405.878.5830 • Open Monday - Friday: 8AM - 5PM CST | Saturday: 10AM - 3PM CST • POTAWTOMI.ORG

Browse Lifeways

BROWSE BY LETTER
View A-Z Index

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 …

Bmadzewen [Life]


Bmadzewen [life] and our existence are in tune with the environment. We interact with our world in concurrent cycles of four, understanding that physical and spiritual realms are always in motion. Our sacred medicines, lifecycles, directional powers, and the creation and destruction of world progress on this principle. Governing our ancient world was the season. Each season warranted and prohibited …

Four Directions


Wech-ksenyak [north], translated as “where the cold is”, is where Mother Earth is purified by snow and home to our winter season bbon. White is the color of this direction. With hair the color of snow, North is the place of our elders. We are reminded of the stories and teachings they gift us, as we weather the cold in …

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 …

Great Seal of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation


The first Tribal Seal was created in the 1970s by Secretary/Treasurer Beverly Hughes. It was a black circle with “Great Seal of the Citizen Band of Potawatomi Indians of Oklahoma” inside the edge and featured a crossed Cherokee-style pipe and tomahawk over a fire with three logs. When the Tribe changed its name in 1996 to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, …

Gwzegé’wen [Bowl and Dice]


Played throughout the year is a popular game reserved primarily for women called gwzegé’wen [bowl and dice]. Considered a great honor, only certain women are allowed to host games and possess equipment, a right conferred through a dream. Traditionally, women were responsible for hosting annual dodem [clan] feasts in honor of their bowl and dice set. Gaming equipment includes: (1) …

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.

Mamkeznéwen [Moccasin]


One of the most prominent and competitive games among Potawatomi men is mamkeznéwen [moccasin]. Forming two teams, each are comprised of a finder/hider, scorekeeper, drummers and singers. Using theatrics, each team is tasked with hiding a small token under one of four moccasins in an attempt to disguise its location and confuse opponents. With the token concealed, drummers and singers …

Medicine Wheel


Our bmadzewen [existence] is built on a sacred principle of four. Our medicines, lifecycles, directional powers, and the creation and destruction of worlds are connected through this belief, symbolized by our medicine wheel. Color: White [each color represents the four races of man Creator placed on earth] Direction: Wech-ksenyak [North] Season: Bbon [Winter] Life Cycle: Elder Medicine: Wishkpemishkos [Sweetgrass] Element: …

Mnomen [Wild Rice]


Traditionally, the transition from niben [summer] to dgwaget [fall] was known as Nibnegises [Ripening Moon], the time of year when Potawatomi and other Neshnabek migrated to their annual menomen [wild rice] camps for harvest. A primary food staple, wild rice was extensively traded among Algonquin tribes and foreign merchants. Aside from diet, it was used medicinally and spiritually in various …