Manataka American Indian Council





History of the Shawnee Indians

from the year 1681 to 1854 inclusive

By Henry Harvey



An Excerpt From:

The First American West: The Ohio Valley, 1750-1820


In the year 1809, Governor Harrison purchased from the Delaware's, Miamis and Pottawatomies, a large tract of land on both sides of the Walbash river, and extending up the said river about sixty miles above Vinvennes. Tecumseh was absent at the time and his brother the Prophet made no objections to the treaty, but when Tecumseh returned, he manifested great dissatisfaction, and threatened some of the chiefs with death, who had made this treaty. Harrison hearing of his dissatisfaction, sent an invitation to him to repair to Vincecces to see him, and assured him that any claims he might have to the lands ceded by that treaty, were not affected by the treaty at all--that he might come on and present his claims, and if they were found to be valid, the lands would be given up, or an ample compensation made for it.


Accordingly, on the 12th of August, Tecumseh arrived at Vincennes, accompanied by a large number of his warriors. When the council convened, Tecumseh arose and said, "Brothers, I have made myself what I am; I would that I could make the red people as great as the conceptions of my own mind. When I think of the Great Spirit that rules over all, I would not then come to Governor Harrison to beg of him to tear this treaty to pieces, but I would say to him, brothers, you have liberty to return to your own country. Once, there was not a white man in all this country. Then, it all belonged to the redmen: children of the same parents--placed on it by the Great Spirit, to keep it, to travel over it, to eat its fruits, and fill it with the same race. Once a happy people, but now made miserable by the white people, who are never satisfied, but always encroaching on our land. They have driven us from the great salt water, forced us over the mountains, and would shortly push us into the lakes, but we are determined to go no further. The only way to stop this evil is for all the red-men to unite in claiming a common right in the soil, as it was at first, and should be now, for it never was divides, but belonged to all. No one tribe has a right to sell even to each other, much less to strangers, who demand all, and will take no less.


"The white people have no right to rake the land from the Indians who had it first--it is ours--it belongs to us. We may sell, but all must agree; any sale made by a part is not good. The last sale is bad. It was made by a part only; a part do not know how to sell; it requires all to make a bargain for all; a part cannot do it."


Harrison in reply, declared to Tecumseh, that he and his band had no right to interfere or say one word in this matter, as he said the Shawnees had been driven from Georgia by the Creek Indians, and therefore, had no claim to land in this country. This exasperated the chief, and he pronounced the declaration of Harrison, a falsehood. Harrison told him he was a bad man, and for some time it was apprehended that a serious conflict would ensue. Harrison ordered Tecumseh from the house immediately, which order was obeyed.


However, the council was resumed the next day. On again assembling in the morning, the Indians were invited by the governor into the house, where seats were provided for the governor, his attendants, and the Indian chiefs.

Tecumseh declined going into the house, but proposed that the council be held outside, under the shade of some trees near-by, to which, Harrison objected, telling him, that it would be troublesome to remove the seats from the house. Tecumseh replied, "That it would be unnecessary to remove more than what would accommodate the white people; that, as for him and his friends, they would sit on the ground; that red-men were accustomed to sitting on the ground; that the earth was their mother, and they loved to recline on her bosom."


Nothing was effected at that council, but on the next day, the parties again met, but nothing like reconciliation was effected. Harrison informed Tecumseh, before they separated, that he would lay the case before the President of the United States, and await his decision on the subject. Tecumseh replied, "Well, as the great chief is to decide the matter, I hope the Great Spirit will put sense enough in his head to cause him to order you to give up those lands. It is true, that he may sit in his fine house and drink his wine, while you and I shall have to fight it out."


As this great chief was so earnest in his pretensions to a right in the soil this sold in his absence, it seems, in justice, that his claim ought to have been allowed; any one may plainly see, that his denial of a partici[ation in that land, in common with other tribes, was what was the cause of his joining himself and his influence on the side of the enemies of our country, in the bloody was which ensued, in which many unoffending people had to suffer.


