Potawatomi Indians, a North American Indian tribe of the Algonquian language family. They are linguistically and culturally related to the Ottawas and the Ojibwas, with whom they were driven from the eastern seaboard by Iroquoian tribes prior to European exploration. In the 17th century, the Potawatomis were located along the southern shore of Lake Michigan and numbered between 3,000 and 4,000. They occupied semipermanent villages along rivers and engaged in agriculture, hunting, and fishing.
The Potawatomis were early allies of the French against the British, but in the American Revolution and the War of 1312 they supported the British against the United States. It was the Potawatomis who massacred the garrison at Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) in 1812. Between 1820 and 1841, they ceded their lands to the United States and moved west of the Mississippi. A reservation was created for them in Kansas in 1846 and one in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1861. At present there are about 13,000 Potawatomi descendants, living mainly in Oklahoma, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario.