Last modified: 2017-08-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: citizen potawatomi | oklahoma | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 29 December 2007
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Citizen Potawatomi - Oklahoma
The Potawatomi name means "People of the Place of the Fire" in Algonquin. This term refers back some four hundred years when the Potawatomi were united with the Ojibwe and the Ottawa Nations. In those days the land of the Potawatomi and the other two Nations was what today is Ontario. When the three groups moved southward, they split up forming the three distinct Nations. The Ojibwe moved west to what is now Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Ottawa moved to the lands around Lake Huron and the Potawatomi moved on to the lower peninsula of Michigan (ENAT, 197-198).
When they moved, they took with them the original "Council Fire" that had been used by the three groups when united. From this is derived there name. Today they are called the "Keepers of the Fire".
Today, the Potawatomi span an area from Michigan through Oklahoma. The largest band of modern Potawatomi is the Citizen Potawatomi, formerly the Citizen Band found in Oklahoma. They received that title because, after being ejected from Kansas and settling in Oklahoma, they accepted the United States' government's offer of citizenship and allotments of land. The Citizen Potawatomi control only the 4,400 acre "Tribal Historic Area" in Oklahoma, but the vast majority of the live on private property as is true with virtually all of Oklahoma's Native peoples. Potawatomi control only the 4,400 acre "Tribal Historic Area" in Oklahoma, but the vast majority of the tribe lives on private property as is true with virtually all of Oklahoma's Native peoples.
© Donald Healy 2008
The original flag of the Citizen Band of the Potawatomi Nation was white and bore their tribal seal in the center. That seal starts at the top with crossed peace pipe and tomahawk signifying skill and strength in war bonded with a strong historical reputation as a peace loving people. In the center is the great "Council Fire" from which they get their name. A modern interpretation of the fire is as a symbol of warmth and friendship as well as the wisdom derived
from the "Great Council Fire" ("Potawatomi Seal", undated pamphlet). Below that are two crossed oak leaves from the Red Oak tree. The acorns of the Red Oak were a source of food for the Potawatomi and the leaves were widely used in Potawatomi beadwork designs. The seal was ringed by the legends "Great Seal of the Potawatomi Indians" and "People of the Place of the Fire". As a money saving device, the seal on the flag was represented solely in red outline.
With a change in tribal government in the mid-1990s came a change in name and flag. The newly renamed Citizen Potawatomi now employ a bright blue flag bearing the seal in full color. The wording encircling the seal is now in black and placed upon a red ring. The other elements still lie upon a white disc in the very center. Across the top of the flag appears the new name in white letters.
© Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 29 December 2007