The Wyandot Nation is one of the most traveled Indian tribes in the history of the North American continent. This tribe is composed of remnants of three related tribes who once occupied portions of the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, Canada. The three tribes, the Hurons, the Nation du Petun, and the Neutral Nation, were all members of the Iroquoian linguistic family.

Official Tribal Name: Wyandotte Nation

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Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Region: Northeast 

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Today Wyandots live in all the United States as well as in foreign countries. The largest concentration is found in Oklahoma, Kansas, Michigan and Canada.

Traditional Territory:

The emigration of the Wyandots was an epic struggle to survive against formidable odds. Both myth and tradition relate that the founders of the tribe were created in the region between Sam James Bay and the coast of Labrador. When Jacques Cartier visited the Saint Lawrence River region in 1535, Wyandots were among those Indians who met the daring French explorer at Hochelaga, a Seneca town. Difficulties with the Seneca soon forced the Wyandots to emigrate to the vicinity of Niagara Falls.

Pursued by the Senecas, the Wyandots fled north and east to the presentsite of Toronto, Ontario, but they were unable to remain there. The next home for the hard-pressed travelers was the region between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay in the Huron Indian country. Although not initially welcomed by the Huron the Wyandots were able to settle their differences and to become a part of the Huron Confederacy.

The Wyandots were caught up in the devastating war between the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and the Huron Confederacy which culminated in a disastrous defeat for the latter in 1649. The scattered remnants of the Hurons and their allies fled from the wrath of the Iroquois. The Indians who are believed to be the descendants of the modem Wyandots fled to Mackinac Island in present Michigan, where they were joined by other members the allied Huron tribes.

In a short time the relentless Iroquois forced them to leave the relative safety of Mackinac Island and flee to northeastern Wisconsin. Once again these battered Indians were compelled to escape from the depredations of the more numerous Iroquois. The Wyandots ventured southwest to the Illinois country where it soon became evident that their small band was not able to contest the claims of the Illinois tribe.

Turning west only to encounter the powerful Sioux near the Mississippi River, the Wyandots emigrated north to Point Saint Espirit near the Apostle Islands in the southwestern extremity of Lake Superior.

In 1669 Father Jacques Marquette was sent by the French to take charge of the Roman Catholic Mission which had been established at Point Saint Espirit to administer to the spiritual needs of the Wyandots. He estimated that the remnant of the tribe had been reduced to between 400 and 500 individuals.

The Sioux forced the Wyandots to return to Mackinac Island in 1671 where the French gave the Indians protection and soon many were living near present Saint Ignace, Michigan. Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac encouraged the Wyandots to settle near Detroit in 1701. Within a few years a majority of the tribe had accepted the Frenchman's offer and settled near the haven of Detroit.

Although the tribe could muster only 300 warriors from a total population of 1500, their presence stabilized the turbulent relations between the French and the other tribes of Michigan and Ohio. The Wyandots assumed an ascendancy over the other tribes of the Old Northwest and claimed the right of sovereignty over the Ohio country between the Great Lakes and the Miami River.

The tribe gained the distinction of keeping the council fire for the tribes of the Old Northwest, a privilege the Wyandots retained after the removal west of the Mississippi River. Their new home provided them with good agricultural land, and in addition enabled the Wyandots to utilize their strategic position on the Great Lakes waterway system to engage in extensive trade with the French and other Indian tribes of the Old Northwest.

The initial Wyandot emigration into the Ohio country occurred in 1745, when Orontony, or Nicholas, a war chief dissatisfied with the French, led a small portion of the tribe south into present northwest Ohio.

A new Indian town was constructed near Sandusky, Ohio, where the Wyandots loyal to Nicholas could trade with the British. Not satisfied with evacuating Michigan, Nicholas planned a surprise raid against the French at Detroit, with the aid of other tribes of the Old Northwest. The scheme was revealed to the French, and the Wyandots of Ohio were forced to flee west for their lives in the spring of 1748. When Nicholas died in the autumn of that year, the leaderless Wyandots, who had fled with him to Indiana, returned to Sandusky Bay and reaffirmed their loyalty to the French.

