Oldest relative pipe stem carried thru hereditary chieftain line in Burnett bundles is the pipe stem of Topinabee.
Side-by-side comparison of pipe stem from Topinabee portrait and his pipe stem in the Burnett bundlePortrait of Topinabee
Elders and ritual leaders thru prayer speak of the pipe stem in great respect and tell of the birth or making of the United States. The Potawatomis intersected American history at very critical points. Ceremonial and personal pipes were used for prayers and meetings during the conflicts of war between the French and English fathers.

Chief Topinabee is son to hereditary sachem chief of all Potawatomis, Anaquiba, and brother to Chief Chebaas, biological grandfather of Chief Abram B. Burnett (Nan-Wesh-Mah). He was a great warrior and highly respected, intelligent chief involved in all battles and noted as a war chief to Tecumseh during the Tecumseh uprising. Topinabee was also documented as a signer of all important treaties.

Topinabee is biological uncle to Abraham Burnett, a family line Potawatomi chief who was involved with battles in Michigan. Abraham Burnett was son to Kaukema and William Burnett, a known trader.

Abram B. Burnett was baptised and married June 5, 1838 by a priest named Father Benjamin Petit to Dah-Moosh-Ke-Keaw D'Moosh-Kee-Kee-Awh, first wife of Abram B. Burnett(D'Moosh-Kee-Kee-Awh), a wealthy Potawatomi woman who was from Chief Aub-Ba-Naub-Ba’s and his son Pau-Koo-Shauck’s Potawatomi band. Three months later they would travel the Death March from Twin Lakes, Indiana, starting on September 4, 1838, and ending at Osawatomi, Kansas, on November 4, 1838. Dah-Moosh-Ke-Keaw (D'Moosh-Kee-Kee-Awh) was the first wife to Abram B. Burnett. She is captured in a portrait painted by well-known artist, George Winter. She was known to have died in the year of 1842 in Sugar Creek, Kansas.

Burn markings of fire starting
Burn markings of fire starting.

Traditional fire starting

Notch to capture embers
Notch to capture embers.

The Fire Keepers

The Potawatomis, known as the “fire keepers,” were referred to by the old ones in slang as the “Cheek-blowers” to signify the act of blowing out the cheeks as in kindling a fire and is supposed to refer to the facility in which the nation possessed in kindling the ancient counsel fires of their fore fathers.

Left: The old pipe stem bears traditional Potawatomi marks of ancient Fire starting. Attached to a pipe bowl, the pipe stem was used in counsels of great importance.

It was traditional for Potawatomi pipe stems to be wrapped with feathers from ducks, eagles, woodpecker scalps, hawk, etc.

Many ceremonial Potawatomi pipe stems can be seen decorated with the scalps of red headed woodpeckers. Sometimes even its entire body was attached traditionally. But the keeper of the Topinabee pipe knows that the pipe did not have woodpeckers on it, but rather feathers from a pheasant bird known as "Lady Amherst" which is native to southwestern China and Myanmar (northern Burma) and later was introduced into Great Britain.

Lady Amherst, the bird, is named after Sarah, Countess of Amherst (1762-1838). Her husband, William Pitt Amherst, Governor General of India, was responsible for sending the first birds to London in the early 1800s. The pheasant known as Lady Amherst was soon on route to American where the feathers were introduced to Native Americans for trade, and seen on the headdresses or body as decoration in the Great Lakes region.

Feathers were green, white, and deep red (almost orange) in color. A bird would be cut underneath the neck area and half its body was used, up to the head and beak.

People may be surprised to learn that exotic feathers were used by Native Americans—especially those of birds not native to North America.

When the Potawatomis and other Great Lakes Indians saw these feathers, they were in awe of their beauty. Such birds were highly prized by Indian leaders as a show status and rank. They enjoyed decorating their bodies with feathers that others were not able to obtain.

See also:

Also visit: www.wiskigeamatyuk.com

Page compiled by Carol Yoho
Photos © 2006
Wis-Ki-Ge-Amatyuk Clan

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Chief Abraham Burnett, Potawatomi historical figure




























































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