"Makate-Konia": Father Stephen T. Badin and Notre Dame's Early History with the Potawatomi


Location: Hesburgh Library Fishbowl

Presented by Ben Secunda, Ph.D.

In the early-1800s, a group of Potawatomi leaders, most notably Leopold Pokagon, made an appeal to the Catholic Archdiocese in Detroit to send a "black robe" or missionary to help them blend Euro-American and traditional life ways.  The goal was to promote self-sufficiency and combat the U.S. federal government's attempt to enforce a policy aimed at the removal of Native peoples to the West.  Fr. Stephen T. Badin responded to the Potawatomi appeal and established a mission at
Pokagon's village in southwestern Michigan.  Their work together helped many Potawatomi avoid removal and also resulted in the eventual establishment of the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary's College.

Ben Secunda holds a Ph.D. in history, with a focus US history, particularly Native American history.  His research focuses on the Potawatomi living in northern Indiana and southern Michigan during the late-1700s and early-1800s.  He has also worked with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and more recently with multiple tribes from the Great Lakes area.