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Algonquian-speaking tribe of North American Indians who were living in what is now northeastern Wisconsin, U.S., when first observed by Europeans in the 17th century. Their name means "people of the place of the fire." Like many other Native peoples, the Potawatomi had slowly moved west as the French, British, and Dutch colonies expanded inland from the eastern seaboard; the tribe had originally resided in what is now the lower peninsula of Michigan. They later moved back to lower Michigan and into the region that became Illinois and Indiana