fbpx
 

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation officials held a press conference in Springfield, Ill. on Wednesday with Illinois state lawmakers who have introduced resolutions in Illinois Legislature  that supports the tribe’s claim to reservation land near the village of Shabbona, near Chicago.

Two separate bills Senate Resolution 896, sponsored by state Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), and House Resolution 504 sponsored by state Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), call on the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would allow the Nation to secure 1,151 acres of land, near Shabbona State Park in the southern part of DeKalb County, Illinois.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe that occupied lands in southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. They signed the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien, which reserved two sections of land near Paw Paw Grove, Illinois for Potawatomi Chief Shab-en-nay and his band.

“We simply want to reclaim the land that was taken from us and we want to do so in the most community-focused, least disruptive way,” Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Chairman Joseph Rupnick said. "We're rooted in the northern Illinois community and after 170 years, we just want this issue resolved."

State Sen. Pacione-Zayas, the bill’s sponsor in the Illinois Senate, says it is time to correct an injustice.

“As U.S. inhabitants, it’s important to recognize the Indigenous communities who called this land home before us and continue to call it home,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The land of Chief Shab-eh-nay and his band was illegally sold, and recognition of this act of injustice by the federal government will begin to repair the harm and ensure that the land is recognized as reserved for the Potawatomi people in northern Illinois.”

In the late 1840s when Chief Shab-eh-nay traveled from his home Reservation in DeKalb to visit his family in Kansas, the U.S. government illegally auctioned off more than 1,280 acres of his land near the village of Shabbona in southern DeKalb County.

In 2001, the U.S. Department of the Interior confirmed the history and legal status of the Shab-eh-nay Reservation as federally recognized Indian Country because the U.S. Government never received the required Congressional approval to auction off land that rightfully belonged to Chief Shab-eh-nay. 

The U.S. Congress is the only governing body that has the authority to designate land titles to tribal nations.

Currently, deeds for homeowners within the reservation are subject to "all rights, claims, or title to the descendants of a Potawatomi Indian Chieftain named Shabbona and his Band."

The federal legislation now in the U.S. Senate would wipe those deeds clean of that clause in favor of assuring current homeowners that their property is theirs without condition. It would also provide clean title to the State and DeKalb County governments who also own land within the current reservation.  

“The U.S. Government made a mistake 170 years ago by illegally selling the Nation’s land,” Demmer said. “Now we as lawmakers here in Illinois and our counterparts in Congress have a chance to correct it.”

More Stories Like This

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Visits the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
History Was Made as Nicole Aunapu Mann Became the First Native American Woman Launched into Space
Tribal Business News Round Up: Oct. 4
Hurricane Ian Slams Southwest Florida, But Mostly Spares Reservations
Department of the Interior Announces South Dakota Third Stop on Road to Healing Tour

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected]