About the Potawatomi Indian Tribe
According to Hiram W. Beckwith, the Potawatomi were the most populous tribe between the lakes and the Ohio, the Wabash and the Mississippi. Their debouch upon the plains of the Illinois has already been mentioned. This was about the year 1765. The confederacy among them, the Kickapoos and the Sacs and Foxes, resulted in the extermination of the old Illinois tribes, and after that extermination, the Kickapoos took possession of the country around Peoria and along the Vermilion river, the Potawatomi of eastern and northern Illinois, while the Sacs and Foxes went farther to the west. After the treaty of Greenville in 1795, the Potawatomi rapidly absorbed the ancient domain of the Miamis in northern Indiana, swiftly pressing them back to the Wabash, and usurping the major portion of the small lake region in the north end of the state. They had now become so haughty and insolent in their conduct as to refer to the Miamis as "their younger brothers," and the Miamis, by reason of their long wars, their commingling with the traders, and their acquisition of degenerate habits,
were unable to drive them back. In 1810 and 1811, Tecumseh and the one-eyed Prophet were eagerly seeking an alliance with their treacherous chiefs. A demand was made] upon Tecumseh for the surrender of certain Potawatomi murderers and horse thieves who had invaded the Missouri region and committed depredations, but Tecumseh replied that he was unable to apprehend them, and that they had escaped to the Illinois country. The Potawatomi were now living in mixed villages west of the present sites of Logansport and Lafayette, and the southern limits of their domain extended as far down the Wabash as the outlet of Pine creek across the river from the present city of Attica.
loved the remoteness and seclusion of the great prairie, and many of their divisions have been known as the "prairie" tribes. They seem to have lived for the most part in separate, roving bands, which divided "according to the abundance or scarcity of game, or the emergencies of war." Encouraged by the English, they joined in the terrible expeditions of the Shawnees and Miamis against the keel-boats on the Ohio, and against the settlements of Kentucky. They were inveterate horse-thieves. Riding for long distances across plain and prairie, through forests and across rivers, they suddenly swooped down on some isolated frontier cabin, perhaps murdering its helpless and defenseless inmates, taking away a child or a young girl, killing cattle or riding away the horses and disappearing in the wilderness as suddenly as they emerged from it. In the later days of Tecumseh's time, these parties of marauders generally consisted of from four or five, to twenty. They were still striking the white settlements of Kentucky, and even penetrated as far west as the outposts on the Missouri river. ]Their retreat after attack was made with the swiftness of the wind. Pursuit, if not made immediately, was futile. Traveling day and night, the murderous riders were lost in the great prairies and wildernesses of the north, and the Prophet was a sure protector. The savage chief, Turkey Foot, for whom two groves were named, in Benton and Newton Counties, Indiana, stealing horses in far away Missouri, murdered three or four of his pursuers and made good his escape to the great plains and swamps between the Wabash and Lake Michigan.
There was nothing romantic about the Potawatomi. They were real savages, and known to the French-Canadians as "Les Poux," or those who have lice, from which it may be inferred that they were not generally of cleanly habits. In general appearance they did not compare favorably with the Kickapoos of the Vermilion river. The Kickapoo warriors were generally tall and sinewy, while the Potawatomi were shorter and
more thickly set, very dark and squalid. Numbers of the women of the Kickapoos were described as being lithe, "and many of them by no means lacking in beauty." The Potawatomi women were inclined to greasiness and obesity. The Potawatomi had little regard for their women. Polygamy was common among them when visited by the early missionaries. The warriors were always gamblers, playing heavily at their moccasin games and lacrosse.