An understanding of the Shawnee relationship with the Creek is most important to an explanation of the Shawnee attraction to the Alabama region. These relations may not always have been pleasant, but no other region east of the Missouri River was occupied by a band of Shawnee in historic times as long as Alabama. There is evidence that some Shawnee bands lived with the Creek from at least 1685 to 1814. Besides hunting on the same land with the Creek, the Shawnee were permitted to settle in their territory for over a century.
The Shawnee who settled in Alabama were accepted as a part of the Creek confederacy and their towns were listed by the southern superintendent of Indians with the Creek villages. The Shawnee supported the Creek in their wars, and as late as 1814 were allied against Andrew Jackson in the Creek War. The Creek made few demands other than military support from the Shawnee. Although forming a part of the Creek confederacy, Shawnee villages were self-governing and retained their own language and cultural patterns. Thus the Creek country offered the Shawnee an area in which they could maintain their conservative cultural patterns yet be both economically and militarily useful to the Creek.
In the Northeast the Conestoga, Delaware, and the Iroquois were influential in Shawnee history. When the Shawnee arrived in Pennsylvania in the late seventeenth century, the land along the lower Susquehanna River was the home of the Conestoga Indians. The Conestoga were Iroquoian speakers, variously known as Andaste by the French, Minquas by the Dutch, and Conestoga or Susquehanna by the English. Beginning in 1697 the Conestoga allowed bands of Shawnee from the Cumberland and Carolina regions to settle near them on the Susquehanna River.
Friendly relations between the Consetoga and Shawnee had begun as early as 1663 when the Shawnee had been allies of the Conestoga in a conflict with the Iroquois Confederacy. These relations remained friendly until 1728 when two Conestoga Indians were murdered by some Shawnee. The murderers were protected by Peter Chartier and made their escape, a circumstance which caused the Conestoga to threaten war against the Shawnee. It was about this time that the Shawnee began to move west.
A close and lasting friendship existed between the Shawnee and the Algonquian-speaking Delaware Indians. The Walam Olum, the oral tradition of the Delaware, suggest that ties between these two tribes had existed for several decades before their joint occupation of the Delaware River Valley in the 1690s. This friendship continued as the Shawnee and Delaware moved west into Ohio and Missouri.
Shawnee migration from Illinois to Pennsylvania in the 1690s occurred as a rsult of an invitation from Matasit, a Delaware sachem, who had visited the Shawnee at Fort Saint Louis on the Illinois River. The Delaware offered the Shawnee land on which to settle and build their villages. When the Delaware were driven from their homes by the Pennsylvanians in 1742, the Shawnee, who had left earlier, returned the favor by inviting them to the Wyoming Valley along the Susquehanna. Later years found the Shawnee and Delaware living side by side in the Muskingum Valley of Ohio and near Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Although the Shawnee called the Delaware "grandfather," there is no indication that this implied a dominant role for the Delaware in intertribal relationships. Some animosities existed between the Delaware and Shawnee but their relations were for the most part characterized by mutual respect and need.
The Iroquois occupied only a small portion of Pennsylvania and most of New York but laid claim to a far larger area by virtue of conquest. They had a long history of encounters with the Shawnee from Pennsylvania as far west as the Mississippi River.
Economic relations with the Iroquois were inevitable. Their claim to all land in Pennsylvania resulted in the development of relationships in which all tribes were recognized as satellites, required to give their allegiance as subjects to the overall confederacy as a condition for occupying Pennsylvania territory. The Iroquois has served as middlemen to the Indians of the Ohio Valley for the British and Dutch traders from the 1650s. The Indians in Pennsylvania, however, traded directly with the British traders until William Penn's death. After his death in 1717, the Pennsylvania colonial government recognized all Iroquois claims, and the satellite tribes were expected to acknowledge the leadership of the League of the Iroquois in major matters of trade, war, and diplomacy.
Although the Shawnee were friendly with the Iroquoian-speaking Mingo in Ohio, Shawnee relations with most of the Iroquois had never been good. There is reliable evidence that the Iroquios had driven the Shawnee from the Ohio Valley in 1684. It must have been with some apprehension that the Shawnee settled in Pennsylvania on the border of this powerful confederacy. For a time the seemingly benevolent policies of William Penn made conditions in the colony tolerable for the Shawnee. By 1727, however, the Iroquois had solidified their hold over Pennsylvania tribes and maintained agents who acted as overlords in the vicinity of Delaware and Shawnee villages. When Conrad Weiser took control of Pennsylvania Indian policy in the 1730s, the Shawnee and Delaware were already moving west. An adopted Iroquois, Weiser had little regard for the Delaware and Shawnee, and he created a situation that the Shawnee could not tolerate.
Although Shawnee relations with other tribes in the upper Ohio Valley must have been frequent and important, little is known about their nature except for what is revealed by an occasional reference to the Great Confederacy, which included the Miami, Delaware, Wyandot, and Shawnee. Some mention has been made of the Miami and Wyandot, but even this is taken largely from indirect sources. The Miami, an Alonquian tribe closely related linguistically to the Shawnee, were situated in what is today Indiana and western Ohio. The Wyandot were the remnant of the Huron, who had been defeated by the Iroquois confederacy. Still powerful warriors, they claimed the Ohio Valley and the lake region.
It was at the invitation of the Miami that the Shawnee ventured into Ohio around 1684, perhaps to help the Miami defend themselves against attacks from the Iroquois. Shawnee bands were again welcomed by the Miami in the mid-eighteenth century. Drawn perhaps by the French trade, the Miami were moving west into Indiana, and the Shawnee settled on land they vacated. Because of Wyandot claims to this region, it was only with their consent and by their permission that the Shawnee and Miami occupied lands north of the Ohio River.
The Miami helped the Shawnee to resist the white man's advance into the Ohio Valley. Like the Miami, the Wyandot were important allies of the Shawnee in the wars against the settlers and were one of the largest groups in Tecumseh's army during the War of 1812. Tenskwatawa said the Wyandot tribe was one of the those with which the Shawnee never had a war.
Other tribes in the Old Northwest were also important to the Shawnee. The Illinois, Kickapoo, and Sauk and Fox, Central Algonquian speakers, are mentioned by Tenskwautawa as close allies of the Shawnee. But records regarding specific Shawnee relations with these tribes are sparse.
"Shawnee History"(Part 1)
["Shawnee History"(Part 2)
"Nowhere Left to Go"
["Relations With Other Indians"
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