chapter  3
16 Pages

The Black Panther Party in Milwaukee: A Case Study

Situated along the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee was initially home to a variety of Native American groups, most notably the Potawatomi. In the mid-1650s, French traders and explorers began making inroads into the area now known as Wisconsin. Despite the encroachment of growing numbers of white settlers, Native Americans villages could still be found in the Milwaukee area by the early 1800s.1 Upon completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, however, “streams of settlers” from New England poured into the Midwest to take advantage of the seemingly limitless availability of land as well as enhanced trading opportunities.2 As more and more Europeans settled in the Milwaukee area, and throughout the Midwest, Native Americans were displaced to the west. Finally, in 1838, the Potawatami were forced to cede their land in the Milwaukee area to the United States Government through a series of treaties. Shortly thereafter, the Village of Milwaukee was established in 1839, primarily as a trading post.3