Chinese scholar to visit Pokagon Potawatomi nation

Published 8:32 am Monday, July 16, 2018

DOWAGIAC — The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians recently announced that Chinese scholar Wen Peihong will visit the Pokagon homeland on July 16 and 17.

Wen, currently completing a translation of Simon Pokagon’s 1899 novel “Queen of the Woods” into Mandarin Chinese, will visit the Pokagon homeland to learn more about the people and culture. She will meet with the tribal archivist, interview Pokagon tradition bearers, and observe a language class.

A professor at China’s Southwest University for Nationalities, Wen’s research centers on indigenous and ethnic minorities and their cultural preservation and revival efforts, specifically the Yi culture. Dr. John Low, a Pokagon Band citizen and professor at Ohio State University, met Wen at an international conference on ethnic minority languages and invited her to his Potawatomi community.

Chinese scholar Wen Peihong

“We are excited Professor Wen is coming to Dowagiac,” said Dr. Low. “She spent the last year visiting and studying in the U.S. and meeting with other native communities. Translating Queen of the Woods is complicated, as each Chinese symbol represents syllables in an English word. We’re looking forward to its completion.”

Wen and her colleague Aku WuWu, a poet who writes in the Yi language, are interested in preservation and promotion of Yi, and in Native Americans as an ethnic minority. WuWu is the author of Coyote Traces, a book about the Yi and the indigenous people of American and the interconnections between cultures and languages. Wen co-translated Coyote Traces from Chinese into English. Coyote Traces was published by Ohio State University Press and the Ethnic Publishing House, Beijing.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ sovereignty was reaffirmed under legislation signed into law by President Clinton in September of 1994. The Pokagon Band is dedicated to providing community development initiatives such as housing, education, family services, medical care and cultural preservation for its approximately 5,000 citizens, officials said. The Pokagon Band’s ten-county service area includes four counties in southwestern Michigan and six in northern Indiana. Its main administrative offices are located in Dowagiac, with a satellite office in South Bend. In 2007, it opened Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, followed by Four Winds Hartford in 2011 and Four Winds Dowagiac in 2013. Four Winds South Bend opened January 16.  It owns and operates a variety of businesses via Mno-Bmadsen, the tribe’s non-gaming investment enterprise. More information is available at, and