SHAWNEE

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Native American tribe of the Algonquian language family and of the Eastern Woodlands culture area.

In about 1700 they lived in present-day Ohio but were driven out by the Iroquois. Some migrated to Florida and by 1800 reached Texas.

Most, however, went to what is now Georgia and South Carolina. Part of this group, known as the Eastern Shawnee, then moved to Pennsylvania with the Delaware tribe. The other part settled in Tennessee.

Both were pushed back to Ohio by other tribes in 1730-1750; American expansion forced some into Indiana by 1795.

The Shawnee first supported the French against the British and later the British against the Americans.

After 1805 the Shawnee leader Tecumseh organized a multitribal movement to resist white expansion.

Tecumseh (Ohio Historical Society)
Tecumseh (Ohio Historical Society)

In the 1830s, pressured by the Iroquois and the whites, they moved again. The Eastern Shawnee settled in Oklahoma. The other Ohio group moved first to a Kansas reservation and later to Oklahoma; where they live among the Cherokee.

The Texas group, known as the Absentee Shawnee, was pushed north into Oklahoma in the mid-19th century.

Today, people claiming Absentee Shawnee ancestry dwell mostly in central Oklahoma and have a separate tribal government from that of the Eastern and Cherokee Shawnee.

The early Shawnee had an Eastern Woodland culture. In summer, they lived in bark-covered houses in villages while the women farmed and the men hunted, and in winter they split into small hunting camps.

The Shawnee belonged to patrilineal clans and lineages.

Today they farm, ranch, and do various other work.

Some are Protestants, but many adhere to traditional religions.

In 1990, 750 people claimed to be of Eastern Shawnee descent; Cherokee Shawnee descendants numbered 947; Absentee Shawnee numbered 1279. The total number of people in 1990 who claimed to be of Shawnee descent was 6179.

OLD SAWAGE lived with her grandson. She had reared him from infancy and when old enough to shoot he killed birds of different kinds. As he grew older he killed small animals at first, and then larger till he became a great hunter. Old Sawage skinned every bird and beast her grandson killed. She dried and put away the skins with care. When her grandson had grown to be a man she said to him one evening: "You would better put on your finest clothes and patch your moccasins, we are going to have company tonight. Some women will come her for you."

He didn't believe the old woman and thought to himself, "I have traveled around many a year and have never seen the smoke of any house but this, never seen any person but my grandmother." Old Sawage knew his thought and said: "You needn't think so, they will come. They will be her very soon. Presently they heard the laughter -- Ha! Ha! Ha! -- of a number of women down the road. It drew nearer and soon the heard it in front of the house. These were twelve sisters. They began to talk as soon as the stopped before the house and the elder sisters said to the youngest: "Go in and see the young man. "The old woman was sitting near the door and the young man sat by the fire in the middle of the room. He determined not to look up. When the young woman knocked and old Sawage said, "Come," she stood inside the door. But the young man wouldn't look at her. She stood awhile and then turned and followed her sisters who had gone South (the sisters were all from the North). She overtook the eleven and soon they all came back to try to see the young man. Stopping in front of the house, they said to the youngest sister: "Go in again. Maybe you can see him this time. Maybe he'll look up." The young man heard every word they said and when she came in after knocking the second time, he looked up, saw her, and was about to follow as she moved away when his grandmother stopped him.

After the girl had gone out to her sisters and all had turned to the North and departed, Sawage said:"You'll have more visitors this evening; wait awhile." Soon eleven young men came along, and stopping in front of the house where the twelve sisters had stood, called out" "Are you ready to go with us?" "Yes," said the young man. Old Sawage had cut a little piece of skin of every bird and beast her grandson had ever killed. These she sewed together and fastened under his arm next to the skin, saying: "Whenever you are in trouble and distress, all you have to do is to say what you want and straightway you will have it. When you are in danger of death and call on me four times, you will be saved."
People: Originally from the Ohio-Pennsylvania area, the Shawnee tribe was migratory, with villages scattered from Illinois to New York state and as far south as Georgia. They were rounded up and sent to Oklahoma by the US government in the nineteenth century, where 14,000 Shawnee Indians still live today.

