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Hearing in Washington

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Hearing in Washington - Potiawattamie Indians Near Goal...
Potiawattamie Indians Near Goal InlOO-Year-OldLand In 1S38 that they be removed from the state «t once, : The order was executed by Gen- Fight Hearing In Washington On April 15 V. S. Claims Court To Hear Arguments BY LOUISE EN'GLE HARTFORD, March 18 -- Over a century of battling for recognition of their claiins based upon nge-old treaties is nearlng renllty for the original owners Rf this great land, the American Indians. Congress has set April 15, 19S3. for a hearing at the Court of Claims in Washington, D. C., for the purpose of investigating nnd disposing of unsettled treaty claims with the descendants of the PotlnwnttHmle tribe, who once owned land in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. The Pottwattamle Indians of the Indiana and Michigan society, headed by Michael WIlHnins of South Bend, have a membership list of 260 claiming 'relationship of the tamed Leopold PokaRon tribe ol Pottawattamles and of his son the Members of (he Indiana-Michijjnn society of PoltawnUamie Indians shown above are, from lcf( to right, back row: John Richard Winchester, tribal secretary Dowa- tnac; Joseph Morsaw, H a r t f o r d ; R. C. Mix, councilman, Benton Harbor; Michael Williams, chairman, South Bend; and Peter Pokagon, Dorr, Mich. Inlhe front row arc-John Wesaw of Hartford, left, and Leo Alexis, Granger, Ind. (Sally Lee Photo) late Simon Poknuon, Williams says the Indians have grown up knowing who their ancestors were but are having difficulty finding baptismal records, birth records, or any other legal documents pertaining to their ancestry, which are necessary to enable them to receive perpetual annuities from the government for the land ceded to the United States 115 years ago. LIST LEADERS Leaders of the Indiana-Michigan society of Pottiiwattamie Indians arc: Michael Williams, South Bend, chairman, who at the age of 72 is still trying to help his people gain money from the government after holding an office in his tribe for 66 years; John Richard Witi^oster, Dowaglac, tribal secretary; and council members K. O. Mix, Benton Harbor; John Topash, Gallon; and Albert N. Mackety, sole Huron Indian of Pulton, Mich. Historical data and a few old timers recall the many great tributes paid to Simon Pokagon, the last great chief or the Pottawaltamies, and to hi* father, Leopold, but few of the younger generation know to what great stature they arose nationally and internationally. Leopold Pokagon was known to the white »ettlers in the early 10th century as a peacemaker between th« r»d men and the white men. To his own people, he was loyal but Just and spent his life banishing the hated "flr«-w«ter" from members of hl» tribe, and teaching them Christianity. He was a devoted member of the Catholic faith. When the rebellious "Black S? wk '" aWef ot the dreaded warlike Sauk tribe, met with the Pot- lawattamles in 1831 to ask their cooperation in driving the white man from the country because they were Inking Indian land inch by inch ind stealing the earth the "Great Spirit" gave them, he was refused ntd by the Pottawattamle nation. Leopold gave forth the argument tlmt the "Orcnt White Spirit" willed that the white man and the red men must live together side by slcie. He said that 11 was timo to lecide whether the Indians wanted to make pence and live, or make war and die, a statement which marie his brother chiefs vote against another Indian massncre, VERY FEW KEEPSAKES Descendants of the Pokagon land have very few keepsakes or Indian relics to remind them of :hcir great heritage, but they do iavc the memories of days gone by, Mssed down generation by gcnera- -lon. They ttlli have n compassion for .lie heavy hearts their forefathers-- Topinabe, Pokagon, Shavehcad, Wcesaw, and tho many other Pot- tawattamio ch(cfa who together governed 7,000 people--had on that fateful Setember day In 1833 when l\e vast lands where Chicago now stands and a large portion of In- llans and Michigan wns ceded to the government. Legends tell thai, the old braves' thoughts were of the dsys of their youth when they galloped over the prairies In pursuit of the thundering herds of buffalo. History tells that the cession of the land to the government was not made In * manner of a few hours, nor freely given by the proud old warriors who had the first right to this land. A f t e r expansive speeches and promises of spokesmen from the "Great White Father" at Washington, offers of baskets filled with silver dollars, clay pipes, kegs of, tobacco, nnd warm clothes, and promises of green acres of reservations, there wns utter silence in the lodge where the ineellng wns held. Again it was the dignified and respected old chief Leopold Pokngon who spoke In behalf of the Potta- watlamle nation, nnd said with the approval of his fellow chiefs they didn't want to sell the last of their beloved lands. FILLED WITH 'FIRE-WATER' Hopiirg something might change the white man's desire to take their land, the red men prolonged the result day after day. Meantime, thousands of Indians were plentifully supplied with "fire-water," so bitterly hated by Leopold, and filled with visions of fabulous riches awaiting them after the land was ceded to tho government. On Sept. 21, the council flre wns lighted once more in the lodge and chiefs filed hi, with hundreds of braves, squaws, and all the townspeople to hear the government commissioners tell the Indians that they would have to exchange their strip of grass and sand for the magnificent gifts and great territory that the United States was so generous to bestow upon them, or they would be thrust mil ns wandering beggars. At first Pokagon would not sign the treaty, but realizing the futility of holding oul any longer, asked permission to say a few last words. Mournfully he told his fellow men there was no use of