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Battle of the Thames


With the U.S. Navy gaining control of Lake Erie and cutting of British supply lines from Canada, British Major General Henry Proctor was forced to abandon Detroit and flee north to Amherstburg, Ontario in an attempt defend Fort Malden. Camped near Fort Malden were hundreds of allied Native warriors and their families. Outnumbered three to one, Shawnee leader Tecumseh, Potawatomi …

Bgemagen [War Club]


This contemporary artifact, styled after an ancient Potawatomi war club known as a bgemagen, was created by tribal member Bud Onzahwah. Crafted from wood, stone and leather, its historically ergonomic design eased storage, travel and use during battle. The bgemagen [war club] is part of the permanent collection and on exhibition at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center. Pre-dating …

Fur Trade and French Alliance


Potawatomi made first contact with Europeans indirectly through warfare. By the 1600s, the Anglo-Dutch allied Iroquois Confederacy had depleted all the valuable pelts east of the St. Lawrence River and began raiding Algonquin tribes in Michigan. The invaders were looking to control the untapped resources of the western Great Lakes. Outmatched by superior weaponry, the Potawatomi and other tribes of …

Gawyek gokpenagen [Quill Basket]


12in [diameter] The basket, constructed from wigwas [birch bark], wishkbemishkos [sweet grass] and gawey [porcupine quills], was originally commissioned as a gift for a spiritual leader among the Three Fires communities of Bkejwanong [Walpole Island], Ontario, Canada. It was designed to honor the leader’s clan [Bear], the Clan’s role as keepers or protectors of the medicine and the various types …

Infectious Disease


Culture, warfare and assimilation all play significant parts in the history of Native Americans and infectious disease, spanning from the 1600s to present day. Scarce medical records among Native Americans prior to Europeans’ arrival make it difficult to know the severity of communicable illnesses before contact. Indigenous peoples’ settlement patterns that included dispersed communities and significant travel time between locations …

Kishki [Cedar]


Cedar is used to bless, purify and protect. Potawatomi use cedar and its smoke in our ceremonies to defend from and combat evil spirits.

Mzenchegen [Statue]


15.5in H x 12in W The bronze statue titled, The Future Begins Now, was created by CPN tribal member Clyde B. Slavin in 2004. It depicts an important portion of the Neshnabé/Bodéwadmi Flood story, where the Muskrat places a piece of earth on the Turtle’s back to create a new world. Note from the artist reads: The Future Begins Now, …

Sema [Tobacco]


Tobacco is the most revered and powerful of all the medicine plants and considered a gift from Mamogosnan [Creator]. It is used for protection and its smoke carries thoughts and prayers to the Creator.

Wabshkebyek [Sage]


Sage and its smoke are used for purification. This medicine is for ceremonies to purify the environment and those in attendance.

Wédasé [Warrior]


The rank of warrior among Potawatomi was one of great honor and responsibility. Those who were victorious in battle were given the title of Wédasé, meaning brave or strong hearted. Often, they became members of the village warrior society, defending and policing the community. A rite of passage, warrior training began at an early age. Young boys were taught by …