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New Street Signs Mark Boundary Of Pottawatomi Reservation In Kalamazoo

A blue sign for West Paterson Street with the emblem of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish tribe
Sehvilla Mann
/
WMUK

On Monday afternoon, at the signal from City of Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, a worker slid two new street signs into place at the busy intersection of Paterson Street and Riverview Drive. A small crowd cheered across the street.

The intersection marks the northeast corner of the reservation where the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi lived from 1821 to 1827. After years of planning, in the next couple of weeks local governments will post signs at multiple intersections around the boundary of the nine-square mile area.

“I feel like bouncing up and down, I’m so excited,” Jodie Palmer, a member of the Band’s Tribal Council said before the unveiling.

A woman in sunglasses speaks at the dedication as Kalamazoo's mayor and another man listen.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK
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WMUK
Gun Lake Tribal Councilwoman Phyllis Davis, left, and Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell at the unveiling Monday.

The signs feature the emblem of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band, and a note: “1821 to 1827 Pottawatomi reservation line.”

The reservation was short-lived because the US government broke a treaty with the Pottawatomi and tried to force the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band to leave. The members resisted. They eventually relocated near Bradley, where the tribe, now also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, is still based.

“I do think of it as a memorial, plus the fact that I feel like it’s recognition that there were people here before, that originally inhabited this land. So to me it’s a great day,” Palmer said.

David Brose is the co-chair of the Kalamazoo Reservation Public Education Committee. The Committee “is responsible in many ways for working with the tribe and the city to get these 25 street signs up,” Brose said.

Two blue street signs mounted high up on a traffic pole, perpendicular to each other.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK
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WMUK
The new signs at East Paterson Street and Riverview Drive.

“Why not mark the boundaries of the reservation to remind people that other people lived here before we did?” he asked.

“If you see all of the signs around here it talks about the first pioneers, even Bronson Park, Titus Bronson, first pioneer, people have been living here for thousands of years before that.”

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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