Family of Joe Pamptopee-bën Donates His Century-old Regalia to NHBP Tribe

More than a century after its first use, the traditional Regalia worn by one of NHBP’s Tribal Members, Joe Pamptopee-bën, has been fully refurbished and restored to its original beauty and given a special place within the archives of NHBP history. A grandnephew of Chief Phineas Pamptopee-bën, Joe Pamptopee-bën wore this Regalia for special ceremonies, such as Pow Wow, which would have been illegal to perform during his entire lifetime.  

After realizing in summer 2021 that the Regalia was falling apart in their personal possession, the direct descendants of Joe Pamptopee-bën – Tribal Members and brothers John and Gilbert Holiday and cousin Doug Taylor – struggled as to what to do with their maternal grandfather’s sacred items. They had his complete ensemble, including leggings, bonnet, vest, moccasins and ankle bells, as well as some ash nesting baskets.

After much discussion, the family had the entire set refurbished and restored by a professional, Bill Vandergriff.

The Holliday brothers and cousin Taylor discussed, “this Regalia really belongs to the entire NHBP Tribe, not just to us to store in a box.”

“I hope that this donation encourages other Tribal Members to come forward with items of significant heritage,” said John Holliday.

Although he was only 3 years old when his grandfather passed away in 1948, John Holliday has fond memories of The Reservation, where his mother, Anna Holliday, was raised, along with her sisters, Cecelia Taylor, Taylor’s mother, and a third sister, Fern, and a brother who passed away at a young age.

“I thought The Reservation was paradise,” said John Holliday of his childhood visits. The Hollidays were raised in Royal Oak, Michigan.

The Pamptopee family presented their grandfather’s items during the July Tribal Council Business Meeting with the following excerpt:

“On behalf of the Pamptopee family, represented today by John Holliday, with his brother Gilbert L. Holliday IV, Douglas R. Taylor and other family members, we present this Regalia to the NHBP Tribe.

“Special thanks to the NHBP Tribal Council who approved and provided all restoration costs.”

“It’s an extreme honor to be a part of this initiative,” Taylor said. “Although we don’t have an official museum at the Tribe, we have a repository to store these items in a secure place, so I knew they would be safe in NHBP’s possession.”

Taylor has had a replica produced of his grandfather’s Regalia that he wears during NHBP Pow Wows at Grand Entry as the Senior Elder.

From the Athens Times, the obituary that ran on Joe C. Pamptopee on August 4, 1948:

Joe C. Pamp (Pamptopee) was Grandnephew of Late Chief Phineas Pamptopee.

Joe C. Pamp, 59, who has lived in Battle Creek for several years but who just completed a new house on the Indian reservation northwest of Athens where he had moved his household effects, died Sunday afternoon in a Battle Creek hospital following a week’s illness from a heart attack. He was a painter by trade.

Grandnephew of the late Phineas Pamptopee, last acknowledged chief of the Potawatomi band of Indians that have occupied the reservation since it was set apart by the government to house a group of Indians who escaped from Kansas where they were taken in 1840 and who wandered back to their old haunts. He was born March 4, 1889, the son of John and Jane Meme Pamptopee and was brought up here.

The funeral was held at the Indian Mission church this (Wednesday) afternoon, with burial in the nearby Indian cemetery where rest the remains of old Chief Mo-gua-go and those of the tribe who followed him back from Kansas.

He is survived by his wife, Eliza; three daughters, Mrs. Anna Holliday of Royal Oak; Mrs. Cecelia Taylor and Mrs. Fern Wright of Battle Creek; one son Arthur; four grandchildren; a sister, Mrs. Mary Wesaw of Hartford, and a brother, Levi of the reservation.


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