History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


The Shawnee Indians

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Shawnee Chief TecumsehThe Missouri Shawnee were the first Indians removed to Kansas Territory, which was then set apart for emigrant tribes by the treaties of June, 1825, with the Kanza and Osage. By a treaty made at St. Louis, Missouri on November 7, 1825, the United States granted "to the Shawnee tribe of Indians within the State of Missouri, for themselves, and for those of the same nation now residing in Ohio who may hereafter emigrate to the west of the Mississippi, a tract of land equal to fifty miles square, situated west of the State of Missouri, and within the purchase lately made from the Osage." The tract of fifty miles square was thus granted and afterward surveyed and conveyed to the tribe on May 11, 1844.


The Shawnee had their ancient home in the basin of the Cumberland River in Tennessee. Their territory was invaded by the Iroquois about the year 1672, and the vanquished Shawnee, fleeing to the South, were scattered over various parts of the country -- settling in the Carolinas, at the head-waters of the Mobile River, in Florida, and are related to one tribe that went south to "New Spain."


After a short time, several of the tribes reunited and returned to the vicinity of their old hunting-grounds, forming settlements in the Ohio Valley, where Father Marquette related that they were "in such numbers that they seem as many as twenty-three villages in one district, and fifteen in another, lying quite near each other."


Several treaties of peace had been made previous to 1786, with the Shawnee but that of January 31, 1786, was the first concluded with them separately as a nation. By the provisions of this treaty, which was made at the mouth of the Great Miami River, on the northwest bank of the Ohio, the United States allotted to the Shawnee certain lands on the Miami River, contiguous to the reservations of the Wyandot and Delaware tribes.


The Wyandot protested against this treaty, on the grounds that the lands set apart for the Shawnee had been previously, by treaty, ceded to themselves. The Shawnee remained on the land, however, sharing the Wyandot hunting and fishing grounds, and it was in consideration of their forbearance at this time that the Wyandot would later request the Shawnee to cede to them a portion of their reservation in the Indian Territory, when they attempted to negotiate for removal from Sandusky in 1832.


From the time of the peace treaty which the Shawnee made with William Penn in 1682 (the first treaty with the whites to which they were a party), the Quakers took an intelligent and constant interest in their welfare. Thomas Chalkley, a minister of the London society of the denomination, who visited them as early as 1706, mentions among the peculiarities of the Shawnee its custom of admitting women to its councils. He said: "In the council was a woman who took a part in the deliberations of this council, as well as upon all important occasions. On the interpreter being questioned why they permitted a woman to take so responsible a part in their councils, he replied that some women were wiser than some men, and that they had not done anything for years without the council of this ancient, grave woman, who spoke much in this council."


Philanthropic and religious enterprises were necessarily suspended during the long-continued French, English and Indian wars, but after the close of the war of 1812, the Quakers again resumed their labors among the Shawnee, establishing a school, and building flour and saw mills at their village in Ohio. Under the prudent and energetic superintendence of Henry Harvey, the tribe made rapid advances in civilization, and in the year 1831, when their lands were bought by the Government, preparatory to the removal of the tribe to the West, the Ohio Shawnee were prosperous.


Shawnee Indians in treaty with William PennThe Delaware removed from the tract in 1815; the Shawnee removed from their first location near the cape, and again removed as white settlers encroached on their lands, until, by the treaty of November 7, 1825, they relinquished all title to their Missouri lands, and moved to their reservation in what is now the State of Kansas.


In 1831, a treaty was concluded with the Ohio Shawnee, giving them a certain sum for their improvements in that state, and land contiguous to the Missouri Shawnee in present-day Kansas. A portion of the tribe were removed in 1832; the remainder, in the fall of the following year.


The good results of the habits of thrift and industry which these Shawnee had acquired, aided and encouraged by the influence of the missionaries, who soon settled among them in their new location, were, after a few years, apparent in the comparatively comfortable houses and the well-cultivated fields which multiplied on their reservation.




An act was passed in 1853, granting the Ohio Shawnee $66,000 additional compensation for their improvements in that state -- 24 years after their removal. This sum was paid to the Ohio band at their reservation in Kansas.


On May 10, 1854, the tribe ceded to the United States the entire tract set apart for them on November 7, 1825, and additional lands conveyed to the tribe on May 11, 1844, containing about 1,600,000 acres. By a provision of the same treaty, the United States retroceded to the tribe "200,000 acres to be selected between the Missouri State line and a line parallel thereto and west of the same thirty miles distant, which parallel line shall be drawn from the Kansas River to the southern boundary line of the country herein ceded."


Three sections of land were to be set apart to the Missionary Society of the Methodist Church South; 320 acres to the Friends' Shawnee Labor School; 160 acres to the American Baptist Missionary Union; five acres to the Shawnee Methodist Church; and two acres to the Shawnee Baptist Church -- all to be considered a part of the retroceded 200,000 acres. The residue of the tract was to be divided, each individual receiving 200 acres, and whatever remained to be set apart for any other Shawnee who might thereafter unite with the tribe.

The privilege of selecting lands extended to every head of a family who, though not a Shawnee, had legally married into the nation, according to their customs, all persons adopted into the tribe, all minor orphan children of Shawnee, and all incompetent persons, to have selections made adjacent to their friends and relatives.

Joseph Parks and Black Hoof, principal chiefs, at the request of the tribe, were allowed to select certain lands -- Joseph Parks' being equal to two sections, including his residence and improvements; and Black Hoof's being equal to one section, including residence and improvements. The treaty was signed by Joseph Parks, Black Hoof, George McDougal, Long Tail, George Blue Jacket, Graham Rogers, Black Bob, Henry Blue Jacket -- representing the bands that were parties to the treaty of November 7, 1825, and August 8, 1831.

For the land ceded by the Shawnee, they were to be paid the sum of $829,000, of which $40,000 should be invested for educational purposes, $700,000 paid in seven equal installments, and the remainder within a month of the time of the last annual payment.

A large part of the tribe left Kansas about 1845 and settled on Canadian River in Oklahoma, where they became known as the Absentee Shawnee. In 1867 the Shawnee living with the Seneca also from Kansas to the Indian Territory and became known as the Eastern Shawnee. In 1869, by intertribal agreement, the main body became incorporated with the Cherokee Nation in the present-day Oklahoma.

Though the Shawnee were integrated with the Cherokee, they maintained separate communities and  cultural identities. Known as the Cherokee Shawnee, they would also later be called the Loyal Shawnee. Efforts began in the 1980s to separate the Shawnee Tribe from the Cherokee Nation, which finally culminated with the Shawnee Tribe Status Act of 2000, which restored the Shawnee Tribe to its position as a sovereign Indian nation.

Today, the largest part of the Shawnee Nation continues to reside in Oklahoma.


Contact Information:


Shawnee Tribe

P.O. Box 189

29 S Hwy 69A

Miami, Oklahoma 74355



Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.


About this article: The primary content for this article is an edited rendition of the Shawnee IIndians as told in William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, Illinois. Note that the article is not verbatim as minor corrections for spelling and punctuation, editing for clarity, and updates since the article was first written, have been made.

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