The process of “Indian Removal” from the east, Great Lakes and south was accelerated with the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which provided funds for President Andrew Jackson to conduct land-exchange ("removal") treaties.

During the Indian Removal period of the 1830s and 40s the Mission Band Potawatomi were forced to leave their homelands in the Wabash River Valley of Indiana. In September through November of 1838 they marched across four states, nearly 700 miles to land set aside for them in Kansas. Over 40 died along the way, half of them children. This became known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death. From 1838-1848, 600 more Potawatomi died at the St. Mary’s Sugar Creek Mission in Linn County, Kansas, due in large part to the effects of the terrible march and rampages of disease on their weakened bodies.

The Potawatomi Reserve in Miami, Linn and Franklin Counties was moved to the area northwest of Topeka in 1848. The majority of the bands were missionized by Catholics, but a small group were Baptists served by Rev. Robert Simerwell near Lane, Kansas.

For a time the Mission and Prairie bands lived together on their small reservation northwest of Topeka in Kansas. However, their differences—the Prairie Band had adapted different lifestyles due to their years in Iowa with the Ottawa and Ojibwe, and had vastly dif-ferent ceremonial and subsistence strategies—eventually proved to be too much and they separated even within the small reservation acreage.

The Mission Band took U.S. citizenship and became known as the “Citizen Potawatomi.”

This information was compiled by the Franklin County Historical Society.

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