Chairperson Kenneth Meshigaud: NMAI’s Meet Native America Series
In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native peoples today.
Please introduce yourself with your name and title.
My name is Kenneth Meshigaud. I am tribal chairperson of the Hannahville Indian Community.
Can you share with us your Native name and its English translation?
My Native name is Ogeema Muckwa, which translates in English to King Bear—I am of the Bear Clan.
Where is your community located?
Our tribe—a band of Potawatomi—is located in the south central part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It's best described as approximately two hours north of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Where was your nation originally from?
The great nation of Potawatomi once called the areas of southern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio our ancestral homelands.
What is a significant point in history from your tribe that you would like to share?
It is difficult to define any particular event, but I believe the Trail of Tears was a significant part of that history, as for almost every tribal nation across the country. In 1834 the people of Hannahville refused to leave Michigan in the Indian Removal. As tragic as that was, I believe it defined and strengthened us as nations of people. And although it split us from our brothers and sisters, it caused us to develop the tenacity, strength, and familial bonds that would carry us through those tough times and instill in us the desire to carry on as the proud and strong nation that we are.
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