your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Kansas tribe buys land in ancestral reservation
Friday, February 20, 2004

A Kansas tribe is finally reclaiming land in Illinois that one of its chiefs used to call home.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation last week completed the purchase of a property in Shabbona, Illinois. Although only about one acre in size, chairman Zach Pahmahmie said it was an important move for the tribe.

"It is enormously heartening to take these first steps toward rebuilding our presence as neighbors in the Shabbona area," Pahmahmie said.

The land in Shabbona is part of a 1,280-acre reservation that was set aside for Chief Shab-eh-nay by the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien. The Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa tribes gave up millions of acres of what is now Illinois and Wisconsin in the treaty.

In subsequent treaties, the Potawatomis were eventually removed to Kansas and other states. But tribal leaders say their ancestors never ceded the reservation in Illinois. It was lost only because Chief Shab-eh-nay was driven off his home by settlers in the 1830s, they point out. When he returned two decades later, he found out that it had been sold by the federal government.

"He didn't abandon the land," said Gary Mitchell, the tribe's vice-chairman, at a Congressional hearing in May 2002.

That view is backed up by a legal memorandum from the Department of Interior. In the final days of the Clinton administration in January 2001, then-solicitor John Leshy said the tribe has a "credible" claim to the reservation.

"Our research has not revealed any subsequent treaty or act of Congress which authorized the conveyance of these lands," Leshy wrote. "As a result, we believe the U.S. continues to bear a trust responsibility to the Prairie Band for these lands."

The letter didn't stop a top House Republican from signing onto a bill that would terminate the tribe's rights without compensation or consultation. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said the measure would "settle" outstanding land claims in his state.

The bill never made it far in light of opposition from several tribes with ancestral ties to Illinois. Several Democrats and some Republicans on the House Resources Committee also opposed it.

Hastert responded to the Prairie Band's purchase of the Shabbona home last week by playing down the Leshy memo. "The Department of Interior has a thorough process in place to review such claims, and the tribe has yet to begin that process," he said.

Hastert also said the tribe has "a long way" to go if it wants a casino in his state. He said it would take several years for any land to be placed in trust status and for a gaming compact to be negotiated with the state.

According to a published report, the tribe is interested in a casino in the county where the Shab-eh-nay Reservation is located. Last month, The MidWeek News said the tribe sent the governor's office a proposal that includes a casino, hotel, resort, RV park, convenience store and other developments. The facility would be located on 128 acres of land in DeKalb County where the tribe has purchased options.

The tribe can't reclaim all of the reservation because 60 percent is now part of the Chief Shabbona Preserve, the Shabbona State Park and a county forest preserve. The rest is privately held and Mitchell previously testified that the tribe will purchase from willing sellers.

Illinois wasn't just home to the Prairie Band ancestors. The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, the Miami Nation of Oklahoma and the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma all have ties there. The Ottawa Tribe believes it has a claim to the Shab-e-nay Reservation.

Excepts of Leshy Letter:
Leshy to Hastert (January 18, 2001)

Treaty Termination Bill:
To provide for the equitable settlement of certain Indian land disputes regarding land in Illinois (H.R.791)

Related Documents:
Congressional Hearing Testimony | 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien | Background on 1829 Treaty

Relevant Links:
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation -

Related Stories:
Clinton memo cited 'credible' land claim (05/13)
'An affront to tribal sovereignty' (5/9)
Tribal bill enjoys top GOP support (5/7)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Authorities crack down on #NoDAPL treaty camp in North Dakota (10/28)
Democracy Now: Clinton camp won't talk to Standing Rock youth (10/28)
Mark Trahant: More injustice as police move in at Standing Rock (10/28)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes oppose transfer of treaty territory (10/28)
Native Sun News Today: Oglala leader alleges more corruption (10/28)
Editorial: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer on the rez (10/28)
CAIRNS Column: Examining Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe's flag (10/28)
Jyl Wheaton-Abraham: Water protector efforts are not in vain (10/28)
Anne Keala Kelly: Disney marginalizes indigenous people again (10/28)
Jury acquits defendants over armed standoff on tribal territory (10/28)
Federal authorities concerned about tribal casino bus incidents (10/28)
Native Sun News Today: Sheriff makes biggest #NoDAPL roundup (10/27)
Democracy Now: Dakota Access security guards weren't licensed (10/27)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth center stresses safety (10/27)
James Giago Davies: Corruption keeps the privileged in power (10/27)
Dana Lone Hill: Indian people won't stop fighting for our rights (10/27)
Dave Archambault Sr.: Dehumanizing the #NoDAPL movement (10/27)
Steven Newcomb: Reconciliation means covering up the truth (10/27)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees decline in business at casino (10/27)
Republican Donald Trump invested in Dakota Access Pipeline (10/27)
The Sioux Chef on track to open indigenous restaurant in 2017 (10/27)
Yakama Nation secures $30M loan to expand utility company (10/27)
Jury restarts deliberations in armed standoff on tribal territory (10/27)
Scotts Valley Band envisions casino as part of new homeland (10/27)
Seneca Nation on track to complete $40M expansion at casino (10/27)
Cowlitz Tribe spends $32M for highway project at new casino (10/27)
Native youth pressure Hillary Clinton to take a #NoDAPL stand (10/26)
Native candidate in South Dakota gets a big boost from Obama (10/26)
Landowners from Bad River Band see $6.6M in buy-back offers (10/26)
Navajo Nation lawmaker warns further action needed on hemp (10/26)
Former Obama administration official joins Native owned firm (10/26)
Justice Department opens criminal databases to more tribes (10/26)
Mark Trahant: Native candidates for Congress in final stretch (10/26)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe reacts to shootings (10/26)
Native Sun News Today: Pine Ridge football team impresses (10/26)
Brandon Ecoffey: Strong fixes needed for reservation crime (10/26)
Raúl Grijalva: Republicans still won't listen to Indian Country (10/26)
Steve Russell: The magic of Donald Trump's 'plan' for America (10/26)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.