History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


The Wyandot Indians

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Wyandot WarriorThe Wyandot are a remnant of the ancient Huron Indians, whose country was the western shore of the lake which bears their name. They were of Iroquois lineage, but, in the wars with the fierce "Six Nations" of the same family, were driven from their old home more than three centuries ago. In 1639, the Jesuits recorded their number as 20,000, owning 32  villages and 700 dwellings. Some of their towns were fortified and the dwellings were neatly constructed, being in formation with a raised platform extending the entire length, the space underneath being utilized as a storeroom. After the Wyandot were driven from Lake Huron, they migrated to the region of Detroit, and gradually extended their settlements south from the shore of Lake Erie, their principal villages being in the vicinity of Sandusky Bay in Ohio.


The first treaty with the United States to which the Wyandot were a party was concluded at Fort McIntosh, Ohio on January 21, 1785. It was a treaty for the renewal of peace Delaware, Chippewa and Ottawa tribes, and the establishment of boundary lines  as follows:


"The boundary line between the United States and the Wyandot and Delaware Nations shall begin at the mouth of the River Cayahoga, and then runs up the said river to the portage between that and the Tuscarawas Branch of the Muskingum River; then down said branch to the forks at the crossing place above Fort Lawrence; then westerly to the portage of the Big Miami River, which runs into the Ohio, at the mouth of which branch the fort stood which was taken by the French in 1752; then along the said portage to the Great Miami or Ome River, and down the southeast side of the same to its mouth; then along the south shore of Lake Erie to the mouth of Cayahoga River, where it begins."


This tract, excepting a few reservations on which to establish trading posts, was allotted "to the Wyandot and Delaware Nations to live and to hunt on and to such of the Ottawa Nation as now live thereon, the lands east, south and west of the same, to belong to the United States."


A note to the treaty, made at Fort Harmar in 1789 stated:


"Be it remembered, that the Wyandot have laid claim to the lands that were granted to the Shawnee at the treaty held at the Miami River, and have declared that as the Shawnee have been so restless and caused so much trouble, both to them and to the United States, if they will not now be at peace, they will dispossess them and take the country into their own hands, for that the country is theirs of right, and the Shawnee are only living upon it by their permission. They further lay claim to all the country west of the Miami boundary, from the village to the Lake Erie, and declare that it is now under their management and direction."


The Wyandot by this treaty were allowed to remain in their villages near the River Rosine, on United States land.


At the conclusion of the war of 1812, a treaty of peace was concluded with that portion of the Wyandot who had joined the English, the Wyandot of Sandusky having preserved their fidelity to the United States throughout the war.


On September 29, 1817, a treaty was made with the Wyandot at the Rapids of the Miami, Lewis Cass and Duncan McArthur being United States Commissioners, by which the tribe ceded a large tract on the southern shore of Lake Erie, in consideration of which the United States agreed to pay the tribe annually, forever, the sum of $4,000, at Upper Sandusky, and to grant to the Wyandot, "a tract of land twelve miles square at Upper Sandusky, the center of which shall be the place where Fort Ferrel stands," and also "a tract of one mile square, to be located where the chiefs direct, on a cranberry swamp, on Broken Sword Creek, and to be held for the use of the tribe."




By a supplementary treaty at St. Mary's, in Ohio, it was provided that the Wyandot should hold their land as a reservation, and not as a grant, and that 55,680 additional acres should be reserved from the cession made in September, 1817, to join the reserve of twelve miles square at Upper Sandusky.


This tract remained the home of the Wyandot until they removed to present day Kansas in what is now the Wyandotte County. A delegation visited the territory in 1839, with a view of selecting a location for the nation, which they were desirous should embrace portions of both the Shawnee and Delaware  Reservations. Satisfactory negotiations were not made at that visit, and the removal was not effected until several years later.


In 1842, a treaty was concluded between the United States and the Wyandot, by the provisions of which they sold their lands in Ohio, and moved to the junction of the Kansas and Missouri Rives. The nation, numbering about 700, with Francis A. Hicks as chief, arrived in the summer of 1843, and settled on a tract of 23,040 acres, which they purchased from the Delaware for $185,000. This reservation was situated in the fork of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, and extended six miles on each river from their junction.


The Wyandot were a wealthy community, the improvements in their Ohio Reservation being valued at $120,000. They had, for many years before coming to the West, been under the influence of devoted Methodist missionaries, and were comparatively far advanced in civilization, their reservation rapidly improved. Several of the Indians had intermarried with the French and English while in Ohio and carried the names of Armstrong, Clark, Walker and Northrup and others that are identified with the history of the progress of the Wyandot in Kansas. The nation was governed by a council, consisting of one head chief and six councilmen.


