Forest County Potawatomi, Keepers of the Fire

forestThe Potawatomi Tribe is considered one of the Woodland groups of Indians, belonging to the Algonquin linguistic family tree. The name Potawatomi means “people of the place of the fire”. Their history is one of endurance, survival, and strong traditional values that still thrive today.

In the early centuries before Europeans, the Potawatomi lived north and east of Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario. They were once allied with the Odawa and Ojibwa tribes in a confederation known as the Council of the Three Fires. The Potawatomi land base consisted of lower Michigan, northern Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and eastern Wisconsin.

They prospered through hunting, fishing, and gathering. Before the arrival of the first Europeans in the late 1500s and early 1600s, many Potawatomi had begun to move further inland to the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It was there that the first French fur traders and Jesuits began to write about these people known as “the people of the place of fire.”

The Potawatomi, (Bodwéwadmi) were given the task of keeping this sacred fire among the three, hence the name “Keepers of the Fire.”

Through the years the US Government pressured the tribe into a series of 43 treaties, resulting in the loss of 30 million acres of land. The Treaty at Chicago in 1833 stipulated that the Potawatomi be removed west within three years. This forced removal became known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death. The modern Forest County Potawatomi are descendants of families and groups who refused to move and settled in dense forests of Wisconsin, avoiding contact with outsiders. In the late 1800s, through the Indian Homestead Act, Potawatomi families settled on lands in Forest, Oconto, and Marinette Counties. In 1913, the tribe received approximately 12,000 acres of land in Forest County from treaty monies owed them and received federal recognition in 1934.

The communities’ successful gaming operations provide a means to support tribal businesses, community projects, and attract new industries to the area while maintaining the integrity of the natural resources. Forest County has a rich logging history, and has a hilly geographical terrain crisscrossed with ATV trails. Recreation opportunities such as camping, hiking, swimming, fishing are plentiful.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community invite you to visit our lands.