It is questionable how far back the Shawnee/Cherokee relationship goes. As early as 1540 contact seems to have been made. De Soto's party visited a community where he found a group of hunters and gathers whom he identified as "Chilokee" which means 'people of a differnet language.' Most historians have identified this group as Cherokee. The village was located on the Savannah River, near present-day Augusta, Georgia and was called Chalaque. Chalaque suggests a form of Chillicothe, a division of the Shawnee, and supports the tradition of the southeastern origin for this division.
In 1584 Ralph Dane, commander-in-chief of Sir Walter Raleigh's colony in Roanoke, made reference to a town of 700 fighting men, 130 miles from Roanoke, called Chawanock. This town also appears on John White's map of 1586. "Chawanock" is very similar to "Sawanake," a plural name for Shawnee, and also brings to mind the Shawnee tradition that there were originally six divisions, the powerful of which, the Shawano, became extinct.
In 1680 the principal locations of the Shawnees were in the Cumberland Valley and along the Savannah River in South Carolina. They had migrated either to the mouth of the Ohio River and up the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers or over the Great Warriors Path southward across Kentucky. Some had gone north into the territories of the Miami and Illinois Indians in the vicinity of Lake Michigan. In 1684 the Shawnee lived in Cherokee territory.
The Yamasee War in 1715 found at least some of the Shawnee involved in opposition to the Carolina government. The struggle was basically a quarrel between the South Carolina colony and the Spanish colony in Florida, but most of the actual fighting was done by the various Indian tribes aligned with the respective colonies. As a result of the war,at least one band of Shawnee fled to the Chattahoochee River, which separates Georgia from Alabama, and settled near the present city of Fort Gaines, Georgia. Here they were joined by a band of Yuchi, who accompanied them to the Tallapoosa River in 1733. A band of about thirty Shawnee was still on the Savannah River in 1725, and it has been suggested that they may have been the Hathawekela who were reported in Pennsylvania in 1731.
This later band was the last recorded group of Shawnee in the Carolina region for nearly twenty years. About 1750 a mixed band of Shawnee and Seneca from western Pennsylvania settled near Keowee, a lower Cherokee town in western South Carolina.
Long before Andrew Jackson wrote one of the most inhumane chapters in American history by his manner of removing the Indians from east of the Mississippi River, many Shawnee had already voluntarily migrated west of the father of Waters. Some settled in Missouri as early as 1763.
With the purchase of Louisiana by the United States in 1803, the idea of Indian Removal was first officially expressed by Thomas Jefferson. Though the policy was never fully acted upon until Jackson became president, the eastern Indians were encouraged, and indeed pressured, to migrate to this new American acquistion. By 1815 there were 1,200 Shawnee residing in towns along Apple Creek, near Cape Girardeau, and on the Merrimack River, near Saint Louis, and a census report in 1822 listed 1,383 Shawnee in Missouri.
As Shawnee continued to arrive in Missouri from east of the Mississippi, a large band of Delaware and the Absentee Shawnee moved south into Arkansas and eventually located in Texas. About 300 Shawnee families arrived in Texas in 1820.
IN 1830, THE U.S. CONGRESS PASSED A BILL PERMITTING THE REMOVAL OF ALL NATIVE AMERICANS LIVING EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. OVER THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS MORE THAN FIFTY TRIBES WERE UPROOTED FROM THEIR HOMELANDS AND MARCHED INTO THE ALIEN LANDS OF THE WEST-THE FIRST STEP IN THE DESTRUCTION OF AN ENTIRE PEOPLE.
After all the wars, the meaningless treaties and political double-dealing that spread from Washington to the frontier, the Shawnee joined the Creeks, Choctaws, Cherokees, Chickasaws, Seminoles, Delawares, Senecas and members of other proud Native American nations on "The Trail of Tears."
"Relation With Other Indians"(Part 2)
"Prisoners and Captives"
"Shawnee History"(Part 1)
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