Proclamation from Indiana Governor

Amazing news! I asked the Governor of Indiana to issue a proclamation to apologize for the Potawatomi Trail of Death. As a native Hoosier, it has always bothered me and I feel strongly that Indiana should apologize. The Governor of Indiana in 1838 ordered the removal so I feel it would be fitting for the Indiana Governor today to apologize. Indiana is making plans to celebrate its Bicentennial in 2016.

The proclamation. Gov. Pence did not use the word apology but he declared Sept. 20, 2014, to be Potawatomi Trail of Death Remembrance Day. This the first day of our Trail of Courage Living History Festival. Governor Pence will not be there to present it or but hopefully a representative will. It will be presented at 10 a.m. in the Opening Ceremony, held on Chippeway Village stage at the Trail of Courage. This festival began in 1976 and each year honors a different Potawatomi family that had ancestors on the Trail of Death or signed treaties in Indiana. This year it will be the family of Jon Boursaw, whose ancestor Daniel Bourassa was on the 1838 removal. I met him last fall on the Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan. At the end of the caravan at Sugar Creek, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued a proclamation with apology for the Potawatomi Trail of Death.

I give programs all over Indiana, and I ask so I know the people here feel in their hearts that Indiana did not do right by its Native peoples, and that the Trail of Death was a bad mark on Indiana’s history. I am still hoping to get the Indiana government to apologize by 2016 for Indiana’s 200th anniversary. I am asking people to pray with me for this to happen.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation members Jon Boursaw, George Godfrey, Sister Virginia Pearl, Bob Pearl and Janet Pearl will be attending the Trail of Courage. I want to invite you. We would be very honored. Please invite all the Potawatomi and everyone interested to come. Forward this email to your members, family and friends. Thank you.

I have worked with several Potawatomi for over 30 years to commemorate the Trail of Death. See for more on the Trail of Courage and Fulton County Historical Society.

Thank you. Please contact me with your thoughts: Shirley Willard, 574-223-2352,

John Herbst, president of Indiana Historical society, wrote this letter of support for the Governor to issue a proclamation with apology for the Potawtomi Trail of Death.

< Previous Home Next >
This page updated Jan 16, 2017.