The goal of this project is to develop genealogical and historical knowledge of the Shawnee, indigenous peoples of North America.
Who are the Shawnee?
Shawnee comes from the Algonquin word "shawun," meaning "southerner." Shawnee usually call themselves the Shawano or Shawanoe or Shawanese. They are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Currently there are more than 14,000 Shawnee located on reservations in three federally recognized Shawnee tribes: Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, and Shawnee Tribe, all of which are headquartered in Oklahoma. In addition, at least four bands of Shawnee reside in Ohio, with other bands residing in Ohio and Alabama. The Shawnee Nation Remnant Band is said to have descended from the Ohio Shawnee and appears to have managed to avoid removal during the 1830s.
Before European Contact
Some scholars believe that the Shawnee are descendants of the people of the prehistoric Fort Ancient culture of the Ohio country, although this is not universally accepted. Scholars now believe it developed independently and was descended from the Hopewell culture (100 BCE - 500 CE), also a Mound builder people.
The Shawnee traditionally considered the Lenape (or Delaware) their "grandfathers." The Algonquian nations of present-day Canada regarded the Shawnee as their southernmost branch. Along the East Coast, the Algonquian-speaking tribes were mostly located in coastal areas, from Quebec to the Carolinas.
Shawnee after 1600
Europeans reported encountering Shawnee over a widespread geographic area. The earliest mention of the Shawnee may be a 1614 Dutch map showing the Sawwanew just east of the Delaware River.
According to one legend, the Shawnee were descended from a party sent by Chief Opechancanough, ruler of the Powhatan Confederacy 1618-1644, to settle in the Shenandoah Valley. The party was led by his son, Sheewa-a-nee, for whom they were named. Sometime before 1670, a group of Shawnee migrated to the Savannah River area. The English based in Charles Town, South Carolina were contacted by these Shawnee in 1674. They forged a long-lasting alliance. The Savannah River Shawnee were known to the Carolina English as "Savannah Indians". Around the same time, other Shawnee groups migrated to Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and other regions south and east of the Ohio country. Their language became a lingua franca for trade among numerous tribes.
Resistance to European Expansion
They became leaders among the tribes, initiating and sustaining pan-Indian resistance to European and Euro-American expansion. After the Revolution, in the Northwest Indian War between the United States and a confederation of Native American tribes, the Shawnee combined with the Miami into a great fighting force. culminating in Tecumseh's War.
- Cornstalk (1720–1777), led the Shawnee in Dunmore's War.
- Blue Jacket (1743–1810), also known as Weyapiersenwah, was an important predecessor to Tecumseh and a leader in the Northwest Indian War.
- Blackfish (c. 1729–1779), known in his native tongue as Cot-ta-wa-ma-go or Mkah-day-way-may-qua, was a Native American leader, war chief of the Chillicothe division of the Shawnee tribe.
- Black Hoof (1740–1831), also known as Catecahassa, was a respected Shawnee chief who believed the Shawnee had to adapt to European-American culture to survive.
- Chiksika (1760–1792), Kispoko war chief and older brother of Tecumseh.
- Tecumseh (1768–1813), outstanding Shawnee leader, and his brother Tenskwatawa attempted to unite the Eastern tribes against the expansion of European-American settlement.
- Tenskwatawa (1775–1836), Shawnee prophet and younger brother of Tecumseh.
- Black Bob, 19th c. leader and warrior.
- 1630 Approximate year Shawnee were expelled from the Ohio Valley during the Beaver Wars
- 1670 Had left the upper Ohio Valley and dispersed into four groups; Chillicothe and Kispoko Shawnee allowed to settle on the Cumberland River by the Cherokee as a buffer against the Iroquois; Cherokee allowed Hathawekela Shawnee to settle on the Savannah River as a buffer against their Catawba enemies
- 1677 Piqua Shawnee settled in eastern Pennsylvania near the Delaware
- 1683 Chaouesnon Shawnee settled in Illinois and allied with the Miami
- 1684 Drove the Westo from the Savannah River
- 1690 Began leaving the Savannah region due to attacks by Yamasee and Catawba; most went to Pennsylvania; Illinois Shawnee joined others on Cumberland River
- 1692 Tennessee Shawnee conducted slaving raid on a Cherokee village
- 1694 Pennsylvania Shawnee made peace with the Iroquois
- 1698 Violent conflict Illinois Confederacy
- 1707 Final expulsion from South Carolina after defeat by the Catawba, most went to Pennsylvania, others to Tennessee, and still others would eventually join the Creek Confederacy; Cumberland Shawnee began trading with the French and allowed Charleville to establish a trading post near present Nashville
- 1715 Cherokee and Chickasaw joined to defeat the Cumberland Shawnee, some joined the Creek, others move north to Kentucky
- 1737 Delaware and Shawnee lost their lands in eastern Pennsylvania, both tribes removed to western Pennsylvania and later Ohio though one Shawnee band went south
- 1746 Southern band made peace with the Cherokee and settled in the Cumberland Basin
- 1754 Start of French and Indian War marked the start of constant hostilities with Whites
- 1755 British hanged a peaceful delegation of Shawnee and Delaware; Shawnee and Delaware killed 2,500 colonists over the next two years
- 1756 Cumberland Shawnee attacked by Chickasaw, most removed to Ohio
- 1758 Remaining Cumberland Shawnee joined others in Ohio via western Pennsylvania
- 1759 Peace with the British, raids against colonists stopped
- 1760 760 British prisoners exchanged but about half opted to remain with the Shawnee and Delaware
- 1762 Treaty at Lancaster quickly betrayed by British by building Fort Pitt and a garrison of 200 men
- 1763 Pontiac's Rebellion resulted in the capturing of six or nine forts west of the Appalachians; Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo besieged Fort Pitt ultimately killing 600 settlers; smallpox epidemic may have been intentionally introduced; Col. Henry Bouquet defeated the Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo in a two-day battle at Bushy Run.
