potawatomi 031022SPRINGFIELD – In a Wednesday press conference, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) joined members of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation to introduce a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to recognize the illegal selling of the Shab-eh-nay reservation in 1849.

“As U.S. inhabitants, it’s important to recognize the indigenous communities who called this land home before us and continue to call it home,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The land of Chief Shab-eh-nay and his band was illegally sold, and recognition of this act of injustice by the federal government will begin to repair the harm and ensure that the land is recognized as reserved for the Potawatomi people in northern Illinois.”

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe that occupied lands in southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. They signed the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien, which reserved two sections of land near Paw Paw Grove, Illinois for Potawatomi Chief Shab-en-nay and his band.

The Potawatomi people were forcefully removed from their land in the 1830s, and in 1849, while Chief Shab-eh-nay was away visiting family in Kansas, the U.S. General Land Office illegally sold the land and passed the title to non-natives.

“We're grateful to Senator Pacione-Zayas for her support as we work to reclaim the land that was taken from us in the most community-focused, least disruptive way possible," said Chairman Joseph Rupnick. "We're rooted in the northern Illinois community and after 170 years, we just want this issue resolved."

The U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes over 1,000 acres in northern Illinois as the Shab-eh-nay Reservation, and a bill in the U.S. Senate would secure this land for the Potawatomi people.

Pacione-Zayas’ Senate Resolution 896 urges the U.S. Senate to pass the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Shab-eh-nay Band Reservation Act of 2021 to help right the wrongs of the past.

SR 896 awaits assignment to a committee.