The story of Potawatomi and other Neshnabe peoples stretches back to times lost to history, beginning on the East Coast of what is now North America. By the time Europeans arrived, the Great Migration of prophecy was complete and the tribes were living around the Great Lakes, with a social structure that included a strong communal lifestyle. The people were bound together through ties of kinship, custom and mutual necessity.
Communities built their villages around clan systems and extended families. Traditionally, individual communities were led by village approved councils and headmen whose power stemmed from their relationship with, and influence over, the people. Leaders who wielded authority enjoyed the privilege because people respected their opinions enough to heed their advice; they used this authority and power for influence to create alliances and build relationships with councils and headmen of neighboring tribes.