Southwestern Michigan, in particular the Dowagiac area, has enjoyed a rich heritage related to the Potawatomi Indians. This heritage dates back to the mid-17th century when white settlers first came to the area now known as the states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830 requiring all American Indians living in the Great Lakes area to move west of the Mississippi River. However, members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians were allowed to remain in Southwestern Michigan because of the Treaty of Chicago signed by Leopold Pokagon in 1833.
Today, there are approximately 1,500 members of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians living in Cass, Van Buren and Berrien Counties.
The Dowagiac Union Schools have used the nickname “Chieftains” since 1928; however, there has never been an officially adopted logo. As a result, a variety of Chieftain head renditions have been used throughout the years.
In March 1990, the Potawatomi Pokagon Brand Tribal Council and the Dowagiac Board of Education signed a joint resolution to ensure the spirit of mutual cooperation and respect for many future generations. Included in the agreement was the adoption of an official logo accurately depicting a Potawatomi Indian Chief. The logo was created and designed by Ron Mix, a member of the Potawatomi Pokagon Band.