The whites of the British colonies along the eastern seaboard began to force eastern tribes westward, so in 1751 the Wyandots offered the Delawares a portion of their domain in eastern Ohio. Soon the Shawnees accepted a similar land grant from the Wyandots. Although the indians tried to live together in the Ohio Valley, the whites continued to stir the embers of war. Clashes between French and British military units in western Pennsylvania in 1754 signalled the return to full-scale war in the Ohio Valley.

The Wyandots were there when an Indian-French army crushed the forces of the stubborn British General Edward Braddock on July 9, 1755, near Fort Duquesne, Pennsylvania. Despite this initial success, reverses soon began to spell defeat for the Northwest indians and their French patrons. The Wyandots reluctantly accepted the withdrawal of the French from the Great Lakes region, but they were not willing to join the British in an alliance.

In an effort to avoid British dominance the Wyandots joined Pontiac, an Ottawa chief who had rallied many of the tribes of the Old Northwest, in an attempt to drive the British from the Great Lakes.

Confederacy: Wyandotte

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Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning

Common Name / Meaning of Common Name:

The name Wyandot is not fully understood, but perhaps it means "islander" or "dweller on a peninsula."

Alternate names / Alternate spellings:

Wyandot is the accepted ethnological spelling, but the tribe has also been designated as Wandat, Wendat, Wyandoll, Wyandotte or Guyandot. 

Name in other languages:

The French called these people Yendots, Quendots, Tionontates, Etionontates, Tuinontateks, Dionondaddies, Khionontaterrhonous or Nation du Petun (tobacco nation). 

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Bands, Gens, and Clans

The clan was designated by the name of an animal. The Wyandot tribe was composed of twelve clans divided into two phratries. Each clan within a phratry bore a brother relationship to each other clan in the same phratry. All the members of the clans of one phratry were considered to be cousins of the members of the clans of the other phratry. The clans were the basis for civil government.

Each clan had four women councilors who were chosen by the heads of families. The councilors selected an adult male to be chief of the clan. The tribal council was composed of the clan chiefs and councilors, and the tribal chief was chosen by the chiefs of the clans.

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The Wyandot did not possess draft animals and depended solely on human labor to cultivate their farms and to transport their items for trade whenever they were not able to sail their splendid birch bark canoes on the inland waterways of North America. 

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Hunting and fishing provided the economic base of early Wyandot society. When the tribe was forced to emigrate, its members could not subsist on hunting and fishing so they turned to agriculture for survival. French explorers found corn, red beans, squash, sunflowers, peas, pumpkins, melons, and tobacco under cultivation on land occupied by the Wyandots.

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

The religion of the primitive Wyandots was based on nature worship. Their story of creation placed them in the foremost position among human beings occupying the earth and each part of the natural world had a religious significance. The tribal medicine men were the liaison between the Wyandots and the spirit world.

Christianity was brought to the Wyandots by French priests who accompanied Samuel de Champlain on his exploratory expedition to North America in 1603. The Wyandots, at that time members of the Huron Confederacy, were receptive to Roman Catholicism, and the French missionaries were successful in their quest for Wyandot converts to Catholicism. The task of preaching to the Wyandots passed to the Jesuits and this order continued their dedicated work until after the fall of New France in 1763.

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Wyandotte Nation History:

The Wyandots displayed great courage in the superb Indian victory over the British. at Bloody Ridge, Michigan, In 1763. However, the British were victorious in other
areas, and soon Pontiac was forced to raise his siege of the British bastionof Detroit. Their ardor dampened by British successes, the Wyandots accepted
the terms of a peace treaty negotiated at Presque isle, Pennsylvania, with British Colonel John Bradstreet on August 12, 1764.

Approximately 200 Wyandot warriors were present when the treaty was signed. Anglo-Wyandot relations remained friendly from 1764 to 1775, but the revolt of the British-American colonials against their mother country in 1775 upset the delicate fabric of Indian-white relations in the Ohio frontier.

The British and the white Americans were aware of the value of good relations with the Indians in the coming struggle and both sides sent emissaries
to the Ohio country to gain the favor of the tribes of the Old Northwest.

The Wyandots under Chief Duquad, or Half-king, did not support neither side wholeheartedly during the American Revolution, but most of their military efforts aided the British. The American expedition of George Rodgers Clark into the Ohio country in 1778 and its smashing success made a profound impression on Half-King. He saw that the upstart Americans were able to mount an offensive against the British and he was reluctant to commit all the warriors of the tribe to one side or the other.

