The Missouri Shawnee, called the Black Bob band, lost their Missouri land in 1825, when the U. S. government established a reservation for them in Kansas. They were joined in Kansas in 1832 by a number of Ohio Shawnee who had been allowed to remain east of the Mississippi until Black Hoof's death--the nucleus of the Loyal Shawnees. Relations between the Loyal Shawnees and the Black Bob band were troubled, in part because the Black Bob band had wanted to move to Oklahoma, and a large group of Black Bob Shawnees joined the Absentee tribe there in 1846. In 1854, the Kansas Shawnees were forced to sign a treaty with the U. S. government in which they were granted allotments of 200 acres of land to each individual tribe member-- a policy in flagrant and deliberate opposition to traditional Shawnee group ownership of land. While some members of the tribe accepted the idea of individual allotments, the majority determined to act as communal owners of the reserve.
Events in Kansas took a violent turn when the American Civil War was declared. The vast majority of Shawnees were pro-union, and many Shawnee men enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War, some as members of a Delaware and Shawnee company. As a result, Confederate guerrillas from Missouri frequently terrorized the Shawnee community in Kansas. Meanwhile, the pro-Union Absentee Shawnees in Oklahoma were harassed by their pro-Confederate Creek neighbors. Fearful of Confederate attacks, the Absentee Shawnees fled Oklahoma, finding shelter with the Kansas Shawnees.
When the war was over, the Absentee tribe members returned to Oklahoma, only to discover that they had no legal claim to their land and that tracts of it had been turned over to the Potawatomis as a reservation. The land situation worsened when, in 1869, the Kansas Shawnee were forced to move to Oklahoma, and the remaining members of the Black Bob band joined the Absentee Shawneses, increasing their land needs. Finally in 1872, the disputed lands were officially granted to the Absentee Shawnees.
But problems were still to come. A land allotment disagreement similar to the one in Kansas in 1854 split the Absentee Shawnees in 1875. While more accomodationist members accepted the land allotments, conservative members refused and the next year moved onto a nearby Kickapoo reservation until the U.S. Army forced them back in 1886. By this time, the Absentee Shawnee had become more embittered over the allotment policy, and a group of land speculators, seeing an opportunity to obtain Shawnee land, suggested that they give up their Cherokee reservation and move to Mexico, where they would be free from the pressures of white settlement. The majority of the Absentee Shawnees stayed on the reservation, but leaders of a conservative Shawnee faction (including Wapameepo, called Big Jim by the whites, a militant activist and grandson of Tecumseh) decided that they could no longer tolerate the United States and departed for Mexico in 1900. Unfortunately, they reached their destination just as a smallpox epidemic hit, and all but two died. Although the fate of this faction was undeniably tragic, it did have the positive result of effectively ending any willingness of the Absentee Shawnee to cooperate with the often dishonest land speculators. Today 2,800 Absentee Shawnees live in Oklahoma, and they are one of the most culturally conservative Native American tribes in existence.
When the Kansas Shawnees who were originally a part of Black Hoof's tribe were forced to move to Oklahoma in 1869, they did not choose to join the Absentee Shawnees, as did the Black Bob band. Instead they were recognized as a separate tribe and were assigned a hefty chunk of Cherokee land by the U.S. government as a way of rewarding them for their pro-Union sympathies during the Civil War (and not incidentally, to punish the pro-Confederacy Cherokees). In order to obtain the Cherokee land, the Loyal Shawnees - who had been making strong efforts to reclaim their traditional culture, which had been eroded as a result of Black Hoof's assimilationist policies - were required to give up much of their traditional culture and political organization. They are in the process today of carving a stronger identity for themselves.
A third group of Shawnees, who lived in a mixed Seneca and Shawnee village in Lewistown, Ohio, were removed directly to a reservation in northeatern Oklahoma in 1831. These Shawnees separated from the Senecas in 1867, taking the name of the Eastern Shawnees, and eventually organized themselves as the Eastern Shawnee Tribe in 1940. They have given up more of their traditional culture than any of the other Shawnee groups and most do not know the Shawnee language. They have approximately 1,550 tribal members, and anyone who can prove direct descendancy from the 280 members alive when the Eastern Shawnees became a federally recognized tribe can join. Their tribal complex, located in West Seneca, Oklahoma, consists of an administration office, a community building, and a bingo hall, which seats 750 people and employs 44.
All three Shawnee tribes have made extensive efforts to save or reclaim their culture. While many other tribes have completely forgotten their traditional ceremonies, the Shawnees still know their complete annual cycle of ceremonial dances. Shawnee ceremonial grounds still exist, and one located in Whiteoak, Oklahoma, serves both the Loyal and the Absentee tribes. The Kansas Shawnee still live on Indian land which is in Kansas but not a part of Kansas (RESERVE 206).KANSAS SHAWNEE
"Shawnee History"(Part 2)
"Prisoners and Captives"
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