protesting any more, they would have to give up the last, of their beloved land. He reminded them tlint where the great chiefs held their councils and where the pipe of peace has been smoked by th6 grcnl warriors, now towers of the towns were rising up against the sky, and huge Iron monsters sped over metal rails He told them that all had changed except the sun, moon, mid the stars, and they had not because the paleface aod and the red man's 3od hnd hung them beyond the white man's reach. He prayerfully said. "I seek for the wigwam of my people, O' Great Spirit, forgive the paleface for what he does to my people As he bent, his head and took the quill pen to sign the document, ceding the last of their land to the white men, the onlookers saw tears streaming down the brave old warrior's fnce. RESERVATION PROVIDED The treaties between the United States and different bands of the Pottawnttnmlcs allowed the red man to remain on their land for two years before going to a reservation provided for them west of the Mississippi river. According to records left by C. H. Bugle, former Hartford attorney for the Indians during the reign of Simon, Leopold's son, white settlers who coveted the Indian land In Indiana complained to the governor, David Wallace, who Issued an order eral Tiptori; who marched to Indian village a'hd surrounded with a body of soldiers before the Indiana had any knowledge ol I he military move whatever. Some vere taken prisoners in their church where they had assembled by deception of spies senb out for that purpose, while others were taken from their village and the surrounding country. On the next day after they were captured they were »]- towed to hold a meeting In their little graveyard to make their final farewell of the dead, knowing they would never return. On September 2, 1S38, orders were ilven to move and at once nearly 1,000 men, women, and children with rfoken hearts and weeping faces took ,up the line of march' for the reservation In the west. Official reports show that 160 were missing when they arrived in the west, some having died on the lourney, others escaping to Canada'. Simon's father, Chief Leopold Pok- igon and his tribe, by special contract with the government, were a be permitted to remain behind Because of their adoption ol a Christian faith and their high standard of living, yet many of the band were taken and hurried off with the rest. Finally Simon and his band fled x Michigan where Indiana demanded that they should be given up and exiled with the rest of the Pottawatamle tribe, but Michigan, list nn infant of one year, refused and several years later, ever? Indian in Michigan was granted the right of citizenship.- DECEIVED BY AGENTS Attorney Engle's records state lliat although Simon was only a boy of eight years at. the time of the moving the Indians west, the sting of the great Injustice done his people so wounded his sensitive nature that he always tried to evade speaking of the cruel affair, and when, pressed to do so, he would always say "The authorities at Washington meant all right, but were deceived by bad agents who made them false reports, claiming the Indians had made the sacred cross to contracts which they had never signed, unless it was when they had been intoxicated through the Influence brought to bear upon them by agents for that purpose." Until his dealh, Simon lived with his band of 260 Pottawatamies north of Hartford on Rush Lake, and ·stood all his life as a peacemaker between -the white people 'and his own people. He was a. man of remarkable sturdy character, and Highly honored by those who knew him best'. He exhibited unrivaled patience and forebearance, and possessed Ihe gift of retaining dates, nnnies, and facts accurately In memory. He would never relax into commonplace conversation until all immediate business was satlsfac' torlly completed. , VISITED LINCOLN He visited President Lincoln shortly attcr his Inauguration nnd again Just before Lincoln's death, hoping to procure If, possible the amount due his people for the sale of Chicago and the surrounding country by his rather to the United States 30 years before. _Durlng the year 1866 he succeeded" In procuring partial payment of 439,000, which members of the Indiana BUNTE'S Michigan group declare WM through a government blunder to the western Indians. Simon afterward vlilted President Grant with whom he smoked the pipe of peace and received thanks for Indian soldiers furnished during the Civil War. ,In the fall of 18M, the Fokagon bind received $150,000, a portion th« balance due then, which had been the last payment to them their fellow Pottawattamles, on government reservations, received annuities until 1»OS, then' were allowed to pool resources on-the land th« west to support themselves. Michael Williams, head of the Indian-Michigan council, says all the Indians' in his group are of their country, and like Simon f«( no resentment agaftist the man, but they do feel they should be paid the money they have struggled to attain over such a long period of time. .Meanwhile the Indians are relentlessly searching for more proof to-establlsh their right to the payment coming up in April, and will be eager' to hear from anyone knew some of their ancestors. (EDITORS NOTE: Information tor the above article has been trom members of the Indian-Michigan Pottawattamle Indian society and recor'ds of O. H. En B le, attorney for Simon Pokagon's tribe for 40 years.) First Man-Made Archeological excavations reveal stone and clay torch-holding devices and lamps were among the first articles which man made for domestic use. Meed a Laxative Almost Every Riqht? Then rely art uf«, YOUR CAR W E S E R V WHILE YOU SHOP "TOM'S" SINCLAIR SERVICE De*let In SINCLAIR PROD DOTS 346 Michigan JSl Across From TMCA 0, K, See

Clipped from The News-Palladium, 18 Mar 1953, Wed,  Page

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  • Hearing in Washington

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