The Potawatomi came to this area several hundred years ago and established a home here for many decades. In summer, the families all relocated to one large village; while in winter, they set up separate smaller camps. Imagine their homes as you read about their routines in the different seasons. The following paragraphs describe a typical year for a Potawatomi family in this area a couple hundred years ago.
We use long poles to build the structure of our new house in the communal village. The roof is a shelter over the cooking area as well so it is even bigger than the floor space. My mother and I plow the ground together with a shoulder bone from a deer. It is very difficult work; though, because of our work, we will have lots of food in the fall. It is always a fun time for everyone because we see our friends and the entire extended family and there are so many things to see and do in the summer, which makes it my sister’s favorite season. My mother likes it too because being with our big family means there are people to help with the work. There is a lot of work to do, but everyone helps and there is company.
We have lots of food. We grow big squashes and pumpkins and corn too. Every day, I am able to harvest even more beans. We dry the big gourds to save for the winter, when we will have less food. My father found salt from a salt spring and we are using it to dry the meat. I search for nuts and berries from the forest. Sometimes, I eat them when I find them, but I try to bring most of them home. Soon we will move to our winter site.
We saw deer and raccoons and, therefore, knew this would be a good place for hunting. We set up a wigwam. We stuck one end of tree branches in the ground and then tied them together in the middle. We cook inside and had to remember to leave a gap for the smoke from the fire to get out. We pasted bark on the outside of the wigwam to maintain the heat. Today, it is cold and it just snowed. My father says that he will be able to see the tracks of elk in the snow so he can more easily hunt them. He will soon go to hunt. My mother says that afterwards we will have lots of food, but also lots of work. If we don’t have enough food in this place, we may move our camp to another place, with more animals. We will look for a place with more animal tracks.
We can find my favorite food now. We make a hole in a tree and then the sweet juice comes out of the tree. My father made a fishing net from deer sinew and will go out to fish soon. He tied shells to the bottom of the net and when they fill with water, it sinks to the bottom of the stream. This summer, my brother will get to fish, too. He has a line and hook, which he uses to fish in the lake. Since we get fish in the winter only when we go out and cut through the ice, fishing is mostly a spring and summer job. My father likes the spring best. He says it is a time of hope. He hears the birds sing and sees the plants start to grow again. I like spring too because soon we will see the flowers.