This is Potawatomi land.

When my youngest daughter was in 5th grade at Andrew Jackson Elementary in the old Italian neighborhood (CPS last year changed the school’s name from that enslaver and killer of indigenous people to the World Language Academy) her teacher Mr. Lewis was the only teacher of indigenous descent in the system. He was Potawatomi. 

From her classroom on the top floor of the old school building off of Taylor Street on the near west side, Mr. Lewis would gather his students to the windows that faced east and point out the spot where on August 15, 1812, Potawatomis led by Siggenauk and Mad Sturgeon attacked Fort Dearborn.

More than 50 Americans and about 15 Potawatomi were killed in the lakefront battle, which took place near Burnham Park. It was Chicago history taught by a descendent of the original people who lived here and when he said, “We attacked the garrison,” he didn’t mean the United States did the attacking.

Today they would call that Critical Race Theory. 

I call it history. 

Mr. Lewis died in 2015.

3 thoughts on “This is Potawatomi land.

  1. Must have been an extremely tall school building if they could see Fort Sheridan all the way from the West Side.

  2. Thanks for the catch, Mellowjohn. I meant to say Fort Dearborn (now corrected) which stood near what is now Michigan Avenue and the river. The lakefront is easily seen from the school’s top floor.

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