I am excited to share that my newest article is being published in Chicago History Magazine. The title is “Chicago is on the Lands of the Potawatomi: Why Land Acknowledgments for Chicago should acknowledge this historical fact” and it traces the history of land acknowledgments in the United States, the value of a land acknowledgement as a monument/memorial, but also the importance of including a “Call to Action” articulating the ways in which present occupants of Indigenous lands intend to recompense for our losses with support, collaboration, etc. in ways appropriate to the person or institution they are affiliated. Lastly, I point out the importance that Land Acknowledgments be historically accurate, respect tribal sovereignty, and eschew the politics/agendas of individuals who make unsubstantiated claims of homeland/territory. I hope you find it a thoughtful and thought provoking read. You can download and read the article (pdf) here. The full issue will be up on the CHM Issuu site (linked above) later this year
“Very few native tribes avoided removal to the West, but the Pokagons, led by Chief Leopold Pokagon, managed to do it. This short documentary, produced for The Region of Three Oaks Museum, tells that story and subsequent events that led to official recognition of the Pokagons by the US government 160 years later.”
On Wednesday, March 16th, I had the opportunity to meet with interested students and faculty at the University of Notre Dame to discuss Imprints and do a reading from it. Everyone there was very kind and the Native American Student Assosciation of Notre Dame (NASAND) on campus honored me with a gift of a Pendleton “Chief Joseph” blanket before the event. Afterwards, I also had the opportunity to have dinner with Brian Collier, Coordinator of Supervision and Instruction at the University, and officers of the NASAND. I really appreciated the questions asked and the opportunity to share some of my experiences and research, as well as, hearing of the experiences for American Indian students and those interested in American Indian Studies at Notre Dame.
John N. Low, JD, Ph.D.
With Notre Dame students and their wonderful gift. L to R: Dominic Acri, James Weitzel, me, and Rosalie DePaola.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians has been a part of Chicago since its founding. In very public expressions of indigeneity, they have refused to hide in plain sight or assimilate. Instead, throughout the city’s history, the Pokagon Potawatomi Indians have openly and aggressively expressed their refusal to be marginalized or forgotten—and in doing so, they have contributed to the fabric and history of the city.
Imprints: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the City of Chicago examines the ways some Pokagon Potawatomi tribal members have maintained a distinct Native identity, their rejection of assimilation into the mainstream, and their desire for inclusion in the larger contemporary society without forfeiting their “Indianness.” Mindful that contact is never a one-way street, Low also examines the ways in which experiences in Chicago have influenced the Pokagon Potawatomi. Imprints continues the recent scholarship on the urban Indian experience before as well as after World War II.
“Written in engaging prose by a Pokagon Potawatomi tribal intellectual and activist, John N. Low’s Imprints will forever change the way you think of Chicago. This is not only a sophisticated narrative of the inextricable relations of Native peoples to historical and contemporary urban spaces but also the story of a stubborn tribe who insisted on making and maintaining places for themselves all around their southern Lake Michigan homeland.”
—Brian Klopotek, author of Recognition Odysseys: Indigeneity, Race, and Federal Tribal Recognition Policy in Three Louisiana Indian Communities
“Every American city is built on Indian land and today most Native American people live in urban places, yet urban Indigenous histories remain largely hidden. John N. Low’s work is a corrective to this, showing us that Chicago has a rich Potawatomi past—and present. From cultural persistence to political activism, the Potawatomi have left a mark on the city that, after reading Imprints, will be almost impossible to forget.”
—Coll Thrush, author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place