The first stop was at the
The center itself is merely a few offices and a convention center. Decorations are the tribe’s constitution and general, stereotypical Indian depictions. Included are a painting of an Indian maiden of a stereotypical tribe and the "Founding Fathers" Rushmore painting. Through sheer luck I was able to meet one of the leaders of the tribe. He was a man in his 60s with white skin and a rather heavy mustache. We talked about the tribe’s history in the area. I remarked about the family portraits he had on his wall. They were from the early 1900s and the people had clothing on which would make my blue-blooded ancestors seem like poppers. Fancy dresses and suits abound. I mentioned how they all seemed "white" and he replied that half the people in the picture would "deny with all their effort they were part-Indian. Being Indian was worse than being black back then." I found it a bit ironic that the convention center had generalized Indian decorations and only the office of one of the officials would have tribe related history.
As I left the center I was told the nearby housing project was being built by and for tribal members. It looked like any small town housing project. He also told me a bit of Rossville's history. The last treaty with the Pottawatomi in
Near Rossville was once Uniontown. The thousand plus town was the largest population center in
Next up is Saint Marys. Blogged about before St Marys was the site of a Jesuit missionary and school founded by Farther DeSmet. The mission served the Pottawatomi and offered housing and supplies (for a price of course) to emigrants. The mission site is now in the hands of the Society of Saint Pius X (who is in schism against
Right next by is the Pottawatomi Pay Station and Saint Marys Museum. While the operators are very clearly SSPX members I was able to befriend the ladies and gain a tour of the museum and unlimited access to their library. The pay station was where the government handed out money to tribe members as promised in the various treaties. White traders attempted to secure crooked deals with various Indians but were prevented by Louis Vieux, a Métis and chief of the tribe at the time. The Museum prided itself with local Pottawatomi history and my tour guided repeatedly mentioned how the Jesuits tried to help and save the Indians from complete cultural destruction. Various exhibits showed the history of the tribe and Church.
Saint Marys town emblem is a great contrast to the accuracy of the museum. The local Indians like the Pottawatomi lived in multi-family log houses and the
I left Saint Marys for the long drive into
Category: Oregon Trail