Installation of new street signs identifying the original boundaries of the 19th century Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Pottawatomi reservation will be commemorated with the unveiling of the new sign at the intersection of Riverview Drive and Paterson Street at noon on Monday, April 22. Representatives of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, the City of Kalamazoo, and local officials will gather as the first of the new signs is uncovered.
The reservation signs will identify the area set aside for Chief Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish’ s Pottawatomi in 1821 but reclaimed by the U.S. government in 1827. The reservation covers nine square miles and includes Whites Road and Paterson Street as well as portions of Portage Street and Stadium Drive. Signs will also be placed at reservation boundary locations at intersections on Burdick, Bronson Boulevard, Douglas, Howard, Lake, Lovers Lane, Michigan Avenue, Miller Road, Nichols Road, Parkview Avenue, Stockbridge, Vine, West Main, Westnedge, and Winchell Avenue.
The signs were designed by the Kalamazoo Reservation Public Education Committee, which is made up of members from the Tribal Council of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, or Gun Lake Tribe; representatives of the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum; and community volunteers. The signs include the logo of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians and identify the location as the boundary.
About the Kalamazoo Reservation Public Education Committee
The mission of the committee is to build accurate and factual community awareness of the Gun Lake Tribe past and present. The committee grew out of the earlier Iannelli Fountain Issues Resolution Committee and ensuing Public Education workgroup for the city’s Historic Preservation Commission’s Bronson Park Committee. To support or learn more about the project contact ReservationEdComm@gmail.com.
About the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe
The Pottawatomi Tribe were Kalamazoo’s “first people,” and Chief Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish led a thriving community. Their village and gardens were along the Kalamazoo River before European settlers arrived in this area.
They, and all other Indian tribes in today’s United States, had existed as sovereign nations long before Europeans arrived in North America.
The term, “sovereign nation” is significant because it recognizes that tribes had their own forms of government with established laws and rules, defined in their own words and stories, and later in their written documents.
Even before the American Revolution, squatters had begun moving into territories reserved for Indians, and land companies were sending scouts to identify favorable locations, including those in the Great Lakes area.
After the Revolution, the new United States government made treaties with many tribes, including the Pottawatomi. In exchange for vast areas of their land, the U.S. promised that the tribes would keep their sovereignty and govern themselves within the United States.
The U.S. Government did not honor its treaties and forced many Indians to move far away from their homes in order to sell the land to European-Americans.
The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish successfully resisted the U.S. government’s efforts to remove them to northern Indiana in 1827, and to relocate them east of the Mississippi to what is now Kansas in the1840s. During this period, the Band moved north in an effort to avoid forced removal, and by 1838 they had established a permanent settlement in Bradley, Michigan, near Gun Lake.