The Potawatomi lived mainly in
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ontario. They speak a form of the
Algonquian language and were closely related to the Chippewa and Ottawa Indians. In the
Great Lakes region, the Potawatomi tribe, one of the "Three
Brothers", was located in southern lower Michigan and SE Wisconsin prior to
European settlement. Potawatomi were primarily farmers, and like the Ottawa, their
numbers were small (4000 estimated).
Because this area was settled early by Europeans, the Potawatomi were forced to migrate out of the area, as the map below shows. Many ended up on reservations in Iowa and Kansas. Today, Potawatomi descendants can be found at several sites in Wisconsin and the UP.
We do not know the exact meaning of the word Potawatomi, but it is translated to something like "People of the Place of Fire." Potawatomi do not call themselves this name, but rather, they say, nIshnabek, which means "The People."
Here is a written sample of the Potawatomi language:
To hear this same greeting spoken in the Potawatomi language, click here.
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