The Shawnee Tribe is one of three federally recognized Shawnee tribes. They were the last Shawnee to relinquish their Ohio territory, and the last Shawnee tribe to gain federal recognition.
Official Tribal Name: Shawnee Tribe
Address: P.O. Box 189, (29 S Hwy 69A), Miami, OK 74355
Email: [email protected]
Official Website: Shawnee Tribe
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:
Shawnee comes from the Algonquin word “shawun” (shawunogi) meaning “southerner.” However, this referred to their original location in the Ohio Valley relative to other Great Lakes Algonquin rather than a homeland in the American southeast. Shawnee usually prefer to call themselves the Shawano – sometimes given as Shawanoe or Shawanese.
Common Name: Loyal Shawnee
Meaning of Common Name:
During the Civil War some Kansas Shawnee served in the Union army, earning the tribe’s “Loyal” designation.
Loyal Shawnee, Cherokee Shawnee
Alternate spellings / Mispellings:
Name in other languages:
Chaouanons (Chauenon) (French)
Chaskpe (Chaouesnon) (French)
Ontwagnnn (Iroquois, meaning “one who stutters”)
State(s) Today: Oklahoma
The Shawnee Indians originally inhabited areas around what is now Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In the late 17th Century, however, the were invaded by their traditional enemy, the Iroquois and driven from their lands. They were driven into South Carolina, eastern Pennsylvania and southern Illinois. With the coming of the white man the Shawnee were again forced to move from their home country. They were gradually driven west, first to Missouri, then Kansas and finally Oklahoma.
The 1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs granted the Shawnees still in northwest Ohio three reservations: Wapakoneta, Hog Creek, and Lewistown. By 1824, about 800 Shawnees lived in Ohio and 1,383 lived in Missouri. In 1825, Congress ratified a treaty with the Cape Girardeau Shawnees ceding their Missouri lands for a 1.6 million-acre reservation in eastern Kansas. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Ohio Shawnees on the Wapakoneta and Hog Creek reservations signed a treaty with the US giving them lands on the Kansas Reservation.
The Lewistown Reservation Shawnees, together with their Seneca allies and neighbors, signed a separate treaty with the federal government in 1831 and moved directly to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The Lewistown Shawnees became the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, while their Seneca allies became the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma.
In 1854, the US government decimated the Kansas Reservation to 160,000 acres. This, coupled with the brutal abuses perpetrated against them by white settlers during and after the Civil War, forced the Kansas Shawnees to relocate to Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma. The 1854 Shawnee Reservation in Kansas was never formally extinguished and some Shawnee families retain their Kansas allotments today.
The federal government caused the former Kansas Shawnees and the Cherokees to enter into a formal agreement in 1869, whereby the Shawnees received allotments and citizenship in Cherokee Nation.
The Shawnees settled in and around White Oak, Bird Creek (Sperry), and Hudson Creek (Fairland), maintaining separate communities and separate cultural identities. Known as the Cherokee Shawnees, they would also later be called the Loyal Shawnees.
Initial efforts begun in the 1980s to separate the Shawnee Tribe from Cherokee Nation culminated when Congress enacted Public Law 106-568, the Shawnee Tribe Status Act of 2000, which restored the Shawnee Tribe to its position as a sovereign Indian nation.
The lands belonging to the Absentee Shawnee and other Oklahoma Indian tribes are trust lands, not reservations. Individual Absentee Shawnee lands are called allotments. There are some legal differences between these kinds of lands, but they are not very important. Many Oklahoma Indians call their homelands a reservation anyway.
Headquarters: Miami, OK
Population at Contact:
The pre European Shawnee population numbered somewhere around 10,000. The first US Census in 1825 gave 1400 Shawnee in Missouri, 1100 in Louisiana, and 800 in Ohio.
Registered Population Today:
Today, there are three official groups of the Shawnee. The largest group is the Loyal Shawnee. They number about 8,000 individuals. They were originally recognised by the United States Government as part of the Cherokee Nation, however they finally gained federal recognition as a separate tribe in 2000. The Eastern Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma has about 1,600 members. There are about 2,000 Absentee Shawnee. A fourth group is the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band who number about six hundred. However, they are not recognised by the Federal Government. The total modern Shawnee population, then, stands at about 14,000.
Tribal Enrollment Requirements:
The Shawnee Tribe became a separately federally recognized Tribe when Congress enacted the legislation known as Public Law 106-568, or the Shawnee Tribe Status Act of 2000, and President Clinton signed it as one of his final acts in office on December 28, 2000.
Name of Governing Body: Business Council
Number of Council members: 7 council members, plus executive officers
Dates of Constitutional amendments:
Number of Executive Officers: 4 – Chief, 2nd Chief, Secretary, Treasurer
Language Classification: Algic => Algonquian => Shawnee
Shawnee verbs have many complicated parts, and the language is said to have a song-like quality.
Language Dialects: Southern Great Lakes (Wakashan) dialect closely related to Fox, Sauk, Mascouten, and Kickapoo.
