Thursday, August 31, 2017

Shawnee Spirituality

Shawnee Spirituality

The Shawnee, whose name means “Southerners”, once occupied a vast region west of the Cumberland mountains of the Appalachian chain in what is now part of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Like the other Algonquian-speaking tribes of the western part of the Northeast Woodlands Culture Area, the Shawnee had a traditional economy based on farming (corn, beans, and squash), hunting, and gathering wild plants.

As was common among hunting tribes, spirituality was an important part of hunting. In his book The Shawnees and the War for America, Colin Calloway writes:  “In the Shawnee world, humans and animals communicated, hunters dreamed the whereabouts of their prey and offered prayers to the spirits of the animals that gave their bodies so that the people might live.”

In order to maintain the harmony between humans and the animal people, and between humans and the plant people, it was necessary to conduct certain rituals to keep the world in balance.

Among many of the woodlands tribes sacred medicine bundles were important. The Shawnee at one time had a sacred bundle – mishaami – for each of the five divisions of the tribe. The Shawnee were a confederacy of five political units: Chillicothe (Chalahgawtha), Hathawekela (also spelled as Thawekila or Thawegila), Kispoko (Kispokotha), Mequachake (Mekoche or Maykujay), and Piqua (Pekowi). The bundles contained not only items which were sacred, but also included ritual concepts and songs.

The Shawnee were originally given their bundles by Our Grandmother at the time of creation. Since that time, items have been added to the bundles. According to James Howard, in his book Shawnee! The Ceremonialism of a Native American Tribe and its Cultural Background:  “Each of the sacred bundles is assigned to the care of a designated custodian, who is always a man, and a person of high moral character.”

The bundle was traditionally kept in a structure which was separate from the keeper’s home. James Howard also writes:  “The bundles are treated much as human beings, and it is believed that they may become cramped from resting too much in one position.”  Therefore, the position of the bundles is regularly shifted.

The Dakwanekawe or Bread Dance was an important Shawnee ceremony which was traditionally held in the spring and in the fall. The ceremony was given to the Shawnee by Our Grandmother who sometimes appeared on earth to observe the ceremony and to participate in the singing. In the spring, the role of women in the ceremony was predominant and this ceremony asked for fertility and good crops. In the fall, the men led the dancing and their role as hunters was emphasized. The spring dance asked for an abundant harvest while the fall dance expressed thanksgiving and asked for abundant game.

The Green Corn Dance was held in August and marked the first corn harvest. Charles Callender, in his chapter on the Shawnee in the Handbook of North American Indians reports:  “On this occasion persons were absolved of misconduct, and all injuries except murder were forgiven.”  The Green Corn Dance lasted from 4 to 12 days.

The Buffalo Dance was generally held in late August or early September. The dance was originally given to Tecumseh by the Buffalo, his guardian spirit. Two kettles of corn mush were prepared for the dance as this dish was favored by the buffalo. The ceremony included body painting and eight sets of dances which were performed by men and women. The final element of the dance was a mock battle for the corn mush, which was then eaten. Social dances often followed the ceremony.
The Buffalo Dance was conducted outside of the ceremonial grounds used for other ceremonies because it did not come from Our Grandmother.

Among the Shawnee, funeral rites usually lasted four days. The body was buried on its back in an extended position with the head toward the west. Prior to burial, friends and relatives would dress and paint the body. Before the grave was filled, friends and relatives would sprinkle small amounts of tobacco over the body and ask the soul not to look back or to think about those remaining behind.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Genealogy: Indian Tribes of North America Shawnee Indians

 Shawnee Indians

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Updated: October 18, 2013

Shawnee Tribe: Meaning “southerners,” the best-known variants of the name being the French form Chaouanons, and that which appears in the name of Savannah River. Also called:
  • Ani’-Sawǎnu’gǐ, by the Cherokee.
  • Ontwagana, “one who stutters,” “one whose speech is unintelligible,” applied by the Iroquois to this tribe and many others.
  • Oshawanoag, by the Ottawa.
  • Shawala, by the’ Teton Dakota.
The Shawnee belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock, their closest relatives being the Fox, Sauk, and Kickapoo.

There was scarcely a tribe that divided so often or moved so much as the Shawnee, but one of the earliest historic seats of the people as a whole was on Cumberland River. (See also Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and the District of Columbia, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia.)