When a peace treaty was concluded between the British and white Americans in 1783, there were still hostilities occurring in the Ohio country. The Indians were not anxious to exchange their position - relative freedom for subservience to yet another white master.

Recognizing the importance of paving the way for orderly settlement of the Old Northwest, the Confederation Congress appointed five commissioners to treat with the Indians. Three of these commissioners met with representatives of the Chippewa, Delaware, Ottawa and Wyandot Indians at Fort McIntosh where a treaty was signed on January 21, 1785.

Under the terms of the treaty most of the Ohio country east of the Cuyahoga River and south of an east-west line extending through central Ohio was freed from Indian title. In addition, the Indians acknowledged the sovereignty of the United States.

Despite the Treaty of Fort McIntosh, the Ohio country was far from securefor white American settlement. The British continued to exert influence in the area and the dissatisfied Indians proposed that a council be held during the spring of 1787 to rectify misunderstandings between themselves and the Americans. The spring council did not materialize, but the Indians met with Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, in December, 1788, at Fort Harmar1 where they discussed their grievances.

A second treaty of Fort Harmar was concluded on January 9, 1789, which reaffirmed the provisions of the first Treaty of Fort Harmar, and the Indians received a few presents.

The Shawnees and Miamis did not participate in the negotiations of 1789 so they remained uncommitted to the provisions of the treaty and became the focal point for further opposition to the whites. Soon it became evident that the Indians would not honor the terms laid down at Fort Harmar and the British continued their support of the Indians.

It took three punitive expeditions undertaken by the United States Army to break the back of Indian resistance in Ohio. A force of 1500 men under the command of General Josiah Harmar met disaster near the future site of Fort Wayne1 Indiana, In 1790. Governor St. Clair led an army which initially contained 2000 militia troops to a similar debacle on November 4, 1791, at the future site of Fort Recovery, Ohio. Before the battered remnants of St. Clair's command could reach safety, two-thirds of their number were dead or wounded.

The third expedition was under the command of General Anthony Wayne. Taking ample time to train his troops, Wayne did not lead  his 3600 man army against the Indians until he was prepared. On August 20, 1794, at Fallen Timbers the Indians were crushed and the Wyandots shared the fate of their allies.

The only Wyandot chief to survive the bloodbath war Tarhe, or Crane, but the Wyandot women and noncombatants had been removed to the safety of Sandusky Bay before the battle. An excellent diplomat as well as a superb soldier, Wayne was able to convince the Indians that it was to their advantage to agree to a treaty with the United States.

On August 3, 1795, the Ohio chiefs signed the Treaty of Greenville, whereby the Indians surrendered their claims to two-thirds of the territory encompassed by the future state of Ohio. To compensate for the loss of most of the land in Ohio, the Wyandots were promised an annuity which amounted to forty-three cents each year for every member of the tribe.

The whites were not satisfied with the Treaty of Greenville and two additional treaties were concluded between the Wyandots and the United States in 1805 and 1807. The Wyandots were divided in their support for the United States in Tecumseh's conspiracy of 1811, but a majority of the tribe under the able leadership of Crane remained loyal to the United States.

This loyalty persisted during the War of 1812 when the major portion of the tribe, once again led by Crane, supported the United States. The appreciation of the United States government was stated by General William Henry Harrison when he commented, "The Wyandots of Sandusky have adhered to us throughout the war. Their chief, the Crane, is a venerable, intelligent and upright man."

The end of war brought another treaty between the Wyandots and the United States. This treaty was concluded at Spring Wells, Michigan, on September 8, 1815. Prewar conditions were reaffirmed and the minority of the Wyandots who had supported the British were pardoned and allowed to resume their positions in the tribe. The cessation of hostilities also brought a flood of white immigrants to Ohio, and by August, 1817, the Wyandots along with other Indians of Ohio were back at the bargaining table with representatives of the United States.

