treaty of Chicago and Potawatomi were forcibly removed West. Forced removal, religious doctrine and boarding school education affected the Potawatami greatly, especially the isolated and impoverished "Strolling Bands" in Wisconsin. In 1913 the Forest County Potawatomi Community was established with the purchase of reservation land in Forest County. After World War Two, the Potawatomi faced more challenges of poverty and forced assimilation in the era of termination and relocation. In 1988 the Forest County Potawatomi was granted reservation status, and were able to make economic gains with the establishment of gaming. Other programs in the area of education, health and wellness, family services and natural resources have flourished.

The Wisconsin Potawatomi possess 12,000 acres in Forest County and is the largest employer in Forest County. Other Potawatomi bands are located in Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Canada. Visit the Forest County Potawatomi website to learn more about their history, culture and present day community.

Other names that may be used in historical documents: Pouteouatamis and Poux.

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Source: Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2001).