Keepers of the Fire: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

The rich history, culture, and art of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi is shared in The History Museum’s vibrant new exhibit, Keepers of the Fire: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, on view April 27, 2019 – January 19, 2020. Keepers of the Fire: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi explores the thriving community through interviews and oral histories, sculpture and beadwork, art and artifacts. The exhibit immerses visitors in the traditions and teachings of the Pokagon Band. Those who have loaned items for the exhibit include the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Hannah Lindahl Children’s Museum, and the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society. Featured artists in the exhibit include Kathy Fodness, John Martin Fox, Carla Getz, Aaron Martin, and Angie Rice. Keepers of the Fire: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi is made possible by the generous support of the exhibit’s sponsors, the University of Notre Dame and the South Bend Tribune. As visitors move through the exhibit, they can discover pottery, ceramics, quillwork, black ash baskets, and many other art forms of the Pokagon Band. They can also view floral designs common in Potawatomi beadwork designs and learn about the significance of the clothing made and worn, including beaded gloves, moccasins, and other regalia. Special areas on music, language, and housing of the Pokagon invite reflection of the Band’s culture and customs. Visitors can see The History Museum’s Van Sanden portraits of Leopold Pokagon and Topinabee, the only known paintings of these Pokagon leaders. Sections on the history and political nature of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi give perspectives of the past and present. When European explorers first arrived in this area, they met the first people–the Potawatomi. Hundreds of years later, while many of their people were forcibly removed, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi remained, through the wisdom of their elders. Today a federally-recognized sovereign nation, the Pokagon Band demonstrates their influence and strength, and their continued reliance upon the Seven Grandfather teachings—wisdom, love, respect, courage, honesty, humility, and family. Keepers of the Fire: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi celebrates and honors these first peoples of the area.

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