The principal negotiator for the Wyandots was Dunquad, or Half-King, successor to Crane, who had died in 1815. In September a treaty was signed at Fort Meigs, Ohio, whereby the Wyandots ceded 3,360,000 acres to the government for an annual annuity of $4,000. In addition the major portion of the tribe agreed to settle in a reserve twelve miles square around Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

The following year the Wyandots signed two more treaties with the government, which established a small reserve in Michigan and another in Ohio, and enlarged the reserve around the Upper Sandusky.

The Wyandots accepted their reserves without rancor and soon their villages began to prosper. With each passing year the tribe adopted more of the customs of the white man. Roman Catholicism was the only Christian religion known to the Wyandots when the tribe moved to Ohio, but the fall of New France in 1763 placed them under the control of Great Britain, a Protestant country.

Protestantism reached the Wyandots for the first time when Moravian missionaries tried to preach to them in 1781, but within a year these missionariesleft the tribe never to return. In 1796 American Quaker missionaries visited the Wyandots and in 1797 and 1799 members of the Society of Friends met with the Wyandots, but a permanent mission was not established.

The Presbyterians sent two missionaries to the Wyandots in 1800 and this denomination continued to send preachers to the Wyandots until the hostilities of the War of 1812 forced them to abandon the venture.

The most successful mission was established by John Stewart, a mulatto Methodist preacher, who visited the Wyandots In 1816. In 1820 he was assigned by his bishop as resident missionary and although Stewart died in 1823, his work was carried on by a succession of Methodist preachers. The most prominent of these missionaries, James B. Finley, also served as United States sub Indian Agent.

The Methodist Mission became the center of the efforts of the Wyandots to adopt the civilization of the white man. It was here that the faculty at the mission school educated young Wyandots who one day would lead their tribe in the difficult decades of the future.

Although the Wyandots were rapidly adopting the customs of the white man, this transition did not satisfy officials of the United States government. President James Monroe submitted a message to Congress in 1825 in which
he proposed to resettle Indians in unoccupied areas, but the measure was not pressed until 1830 during the administration of Andrew Jackson.

The War Department gave James B. Gardiner, an unemployed Ohio politician, the  task of securing agreement from the Wyandots for their removal to an area west of the Mississippi River. Gardiner obtained permission from his superiors and he authorized an exploring expedition to be undertaken by the Wyandots in 1831. A party of six Wyandots explored land in present western Missouri, but this group, led by William Walker, found the land to be unsuited to the requirements of the tribe.

The government continued to whittle away at Wyandot holdings east of the Mississippi when In January, 1832, the Big Spring band of the Wyandots sold their Ohio reserve to the government and agreed to remove to the other Wyandot reserves.

Another exploring expedition was dispatched by the Wyandot tribe to the area of the western border of Missouri in 1834, but no agreement was reached on a suitable reserve. Two years later a portion of the Wyandot Reserve at Upper Sandusky was ceded to the government. The tribe split into two factions over the question of selling their holdings east of the Mississippi. Divided and under constant pressure by officials of the government, the Wyandots began to accede to the demands Of the federal government.

In 1839 the Indians sent two exploring expeditions to present-day eastern Kansas and they visited land held by other Indian tribes.

Finally, John Johnston, chief negotiator for the federal government,convinced the Wyandots to sign a treaty for removal on March 17, 1842. The Indians ceded all their holdings in Ohio and Michigan to the government. The Wyandots were promised 148,000 acres of public domain west of the Mississippi River, an annuity of $17,500, and $500 each year for the support of a school, and the government agreed to pay the tribe $10,000 to cover the cost of removal.

The Wyandots began their journey to the West on July 12, 1843, when about 750 Indians traveled overland to Cincinnati, Ohio and there they boarded two steamboats for the river voyage to Westport, Missouri. They were the last Indian tribe to leave Ohio.

Arriving at their destination on July 28, the weary travelers set up camp west of the Missouri state line on the right bank of the Kansas River and the chiefs attempted to purchase land from the Shawnee Indians, but they could not reach an agreement.

The Delaware Indians were willing to sell a portion of their reserve, and in October invited the Wyandots to make their homes on the Delaware Reserve until a permanent agreement could be arranged. The new Wyandot campsite was located in present Wyandotte County, Kansas.

The Wyandots began constructing homes on the thirty-nine sections which would comprise the Wyandot Reserve. They established a ferry across the Kansas River, and within a year a Methodist church was erected on the reserve.

