Figure 52. A Group of Tribal Youth on the Reservation,  ca. Early 1950’s. From Left to Right: Roger Day, Richard Bush, Henry Bush, Amos Day, Jr, Gordon Bush, Dawn Bush, and Cecil Day. Reprinted from “Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi: A People in Progress,” by J. Rodwan & V. Anewishki, 2009, p. 31.

Some NHBP members joined the armed services during World War II, while others took jobs in urban industries. During these years, several men worked in factories in Battle Creek or Detroit; women also took industrial jobs (Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, p. 349).

By 1951, one clear indicator that the NHBP community had continued to exist after World War II was that the population at “Indiantown” had almost doubled since 1940; the community was still visible to outsiders (Leatherbury, 1977, p. 102; Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, p. 351).

In an unidentified newspaper clipping entitled “Potawatomies Skilled Easter Basket Makers,” located at the Willard Library in Battle Creek, Michigan, and hand-dated March 25, 1951, Dan Ryan reported, “For the past few weeks, the Potawatomi living in the area known as ‘Indian Town’ south and east of Fulton have been in the midst of their biggest production period of the year” (Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, p. 351).

This article focused on Mary Mandoka and the basket makers’ use of black ash from swamps near Marshall and Dowagiac.

Every few months the Potawatomi men go to one of these swamps and cut down a load of straight ash logs. Each six-foot log costs them about 50 cents from the swamp owners. The logs are brought back to Indian Town and distributed among the 12 to 15 families residing there  (Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, p. 351).

Ryan then described in detail how the men and boys pounded the logs to obtain the strips; that Mary’s son Grover did the heavy work for her; that they colored their material by boiling the strips in kettles with dye; and that the women and youngsters did the weaving. In that specific season, Mary Mandoka made about 300 baskets for the Fulton school. Other buyers came from outside. The article also mentioned the reservation’s “tiny church with Potawatomi hymn books” (Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc., 1995, p. 351).

Figure 53. Photograph of a Potawatomi or Ojibwe Black Ash Basket, ca. Late 1800’s. Reprinted from Grand Rapids Public Museum Collections: Artifact: Large Basket [2017.16.35]. (n.d.). Native American-Woodland Gallery (https://www.grpmcollections.org/Detail/objects/176768).

References:

Grand Rapids Public Museum Collections: Artifact: Large Basket [2017.16.35]. (n.d.). [Photograph]. Native American-Woodland Gallery. Retrieved from https://www.grpmcollections.org/Detail/objects/176768

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.

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