Trail of Death
A Pilgrimage of Remembrance, Lament, and Transformation
June 1-9, 2017
This nine-day pilgrimage traces the route of the 1838 forced removal of Potawatomi people by the U.S. military from their ancestral homeland in northern Indiana to present-day Osawatomie, Kansas. Pilgrims will remember the history of this expulsion through reading journals from the removal and prayerfully walking a few miles of the route each day. Katerina Friesen, instructor, Rich Meyer, a local historian and educator, and George Godfrey (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), president of the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association, will travel with the group as co-leaders. Along the way, pilgrims will meet with descendants of those who were deported from Indiana. Pilgrims will examine what it means to inhabit lands from which others were expelled, what priorities and theologies fueled that expulsion, and what it means to seek God's shalom in our moment and place in time.
Katerina Friesen, instructor, is a Mennonite pastor and educator whose work focuses on inviting the church to reparative justice for the ongoing harms of colonialism and racism. She recently created a curriculum for Anabaptist congregations about the Doctrine of Discovery, which accompanies a documentary film available on the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition website: dofdmenno.org
George Godfrey, PhD (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), is a retired university professor and president of the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association who has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to researching the history of the Potawatomi people, and will join the journey to facilitate the learning and discussion.
Rich Meyer, trip navigator, is a northern Indiana historian who started his research and relationship-building with Potawatomi people by asking three questions about the farmland he owns near Goshen: Whose land was this before white settlement? How did the people lose their land? Where are their descendants today? Rich has participated in numerous Trail of Death Caravans led by descendants of the Trail of Death through the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association, which was the inspiration for this pilgrimage class.
Lodging: Lodging during the pilgrimage will be in tents, in order to better enter into the original experience. Tents will be provided, but participants may bring their own if they wish.
For those who require hotel lodging, planners will recommend a hotel near each overnight stop and those participants are responsible to make their own reservations and cover those costs; transportation to and from the recommended hotel will be provided.
Meals: The cost of meals will be included in the pilgrimage fee. Meals will be a combination of eating in restaurants and preparing meals at the overnight campsites.
Credit or Audit
Participants in the pilgrimage may earn three credit hours of graduate study, take the course as auditors, or may join the pilgrimage for no credit. For those earning credit, the course may be taken as an HTE or a CHM course. Credit also may be transferred to other ATS schools. Register online.
Registration and payment
Course for credit: $2,035
Course for audit: $955
Trip only: $550
Please see registration form for payment options. Students admitted to AMBS will be billed by the business office.
- Registration extended. Sign up by May 15.
- Course is limited to 15 participants.
- Download a flier with course information.
What is the Trail of Death?
The Potawatomi Trail of Death was the forced removal of the Potawatomi Indians from north central Indiana to eastern Kansas in the fall of 1838. Read more.
Schedule and route
- June 1–9, 2017
- Download the itinerary
- See the series of maps created created by Shirley Willard, Eric and Susan Campbell, George Godfrey, with help from Rich Meyer.
Email Katerina Friesen, instructor
2017 Course Reading
Relevant Articles and Links
- George Godfrey Biographical Information
- George Godfrey Writings
- Indigenous Land Cessations in the US
- The Doctrine of Discovery - The Legal and Theological Basis for the Removal of First Nations Peoples
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a sponsor of the 2017 Trail of Death Pilgrimage.