Tending the Fire Sculpture

In August of 2000 a life-size statue was placed at the entrance of what was to become today’s Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.  While this was a newly created piece of art, its significance goes back hundreds of years.

The Neshnabek (True or Original People) have lived in the Great Lakes area for centuries. It is said that when the Neshnabek reached Bawating (Sault St. Marie), they split into three separate groups or nations that became known as the Council of the Three Fires. In this Council, the Odawa, the middle brother, became the keepers of the trade, the Ojibwe, the oldest brother, became the keepers of the faith, and the Bodwéwadmi or Potawatomi, the youngest of the three, became the keepers of the sacred fire, hence the name Keepers of the Fire.

Fire is a living spirit that is honored and respected.  Images of the fire are seen in the Casino logo and throughout the building. Fire also serves as a beacon high atop the Casino.

MJM Studios of New York conceived the fire keeper statue and worked with the Potawatomi Historical and Cultural Board to create the life-like statue. Archival photos enabled accurately designed clothing. A mold was created from clay and the final statue was cast in bonded bronze.

The Potawatomi fire keeper statue must always face the east because it is where subsistence begins as such with the rise of the grandfather sun. As you walk or drive past the fire keeper statue, it should remind you that the Potawatomi are tending the sacred fire for all people for eternity. 

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