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Source: Helm, HISTORY OF CASS COUNTY (1886), pp. 255-260.

The Pottawattomies – The Pottawattomies, or Poux, as they appear formerly to have been known, are of the Algonquin family, and a branch or offshoot of the Chippewas – sometimes written Ojibways – having a common origin with them. It is represented, also, as a part of the family history, that the separation of these branches of the present stock took place in the vicinity of Michilimackanack, not far from the middle of the seventeenth century, as early, probably, as 1641. At the time of the separation, or immediately after, the Poux having located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, the Ottawas went to live with them. After a time the Ottawas, becoming dissatisfied with the situation, determined to withdraw from their former allies and seek a home elsewhere. The Poux, being informed of this determination, told the Ottawas they might go back to the north if they did not like their association; that they, the Poux, had made a fire for themselves, and were capable of assuming and maintaining a separate and independent sovereignty and of building their own council fires. From this circumstance, it is said, the name of the Pottawatomies was derived. Etymologically, the word is a compound of put-ta-wa, signifying a blowing out or expansion of the cheek, as in the act of blowing a fire, and me, a nation, which, being interpreted, means a nation of fire-blowers – literally, a people, as intimated to the Ottawas, able to build their own council fires and otherwise exercise the prerogatives of independence, or self-government.

The first historical reference we have to them was in 1641, when it was stated that they had abandoned their own country (Green Bay), and taken refuge with the Chippewas,so as to secure themselves from their enemies, the Sioux, who, it would seem, having been at war with, had well nigh overcome them. In 1660 Father Allouez, a French missionary, speaks of the Pottawattomies as occupying territory that extended from Green Bay to the head of Lake Superior, and southward to the country of the Sacs and Foxes and the Miamis, and that traders had preceded him to their country. Ten years later they returned to Green Bay, and occupied the borders of Lake Michigan on the north. Subsequently, about the beginning of the eighteenth century, they had traversed the eastern coast of Lake Michigan to the mouth of the St. Joseph’s River, where, and to the southward of Lake Michigan, a large body of them held possession until nearly the middle of the nineteenth century. The occupancy of this territory was at first permissible only on the part of the Miamis, who had before possessed the undisputed right to occupy and enjoy; but in the course of time their rights were acknowledged by giving them a voice in the making of treaties, which also included the rights of cession and conveyance. Being somewhat migratory in character, they have, as a consequence, been determined to be aggressive also, since they have frequently taken possession of territory without permission from the rightful owners, and then by sufferance occupied it until a quasi right was acknowledged; and while it is true that they have thus occupied territory, t is true, also, that such occupancy has been, as a rule, an unavoidable alternative after being forcibly ejected or retired from their own country, as was the fact when they first removed from Green Bay.

At the beginning of the war of 1812 they had settle along the northern bank of the Tippecanoe River, and finally, by the year 1820, they had extended their lines to and along the northern bank of the Wabash, from the mouth of the Tippecanoe to the head waters of Eel River, and thence northward to the borders of Lake Michigan. The great civil chief, or sachem, who ruled over them from about the year 1790 to about 1820, was named To-beno-beh, and noted for his intelligence and mildness of character. He died, a venerable patriarch of the wilderness, about the latter year. Wen-e-megh –usually spelled Winemac – was their leading war chief during the war of 1812, and was distinguished for his force of character, as well as his noble and commanding personal appearance. He was of that party of the enemy with which Logan had his fatal encounter near the banks of the Miami in the fall of 1812. Me-te-ah, who stood high, both as an orator and military chieftain, during and after that war, was the last chief of distinction among the Pottawattomies. He came to his death under circumstances which showed too plainly the fallen condition of his people and their degeneracy from the days of their ancient power and independence.”

The Pottawottomies, like the Miamis, after selling all their lands in the State, agreed, as a part of their treaty stipulations, that after a specified time from the conclusion of their treaties with the United States, they would migrate to reservations prepared for them west of the Mississippi. As a tribe they went – in part, willingly, but generally by the application of force as a means of facilitating their progress. The Pottawattomies frequently resorted to Logansport in large bodies, and sometimes remained for days at a time. The principal chiefs and leading men of the tribe who came hither for the purpose of trading, and who were most familiarly known to the early citizens, were Aw-be-naw-be, Ash-kum, Paw-siss, Muck-kose, Co-ash-be, Che-quah, Kawk, Ko-kem, Shpo-tah, Che-chaw-koase, We-saw, Weis-she-o-nas, ke-wau-nay, Pash-po-ho, I-o-wah, Nas-was-kay, O-kah-maus, Ben-ac, Ne-baush, and Njo-quiss; and the chiefesses, Mish-no-quah and Mis-ne-go-quah; the last two of whom together with several others, and several Indian scenes, have very happily been transferred upon canvas by the elegant pencil of Mr. George Winter.

Their usual camping ground while on a trading expedition on the north side of Eel River, on the site of West Logan, sometimes on the hill-side near the site of the Old School Presbyterian Church, and again on the banks of Eel River opposite the “Point.” The Miamis came in smaller parties, and encamped on the south side of the Wabash, and when they had finished trading, departed for their homes without delay; while the Pottawatomies ended their trade mission with a grand “spree” – “taking the town.”