The Hannahville Indian Community is a Potawatomi tribe located in the south-central section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Menominee Country, 20 miles west of Escanaba, MI and 95 miles northeast of Green Bay, WI.
Official Tribal Name: Hannahville Indian Community
Address: N14911 Hannahville B-1 Rd., Wilson MI 49896
Fax: (906) 723-2027
Official Website: www.hannahville.net
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Bode’wadmi – Firekeepers
Common Name / Meaning of Common Name: Potawatomi – keeper of the fire.
Alternate names / Alternate spellings / Misspellings: Pottawatomi, Potawatomie, Chipewa, Chipawa, Anishinaabe, Anishinababe, Anishinabeg, Ojibway, Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, Algonquin, More names for Ojibwe
Name in other languages:
Region: Northeast (Eastern Woodland) –> Ojibwa, Chippewa and Potawatomi
State(s) Today: Michigan
Prior to 1450, the Potawatomi lived further north in the upper Great Lakes, but then they begin a migration the led them to the south to settle in warmer climates and better agricultural lands. The rich soils along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and into northern Indiana and Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin now became their new homelands.
By 1550 they had established dozens of villages in what is now Michigan from Ludington to the north to St. Joseph River area in the south, and again in the northern regions of Indiana, Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. They first encountered the French explorer Jean Nicolet in 1634 in the Detroit area.
The Potawatomi Tribe as a whole, has resided in the Great Lakes area for over 500 years. With the Ojibwa and Ottawa they formed the Council of Three Fires Confederacy. Before this, all three tribes were one tribe, who called themselves Anishnabek (The People or Good People) of the Algonquian linguistic stock, and the name Potawatomi is said to mean People or the Place of the Fire, or Keepers of the Fire, and at times were referred to as the Fire Nation.
The various Potawatomi bands in total were party to in part or entirely to a record 43 treaties in the United States and seven in Canada. This is the most treaties of any of the Indian tribes that exist today.
The Michigan Potawatomi were party to 11 different treaties, with the major treaty being the 1833 Treaty of Chicago. This treaty, was ratified under President Andrew Jackson in the era of Indian Removal (1932-1940), and set the stage for the justification of removing them West to Indian Territory (Oklahoma and Kansas).
Part of these southern Potawatomi were rounded up and forcefully removed to Indian Territory where they are now known as the Prairie Band Potawatomi of Kansas and Citizens Band Potawatomi in Oklahoma.
Those in southern Wisconsin fled north, settling around what is now Forest County, WI and became known as the Forest County Potawatomi of Crandon, WI. Another part of the tribe moved into the Upper Peninsula and are now known as the Hannahville Indian Community Potawatomi.
Some of the Potawatomi escaped removal and hid out on Walpole Island, and on other Canadian First Nation Anishnabek Reserves; some returned and became known as the Nottawaseppi Huron Band Potawatomi. The band that became known as the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, (numbering 280) in 1835 were led by Chief Leopold Pokagon and through his skillful negotiations were able to allude removal. under Chief Leopold Pokagon
Today, all of these 6 Potawatomi Tribes and the Gun Lake Pottawatomi along with their Canadian kinfolk, meet collectively from time to time for cultural, language, spiritual sharing and the like.
Reservation: Hannahville Indian Community and Off-Reservation Trust Land
Hannahville Indian Community
Land Area: The tribe had a land base in 1999 consisting of 4,025 acres with 3,200 of it being in federal trust.
Tribal Headquarters: Wilson, MI
The reservation was established by an act of Congress in 1913, although descendants of the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin Potawatomi have been residing in the Wilson, Bark River, and Harris, MI area since 1853, specifically along the Cedar River.
In 1883 a Chippewa Methodist missionary by the name of Peter Marksman lent the Potawatomi at Cedar River money to establish a permanent location around the towns of Harris and Wilson. Eventually, the reservation became known as Hannahville, named after the wife of the missionary.
Currently, they continue to buy lands around Wilson and Harris, MI for future expansion and development.
Population at Contact:
Registered Population Today:
The current Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community tribal membership in 1999 was 703, with an unemployment rate of only 3%, and of those employed, 19% were living below the poverty line.
