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Potawatomi Indians collection

 Collection — Folder: S1561
Identifier: S1561

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photostatic copies of letters, land registers and other documents from Indian agents in the Great Lakes and Midwest regions and three commissioners of Indian Affairs, Carey A Harris (1836-1838) and Thomas Hartley Crawford (1838-1845) and Luke Lea (1850-1853) of the Office of Indian Affairs in Indiana, Washington, D.C., and other places in the Midwest ranging from 1835 to 1852. The documents concern the situation and locations of the Potawatomi people and their lands in Indiana, treaties, amenities and reserves provided through said treaties, and specifically, recompense due to Shobonier in the Tippecanoe treaty on October 20, 1832 with Potawatomi people in Indiana.


  • 1835-1852


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Historical Note

The U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830. Supported by President Andrew Jackson, the act allowed the president, and his representatives, to negotiate with Native American tribes in the South to give up their lands and move west of the Mississippi River. The Native peoples of the Old Northwest and East regions, those who remained, were also pressured into migrating westward during the same period.

In Indiana, the Delaware (Lenape) people had relocated in 1821, per the Treaty of St. Mary's signed October 6, 1818 in Ohio, followed by the Piankashaw, Kickapoo, Wea, and Shawnee, while the Miami and Potawatomi tribes remained. In the 1830s, small bands and villages of Potawatomi succumbed to duress, ceding their lands in a series of treaties and moving to Indian Territory. For example, a Potawatomi chief named Shobonier, also known as Shabonee or Chevalier, ceded land before moving west and asked to be properly recompensed in 1835. It was not until 1852 that the Office of Indian Affairs provided compensation. Shobonier, Fayette County, Illinois was apparently named after the chief.

In 1838, a group of 859 Potawatomi people led by Chief Menominee, refused to leave Indiana as they had never personally signed the treaties giving away their land. On September 4, 1838, the band was forced to march west under an armed escort of volunteer militia. The 61 day march to the Osage River in present-day Kansas later became known as the "Trail of Death" as over 40 people died, most of whom were children.


Items in the collection.

Callary, Edward. Place Names of Illinois. (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2008), 320.

Glenn, Elizabeth and Stewart Rafer. The Native Americans: Peopling Indiana. Indianapolis. Indiana Historical Society Press, 2009.

Kappler, Charles J. Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, vol 2. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904), 353-355. Accessed August 6, 2015.

Library of Congress. "Indian Removal Act." Primary Documents in History. Accessed August 6, 2015.

Petit, Benajmin Marie and Irving McKee. "The Trail of Death. Letters of Benjamin Marie Petit." In Indiana Historical Society Publications, vol. 14, no. 1. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1941.

Mosteller, Kelli. "An Unsettling Legacy: The War of 1812 and the Removal Treaties of the 1830s." Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Accessed August 6, 2015.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2015/04/02 by Nikki Stoddard Schofield. EAD finding aid created 2015/04/02 by Nikki Stoddard Schofield. EAD finding aid revised 2015/08/06 by Brittany Kropf.
Potawatomi Indians collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.