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1833 Treaty of Chicago

On September 26, 1833, the Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa ceded the last of their lands in Wisconsin and Illinois, and the last of their reservations in Michigan, to the U.S. Government. The U.S. presence was represented by Governor of Michigan George Porter. In return, the Potawatomi were promised large sums of money, and tracts of land west of the Mississippi.

Governor Porter began the negotiations with this comment:

“We bless the Great Spirit my children for a clear sky and a bright sun. We think the Great Spirit has been kind to his red + white children, that he has allowed them to assemble here. The day is auspicious of good results. We are happy to observe, that you have not listened to the bad birds which have been flying around you, but have come up to council of your own free will… Your Great Father believes that if all his red children were removed beyond the Mississippi river, “the father of waters”-beyond the vicious influence of intercourse with the white man,  that there would be fewer disasters among them and that they would be happier.”

Later in negotiations, Potawatomi Chief Aptekezhick responded to Governor Porter’s suggestion that the Native nations present actually desired to remove themselves from their homeland, saying this:

“When our Great Father…heard that we wanted to sell our lands and remove from our country,—your red children are afraid that he opened his ears to a bad bird….Your red children are unfortunate—they are poor, and if we sell all our lands and go where you advise us, some great evil might happen to us. Here the Great Spirit allows us to live in peace amongst ourselves, with the white man and all. We are happy….The Potawattamies(sic), Ottowas(sic) & Chippeways(sic) and the whitemen are like four brothers—all united.—They love each other.

The Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa were stalwart in their refusal to sign the treaty, till Governor Porter suggested that they all treat at “the Cannon’s mouth.” The Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa eventually signed the treaty, after suffering threats of force and rampant disease.

The transcriptions and minutes of these negotiations can be found here: …

Works Cited:

  • “History,” Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi,
  • Miller, Devon. Settlers, “Bad Birds,” and the 1833 Treaty of Chicago. Michigan State University. 14 December 2010.