Ēkwabet Statue

On Fox River near the St. Charles Police Department     (View on map)


Image credit: St. Charles Heritage Center
Before any white settlers arrived in the Fox Valley in the early 1830s, the Potawatomi lived along the Fox River. Following their expulsion from their eastern lands, the Fox Valley served as a geographic center for these peoples. The Potawatomi called the Chicago region their home from the 17th century until they were forcibly removed in the 1830s.

The Potawatomi, a name which means "people of the place of fire," lived in the Fox Valley area during the summers and wintered in southern Illinois. These Native Americans left an indelible mark on the land. Evidence of their presence can still be appreciated today: many of the main roads that traverse Western DuPage and the Fox Valley are old Potawatomi trails.

In honor of the rich history of the Potawatomi people, a statue was erected in Pottawatomie Park in 1915. Vandalism during the 1960s damaged the statue beyond repair and it had to be removed. The pieces that remain have been preserved and are on display at the St. Charles History Museum.


Image credit: St. Charles Heritage Center
In the 1980s, a new statue dedicated to the memory of the Potawatomi was sculpted and erected. The fifteen-foot bronze statue stands looking westward over the Fox River. Guy Bellaver, the sculptor, described the finished product as a combination of many different Native Americans.

Costing approximately $90,000 the city dedicated the statue on May 22, 1988. Members of four bands of Potawatomi also came to the dedication. It was at this time that the statue received its name. Potawatomis believe that to name the statue was to give it a protective spirit. They named the statue Ēkwabet, meaning "watching over."



For additional photographs see:

    Parks and Recreation--Potawatomi Indian Statue: Local History File    Find at Library (Vertical File)
Sources:
  • Alberts, Marc. "Our Hidden History." St. Charles Republican 18 June 1998:5.
  • Cavanagh, Michael. "Home Again at Last." St. Charles Chronicle 18 May 1988: 1.
  • DeWitte, Dorothy. "Ten Years Later, 'Ekwabet' Still Watches Over St. Charles." St. Charles Republican 19 Nov. 1998, 7.
  • Dowd, Jim. Potawatomi: A Native American Legacy. St. Charles, IL: St. Charles Historical Society, 1989.
  • Guyer, Kathy. "Tall and Proud." Kane County Chronicle 19 May 1998, B:1:2.
  • Husfeldt, Lee. "Dream of Indian Statue Becomes a Reality." St. Charles Chronicle 25 May 1988.
  • Jones, Carolyn and Marge Milton. History of St. Charles. 1987.
  • "The Potawatomi in Illinois." The Charlemagne Spring 1994, 4+.
  • Strong, William Duncun. "The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region with Special Reference to the Illinois and Potawatomi." 1929.

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