On September 29, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation recognizing the history and perseverance of the Potawatomi and apologizing for the deaths, hardships and maltreatment their ancestors endured along the Trail of Death. The text of the proclamation follows.
To the People of Kansas, Greetings:
WHEREAS, for a millennia, Native peoples have honored, protected, and stewarded this land of Kansas we cherish, and Native Peoples are spirited people with a deep and abiding belief in the Creator, and for millennia Native Peoples have maintained a powerful spirited connection to this land; and
WHEREAS, too often in our Nation’s dealing with Native Peoples there was a spirit of deception. A desire to mislead to gain advantage; and
WHEREAS, the United States forced Indian tribes and their citizens to move away from their traditional homelands and onto federally established and controlled reservations. Many Native Peoples suffered and perished during the execution of the Federal Government policy of forced removal, including more than 850 Potawatomi Indian people removed from their Indiana homeland and marched at gunpoint for 660 miles along the “Potawatomi Trail of Death” to present day Osawatomie, Kansas and ultimately to Linn County, KS seeking winter shelter; and
WHEREAS, despite the deaths of more than 40 men, women, and children during the march from Indiana to Kansas, and despite the wrongs committed against the Potawatomi Indian People, the Potawatomi have remained committed to the protection of this great land by continuing to serve honorably in the United States Armed Forces, and remain resilient and determined to preserve, develop and convey to future generations their unique cultural identities and certain unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, and among those are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sam Brownback, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF KANSAS, do herby proclaim and recognize the Potawatomi Trail of Death and the special and historical significance the trail and the Potawatomi have with the State of Kansas, and expresses deep remorse for the ramifications of former wrongs and apologizes on behalf of the people of Kansas to all Potawatomi Peoples for the deaths, hardships and maltreatment their ancestors endured along the Trail of Death, and resolves to move forward with the Potawatomi in a positive and constructive relationship that will help us fairly and effectively resolve differences to achieve our mutual goals and harmoniously steward and protect this land we call Kansas.
View the proclamation (pdf).
Read more on the Citizen Potawatomi Nation website.