Connection in which the Shawnee have become noted: Although prominent by virtue of its size, the Shawnee tribe is noteworthy rather on account of numerous migrations undertaken by its various branches and the number of contacts established by them, involving the history of three-quarters of our southern and eastern States. They constituted the most formidable opposition to the advance of settlements through the Ohio Valley, and under Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa attempted an extensive alliance of native tribes to oppose the Whites. The name Shawnee is preserved in various forms in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kansas, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois, and most conspicuously of all, perhaps, in the name of the river Savannah and the city of Savannah, Georgia. There are places called Shawnee in Park County, Colorado; Johnson County, Kansas; Perry County, Ohio; Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma; and Converse County, Wyoming; Shawnee-on-Delaware in Monroe County, Pennsylvania; Shawanee in Claiborne County, Tennessee; Shawanese in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; Shawano in Shawano County, Wisconsin; Shawneetown in Gallatin County, Illinois, and Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

Read more of Shawnee Indian Genealogy at

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Native American Chiefs & Leaders Series: Tecumseh

Native American Chiefs & Leaders Series: Tecumseh

“A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.”
These are words spoken by Chief Tecumseh, a Shawnee warrior who was a great orator and a fine leader. Tecumseh had the ability to bring tribes together and the ability to create respect among his contemporaries, Native American and white as well as ally and foe. Tecumseh’s words were revered as being honest and from his heart, yet tempered with sometimes biting honesty at the way he believed circumstances should be and the way they were.


It is the “single twig” quote that I find so very valuable because it rings just as true today as it did in the early 1800s. Tecumseh realized that the numerous Native American tribes in and around the Ohio River valley were much stronger as a united “bundle of twigs” against the American militia of the time. He understood that most anything is stronger and able to withstand external pressure when reinforced with other allies that share similar values and beliefs.

Tecumseh experienced a lifetime of strife as the edge of the United States kept expanding into what had been Native American lands. His father was killed in a battle in West Virginia with state militia as they pushed west, and Tecumseh himself had to move several times while growing up as their settlements pushed them further and further west.

During the War of 1812, Tecumseh felt he would be better served to assist the British in their fight against the U.S. (To this point, my own great, great grandfather also fought against the U.S. in this same war.)  Tecumseh believed the U.S. would never honor a treaty and that it was not possible for a treaty – words on paper – to keep the whites from encroaching on and stealing their lands whenever they saw fit.

To this end, Tecumseh stood for the principle of doing what was right:  fighting to protect the U.S. from continuing to take Native American lands while violently killing their previous inhabitants or simply forcing them farther and farther westward. Tecumseh used his oratory skills to successfully unite many tribes against the U.S. He continued speaking out against the way tribes were treated by the U.S. until his death at the 1813 Battle of the Thames in Canada (during the war).
Pub. at

While Tecumseh was as much a human being as any one of us, he possessed a very special talent for speaking about matters in a way that transcended ethnicity or alliances and simply reverberated as human.

Tecumseh’s main legend was that by coming together, uniting for a noble and just cause, you can accomplish so much more, and be stronger, and able to withstand much more as a collective than as a singular person or entity… That when you come together “as a bundle of twigs” you are strengthened not just in physical fortitude but also in spirit… That you become the sum of your parts.

Applying Tecumseh’s viewpoint and way of life today, we can all look for opportunities to unite and work together, to see and use the best in all of us for the greater good, in business and in life.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The PBS Native American Documentary 'We Shall Remain'

The PBS Native American Documentary 'We ShallRemain'

By Philip Kennicott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009 

"We Shall Remain," a five-part PBS series that retells American history from the Native American perspective, is a remarkably old-fashioned documentary. It is built up slowly, chronologically, and powerfully from a few basic and familiar elements: talking heads, an authoritative narrator and loving aerial shots of the primordial forest. Even its use of historical reenactments reminds one of the kind of movies screened at National Park Service visitors' centers a generation or two ago.

Executive producer Sharon Grimberg and a team of directors and producers (including Chris Eyre, Ric Burns, Dustinn Craig, Sarah Colt and Stanley Nelson) have committed to telling an alternative history, but they forgo alternative means. Even the events chosen to anchor the individual films are already familiar from history books: The Mayflower, the War of 1812, the Indian wars and Wounded Knee. But slowly, over the course of more than seven hours, one begins to realize the power of this approach. "We Shall Remain" is unapologetically committed to the now suspect idea of Great Man history, the chronicle of charismatic leaders, epic battles and dramatic, decisive events indelibly marked on the calendar and mythologized for centuries after.
In the second episode, the warrior Tecumseh must deal with all the same issues: Traumatized and depleted native communities resist encroachment on their land; they make alliances, in this case with the British during the War of 1812; those alliances are betrayed; the military power of the United States defeats them and they lose their land.

Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh's alcoholic and depressive brother, had a transformative vision in 1805. It was what we might call a fundamentalist conversion: abstain from alcohol, live the old, traditional ways and avoid the white man. But it fired up a generation of warriors and gave hope to Tecumseh's dream: A united Indian homeland in the Great Lakes region. And so two new themes, the political power of mystical visions and the need for a united, pan-Indian alliance, enter into this annals of native history.

The episodes devoted to Tecumseh and the Trail of Tears are the most emotionally powerful, and achieve the best balance between reenactment and standard documentary style. In "Trail of Tears," the third episode, distinguished Native American actor Wes Studi stars as Major Ridge, a prosperous Cherokee landholder who decided it was in the interest of his people, and his own prosperity, to give up an independent Cherokee homeland in the southern Appalachians in hopes of peace and resettlement in land west of the Mississippi. It is one of the most vile and shameful chapters in the history of U.S. relations with Native Americans, and Studi captures well the anguish of his conflicted character.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Chief Tecumseh Poem

Chief Tecumseh Poem


Tecumseh Poem


Chief Tecumseh Poem - American Shawnee Chief

Chief Tecumseh - Poem

This poem written by Chief Tecumseh was used in the movie "Act of Valor" (2012) Production Companies Relativity Media (presents) Bandito Brothers.
Music by Hunter Hayes 'Where We Left Off"

As relevant today as it was when written and spoken by Chief Tecumseh.


Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee Tribe at

See the Video on YouTube at 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tecumseh Military Leader (c. 1768–1813)

Tecumseh Military Leader (c.1768-1813)

April 18, 2016

Young Warrior

During his teenage years, Tecumseh joined a confederation of Native Americans led by Mohawk chief Joseph Brant. Brant encouraged tribes to pool their resources and defend their territory against the white man’s encroachment. Tecumseh led a raiding party attacking white settlers’ boats making their way down the Ohio River and was successful in cutting off their access for a time. However, Tecumseh was appalled by the brutality displayed by both white and Native Americans, and after witnessing a white man burned at the stake, Tecumseh vehemently chastised his fellow tribesmen for their actions.

In 1791, under the leadership of Shawnee chief Blue Jacket, Tecumseh led a scouting party against U.S. General Arthur St. Clair at the Battle of the Wabash, where 952 of 1,000 American soldiers were killed. In June 1794, Tecumseh, led an unsuccessful attack against Major General Anthony Wayne at Fort Recovery, and two months later, his force was decidedly defeated at Fallen Timbers

Forming a Confederation of Native American Tribes

Tecumseh was so bitter about the defeat that he refused to attend the subsequent negotiations or to acknowledge the Treaty of Greenville. He sharply criticized the “peace” chiefs who signed away land that he believed wasn’t theirs to give, asserting that the land was like the air and water, a common possession of all Native Americans.

With a small contingency of a few hundred tribesmen, around 1808 Tecumseh traveled to what is now Indiana and joined his brother Tenskwatawa, who had recently become a prominent Native American religious leader known as the Prophet.

Using his superior oratory skills, over time Tecumseh transformed his brother’s religious following into a political movement, discouraging Native Americans from assimilation into the white world. Headquartered at Prophetstown, near the juncture of the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers, Tecumseh began recruiting different tribes throughout the Northwest Territory and southern United States.

 READ the Full Biography at:

Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee at

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tecumseh in Bonze - Saline County, Illinois

 Tecumseh in Bronze

In Saline County, Illinois at the Glen O Jones Lake you can find this beautiful bronze statue of Tecumseh.

Explore the Shawnee National Forest and enjoy the largest, most diverse natural treasure in Illinois.

For a Visitors Guide:   Click Here

A Native Nations Perspective on the War of 1812 - PBS.ORG

A Native Nations Perspective on the War of 1812

By Donald Fixico

The War of 1812 was an important conflict with broad and lasting consequences, particularly for the native inhabitants of North America.  During the pivotal years before the war, the United States wanted to expand its territories, a desire that fueled the invasion of native homelands throughout the interior of the continent. Tribal nations of the lower Great Lakes, including the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Ojibwa, and others saw their lands at risk.  The same was true for the Muscogee Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, Cherokee and Chickasaw in the south.

The Native leaders who emerged in response to this expansion shared a single concern, that of protecting tribal lands. There were Indians who sided with the Americans -- Red Jacket and Farmer’s Brother led a Seneca faction to help the Americans at the Battles of Fort George and Chippewa. But most Indian nations sided with the British against the U.S, believing that a British victory might mean an end to expansion.  In all, more than two dozen native nations participated in the war. In addition to the Lower Great Lakes Indians, led by Tecumseh, and Southern Indians, the Mohawks fought under Chief John Norton to hold onto their lands in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario.

