Citizen Potawatomi leaders tour Topeka-area sites

Published: Aug. 2, 2018 at 6:23 PM CDT
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A Native American tribe returned to its Kansas roots.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation chairman Rocky Barrett led a ceremony Thursday morning on Burnetts Mound in southwest Topeka.

It was the first stop for Barnett, CPN vice chair Linda Capps, and tribal legislators from California, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arizona at they toured Topeka-area sites important to the tribe's history.

The Potawatomi were moved to Kansas in 1836, and had a reservation in the Topeka area when the Citizen Band and Prairie Band separated in 1861.

Barnett said the visit reminds tribe members the role played Topeka in their heritage.

"(Topeka) is where, I guess, we were born as a separate federally-recognized tribal government," he said. "It was that recognition that was able to exact that promise from the government that we would be allowed to become citizens of the United States. The rest of American Indians did not become citizens of the United States and be allowed to vote until 1924."

The tribe is now based in Oklahoma. Barnett says they've worked to build a variety of interests including health facilities, a scholarship program, and businesses including banks, a concrete plant, and grocery stores.

In addition to Burnett's Mound, the group also visited Potawatomi Baptist Mission at the Kansas History Museum, the site of old mills on Mill Creek near Maple Hill, Uniontown Cemetery near Willard, and the Vieux Family Cemetery near St. Marys.

Local tribal representative John Boursaw organized Thursday's tour with his brother, Lyman, and tribe member Mike Martin.

CPN maintains a community center and housing area in Rossville.