The Potawatomi Indians lived mainly in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ontario, Canada at the time of European contact in the early 1600s. They were part of the Algonquian Indians. The Algonquian Indians consisted of various tribes that spoke similar languages. The Potawatomi Indians were closely related to the Chippewa Indians and the Ottawa Indians.
During the late 1600s and the early 1700s, the Potawatomi Indians struggled with the Iroquois Indians over the Ohio Country. They also fought for territory with the Sioux Indians in modern-day Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. By the mid 1700s, the Potawatomi had established villages in Illinois and in Indiana.
The Potawatomis sided with the French during the French and Indian War. Following France’s defeat, the Potawatomi Indians assisted Pontiac in Pontiac’s Rebellion. During the American Revolution and again in the War of 1812, the Potawatomis allied themselves with the British. The natives feared American settlers would continue to occupy the Indians’ land if they did not receive assistance from the British. The Potawatomi Indians did not have a large presence in Ohio and, throughout the late 1700s and early 1800s, signed numerous treaties forsaking any land claims in Ohio. By 1841, most of these people had moved to reservations west of the Mississippi River.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.