Certainly Tecumseh and his party had as good a right to the treaty Harrison held with the Indians at Vincennes, for the purchase of the land where they lived, as Blue Jacket had, in that held at Greenville; and by the minutes of that treaty, it appears that he, although a war-chief, who had taken enactive part in the war against the Americans, had been allowed by Gen Wayne, to occupy a very conspicuous part in the deliberation of that treaty and even before opening the council he waited several days for the arrival of the Shawnee chiefs; and in Jewit's treaty of 1895, and Hull's of 1808, the Shawnees were recognized as owners, in common with other tribes, and their consent asked foe and obtained in the transfer of the lands ceded in those treaties, and they in the same situation, in reference tot hose lands, that Tecumseh and his people were in, in the case of these Wabash lands, and if they had a right, Tecumseh must have had the same right, which, one would conclude, if any of the Indians had any rights at all, it was to decide among themselves who had a right and who had not. If the government intended to pay a stated sum for that land, it mattered nothing to whom it was paid, that did, of course, belong to the party who was to receive the pay; and in that light, no doubt, Wayne and the other commissioners viewed it, and Tecumseh, had he been treated in the same way might have lived in peace and died a natural death; but he was ambitious, and ambition ruined him.


At a council held at Greenville in 1812, at which were the Wyandots, Senecsa, Delawares, and several other tribes, these Indians were made acquainted with the nature of the controversy between the United States and England, and urged to join the United States in the contest. The reply of some of the chiefs is inserted here, as taken down by the commissioners at the time, which will show their aversion to joining in the conflict. The commissioners charged that the Indians had violated the treaty of 1809, and informed them that they had a right then to speak for themselves on the subject of this charge. To which Captain


Charley, an Eel river Miami Chief, replied as follows:

"Listen, Bigknife, my father:--You have requested to hear us, and you shall hear. I want you to listen attentively and let none go away until you all have heard what I have to say. You have told the truth in all you have said. When I heard you at Fort Wayne you then said a great deal which was for the benefit of the Indians. Again, father, when you were going on to Tippecanoe, for fear any interruption should take place, I thought I would go and meet you there, in order to prevent any quarrel or misunderstanding. You then sent us on ahead of the army to the red brethren at Tippecanoe, and told us to return with an answer. I went to Tippecanoe, as you directed me, and left that place to return you an answer, accompanied by two Pottawatomies, one Miami, and one Delaware chief. I did not see you, because you had crossed the Wabash River, and taken another road from that which I expected, and we did not overtake you until the night of the battle at that place.


We got near you before the battle began, but finding the battle had begun we scattered. Our not writing to you before the battle, father, was the cause of the confusion which followed; we then concluded that the Great Spirit had given us up, and we all scattered. As you mentioned these things I thought best to mention them too, and repeat the circumstance which happened; but we will now talk of other matters.


Father, at Fort Wayne, where I again heard you speak, when our grandfathers, the Delawares, were there, our brothers, the Shawnees and Pottawatomies, together with the Miamis, were invited to take a seat with you; it was at Fort Wayne where I heard you point out the lands where our younger brothers, the Weas, were settled, saying you wished to purchase those lands. I again consulted my grandfathers, the Delawares, who answered that whatever their grandfathers, the Pottawatomies, agreed to they would acquiesce in. When you spoke, at that treaty, of the lands you wanted, we told you that these lands belonged to our younger brothers, the Weas, and to consult them, and if they were willing to sell it, that we would agree to the sale."


In a treaty at St. Louis in 1815, between William Clark, Ninean Edwards, Augustus Chouteau, and several tribes of Indians, (among which were the Shawnees and Delawares,) concerning which the commissioners say: "The Shawnees and Delawares of this territory made known to us at Portage-des-soux, certain grievances of which they complain in talks delivered by two of their principal chiefs, which, at their request, we have the honor to transmit herewith for the information of the President. Speech of the Shawnees and Delawares on the occasion.


