The Potawatomi gathered in Chicago were sharply divided on the question of removal. The Prairie bands of Wisconsin and Illinois, accustomed to prairie life, were willing to negotiate on the point. In contrast the Michigan Potawatomi were determined to avoid removal. Opposition to the idea was so strong among the Michigan Potawatomi that, according to one white traveler,
the tribal members accompanying those appointed to negotiate the treaty had been ordered by village meetings to assassinate anyone who might agree to removal. Ultimately the Michigan bands broke ranks. Some Michigan Potawatomi agreed to relocate with the Prairie bands. However, Leopold Pokagon, representing three villages from southwestern Michigan, refused to yield. He became an effective spokesperson for those Potawatomi seeking to stay in Michigan.
The situation was sufficiently complicated that two treaties were signed. On September 26 the Prairie Potawatomi agreed to cede their remaining reservations and relocate on land west of the Mississippi River. On the 27th, the Michigan bands signed a separate treaty in which they agreed to cede their remaining reservations and relocate west within three years.
|Chief Leopold Pokagon|
|Print reproduction of Van Sanden's portrait of Leopold Pokagon. Original found Center for History of the Northern Indiana Historical Society|
However, a supplementary article gave a minority of the Michigan Potawatomi the right to remain in Michigan if they relocated to the Odawa community of L'arbre Croche.
Four scattered Michigan Potawatomi communities were covered by this provision. Three were found in the St. Joseph River Valley and were led by Pokagon. A fourth community, led by Mkwago, Wabimanido, and Ashkibi, was near Nottawa but had recently migrated there from the Detroit River area. Collectively these four communities became known as the Pokagon band, but in actuality the link between the four was that each community had accepted the Catholic faith.