SPRINGFIELD'S SCULPTURES,            Carl and Roberta Volkmann
MONUMENTS, AND PLAQUES              cvolk@aol.com
www.arcadiapublishing.com
Around the Town
POTAWATOMI PLAQUE
On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act which
stipulated that all Indians living east of the Mississippi River should be moved to
Oklahoma and Kansas.  As a result, on September 4, 1838, over 800 Potawatomi
Indians were forcibly removed from their homes in Indiana and started the
long march
to Kansas.  The Indians arrived in Osawatomie, Kansas, on November 4, 1838.  
Because over 40 people died on the 660 mile trip, it has been named the
Trail of Death.

The Potawatomi march came through Springfield, Illinois, on September 29, 1838.  
Jesse C. Douglas was the Enrolling Agent, or scribe, for the trip.  His entries in his
Journal of an Emigrating Party of Potawatomi Indians, 1838 read as follows:

    Friday 28th Sept. 18 mi.  Crossed Sangamon River.  Polke promised Indians
    tobacco after going thru Springfield tomorrow if the present a good
    appearance.  Chief I-o-weh in charge of celan up.  Forage is plentiful.  2 children
    died during the night.

    Saturday 29th Sept. 17 mi., McCoy's Mills.  Indians dressed up to pass thru
    Springfield, Ill.  Camped at stream with little water.

A report of the event was in the September 29, 1838, Springfield Journal.
A plaque on the east wall of the kiosk on
the Old State Capitol Plaza commemorates
the march through Springfield.  It was
presented by the
Pokagon Band of
Potawatomi Indians in a ceremony in
March, 2003.  Speakers included John
Miller, tribal chairman of Pokagon
Potawatomi, Clarence White, Pokagon
elder, and Shirley Willard of the Fulton
County Historical Society, Rochester,
Indiana.  
The Pokagon Band is headquartered in Dowagiac, Michigan, with a satellite office in South
Bend, Indiana.  The Band escaped forceful removal from their homelands in 1833 through
skillful negotiations by their tribal leader
Leopold Pokagon. They are one of eight
Potawatomi (meaning “Keepers of the Fire”) Bands extending from Oklahoma to Canada
currently recognized by the federal government.

The Springfield plaque is one of 78 markers along the trail.