Number of fluent Speakers:
The Shawnee considered the Delaware as their “grandfathers” and the source of all Algonquin tribes. They also shared an oral tradition with the Kickapoo that they were once members of the same tribe. Identical language supports this oral history, and since the Kickapoo are known to have originally lived in northeast Ohio prior to contact, it can safely be presumed that the Shawnee name of “southerner” means they lived somewhere immediately south of the Kickapoo. However, the exact location is uncertain, since the Iroquois forced both tribes to abandon the area before contact.
Bands, Gens, and Clans
- Absentee Shawnee (F)
- Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma (F)
- Shawnee Tribe (F)
- Piqua Shawnee Tribe (S)
- Chickamauga Keetoowah Unami Wolf Band of Cherokee Delaware Shawnee of Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. (U)
- East of the River Shawnee, Ohio (U)
- Kispoko Sept of Ohio Shawnee, Louisiana (U)
- Kispoko Sept of Ohio Shawnee (Hog Creek Reservation), Ohio (U)
- Lower Eastern Ohio Mekoce Shawnee, Ohio Letter of Intent to Petition 3/5/2001. (U)
- Lower Eastern Ohio Mekojay Shawnee, Ohio (U)
- Morning Star Shawnee Nation, Ohio (U)
- Platform Reservation Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation (U)
- Shawnee Nation Blue Creek Band, of Adams County, Ohio. Letter of Intent to Petition 8/5/1998. (U)
- Piqua Sept of Ohio Shawnee Tribe—Letter of Intent to Petition 04/16/1991. (U)
- Ridgetop Shawnee, Kentucky. In 2009 and 2010, the State House of the Kentucky General Assembly recognized the Ridgetop Shawnee Tribe of Indians by passing House Joint Resolutions 15 or HJR-15 and HJR-16. (U)
- Southeastern Kentucky Shawnee, Kentucky (U)
- Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band, Ohio (U)
- United Tribe of Shawnee Indians, Kansas (U)
- Upper Kispoko Band of the Shawnee Nation, Indiana (U)
- Vinyard Indian Settlement of Shawnee Indians, Illinois (U)
- Youghiogaheny River Band Of Shawnee Indians, Maryland (U)
The Shawnee Tribe was once part of the Cherokee Nation.
Ceremonies / Dances:
Many important Shawnee ceremonies were tied to the agricultural cycle: the spring bread dance at planting time; the green corn dance when crops ripened; and the autumn bread dance to celebrate the harvest.
Modern Day Events & Tourism:
Legends / Oral Stories:
Art & Crafts:
During the summer the Shawnee gathered into large villages of bark-covered long houses, with each village usually having a large council house for meetings and religious ceremonies. In the fall they separated to small hunting camps of extended families.
The Shawnee were semi-sedentary farmers who left their central villages in the fall for hunting excursions in smaller family groups. Men were warriors and did the hunting and fishing. Care of their corn fields and building homes were the responsibility of the women.
Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
Tenskwatawa (The Prophet, brother of Tecunseh)
Black Hoof –
The loss of their homeland has given the Shawnee the reputation of being wanderers, but this was by necessity, not choice. The Shawnee have always maintained a strong sense of tribal identity, but this produced very little central political organization. During their dispersal, each of their five divisions functioned as an almost autonomous unit. This continued to plague them after they returned to Ohio, and few Shawnee could ever claim to the title of “head chief.”
Like the Delaware, Shawnee civil chiefships were hereditary and held for life. They differed from the Delaware in that, like most Great Lakes Algonquin, the Shawnee were patrilineal with descent traced through the father. War chiefs were selected on the basis of merit and skill.
During their stay in the southeast, the Shawnee acquired a some cultural characteristics from the Creek and Cherokee, but, for the most part, they were fairly typical Great Lakes Algonquin.
During the late eighteenth century one Shawnee band (the origins of the Absentee Shawnee) migrated to present Missouri, while another (today’s Eastern Shawnee) agreed to relocate with the Seneca to the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) in July 1831.
The remaining Shawnee ceded their Ohio lands to the U.S. government in August 1831. They removed to Kansas and lived on a 1.6 million-acre reservation established for the Missouri Shawnee (then known as the Black Bob band) in 1825. That reserve was reduced to 200,000 acres in 1854, and was allotted to tribe members by 1858.
The Shawnee prospered in Kansas as they were skilled cultivators. During the mid-1840s many joined the Absentee Shawnee along the Canadian River in the Indian Territory. During the Civil War some Kansas Shawnee served in the Union army, earning the tribe’s “Loyal” designation.
Expecting compensation for their wartime service, they returned to destroyed homesteads. White settlers, hungry for land, had acquired 130,000 acres of the land granted to the Shawnee in 1854. Of the tribe’s remaining seventy thousand acres, twenty thousand had been reserved for the Absentee Shawnee.
After Kansas statehood in 1861, Kansans demanded that all Indian tribes be removed from their state. In 1869 the Loyal Shawnee and the Cherokee Nation entered into an agreement by which 722 Loyal Shawnee were granted Cherokee citizenship in the Indian Territory. By 1871 most had settled in present Craig and Rogers counties in Oklahoma. Having no political organization, they lost their tribal identity and became known as the Cherokee Shawnee.
The Loyal or Cherokee Shawnee finally received federal recognition as the Shawnee Tribe in 2000.
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