Hillsdale’s beloved Lake Baw Beese derived its name from Potawatomi Indian chieftain Baw Beese, whose tribe of about 150 members settled on the banks of the lake sometime in the first quarter of the 19th century. While Baw Beese and his tribe roamed as whim, game, and season led them, present-day Hillsdale County and the lakeshore held their burial grounds, maize fields, and semi-per­manent housing.

The Hillsdale County Com­munity Center’s History Index, based upon the account of the Hillsdale Cen­tennial book of 1969, reports that Baw Beese dis­re­garded the 1816 Treaty of Chicago granting Hillsdale County, among other tracts, to the young United States and con­sidered the area to be his sov­ereign ter­ritory. Baw Beese went so far as to demand tribute, as fee for rental of the property used by American cit­izens, from the gov­ernment.

However, in 1840 the federal gov­ernment expelled Baw Beese band from his lake and ter­ritory on the authority of the Indian Removal Act. Baw Beese died circa 1850.

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Macaela Bennett
Collegian editor-in-chief, Macaela J. Bennett grew up in the Pumpkin Capital of the World, Morton, Illinois. In May, she will join The Arizona Republic as a 2016 Pulliam Fellow, working at its News Desk reporting on Metro/Breaking News. In the past, she's interned for The East Peoria Times Courier, Campus Reform, The Town Crier, and The Tennessean. Outside of the newsroom, she enjoys playing soccer, hiking, running, and cheering on the Cubs.