Figure 45. Photograph of Samuel Mandoka on the Banks of the St. Joseph River Near Mendon at the Site of an Old Indian Ford, Taken by Dr. C. J. Manby in 1924. Reprinted from “A History of Events Culminating in the Removal of the Nottawa-Sippe Band of Potawatomi Indians,” by J.W. Leatherbury, 1977, p. 128.

The strong influential role of Samuel Mandoka within the Pine Creek settlement began during the lifetime of Steven Pamptopee. At Steven’s death in 1926, Samuel was not formally designated to the “office” as chief. However, he was essentially appointed by consensus of the residents of the Pine Creek Reservation because of his good education and outgoing personality (Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, p. 333).

Samuel Mandoka was born in 1864. He was educated at Albion College and was a skillful speaker who regularly pleased crowds by wearing his regalia. Even during Steven Pamptopee’s term, Samuel frequently served as Tribal spokesman (Rodwan & Anewishki, 2009, p. 23).

Figure 46. Photograph of Chief Sam Mandoka, Posing in Regalia, ca. 1920. Reprinted from “Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi: A People in Progress,” by J. Rodwan & V. Anewishki, 2009, p. 20.

Mandoka assumed a great deal of “outreach effort” directed toward the surrounding non-Indian community, intending to gain widespread sympathy for Indian history and culture. He began to speak to historical societies, attend county fairs, and make appearances at schools. He also entered local politics, and in 1925 was chosen constable of Indiantown on the Republican ticket, receiving 64 more votes than his opponent (Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, p. 333).

Public relations by the NHBP were already in place before Samuel Mandoka became influential in the group, but he greatly intensified them. Throughout his leadership, the Pine Creek Reservation residents appeared in numerous pageants, at fairs, parades, and more. On these occasions, the group demonstrated traditional crafts such as basket making (Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, pp. 333-334).

Figure 47. Tribal Group Encampment at the Calhoun County Fair in Marshall, Taken by J. A. Little, 1909. Reprinted from “Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi: A People in Progress,” by J. Rodwan & V. Anewishki, 2009, p. 29.

On his deathbed in 1934, Samuel offered the chief position to his son Grover Mandoka, but Grover declined, saying, “The Tribe now follows the white man’s way;” NHBP’s leadership by chiefs was over (Rodwan & Anewishki, 2009, p. 23).

Figure 48. Photograph of Chief Sam Mandoka’s Gravestone, by F. N. Ruffer, 2018.

 References:

Leatherbury, J. (1977). A History of Events Culminating in the Removal of the Nottawa-Sippe Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Rodwan, J., & Anewishki, V. (2009). Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi: A People in Progress. Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Environmental Department.

Ruffer, F. N. (2018). Chief Sam Mandoka’s Gravestone [Photograph].

Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc. (1995). United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Branch of Acknowledgement and Research. https://www.bia.gov/sites/bia.gov/files/assets/as-ia/ofa/petition/009_hurpot_MI/009_pf.pdf