"Brothers, it is thirty years since we came to this country. When we arrived among the Spaniards to look for a suitable piece of land to settle ourselves on, after we found a place which we liked, we informed the Spanish officer of it, and that we intended to settle ourselves there. After we were settled the commanding officer told us to remain at peace, hunt quietly, not to steal horses, and not go to war with any other nation. The Spanish commander told us that we might occupy the space of land between St. Comb and the first creek above Cape Girardeau. This is what the Spaniards told us. Afterward the Spaniards went away and the Americans took possession of the country. Soon after we went to visit the American commander, who gave us the same kind of recommendation, and gave us the same advice we had received from the Spaniards, that we should be happy with them as we had the Spaniards. We were very much pleased. After the council we held with the Americans we returned home, and told our young men and warriors that the speech was just the same as we understood from the Spaniards. Governor Clark, our father, since these three or fours years we are very much crowded by the white people, who steal our horses and many other things; but it has not made us angry, hoping that the American government will do us justice and take pity on our situation.


Now that the commissioners are assembled to settle all matters of difficulty with the Indian tribes, we take this opportunity to lay under your consideration our present situation, and hope you will do all in your power to see us righted.


My father, when the Spaniards told us to choose a piece of land, and when we made choice of it, we obtained from them a grant, which has been since recorded by the board of commissioners, and we understand that all the commissioners granted to the while people by the Spaniards, were good. We live among the white people, and our behavior has been such that no honest white man can have any cause to find fault with us; and we are certain they never will have any cause to complain hereafter. We have always conducted ourselves honestly and intend to continue so.


Early in the spring, on my return from hunting, I found my house had been broken open, and what I had lift in it all gone. I then took the resolution of moving to another place on the Castor river, to settle myself, provided by father, Governor Clark, would be pleased with my doing so. He recommended being to raise stock, and to cultivate our land with industry. His advice we have followed, and we wish to remove to the new settlement, if we can be permitted so to do, and we do not care anything more for our old town; but again, lately, we have been encroached upon by a bad white man, formerly by the name of Jenkins, who, we hope, you will remove from this country, if we are permitted to remain in it."


In twenty-two days from the date of the above communication orders were sent by the President, to remove all persons who had intruded upon the Shawnees and Delaware's' land as soon as possible.


How the Shawnees came to locate themselves at Wapaughkonnetta, or the precise time they made their first settlement there, I am no able to say, but probably it was only by the indulgence of some other tribe that they got to settle there in the first place, as, from the accounts fo the various treaties in which they had been parties, they had been disinherited altogether, as far as related tot he ownership of land anywhere; but the band, who had participated in the wars with Kentucky, had villages at Piqua, on the Miami, and probably they were driven from there to Wapaughkonnetta, which is not very far distant, where they established the village of that name on the Auglaize river. This village, I have learned, derived its name from an ancient and distinguished woman of that name, and that it is a Shawnee word. 


The first clear title, which had any feature of a land title in it, which this tribe ever got from government for land was in 1817. In a treaty held at the foot of the rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie, in that year by Lewis Cass and Duncan McArthor, commissioners on the part of the United States, and several tribes of Indians, of which the Shawnees was one; in this treaty no provision whatever was made for the band who resided on the Wabash river, who composed Tecumseh's band, as in the schedule of names appended to that treaty who were to receive a grant for land at Wapaughkonnetta, now of this band is included. 


This treaty is a novelty, in comparison to most of the Indian treaties of modern times, as it sets out in an entirely different strain altogether. We have seen in what language other treaties set out, but in this the commissioners say, "That in consideration of the faithful services of the Shawnees in the late war with England, and for divers other considerations, the government of the United States settle on the Shawnees an annuity of two thousand dollars annually, forever, to be paid to them at Wapaughkonnetta.


"The United States also agree to grant, in fee-simple to Piachta and other chiefs of the Shawnee tribe residing on Hog Creek, for the use of the tribe there, to the persons mentioned in the annexed schedule, a tract containing twenty-five square miles, which is to join the tract granted at Wapaughkonnetta, and to be laid off in a square form."


The same treaty secures to Qua-ta-wapee (Captain Lewis) and other Shawnees, of Lewistown, forty square miles.


It may be interesting to many persons, and particularly so to young persons, to have the entire schedule of names inserted here. The names were probably written by Gen. Cass or the agent, John Johnson, either of whom well understood the Indian orthography, and there may be found the names of great men, among whom, and the prominent in council and as speakers, were Blackhoof and Wayweleapy, and the leader in the agricultural arts was Peaitchtha. Several other on this list were men of strong minds and remarkable for honest, upright integrity; but now. In 1855, when copying off these names, I have to reflect with sorrow that all those I have already named are dead.