In December, 1843, the Wyandots agreed to purchase their reserve from the Delawares for $46,080, but the government did not approve the transaction until 1848.

The early years in the West saw the Wyandots overcome serious difficulties, which included epidemics, floods, tornadoes, the problems engendered by intemperate use of alcoholic beverages, and incompetent Indian agents.

Under the terms of the Treaty of 1842 the government agreed to pay the Wyandots for any improvements they had made on their land east of the Mississippi. The first appraisement of their improvements was disallowed because some members of Congress believed it to be exorbitant. Then a second appraisement, much lower, was approved only to be overturned by Congress in favor of the first appraisement. Meanwhile, the Wyandots were not paid for their  improvements for five years.

A new treaty was concluded with the government on April 1, 1850, under which the Wyandots were promised $185,000 for the claim on 148,000 acres of public domain assured under the Treaty of 1842.

Some Wyandots participated in the Mexican War, the gold rush to California and by 1850 a strong tribal government was functioning on the Wyandot Reserve and the future appeared to be bright. But in the 1840's the Methodist Church, the strongest denomination among the Wyandots, had split into two factions over the issue of slavery. Although there was some animosity, this issue did not explode into open violence until 1856. By that time the Wyandots had concluded another treaty with the government whereby they were given the opportunity of becoming United States citizens.

In 1852 and 1853 the Wyandots attempted to establish a territorial government in Kansas. They sent Abelard Guthrie, a white man adopted into the tribe, as their unofficial delegate to Congress in 1852. The following year a provisional government of Nebraska Territory was established with William Walker, a Wyandot, holding the office of governor.

This time, however, opposition to Guthrie developed and Thomas Johnson, missionary to the Shawnee Indians, was elected delegate to Congress, but Guthrie also went to Washington to look after Wyandot interests.
A third candidate, Harley Johnson from Iowa, claimed to be the elected delegate form Nebraska Territory and he presented Congress with the perplexing problem of a triumvirate of unofficial delegates, each claiming to represent a government in an area which did not have territorial status.

On May 30, 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the controversy surrounding the Indian provisional government faded into obscurity, only to be superseded by the six violent years comprising the life of the Kansas Territory.

After many years of negotiations, the Wyandots concluded a treaty with the government on January 31, 1855, whereby members of the tribe could become citizens of the United States and their valuable land would be divided into individual parcels. Each member of the tribe was entitled to a share of the reserve and the tribal government was to be discontinued. Communal property was to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to the members of the tribe. In addition the federal government agreed to pay the Wyandots $380,000 in three annual installments.

The ratification of the Wyandot Treaty of 1855 coincided with the beginning of the most violent decade in the history of Kansas. The Wyandots were to witness turmoil in territorial Kansas, and then they were to be caught up in the Civil War. Competent Indians, those Wyandots able to manage their own affairs, were to become citizens of the United States.

The federal government permitted the tribe to utilize the services of the Shawnee and Wyandot Indian Agency In Kansas and to maintain an informal tribal government until the transition to citizenship and individual land ownership was accomplished.

No opportunity for an orderly transition to their new status was given the Wyandots. White incursions on the Wyandot Reserve presented a vexing problem and soon the hostilities between pro-slavery and anti-slavery white factions affected the Indians directly. On the evening of June 21, 1856, their Indian agent, William Gay, was assassinated by pro-slavery partisans.

The Wyandots attempted to remain neutral in what they considered to be a white man's war, but they could not avoid the conflict. The Wyandot Reserve was situated in an area which became a battleground and opposing forces were always moving across the reserve.

In addition, the conflict between the northern and southern factions of the Methodist Episcopal Church flared up a new in 1856. This disagreement resulted in the complete destruction by arson of both houses of worship. Many members of the tribe lost their land and fell into debt to white traders, and their difficulties became intolerable.

Incursions by white squatters into the Wyandot Reserve, the Civil War between pro-slavery and free state partisans in Kansas, and difficulties experienced by members of the tribe in receiving their allotments and annuity funds prompted Chief Matthew Mudeater to suggest that a portion of the tribe remove to Indian Territory (in present Oklahoma).