Read the full essay, that covers these pivotal events:
The Indian Confederation under Tecumseh

Tippecanoe and the Aftermath 

The Loss of a Leader 

About the Author:  Donald Fixico is the Distinguished Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University, and the author of Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts and Sovereignty and Rethinking American Indian History.

Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee Tribe of Alabama 

Monday, August 21, 2017

6 Things You May Not Know about Tecumseh

6 Things You May Not Know about Tecumseh

Tecumseh lost three close family members to frontier violence.
2. Tecumseh took part in the worst defeat ever inflicted by Native Americans on U.S. forces.
3. Tecumseh tried to unite all tribes against white expansion.
4. The U.S. Army invaded while Tecumseh was away.
5. Tecumseh allied himself with the British during the War of 1812.
6. Many myths sprang up around Tecumseh.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Piqua Shawnee Tribe - Today

The Piqua Shawnee Tribe - Alabama Today

State of Alabama Indian Affairs Commission

State of Alabama Indian Affairs Commission Tribal Map
Now, in the 21st century, there are many descendants who still call Alabama home. Many of their family stories are varied. Some avoided walking the Trail of Tears. Some families escaped into the Cumberland mountains, others hid in swamps or less traveled places. A careful study of southeastern history will reveal that not all settlers agreed with Andrew Jackson’s removal policy. While many people did not escape the removal, some did. After the turmoil subsided some families returned. Many families chose to live in outlying rural areas where there was little government scrutiny and their neighbors weren’t too curious. While a lot was lost, family histories and ways were passed down.

It is out of that background that current Piquas live and work to preserve their unique heritage. The tribe consists of several family groups that are interrelated and live in several states. We also have relatives who reside in Canada. Currently the majority of Piquas live in Alabama, with members also in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Maryland, and South Carolina. Because we are so widely dispersed, we have at least four tribal gatherings per year in alternating geographic locations, thereby preventing any of our people from having to travel much farther than the others.

While we have a Principal chief, and second chief, our tribal government is maintained by a Tribal Council. The Council is composed of clan mothers and clan chiefs, with an advisory body known as the Council of Elders. Tribal Council is conducted in accordance with Clan protocol. All issues are debated and taken before the clans for consideration and deliberation. It is the function of the Council to debate and seek consensus on all tribal matters so that the people speak with one voice. Modern positions such as treasurer and secretary are determined by election for a set period of time. These positions do not have a vote on Council.

In 1991 the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky recognized the Piqua Sept of Ohio Shawnee as an Indian tribe. On July 10, 2001 the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission under the authority of the Davis-Strong Act recognized the Piqua Sept of Ohio Shawnee Tribe as an Indian tribe in the state of Alabama, thus making the Piqua Sept the first petitioning group to be recognized in 17 years.

Enrollment will be considered by the Tribal Council for applicants who can document their Shawnee ancestry. Those applicants who are of American Indian descent other than Shawnee must be descended from a tribe that was known to live with the Shawnee prior to the 1832 removal act. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit so that we may get to know you before any decisions are made regarding enrollment.

Visit the Official website of the Piqua Shawnee Tribe at

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

History Channel - Tecumseh

Native American History - Tecumseh

History Channel (2009)

Shawnee Indian political leader and war chief Tecumseh (1768-1813) came of age amid the border warfare that ravaged the Ohio Valley in the late 18th century. He took part in a series of raids of Kentucky and Tennessee frontier settlements in the 1780s, and emerged as a prominent chief by 1800. Tecumseh transformed his brother’s religious following into a political movement, leading to the foundation of the Prophetstown settlement in 1808. After Prophetstown was destroyed during the Battle of Tippecanoe, the Shawnee chief fought with pro-British forces in the War of 1812 until his death in the Battle of the Thames.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Battle of Piqua

The Battle of Piqua - Touring Ohio

We have been taught about the Revolutionary War battles of Bunker Hill and Yorktown but the Battle of Piqua (also called the Battle of Peckuwe) may have slipped our educators notice. It was the largest military engagement of the Revolutionary War west of the Allegheny Mountains and would greatly influence a 12 year old boy named Tecumseh.

Today the location of the Shawnee Village Piqua and battlefield is being preserved and is located just outside the George Rogers Clark Park. A monument of Colonel Clark overlooks the battle site honoring both sides of this important conflict. The Davidson Interpretive Center is located at the battle site and offers displays and exhibits concerning both the battle and Shawnee village life. The center is open Monday - Friday.  Piqua, Ohio, about a 45 minute drive up Interstate 75. 

Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee Tribe

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Dying Tecumseh and the Birth of a Legend

The Dying Tecumseh and the Birth of a Legend

 Smithsonian Magazine |

A sculpture in the Smithsonian collection reveals much about how the Indians of the West were viewed in the early ages of the United States

Tecumseh (Smithsonian American Art Museum) Sculptor:
Frederick Pettrich (1856)
The subject is a reclining, heroically proportioned man whose dignified and noble demeanor is unaffected by a bullet hole in the right temple.
The gleaming white sculpture is entitled The Dying Tecumseh, but any resemblance to the mortal Shawnee leader of that name is entirely coincidental. He died in battle and was disfigured by enemy soldiers 25 years before Pettrich began this work. While alive he posed for no known portrait. Nevertheless it is singularly appropriate that this is an imaginary figure, for no one else of Tecumseh's race and few of any other have had such a powerful and abiding impact on the collective American imagination.

Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee at

Monday, August 7, 2017

Shawnee History and Population - Encyclopaedia Britannica

Encyclopædia Britannica Shawnee-people

In the 17th century the Shawnee were driven from their home by the Iroquois, scattering into widely separated areas. Some settled in what is now Illinois and others in the Cumberland Valley, while one group moved to the southeast. After 1725 the tribe reunited in Ohio, where they formed the principal barrier to the advance of colonial settlers. Following their defeat by Gen. Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794) and the failure of Tecumseh’s alliance to prevent further colonial encroachment in the Ohio valley, the Shawnee broke into three independent branches, the Absentee, Eastern, and Cherokee Shawnee, that eventually settled in different parts of Oklahoma.
Early 21st-century population estimates indicated some 12,000 individuals of Shawnee descent.

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-USZC4-3616 )
 Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee -

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian

Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian Ongoing Exhibit at the Smithsonian in New York City

Worth the visit, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian has a special section dedicated to the history of the Woodlands—the United States and southern Canada
Among the many artifacts within this exhibit is the Pipe-Tomahawk (pictured) given to Chief Tecumseh by Col. Henry Procter.

Pipe tomahawk presented to Chief Tecumseh (Shawnee,1768–1813)ca.1812 Ohio    Wood, iron, lead 66 x 22.5 cm Gift of Sarah Russell Imhof and Joseph A. Imhof 17/6249

Portrait of Chief Tecumseh (Shawnee, 1768–1813) by Benson Lossing, 1848. Based on a pencil sketch from life ca. 1808 by French trader Pierre Le Dru. N20811

Visit the rest of the collection in person at:
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian  |  George Gustav Heye Center  |  New York, NY

Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee Tribe at

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Notable Shawnee

Notable Shawnee - Wikipedia

  • Peter Chartier (1690–1759), also known as Wacanackshina, French-Canadian-Shawnee who opposed the sale of alcohol in Shawnee communities and fought on the side of the French in the French and Indian War.
  • Cornstalk (1720–1777), led the Shawnee in Dunmore's War of 1774.
  • Nonhelema (1720–1786), sister of Cornstalk, helped compile the dictionary for the Shawnee language.
  • Blue Jacket (1743–1810), also known as Weyapiersenwah, a leader in the Northwest Indian War and important predecessor to Tecumseh.
  • George Drouillard (1773–1810), scout on Lewis and Clark expedition
  • Black Hoof (1740–1831), also known as Catecahassa, respected Shawnee chief who believed his people needed to adapt to European-American culture to survive.
  • Chiksika (1760–1792), Kispoko war chief and older brother of Tecumseh
  • Tecumseh (1768–1813), Shawnee leader; with his brother Tenskwatawa attempted to unite tribes west of the Appalachians against the expansion of European-American settlement.
  • Tenskwatawa (1775–1836), Shawnee prophet and younger brother of Tecumseh


Visit the Official Web Site Piqua Shawnee Tribe

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Piqua Shawnee Early History - Alabama

Piqua Shawnee Tribe - Alabama

Piqua Shawnee Tribe – Early historical records show that the Shawnee were inhabitants of Lawrence county of North Alabama. They were forced from the Tennessee Valley by the combined efforts of the Chickasaw and Cherokee.

The state of Alabama has long been the home of many Shawnee people. In fact, some historians state that perhaps the Shawnee people have inhabited Alabama for a longer period of time than any other geographic region. Some archaeologists set the date of 1685 as the first evidence of Shawnee settlement in Alabama. 

Visit the Official Site of  the Piqua Shawnee at