History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Native American History in Kansas - Page 3

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The Cheyenne have a tradition that when they lived in Minnesota, before the coming of the Sioux, they lived in fixed villages, practiced agriculture, made pottery, etc., but everything was changed when the tribe was driven out and they became roving hunters. About the only institution of the old life that remained with them was the great tribal ceremony of the Sundance.


In 1838 the Cheyenne and Arapaho attacked the Kiowa on Wolf Creek, Oklahoma, but two years later peace was established between the tribes, after which the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa  Comanche and Apache were frequently allied in wars against the whites.


The northern Cheyenne joined the Sioux in the Sitting Bull War of 1876. In the winter of 1878-79 a band of the northern Cheyenne was taken as prisoners to Fort Reno, Oklahoma to be colonized with the southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma. The chiefs Dull Knife, Wild Hog and Little Wolf, with about 200 followers, escaped and were pursued to the Dakota border, where most of the warriors were killed.


Cheyenne Indians on horses

Cheyenne Indians, 1910, photo by Edward S. Curtis

This image available for photographic prints HERE!




In February, 1861, the Cheyenne and Arapaho relinquished their title to lands in Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and northwest Kansas, and in 1867, the southern Cheyenne were given a reservation in western Oklahoma. They refused to occupy it; however, until after the surrender of 1875, when some of their leaders were sent to Florida as a final means of quelling the insurrection. In 1902, the southern Cheyenne were alloted lands in severalty. Two years later the Bureau of Ethnology reported 3,300 members of the tribe -- 1,900 southern and 1,400 northern.


The Arapaho (our people), a plains tribe of the Algonquian group, was closely allied with the Cheyenne for almost a century. They were called by the Sioux and Cheyenne "Blue Sky Men" or "Cloud Men." An Arapaho tradition tells how the tribe was once an agricultural people in northwestern Minnesota, but were forced across the Missouri River, where they met the Cheyenne, with whom they moved southward. Like the Cheyenne, they became divided, the northern Arapaho remaining about the mountains near the head of the Platte River and the southern branch drifting to the Arkansas River. In 1867 the southern portion of the tribe was given a reservation with the southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma. By 1892 they had made sufficient progress to justify the government in allotting them lands in severalty, the rest of the reservation being thrown open to white settlement. The northern branch was established in 1876 on a reservation in Wyoming.


Between the years 1825 and 1830, the Kanza and Osage tribes withdrew from a large part of their lands, which were turned over to the United States. This gave the national government the opportunity of establishing the long talked of Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Congress therefore passed a bill providing that the country west of the Mississippi River, and not included in any state or organized territory of the United States, should be set apart as a home for the Indians. This Indian Territory joined Missouri and Arkansas on the west and was annexed to those states for judicial purposes. During the decade following the passage of the bill, a number of eastern tribes found what they thought were permanent homes within the present State of Kansas. Among them were the Shawnee, Delaware, Ottawa, Miami, Chippewa, Kickapoo, Sauk and Fox, Wyandot, and a few others.


The Shawnee (southerners) were the first to seek a home in the new territory. The early history of the Shawnee tribe is somewhat obscure, though it was known to be an important tribe in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, and along the Savannah River in Georgia. Some writers claim that the Shawnee were identical with the Erie of the early Jesuits, and attempts have been made to show that they were allied to the Andaste or Conestoga of the Iroquois family. Their language was that of the central Algonqnian dialects -- similar to that of the Sauk and Fox -- and the Delaware had a tradition that made the Shawnee and Nanticoke one people.  


Shawnee Chief TecumsehThe recorded history of the Shawnee begins about 1670, when there were two bodies, some distance apart, with the friendly Cherokee Nation between. In 1672 the western Shawnee were allied with the Andaste in a war against the Iroquois. Twelve years later, the Iroquois made war on the Miami tribe  because they were trying to form an alliance with the Shawnee for the purpose of invading the Iroquois country.


About the middle of the 18th century the eastern and western Shawnee were united in Ohio, and from that time to the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795 were almost constantly at war with the English. They were driven from the head of the Scioto River to the head of the Miami River, and after the Revolutionary War,  some of them went south and formed an alliance with the Creek Indians, with whom, they were closely connected, their language being almost identical. Others joined with a portion of the Delaware tribe and accepted a Spanish invitation to occupy a tract of land near Cape Girardeau, Missouri.


In the early part of the 19th century the Shawnee in Indiana and Ohio, with some of the Delaware, joined the movement of the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh and his brother, Tenskawata (the Prophet), to unite the tribes of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys in a general uprising against the whites. The conspiracy was effectually crushed by General Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 4, 1811. In the War of 1812 some of the Shawnee fought with the British until Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames.


The fall of their great war chief broke the warlike spirit of the tribe and the Shawnee sued for peace. In 1825 the Missouri Shawnee sold their lands and received a reservation in Kansas south of the Kansas River and bordering on the Missouri River.


Battle of TippecanoeThe Ohio Shawnee sold their lands near Wapakoneta in 1831 and joined their brethren in Kansas, the mixed band of Shawnee and Seneca coming in about the same time. Some of the tribe in 1845 withdrew from the Kansas reservation and went to the Canadian River in Oklahoma. They became known as the "Absentee Shawnee." In 1867 those with the Seneca moved to the Indian Territory, and in 1869 the main body was incorporated with the Cherokee Nation.  

The Shawnee tribe consisted of five divisions, which were further divided into 13 clans, the English names of which were the wolf, loon, bear, buzzard, panther, owl, turkey, deer, raccoon, turtle, snake, horse and rabbit. Of these, the Clan of the Turtle was the most important, especially in their mythological traditions.

The Delaware, formerly the most important confederacy of the Algonquian stock, occupied the entire valley of the Delaware River. They called themselves the Lenape or Leni-lenape (real men). The English gave them the name of Delaware, and the French called them Loups (wolves). They were divided into three bands -- the Munsee, Unami and the Unalachtigo -- though it is probable that some of the bands in New Jersey may have formed a fourth group.


About 1720 the Iroquois tribe assumed authority over the Delaware and forbade them to sell their lands. This condition lasted until after the French and Indian War. Then they were gradually crowded westward by the white men and began to form settlements in Ohio, along the Muskingum River with the Huron.


Here they were supported by the French and became independent of the Iroquois. They opposed the English with determination until the treaty of Greeneville in 1795. Six years before that treaty was consummated the Spanish government of Louisiana gave the Delaware permission to settle in that province, near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with some of the SShawnee tribe.



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