Emigration by George Winter
Taking place in the original homelands of what is today known
as the Citizen Potawatomi Nation; CPN Tribal Chairman John Rocky
Barrett was one of the guests of honor at the 41st annual Trail
of Courage History Festival taking place on September 17-18 in Rochester,
Chairman Barrett was chosen as a representative of his Potawatomi
familial lineage to one of the tribes founding families, the
During a ceremony on September 17 on the Fulton County Historical
Society grounds, Chairman Barrett was presented a key to the City
of Rochester. Taking place alongside the Tippecanoe River, approximately
the starting destination of the Potawatomi Trail of Death in 1838,
the longtime tribal chairman reflected on the people he was there
These are incredibly tough people who survived the worst
of the atrocities of the Andrew Jackson Indian Removal era. They
lived to become the founders of the great Indian nation we are today,
said Chairman Barrett.
Shirley Willard of the Fulton County Historical Society, commented
on this years event.
We especially asked John Barrett because 2016 is Indianas
bicentennial. So we felt it appropriate to honor him as the tribal
chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi, many of whom had ancestors on
the 1838 Trail of Death. I have worked for over 40 years with the
Potawatomi to preserve the history and the memories of the Trail
of Death because God put it in my heart to do this.
It is not the first time a Citizen Potawatomi tribal member
has been honored at a Trail of Courage event. In 2014, District
4 Representative Jon Boursaw was amongst the guests of honor at
that years ceremonies. Boursaw, who has long been active with
the Trail of Courage events in the past, including the Trail of
Death Caravans which retrace the original route across Indiana,
Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, was honored as a representative
of the Bourassa family. Boursaw is a direct descendent of Daniel
Bourassa, who along with his wife and seven children, was amongst
those Potawatomi forcibly removed from Indiana to Kansas in the
1838 Trail of Death.
That years event coincided with Indiana Governor Mike
Pences proclamation declaring Sept. 20, 2014 as Potawatomi
Trail of Death Remembrance Day.
In 1838, the Potawatomi Indians in the state of Indiana were
forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands by order of the
U.S. government. The 859 Potawatomi who started the journey traveled
across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and finally Kansas before finally
arriving at their intended destination. The loss of life, 41 in
total, resulted in the removal becoming known as the Potawatomi
Trail of Death.
Willard, of the Fulton County Historical Society, worked to
secure a full apology from Governor Pence in 2014, commented on
the motivation for the 2016 event that included honoring the CPN.
The forced removal of the American Indians is a black
mark on Indianas history. The bicentennial commission told
me they want it to be celebratory, so we are emphasizing that the
Potawatomi survived as a nation, something important to celebrate,