Wyandot Tribe towns map in Ohio

Wyandot Tribe towns map in Ohio, courtesy Ohio History Central


Bill Moose Crowfoot was one of the last of the Wyandot Indians to live in Ohio.In 1851, at a convention composed of thirteen delegates elected by the Wyandot, a new constitution was formed, preparatory to revising the laws of the nation. The constitution, as drafted, was submitted to a national council, composed of every voter in the nation, and unanimously ratified. It provided for a legislative council and a council composed of the principal chiefs.


The laws were codified, and, under the new regime, the progress of the Wyandot was rapid and enduring. On September 2, 1854, a convention was held at Wyandot (Kansas City, Kansas,) at which, a provisional government was formed for the Territory. William Walker, one of the head men of the nation, was appointed Provisional Governor, and it was chiefly through his influence that the treaty was successfully consummated on the January 31, 1855. This treaty, of such moment to the nation, was made at Washington, by George W. Manypenny, Commissioner, on the part of the United States, and the following-named chiefs and delegates of the Wyandot Indians: Tanromee, Mathew Mudeater, John Hicks, Silas Armstrong, George J. Clark and Joel Walker.


Article 1 read as follows:


"The Wyandot Indians having become sufficiently advanced in civilization, and being desirous of becoming citizens, it is hereby agreed and stipulated that their organization and their relations with the United States as an Indian tribe shall be dissolved and terminated on the ratification of this agreement, except so far as the further and temporary continuance of the same may be necessary in the execution of some of the stipulations herein; and from and after the date of such ratification the said Wyandot Indians, and each and every of them, except as hereinafter provided, shall be deemed, and are hereby declared, to be citizens of the United States, to all intents and purposes, and shall be entitled to all the rights, privileges and immunities of such citizens; and shall, in all respects, be subject to the laws of the United States and of the Territory of Kansas, in the same manner as other citizens of said Territory; and the jurisdiction of the United States and of said Territory shall be extended over the Wyandot country, in the same manner as over other parts of said Territory. But such of the said Indians as may so desire, and make application accordingly to the Commissioners hereinafter provided for, shall be exempt from the immediate operation of the preceding provisions, extending citizenship to the Wyandot Indians, and shall have continued to them the assistance and protection of the United States an Indian agent in their vicinity for such a limited period or periods of time, according to the circumstances of the case, as shall be determined by the Commissioner of Indian affairs; and on the expiration of such period or periods, the said exemption, protection and assistance shall cease, and said persons shall then, also, become citizens of the United States, with all the rights and privileges and subject to the obligations above stated and defined."


By the provisions of Article 2, the Wyandot nation "cede and relinquish to the United States all their right, title and interest in and to the tract of country situated in the fork of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, which was purchased by them of the Delaware Indians on December 14, 1843, the object of the cession being that the lands may be subdivided, assigned and re-conveyed, by patent, in fee simple, to the individuals and members of the nation in severalty."


Certain reservations were made to churches, and a specified sum was named which the tribe was to receive for the relinquishment of annuities. The treaty was ratified February 20, 1855.


In 1856, shortly after Kansas was opened to white settlers, the town of Quindaro was established as a Free-State settlement in the midst of the nearby pro-slavery towns of Atchison, Leavenworth and Delaware City. The land was owned by Abelard and Nancy Quindaro Guthrie, a Wyandot Indian woman. The couple had  long offered slaves shelter on their farmland playing an early role in Underground Railroad. The place was then selected by a number of Free-State men as a location for a town and Mrs. Guthrie used her influence to purchase more land from members of the tribe. The following year, a town site called Quindaro, was established and rapidly settled by emigrants aided by the New England Emigrant Aid Company, who were trying to help secure Kansas as a free territory.


Nancy "Quindaro" GuthrieOn February 23, 1867, a treaty was concluded between the United States and the making provision for those of the tribe who had not chosen to avail themselves of the provisions of the treaty of 1855 and become citizens and for those who desired to resume tribal relations. For these


Wyandot some 20,000 acres of land purchased from the Seneca tribe in the 1940s a program was formed to address grievances filed by various Native American tribes which allocated some $800 million to rectify promises broken by settlers who invaded their territories. The Wyandot settlement was based on an 1830 Federal law which required them to move west of the Mississippi River. Originally the Wyandot were paid .75 cents per acre for land that was worth $1.50 an acre.


In February, 1985 the government agreed to pay descendants of the Wyandot Indians $5.5 million, which settled the 1842 treaty which forced the tribe to sell their Ohio homes for less than fair value.

In 1999, representatives of the far-flung Wyandot bands of Quebec, Kansas, Oklahoma and Michigan gathered at their historic homeland in Midland, Ontario, and formally re-established the Wendat Confederacy.

Today, there are several autonomous bands:

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



About the Article: The majority of this text was published in Kansas: History of the State of Kansas, by William G. Cutler; SA. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883. However, the text that appears on these pages is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.



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