Tribal Enrollment Requirements:
Membership is ¼ or more Hannahville Potawatomi bloodline. Dillution of blood quantum through mixed marriages accounts for the small tribal population at the present time.
Charter: Organized under the terms of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act.
Name of Governing Body: Hannahville has a 12 member elected tribal council
Number of Council members: 12
Dates of Constitutional amendments:
Number of Executive Officers:
Elections: Elections are every two-years.
Language Classification: Algic => Algonquian => Central Algonquian => Ojibwa-Potawatomi => Potawatomi
Language Dialects: Potawatomi
Potawatomi is an Algonquian language closely related to the Ojibwayan dialect complex.
Number of fluent Speakers:
The Potawatomi language is critically endangered and nearly extinct. It has about 50 first-language speakers in several widely separated communities in the US and Canada. These include the Hannahville Indian Community (Upper Peninsula of Michigan), the Pokagon and Huron Bands (southern Michigan), the Forest County Band (northern Wisconsin), the Prairie Band (eastern Kansas), and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma. A few Potawatomi speakers also live among the Eastern Ojibwe in Ontario, particularly at the Walpole Island Reserve. The largest speech communities are in the Forest County and Prairie Bands, each with about 20 speakers, several conservatively fluent.
Bands, Gens, and Clans
Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Chippewa-Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Forest County Potawatomi
Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
La Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Lac de Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Saginaw Chippewa Indians
Sokaogon Chippewa Community
St. Croix Chippewa Indians
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Ceremonies / Dances:
Modern Day Events & Tourism:
Legends / Oral Stories:
Art & Crafts:
The Potawatomi traditional means of subsistence included farming, hunting, fishing, gathering of wild fruits and berries, and later lumbering. Their bands lived in clan-based villages which were more complex then those of the Ojibwa or Ottawa as it relates to dodem and extended family structures duties, roles and responsibilities and social interactions protocol, because their communities were larger.
During the 1880s, the Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community primarily subsisted by small scale farming and seasonal work in the woods as part of the area’s thriving lumbering industry. By the early 1900s the forestry activities had dwindled and the community farmlands, always marginal at best, were worn out.
The members of the Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community survived anyway they could and sought employment in whatever was possible. They continued to be basically ignored by the federal and state governments and had to turn inward for strength and survival purposes. In essence, health services were all but nonexistent and abject poverty was the norm.
The Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community struggled through the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s like the rest of Michigan Anishnabek country, with little hope or help for their peoples. Incidents of tuberculosis was high at Hannahville during the 40s & 50s, as well as short life expectancy, high rates of diabetes, alcoholism and inadequate educational and employment opportunities. The Tribal infrastructure was barely developed during these hard times.
After 1965, through President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and national initiatives, their living conditions begin to improve, hope was reestablished and the infrastructure begin making significant gains. They joined Bay Mills, Keweenaw Bay and Saginaw Chippewa with the establishment of the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc. in 1966.
In the early 1990s the Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community signed a gaming compact with the Governor of the State of Michigan and opened a casino. It has evolved into the new Chip-In Casino – Hotel – Resort.
The gaming operations in this rural, high unemployment area of Michigan, has proved to be a major industry and economic boom to the region, for both the Native and non-native communities.
Today Hannahville has a host of new tribal facilities and membership services. They now possess the financial wherewithal to regularly interact with their other Potawatomi band relatives and it has really ignited their cultural-language-spirituality renewal.
The Hannahville Indian Community continues to operate and have for a number of years, a long-term treatment facility for Men, called The Three Fires Halfway House, an indication of their long commitment to substance abuse issues, and as indicated by the name, supportive of their Ojibwa and Ottawa Anishnabek brothers as well.Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
Education and Media:
In 1975, they opened their own K-8 tribal school, via a grant from the American Bicentennial Commission for a community arts and crafts building. It is now a K-12 BIA funded tribal grant and Michigan Charter Public School Academy, and is housed in a beautiful state-of-the-art educational complex. The school and the welfare of the community children, continues to be the heartbeat of the Hannahville Potawatomi.
Famous Potawatomi Chiefs and Leaders
Jim Thorpe whose indian name was Wathohuck , meaning Bright Star (Sauk/Potawatomi 1888–1953), athlete who won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics
In the News: