Potawatomi vs Pawnee in Kansas
In early 1834, the Pawnees had agreed to retire beyond the Platte River. They seem to have been possessed of a determination to hold the value of the Kansas River. No sooner had the Potawatomis settled themselves at the mission of St. Mary’s than the Pawnees began attacks upon them intending to expel them, or at least hoping to make the new home so uncomfortable the Potawatomi would abandon it.
But the old Algonquin stock was ever courageous. The Potawatomi accepted the challenge. They declared war on the Pawnees and dug up their tomahawks.
The Pawnee force was camped along the Big Blue River. They came downstream to make war on their enemies in the valley of the Kansas River. The Potawatomi attacked at the Rocky Ford, in what is now Pottawatomie County.
A fierce skirmish ensued, in which the Superior Firearms of the Potawatomi gave them the advantage.
While the Pawnees were not defeated, they did retreat from the field, passing westward to Chapman’s Creek, where they made a stand. There they had better terrain for the free movements of their horses in their peculiar tactics.
The Potawatomi pursued and when they caught their foes a considerable battle ensued.
The Pawnees fought on horseback. At the Rocky Ford only mounted Potawatomis had engaged them. At Chapman's Creek the Potawatomis were determined to settle once and for all whether they could live on the Kansas River, and had mustered their full strength,. Many warriors were stationed on foot in some short bushy ravines under a high, steep bank. The Potawatomi horsemen managed to maneuver the Pawnees so that they were drawn down the prairie, along these gullies where the Potawatomi footmen lay in ambush.
The footmen opened fire. The Pawnees were taken by complete surprise. Several of their foremost warriors were slain. But they did not give up the battle. They fiercely contested with the mounted Potawatomi, who were now much encouraged.
The Potawatomi charged the Pawnees repeatedly, finally putting them to flight. The Pawnees disappeared northward over the prairies and never more made a foray below the Big Blue. The Potawatomis were never more molested by them.
The Pawnee lost some 40 warriors in this effort to drive out the Potawatomi.
For many years a Potawatomi chieftain, who had distinguished himself greatly in this campaign, would decorate himself in true warrior style on the anniversary of the battle and ride to the western and northern boundary lines of the reserve to celebrate the victory and satisfy himself that frontier was clear.
Prairie Band and Citizen Band
The Potawatomi made a treaty in 1861 to dispose of the greater portion of their reservation. There was a disagreement in the tribe on the subject of land. The Prairie Band refused to accept their land in severalty, and severed their relations with the other bands. They were given a reservation in common eleven miles square in Jackson County, Kansas, a part of the old home tract, and now reside upon it. It was provide that the other bands should or might become citizens of the United States and have their lands allotted to them. There was a surplus after the allotment and this went through the usual process of graft in the final extinction of the Indian title. In 1868 the Citizen Potawatomi secured a reservation in what is now Shawnee, Oklahoma, where they moved and still live today.