A few Indians decided to remove to Ohio and Canada, but a majority of the Wyandots who wished to remove from Kansas followed Mudeater's suggestion. During the summer of 1857, Mudeater led a band of about 200 disorganized and demoralized Wyandots, out of a population of 550, south across the sunswept plains of southeastern Kansas Territory. They reached the Neosho Agency before the end of August and settled on Seneca land in Indian Territory. The Senecas agreed in 1859 to give the Wyandots 33,000 acres of land located on the Seneca Reserve.

This offer was never sanctioned by the government and many of the Wyandot leaders were preoccupied with the difficulties encountered by the members of the tribe who remained in Kansas. Conflicts arose over who should obtain each parcel of land on the Reserve, how much should be allotted to each member of the tribe, and who should be considered competent. Those Indians not judged competent were placed under the care of guardians.

Many of these unfortunate Wyandots received little or nothing of their rightful share of the reserve. Some individuals in the tribe were still claiming rights to individual tracts they had been granted under the Treaty of 1842 and this compounded the problems facing the Indians.

The situation in Kansas deteriorated into complete chaos, but the worst was yet to come. The Civil War brought with it nothing but hardships to the tribe. Those Wyandots who lived in Indian Territory were forced to flee from advancing Confederate military units in 1862 and these Indians presented an additional burden on their Kansas relatives when they returned to Wyandotte County,Kansas.

Staunchly loyal to the Union, the Wyandots performed well in federal military contingents, but many veterans who returned to Wyandotte County, Kansas, at the conclusion of hostilities, found that the federal government had not protected their property during their absence. By 1865 some Wyandots were drifting to the unofficial reserve in Indian Territory and dissension within the tribe had divided the Wyandots into two factions.

One group composed mainly of those Indians who had become citizens of the United States under the provisions of the Treaty of 1855, was designated as the Citizen Party, while the other faction was known as the Indian Party. These contending parties presented additional burdens to those who attempted to heal the wounds of the tribe which came as a result of the hostilities of the Civil War.

Tauromee, a Wyandot chief, was the most influential man in the tribe during this period of the agonizing transition from their homes in Kansas to the unsettled lands of northeastern Indian Territory. Several abortive treaties signed by tribal officials representing the Shawnees and the Senecas and the Wyandots were initiated during the Civil War.

Despite the failure of these treaties to gain the approval of Congress, the Wyandots sent a delegation, led by Tauroomee to Washington in January 1867. The Wyandot delegation met there with representatives of the Senecas and a treaty was concluded on February 23, 1867, which ensured that the Wyandots would have their own reserve in Indian Territory.

Under the terms of the Treaty of 1867 the Senecas proposed to sell 20,000 acres of their reserve around present Wyandotte, Oklahoma, to the federal government for $20,000. The government agreed to transfer this tract to the Wyandots for $20,000.

At this time the Wyandots had claims against the government of $83,814.40, and a government commission was set up to ascertain the validity of these claims. From whatever was allowed by the commission the $20,000 purchase price of the reserve was to be deducted. The government also pledged to give the Wyandots removal funds to expedite their journey to Indian Territory.

There were years of difficulty to be experienced by the Wyandots before a majority of their number were settled on the Wyandot Reserve in Indian Territory. Claims were not paid promptly and the divisions within the tribe continued to plague their domestic tranquility.

It was to be the mid 1870's before all the Wyandots, who became the fiber of the present Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma, were located in Indian Territory. Over the decades the divisions and dissension within the tribe were resolved and although never numerous, the tribe became a vital force once again.

The Society of Friends established a mission school on the Wyandot Reserve in 1869 and this school became the center of education on the reserve. It was later taken over by the federal government, becoming eventually known as the Seneca Indian School, and is currently operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Wyandots had a number of outstanding individuals in the tribe who rose to take the place of the departed generation of Tauroomee and William Walker, who died in the 1870's.

Mathias Splitlog became a townbuilder, as the father of Cayuga Springs, Indian Territory. Known for his inventions and railroad promotion, Splitlog, an adopted Wyandot, died in 1897 as chief of the Seneca tribe. A monument to his generosity is the Community Church on the shores of Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Grove, Oklahoma. It was constructed in honor of Splitlog's wife and although initially a Roman Catholic church named for Saint Matthias the Apostle, today it serves the people of the area as a nondenominational house of worship.

