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Massaw was an influential and distinguished woman among the Wabash Potawatomi. Her presence and words carried weight in councils, a right customarily reserved for men. She descended from a line of leadership, as her father Wassato was also a respected ogema (leader). Massaw resided in the village of headman Giwani, her cabin reserved for the mediation of both tribal and American dignitaries. Present at cession and removal negotiations, her name can be found among treaties drafted between the United States and Potawatomi. She was among the leaders who signed the 1861 treaty that established allotments and citizenship for Potawatomi in Kansas.

…a “gambler of no ordinary ability…often raking men of experience who attended her receptions in the second story of the cabin.”

– George Winter


Cooke, Sarah E. and Rachel B. Ramadhyani. 1993. Indians and a Changing Frontier: The Art of George Winter

Kappler, Charles J. 1904. Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, II

Winter, George. 1948. The Journals and Indian Paintings of George Winter, 1837-1839


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