WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on Tuesday announced a bipartisan resolution recognizing the forced relocation of the Potawatomi people from their homeland east of the Mississippi River to Kansas and Oklahoma and the devastating hardships the Potawatomi people endured during the march west, known as the ‘‘Potawatomi Trail of Death.’’
“The Senate recognizes the special legal and political relationship Indian Tribes have with the United States and the solemn covenant that the Potawatomi people of the United States share with the land; and acknowledges the extreme hardship, violence and maltreatment inflicted on the Potawatomi people by the United States through the cruel and ill-conceived policy of forcible removal of the Potawatomi people from their homeland east of the Mississippi River,” said the senators in the resolution.
The Potawatomis played a significant role in early Steuben County life prior to their forced removal. They continue to be recognized in the community and are often called on for dedications of significant development in Pokagon State Park.
“The Senate resolution being sponsored by Senator Young acknowledges a profound historical tragedy suffered by Potawatomi people that has deeply affected Potawatomi through the generations and to the present day,” said Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Chairman Matt Wesaw. “We want to express our deep gratitude to Senator Young for opening a dialogue with the Pokagon Band on this important subject, and we also want to thank Senator Stabenow and Senator Peters for stepping forward to co-sponsor this important resolution.”
The Potawatomi people, collectively known as the ‘‘Potawatomi Nation,’’ are comprised of members of the many villages, communities, and bands that resided in their homeland in the southern Great Lakes region of the present day states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. Their advanced farming techniques, extensive trade and commerce networks and well-established transportation routes of the Potawatomi Nation had a significant influence on the early history of North America.