Another prominent Wyandot of the era was B. N. Walker, a noted poet and man of letters who labored diligently in the Bureau of Indian Affairs until his death in 1927.

The Wyandots became officially the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma in 1937, and this is the current designation of the tribe.

The present (1974) Principal Chief is Leonard N. Cotter. The tribe, while not numerous, has managed to retain its identity and at the same time to maintain a place in the mainstreet of American life. Wyandot names dot the landscape of North America from Toronto, Canada to Wyandotte, California, and their heritage has become a part of the American scene.

In 1852 and 1853 the Wyandots attempted to establish a territorial government in Kansas. They sent Abelard Guthrie, a white man adopted into the tribe, as their unofficial delegate to Congress in 1852.

The following year aprovisional government of Nebraska Territory was established with WilliamWalker, a Wyandot, holding the office of governor. This time, however,opposition to Guthrie developed and Thomas Johnson, missionary to the ShawneeIndians, was elected delegate to Congress, but Guthrie also went to Washingtonto look after Wyandot interests.

A third candidate, Harley Johnson fromIowa, claimed to be the elected delegate form Nebraska Territory and hepresented Congress with the perplexing problem of a triumvirate of unofficialdelegates, each claiming to represent a government in an area which did not have territorial status.

On May 30, 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-NebraskaAct and the controversy surrounding the Indian provisional government fadedinto obscurity, only to be superseded by the six violent years comprisingthe life of the Kansas Territory.

After many years of negotiations, the Wyandots concluded a treaty withthe government on January 31, 1855, whereby members of the tribe couldbecome citizens of the United States and their valuable land would be dividedinto individual parcels. Each member of the tribe was entitled to a shareof the reserve and the tribal government was to be discontinued.

Communal property was to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the proceedsgoing to the members of the tribe. In addition the federal government agreedto pay the Wyandots $380,000 in three annual installments.

The ratification of the Wyandot Treaty of 1855 coincided with the beginningof the most violent decade in the history of Kansas. The Wyandots wereto witness turmoil in territorial Kansas, and then they were to be caught up in the Civil War. Competent Indians, those Wyandots able to manage their own affairs, were to become citizens of the United States.

The federal government permitted the tribe to utilize the services of the Shawnee and Wyandot Indian Agency In Kansas and to maintain an informal tribal governmentuntil the transition to citizenship and individual land ownership was accomplished.

No opportunity for an orderly transition to their new status was given the Wyandots. White incursions on the Wyandot Reserve presented a vexingproblem and soon the hostilities between pro-slavery and anti-slavery whitefactions affected the Indians directly.

On the evening of June 21, 1856,their Indian agent, William Gay, was assassinated by pro-slavery partisans.The Wyandots attempted to remain neutral in what they considered to bea white man's war, but they could not avoid the conflict.

The Wyandot Reserve was situated in an area which became a battleground and opposing forces were always moving across the reserve. In addition, the conflict between the northern and southern factions of the Methodist Episcopal Church flared up in 1856. This disagreement resulted in the complete destruction by arson of both houses of worship.

Many members of the tribe lost their land and fell into debt to white traders,and their difficulties became intolerable.

Incursions by white squatters into the Wyandot Reserve, the Civil Warbetween pro-slavery and free state partisans in Kansas, and difficulties experienced by members of the tribe in receiving their allotments and annuity funds prompted Chief Matthew Mudeater to suggest that a portion of the tribe remove to Indian Territory (in present Oklahoma). A few Indians decided to remove to Ohio and Canada, but a majority of the Wyandots who wished to remove from Kansas followed Mudeater's suggestion.

During the summerof 1857, Mudeater led a band of about 200 disorganized and demoralized Wyandots, out of a population of 550, south across the sunswept plains of southeastern Kansas Territory. They reached the Neosho Agency before the end of August and settled on Seneca land in Indian Territory. The Senecas agreed in 1859 to give the Wyandots 33,000 acres of land located on theSeneca Reserve.

This offer was never sanctioned by the government and many of the Wyandot leaders were preoccupied with the difficulties encountered by the members of the tribe who remained in Kansas. Conflicts arose over who should obtain each parcel of land on the Reserve, how much should be allotted to each member of the tribe, and who should be considered competent. Those Indians not judged competent were placed under the care of guardians.