- 1770 650 Kispoko and Piqua Shawnee left Ohio and headed to settle in Spanish Missouri; Michael Cresap and a group of vigilantes attacked a Shawnee trading party near Wheeling killing a chief
- 1773 Shawnee killed Daniel Boone's son; Large groups of Shawnee had left Ohio in and settled in southeast Missouri
- 1774 50 frontiesmen west of Appalachians; Cherokee had sold their rights to Kentucky; Shawnee suffered heavy losses in Lord Dunmore's War Chief Cornstalk later signed Treay of Camp Charlotte relinquishing claims south of Ohio; Hathawekela Shawnee had left Ohio and moved to the Upper Creek in northern Alabama
- 1776 Shawnee and Cherokee war parties roamed through Kentucky killing settlers; Shawnee/Cherokee war party captured Daniel Boone's daughter and two friends, rescued after three days, reprisals followed
- 1777 Chief Cornstalk went to Fort Randolf (Point Pleasant) to warn that the Shawnee were going over to the British but ungrateful soldiers murdered Cornstalk; Cornstalk replaced by the more militant Blackfish; Ft. Henry (Wheeling) attacked by 400 Shawnee who burned settlement; Simon Girty deserted Continental Army and fought with Shawnee; Blackfish and Half King and 300 Shawnee attacked Fort Randolf
- 1779 300 mounted Kentucky Volunteers crossed into Ohio and burned Old Chilicothe and killed Bal; Kispoko and Piqua had returned to Ohio but soon left for Spanish Louisiana; Large groups of Shawnee had left Ohio in and settled in southeast Missouri
- 1780 George Rogers Clark attacked Shawnee villages on Mad River taking only seven prisoners
- 1793 Baron de Carondelet, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, gave the Missouri Shawnee a 25 mile square land grant near Cape Girardeau, Shawnee unwilling to accept the Greenville treaty joined them
- 1795 Hathawekela left the Creek in Alabama and immigrated to Spanish Louisiana
- 1800 Hathawekela, Kispokotha, and Piqua were in Missouri, and only the Chillicothe and Mequachake remained in Ohio
- 1801 Tecumseh had located his village on the deserted grounds of Fort Greenville
- 1802 Shawnee attacked a large Kaskaskia (Illinois) hunting party dealing heavy losses
- 1805 A Shawnee drunk named Lalawethika (Tecumseh's brother) underwent an spiritual awakening in which he received a religious vision and declared himself a prophet; anyone who disagreed with him or were Christians were likely to be killed as a witch or traitor; Tecumseh added a political element to his brother's religion: an alliance of all tribes to halt the surrender of land to the Americans
- 1808 Tecumseh had assembled almost 3,000 warriors, from different tribes, ready to fight American expansion
- 1811 Tecumseh left for the south to try to recruit the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee. Before leaving, he gave his brother specific instructions that, during his absence, he was to avoid any confrontation with the Americans; soon after Tecumseh left, the Prophet ignored his brother's orders and decided to kill Harrison with a suicide squad with the ensuing battle ended in a draw, but the Americans lost 62 killed and 126 wounded, he warriors withdrew, and Harrison burned Prophetstown; the result was Tecumseh's alliance was in shambles
- 1812 War of 1812 began; Tecumseh with 800 warriors and 300 Canadians caused American Gen Hull to surrender without a fight at Detroit; the victory at Detroit brought more warriors to Tecumseh and set off a series of raids against American forts and settlements across the frontier as far west as Missouri
- 1813 900 Kentucky militia commanded by General James Winchester was ambushed on the Raisin River by Shawnee in southeast Michigan with 300 killed, 50 prisoners were murdered as British watched, newly arriving Tecumseh stopped further slaughter; Tecumseh was killed late in the afternoon of October 6th, 1813 by Harrison's command, united Native American resistance to American expansion died with him
- 1815 Tensquatawa remained in Canada, but most of his followers made peace with the Americans at Indian Springs and returned to Ohio; several hundred Missouri Shawnee and Delaware left the United States and moved to Texas
- 1817 Ceded Ohio lands for Missouri reservations in Ft. Meigs Treaty
- 1821 Ceded Missouri lands for lands in eastern Kansas; Black Bob's band went south and settled in Arkansas
- 1826 Black Hoof's band of 200 left Ohio for a two year trip to Kansas which was a horror tale
- 1831 400 Shawnee at Wapaughkonetta and Hog Creek ceded their Ohio lands in exchange for 100,000 acres of the Shawnee Reserve in Kansas
- 1833 Black Bob's band removed to Olathe, Kansas
- 1837 85 Shawnee volunteered as scouts for the American army against the Florida Seminole
- 1839 Shawnee and Cherokee expelled from Texas by a military force
- 1845 A large group of traditional Shawnee left the Kansas reserve and joined the Absentee near present-day Shawnee, Oklahoma
- 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, Most Shawnee sold Kansas territories for Oklahoma tracts; lost much of their lands to squatters and fraud
- 1861 Most Shawnee served in Union Army in Civil War; Kansas statehood
- 1862 Kansas Shawnee and Delaware attacked the Confederate Wichita Agency in Oklahoma
- 1864 Kansas legislature called for the removal of all Indians from Kansas
- 1867 Removal of Indian from Kansas essentially completed
- 1869 Congress finally approved the sale of the Kansas lands which had been reserved for the Absentee Shawnee