Potawatomi leader to address pilgrims walking Notre Dame Trail

Published: Aug. 19, 2017 at 11:29 PM EDT
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On Saturday, the core group of 32 people traversing the Notre Dame Trail enjoyed a "backyard barbecue"-themed dinner at their hotel in Lafayette. Earlier in the day, the pilgrims had walked nearly 16 miles of their 320-mile journey that traces the steps founder Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., took from Vincennes to where the University presently stands in St. Joseph County. People from across the country comprise the sojourning walkers, but a local face from Michiana joined them for Saturday dinner: John P. Warren.

Notre Dame officials invited Warren, chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, to join them on the sixth and seventh days of the pilgrimage. In his perspective, Warren said he believes the Potawatomi possibly played a role in the settlement of the University of the Notre Dame.

"I believe if the Pokagon Band hadn’t invited (Fr. Badin to serve the Potawatomi) we don’t know Notre Dame would be where it is today because we had a great relationship with the fathers and the priests," said Warren.

In 1830,

a Potawatomi leader, went to Detroit and asked priests to dispatch one of their own to serve those in his tribal community who converted to Catholicism. Obliging, the priests sent Fr. Stephen Badin, the first ordained priest in the United States (Badin built a log cabin on the eventual campus of the University). Five years later, Badin bequeathed the land to the first Bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes. Between 1841 and 1842, Fr. Edward Sorin received the land from the new Bishop of Vincennes and began his travels northward to St. Joseph County, after he arrived in Southern Indiana.

Of the anniversary festivities, Warren said: "This is another way to share our input and history with each other and also, you know, it's a celebration! How many institutions are like Notre Dame? 175 years later!" Warren clamored.

On Sunday, Warren will perform a ceremony near Battle Ground, Ind., at Prophetstown. Warren said this location marked the last resistance of Native Americans before the westward expansion of America. In 1838, a volunteer militia forced more than 800 Potawatomi Indians to walk 660 miles to eastern Kansas. Known as the Trail of Death, this journey partly coincides with the route for the Notre Dame Trail.

Pilgrims will travel 38 miles on Sunday, 14 of which involve walking.


for more information about the Notre Dame Trail.