Many of these unfortunate Wyandots received little or nothing of their rightful share of the reserve. Some individuals in the tribe were still claiming right sto individual tracts they had been granted under the Treaty of 1842 and this compounded the problems facing the Indians.

The situation in Kansas deteriorated into complete chaos, but the worst was yet to come. The Civil War brought with it nothing but hardships tothe tribe. Those Wyandots who lived in Indian Territory were forced to flee from advancing Confederate military units in 1862 and these Indians presented an additional burden on their Kansas relatives when they returned to Wyandotte County,Kansas.

Staunchly loyal to the Union, the Wyandots performed well in federal military contingents, but many veterans who returned to Wyandotte County,Kansas, at the conclusion of hostilities, found that the federal government had not protected their property during their absence. By 1865 some Wyandot swere drifting to the unofficial reserve in Indian Territory and dissension within the tribe had divided the Wyandots into two factions.

One group composed mainly of those Indians who had become citizens of the United States under the provisions of the Treaty of 1855, was designated as the Citizen Party, while the other faction was known as the Indian Party. These contending parties presented additional burdens to those who attemptedto heal the wounds of the tribe which came as a result of the hostilities of the Civil War.

Tauromee, a Wyandot chief, was the most influential man in the tribe during this period of the agonizing transition from their homes in Kansas to the unsettled lands of northeastern Indian Territory. Several abortive treaties signed by tribal officials representing the Shawnees and the Senecas and the Wyandots were initiated during the Civil War.

Despite the failure of these treaties to gain the approval of Congress, the Wyandots sent a delegation, led by Tauroomee1 to Washington in January 1867. The Wyandot delegation met there with representatives of the Senecas and a treaty was concluded on February 23, 1867, which ensured that the Wyandots would have their own reserve in Indian Territory.

Under the terms of the Treaty of 1867 the Senecas proposed to sell 20,000 acres of their reserve around present Wyandotte, Oklahoma, to the federal government for $20,000. The government agreed to transfer this tract to the Wyandots for $20,000. At this time the Wyandots had claims against the government of $83,814.40, and a government commission was set up to ascertain the validity of these claims. From whatever was allowed by the commission the $20,000 purchase price of the reserve was to be deducted.The government also pledged to give the Wyandots removal funds to expedite their journey to Indian Territory.

There were years of difficulty to be experienced by the Wyandots beforea majority of their number were settled on the Wyandot Reserve in IndianTerritory. Claims were not paid promptly and the divisions within the tribe continued to plague their domestic tranquility. It was to be the mid 1870's before all the Wyandots, who became the fiber of the present WyandotteTribe of Oklahoma, were located in Indian Territory.

Over the decades the divisions and dissension within the tribe were resolved and although never numerous, the tribe became a vital force once again.

The Society of Friends established a mission school on the Wyandot Reservein 1869 and this school became the center of education on the reserve. It was later taken over by the federal government, becoming eventually known as the Seneca Indian School, and is currently operated by the Bureauof Indian Affairs.

The Wyandots had a number of outstanding individuals in the tribe who rose to take the place of the departed generation of Tauroomee and William Walker, who died in the 1870's. Mathias Splitlog became a townbuilder,as the father of Cayuga Springs, Indian Territory. Known for his inventions and railroad promotion, Splitlog, an adopted Wyandot, died in 1897 as chief of the Seneca tribe.

A monument to his generosity is the Community Churchon the shores of Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Grove, Oklahoma. It was constructed in honor of Splitlog's wife and although initially a RomanCatholic church named for Saint Matthias the Apostle, today it serves the people of the area as a nondenominational house of worship.

Another prominent Wyandot of the era was B. N. Walker, a noted poet and man of letters who labored diligently in the Bureau of Indian Affairs until his death in 1927.

The Wyandots became officially the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma in 1937,and this is the current designation of the tribe. The present (1974) PrincipalChief is Leonard N. Cotter.

The tribe, while not numerous, has managed to retain its identity and at the same time to maintain a place in the mainstreet of American life. Wyandot names dot the landscape of North America from Toronto, Canada to Wyandotte, California, and their heritage has becomea part of the American scene.

SOURCE:


This article first appeared on the Wyandot Nation of Kansas web site.

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