Shawnee Indians are a large group of Native American Indians that originally occupied much of Southern Ohio, West Virginia, and Eastern Pennsylvania. The word Shawnee comes from the Algonquin word shawun for “southerner”. The Shawnee typically refer to themselves as Shawano or Shawanese.
The Shawnee Indians were driven from their homelands in the 1600s by the Iroquois, a northern tribe of Native American Indians, and they fled to Tennesse and the Carolinas. They were able to briefly regain their homelands in the early 1700s, only to be driven out by the Europeans with a fierce desire to settle the land.
Believers in Moneto, a Great Spirit that ruled the universe and blessed those who were found in favor, the Shawnee Indians were very spiritual. The men of the Shawnee were hunters and warriors. They would hunt in parties, or large groups, for days at a time. The women were responsible for all things domestic from the building and caring for lodging to planting and cooking. The women of the Shawnee Indians were said to be gifted healers, having a great deal of knowledge about medicinal herbs and plants.
The entire Shawnee tribe was governed by a principal chief and several clan chiefs. However, they endured much hardship from being forced from their land by the Iroquois and when the five sub-nations returned, leadership was difficult to restore. Historically famous Shawnee leaders include Tecumseh, Bluejacket, and Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa.
There are five sub-nations of the Shawnee Indians: Chillicothe, Hathawekela, Kispoko, Mequachake and Piqua. Their native language is Algonquin. Much of present day Ohio contains cities and counties named for original Shawnee villages including Auglaize, Chillicothe, Piqua, and Wapakoneta. Today, there are an estimated 14,000 Shawnee Indians living on reservations in four different groups – the Absentee Shawnee, the Eastern Shawnee, the Cherokee Shawnee, and the Shawnee Nation Remnant Band, a group not officially recognized by the federal government or the other three Shawnee groups. However, the Shawnee Nation Remnant Band was officially recognized by the state of Ohio in 1980.
Joseph Paige © 2006