Leopold Pokagon (c. 1775 – 1841) was a Potawatomi leader, and is most known for forming the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, and helping secure lands in Michigan for the Pokagon Band to reside on, after the forced removal of most Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa from their lands east of the Mississippi.
Though originally not born Potawatomi, Leopold Pokagon was adopted by the Potawatomi at an early age, and later became a respected leader. After the 1833 Treaty of Chicago, and the 1830 Indian Removal Act, Native American communities were being forced off of their lands and removed to lands further west. Many groups fought this policy of removal, arguing that these lands in Michigan and Indiana were too important to them to leave, but some others did choose to leave. Leopold Pokagon fought this policy by attempting successfully to convert himself and the other Potawatomi from his village to Catholicism, in an attempt to demonstrate to the government that they were not a threat, and could function as “proper citizens” in the eyes of the U.S. government. After being Baptized by an arch diocese in Detroit, a mission was established near the Potawatomi to convert the rest of Pokagon’s village to Catholicism. The Government allowed the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi to stay, and Leopold Pokagon used payments from the 1833 Treaty of Chicago to purchase lands in Silver Creek Township, Michigan. In 1841, Leopold also obtained the help of Associate Michigan Supreme Court Justice Epaphroditus Ransom to halt the US Military’s further attempts to remove the Band from their lands in Silver Creak Township.
“History,” Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, https://www.pokagonband-nsn.gov/our-culture/history