Potawatomi Indians

Learn why the Potawatomi Indians are known as the keepers of the fire.

The word, Potawatomi means, Keepers of the Fire. It refers to the fact that this Indian tribe participated as members on the Council of Three Fires. The Council of Three Fires was an alliance of the Potawatomi, the Ottawa, and the Ojibwa Tribes.  Together these tribes fought against the Sioux and Iroquois tribes. The Potawatomi Indians are still thriving today, where as many of the other Native peoples are no longer in existence.

The Potawatomi Indians were native to what is now commonly known as Michigan.  Like many other native peoples, the Potawatomi were forced away from their homeland and migrated into many other areas.  They eventually settled in parts of Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.  Some also settled in Canada, and they are still living there today.

The main language spoken by the Potawatomi Indians today is English. However, unlike many of the first native tribes, there are people who still speak the native tongue.  Efforts have been ongoing to keep this language alive. 

Since the Potawatomi Indians were spread throughout the Great Lakes regions, many of their tribes are thriving today.  They have had a positive impact on their communities and their tribal communities continue to play an important part in their local cultural experiences. Influences of the Potawatomi and other Keepers of the Fire tribes can be found in Oklahoma, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada.  The Potawatomi have been successful in keeping their traditions, religions, and cultural history alive and well.  Through storytelling, art, crafts, music, and museums the Keepers of the Fire have kept their heritage alive and have been successful in preserving many of their native customs and language.  In fact, so many of the Potawatomi ways of life have been preserved and passed down from generation to generation, that it may be fair to say that not only are they “Keepers of the Fire”, but they are also “Keepers of their native customs and traditions.”

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