I just got home from the Potawatomi Gathering. The only ones I previously went to were the ones held here on the rez. It was an interesting experience. I met Potawatomis from other bands. I mentioned to several that at one time we were all Potawatomi, there was no distinction as far as bands. Now we point out we are of a separate nation--Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation etc. There was alot of intermingling of bands, but most just hung out with their homies.
I was taping our senior citizens, so I spent alot of time with them. I teased them and made them laugh. I was taught that one thing you can do for old people is to make them happy. At their age, they done much of what they wanted, acquired things they wanted and seen what they wanted. So you try to make them happy. I taped them making moccasins, going on the 3K walk, dancing, visiting, giving away goods, eating, shopping at the stands and just having fun.
It rained the first night so the pow wow was cancelled. The second day was hot. I still had fun though. There is not much you can do about the weather so you just accept it. I learned in life that you can enjoy it or sit back and complain about it. I enjoyed myself.
My entire trip was wrapped in Potawatomi history. On the way up there I stopped at the Shabbona land. It was illegally taken as most of our land was. I went to the Field Museum in Chicago next. Arrangements were made for us to a private viewing of the Potawatomi artifacts back in the stacks and we seen the ones on public display also. It was sad to see some of the Potawatomi ceremonial items on shelves. I had seen similiar items before. I saw other items for the first time.
All during the trip, I crossed what was once Potawatomi land. We controlled millions of acres. We had villages on the important waterways. An old man once told me that the Potawatomi were so powerful that the other tribes asked our permission to cross our land. Today we bog down fighting amongst ourselves. Some of our people are too ignorant to realize the fight is not with us. We are descendants of a strong people. We can regain that strength if we would just allow it to happen.
On the way back I stopped at chief Menominees statue. It is on his land where the removal of his band started. It was rightfully known as the march of death. At the end of each day, Potawatomis buried their dead, on their way to Kansas. I next went to Prophetstown state park. It was where Tecumseh and his brother the prophet gathered a force of over a thousand warriors. The confederacy was formed to preserve the Indian way of life. Many Potawatomis joined with them. I went to the battle site of Tippecanoe next. That is where the confederacy of Tecumseh was defeated. His dream of uniting all Indian tribes still exists. I then travelled roughly parallel with the march of death trail on the way home.
Even though our Potawatomi land and ceremonial objects were taken from us--we are still here. Our families were broken up in an attempt to weaken us, our language was suppressed and we were encouraged to abandon our culture. We still have a remnant of our land. We still have some of our ceremonies. We still have our language. I remember hearing "dont worry about what you lost, take care of what you have left". If the Potawatomi Nation could unite, we would be a very powerful force like we were in the old days.