Schedule.--"The tracts at Wapughkonnetta and Hog Creek are to be equally divided among the following persons, namely; Blackhoof, Pamthe or Walker, Peaseca or Wolf, Shemanits or Snake, Athelwakesecah, or Yellow Clouds, Pemthewtew or Perry, Cacalawa or End of Trail, Quelawee, War Chief, Sacachewa, Werewela, Wasawetah or Brighthorn, Otharasa or Yellow, Tepeteseca, Newahetucca, Ca-awaricho, Thacatchewa, Silochaheca, Tapea, or Sanders, Mesherawah, Toleapea, Pohecaw, Alawemetahuck Lollaway or John Perry, Wawelame, Nemecashe, Nerupeneshequah or Cornstalk, Shi She, Shealawhe, Naruskaka, Thacasks or David McNair, Shapukoha, Quacowawnee, Necoshecu, Thueuseu or Jim Bluejacket, Chowelaseca, Quhaho, Kayketchheka or William Perry, Sewapen, Peetah or Davey Baker, Skapoawah or George McDougal, Chepocuru, Shema or Sam, Cheahaska or Captain Tommy, General Wayne, Thaway, Othawee, Wearesah, Captain Reed, Lawaytucheh or John Wolf, Tecutie or George, Skekacumpskekaw, Wishemaw, Muywaymanotreka, Quaskee, thoswa, Baptiste, Maywealiupe Perea Cumme, Chochkelake or Dam, Kewapea, Egatacumshequa, Walupe, Aquaskequah, Pemata, Nepaho, Tapesheka, Lathowaynoma, Sawacota,or Yellow Clouds, Memhisheka, Ashelukah, Ohipwah, Thapaeca, Chucatuh, Nekakeka, Thithueculu, Pelaculhe, Pelaske, Shesholou, Quanako, Halkoota, Laughshena, Capawah, Ethewacase, Quahethu, Capia, Thucatvouwah or The Man going up Hill, Magathu, Tecumtequa, Tetecopatha, Kekusthe, Sheatwah, Shealewarron, Haghkela, Akapee or Heap up anything, Lamatothe, Kesha, Panhoar Peatichthamtah, Peter Cornstalk, Metchepeta, Capea, Shuagunme, Wawalepeshecco, Calequa, Tetotu, Tashishee, Nawehesheco or White Feather, Sheperkiscoshe, Notekah, Shemakih, Pesheto, Awaybariskecaw, Hatocumo, Thomasheshawkah, Pepacoshe, Oshashe, Quelaoshu, Mewithaquiu, Aguepeh, Quellime."


The schedule of the Hog Creek band now follows, whao are each to have an equal part of reserve there; Peartchtha, Onawaskine, Pamathawah or George Williams, Wapeskeka, Lethew, Pahawesu, Shinagawmahe, Nequakabuchka, Peliska, Ketuchepa, Lawetcheto, Epaunnee, Kanakhih, Jose or Joseph Parks, Lawnoetuchu or Billy Parks, Shawnaha, Waymatakhaway, Ketoawsa, Sheshecopea, Locuseh, Quedaska.


The above contains the names of all the males belonging to the Shawnees who resided at Wapaughkonetta and Hog Creek, over the age of twenty-one years, in 1817--of which one hundred and twenty six belonged to the Wapaughkonnetta band, and twenty-one to that of Hog Creek.


In these tracts of land there were allowed for each male person of the Wapaughkonnetta band, about five hundred and nine acres each, and those of Hog Creek, about, or nearly one thousand acres each; but it is a remarkable fact,, and ought to be to the credit of this people, that when the pay for their land was at last received--it being in the year 1853 that the last payment was made--those of Hog Creek made no claim only to an equal part with the others, in accordance with their numbers. I doubt such a result by the white people under like circumstances. In this is exhibited the Indian character in such matters......



History of the Shawnee Indians by Henry Harvey.  A Member of the Religious Society of Friends Ephraim Morgan & Sons, Cincinnati: 1855  ŠLibrary of Congress.  Transcribed Images at the Library of Congress by Dream's Archives



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