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The Flag of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation

The Potawatomi name means "People of the Place of the Fire" in Algonquin. This term refers back some four hundred years when the Potawatomi were united with the Ojibwe and the Ottawa nations. In those days the land of the Potawatomi and the other two nations was what today is Ontario. When the three groups moved southward, they split up forming the three distinct nations. The Ojibwe moved west to what is now Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Ottawa moved to the lands around Lake Huron and the Potawatomi moved on to the lower peninsula of Michigan (ENAT, 197-198).

When they moved, they took with them the original "Council Fire" that had been used by the three groups when united. From this is derived there name. Today they are called the "Keepers of the Fire".

Today, the Potawatomi span an area from Michigan through Oklahoma. The largest band of modern Potawatomi is the Citizen Potawatomi, formerly the Citizen Band, found in Oklahoma. They received that title because, after being ejected from Kansas and settling in Oklahoma, they accepted the United States' government's offer of citizenship and allotments of land. The Citizen Potawatomi control only the 4,400 acre "Tribal Historic Area" in Oklahoma, but the vast majority of the live on private property as is true with virtually all of Oklahoma's Native peoples. Potawatomi control only the 4,400 acre "Tribal Historic Area" in Oklahoma, but the vast majority of the tribe lives on private property as is true with virtually all of Oklahoma's Native peoples.

A change in tribal goverment in the mid-1990s brought a change in name and flag. The newly renamed Citizen Potawatomi Nation now employs a bright blue flag bearing the seal in full color. That seal starts at the top with crossed peace pipe and tomahawk signifying skill and strength in war bonded with a strong historical reputation as a peace loving people. In the center is the great "Council Fire" from which they get their name. A modern interpretation of the fire is as a symbol of warmth and friendship as well as the wisdom derived from the "Great Council Fire" ("Pottawatomi Seal", undated pamphlet). The seal is ringed by the legends "Great Seal of the Potawatomi Indians" and "People of the Place of the Fire" on a red band. Across the top of the flag appears the new name in bold white letters. Some varients of the flag bear the worrds "of Oklahoma" across the bottom of the flag; this however is not consistent. The seal, in addition to being fully colorized, has the addition of the Potowatomi name in the people’s own language "Nismnabe".

The original flag of the Citizen Band of the Potawatomi Nation was white and bore the tribal seal in the center. Where "Nismnabe" appears on the new seal, were two crossed oak leaves from the Red Oak tree. The acorns of the Red Oak were a source of food for the Potawatomi and the leaves were widely used in Potawatomi beadwork designs. As a money saving device, the seal on the flag was represented solely in red outline.

The Citizen Band of Potawatomi sells copies of its flag. You may contact them at: Citizen Band Potawatomi Business Committee, 1901 South Gordon Cooper Dr. Shawnee, OK 74801, or phone them at (405) 275-2131

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603