History: Kinfolk of the Lenape (whom they addressed as "grandfather"), the Shawnee tribe frequently moved from place to place, both willingly and under duress from Iroquois and colonial assailants. In the early 1800's, the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa tried to unite the eastern tribes under the banner of pan-Indian unity. When this alliance was broken up by the Americans, the Shawnees were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma. They still live there today, in three distinct communities.
CULTURE & HISTORY
Originally, the Shawnee Indians lived in the northeastern parts of the United States in areas now known as the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and neighboring states. It is believed that they inhabited these areas as early as the 1600's. Treaties in the late 1700's and throughout the 1800's establish the Shawnee as having a large population and land holdings in the State of Ohio.
The United States Government removed the Shawnee to the Midwest United States to what is now the state of Kansas. The name "Absentee-Shawnee" comes from the United States government, when a division of the traditional Shawnee Tribe absented itself from the reservation in Kansas. This occurred in the early 1800's, when a treaty was about to be signed. This group moved to what was then called "Indian Territory," later to become the State of Oklahoma. The Absentee Shawnee Tribe of OK consists of two bands: The White Turkey Band and the Big Jim Band. Three Tribes of the Shawnee exist today - the Absentee-Shawnee, the Loyal Shawnee and the Eastern Shawnee.
In the late 1800's, the Indian Agent from the United States Government brought soldiers from Fort Reno in western Oklahoma and forced the Shawnees located on the Deep Fork River to leave. They were brought south to the area known as Hog Creek and Little River where they were to remain. The group settling here is known as the Big Jim Band. This community was called the Big Jim Settlement who was later changed to "Little Axe," and is located in Cleveland County, east of Norman Oklahoma. Another Band of the Absentee-Shawnee stayed in Pottawatomie County near the town of Shawnee Oklahoma and is known as the White Turkey Band.
Currently, enrolled members are required to be at least one-fourth (1/4)-degree Absentee-Shawnee blood. Tribal members must be 18 years of age to vote in elections and meetings of the general council. Most members either live in the Little Axe community or in and around Shawnee.

TRIBAL GOVERNMENT
The Tribal government is composed of two separate branches, the Judicial Branch and the Legislative/Executive Branch. In addition, there is an independent body, the Election Commission that is charged with the responsibility for conducting tribal elections which is held annually.
The Legislative/Executive Branch consists of five members - the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary, Treasurer and Representative, all of which are elected by referendum. This committee has both legislative and executive powers.
The Judicial Branch is made up of the Tribal Court and Supreme Court and the Executive committee appoints Justices for both courts.
The General Council is the enrolled tribal members; currently, enrolled members are required to be at least (1/4) degree Absentee Shawnee blood. Tribal members must be 18 years of age to vote in elections and meetings of the general council.

TECUMSEH
In a newspaper of the time, (December 1820) The Indiana Centinel of Vincennes, Indiana published a letter praising the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh in these words, "He was truly great - and his greatness was his own, unassisted by science or the aids of education. As a statesman, a warrior and a patriot, take him all in all, we shall not look upon his like again."
Tecumseh was born on March 9, 1768 in Old Piqua Town, northeast of present day Dayton, Ohio, to the Shawnee War Chief Puckeshinwa and his mother, Methoataske (supposedly a Muscogee woman from Alabama), he was known by Indian people as one who considered himself Indian first and then, a Shawnee. His efforts throughout his adult life was to unite the Indians of the eastern United States in a common homeland where Indians could live under their own laws and leaders. From Canada to Florida, Tecumseh traveled with and urged Indian tribes in these states to unite and work to develop a means to live side by side with the white man - a view many did not liken to: from both the Indian and white man views.
Tecumseh died in October 1813, in the area of present day Thamesville, in Toronto, Canada. He died fighting in the battle of the Thames River during the War of 1812. His body was never found. Rumors have circulated that his loyal followers secretly buried Tecumseh. With the disappearance of his body, disappeared this leader's dreams. Native American leaders of today have yet to reach the image and admiration of those who knew this Shawnee Chief
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