Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Shawnee

The Shawnee

Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: 1
Pages: 120
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Shawnee
    Book Description:

    Many Indian tribes claimed Kentucky as hunting territory in the eighteenth century, though for the most part their villages were built elsewhere. For the Shawnee, whose homeland was in the Ohio and Cumberland valleys, Kentucky was an essential source of game, and the skins and furs were vital for trade. When Daniel Boone explored Kentucky in 1769, a band of Shawnee warned him they would not tolerate the presence of whites there. Settlers would remember the warning until 1794 and the Battle of Fallen Timbers. InThe Shawnee, Jerry E. Clark eloquently recounts the story of the bitter struggle between white settlers and the Shawnee for possession of the region, a conflict that left its mark in the legends of Kentucky.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4893-9
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. x-xii)
    (pp. 1-4)

    Most of the accepted histories indicate that there were no permanent Indian settlements in Kentucky during historic times. Yet stories abound of the presence of Indians, particularly Shawnee, in many regions of Kentucky. Stories of whites held in Indian captivity and of Indians working in Swift’s silver mines come from the mountains of eastern Kentucky. From the central part of the state come tales of Indian attacks on the new, and fortified, settlements of Harrodsburg and Boonesboro.

    How can these inconsistencies be reconciled? Could it be that the Shawnee only ventured into Kentucky to intimidate the white settlers and then...

    (pp. 5-27)

    Linguistically the Shawnee are identifiable with the group of Central Algonquian speakers including the Miami, Kickapoo, Illiniwek, and Sauk and Fox, among others. In early historic times, as their name implies, they were the southernmost of this group. The original home of the entire Algonquian stock lay somewhere in the eastern subarctic region of Canada. The hunting and fishing practices of the Algonquian-speaking groups have led scholars to believe that the early Algonquians probably lived in the vicinity of Lake Winnipeg. It is thought that the Shawnee were one of the earliest groups to move south from this area. However,...

    (pp. 28-37)

    During the late prehistoric period the Central Algonquians who lived in the Ohio Valley evolved a culture based on agriculture and centered on the village, the major ceremonial, political, and economic unit, to which lineage units were subordinate. This pattern remained characteristic of the Shawnee well into the twentieth century.

    If one accepts the traditional definition of the clan as a unilineal kinship group that maintains the fiction of common genetic descent from a remote ancestor, usually legendary or mythological, then it is questionable whether the Shawnee actually had a clan system. Clans among other Algonquian tribes seldom numbered more...

    (pp. 38-47)

    Subsistence activities were governed by a seasonal cycle. At the end of September the families began to leave the main village to begin the winter hunt. Some of the winter months were spent in trapping, an activity that became more important as the Shawnee became increasingly dependent upon the fur trade. In March the various families began to return to the main village, and in April and May fields were cleared for planting. During the summer months the women tended the crops and gathered wild plant food, while the men spent the time hunting or fishing occasionally as the need...

    (pp. 48-54)

    Like most other non-European cultures, the Shawnee’s ideology did not make a clear distinction between science and religion. Rather they were more concerned with the distinction between the normal and the abnormal. Shawnee beliefs and practices focused upon retaining or restoring conditions to a state of normalcy (the way things ought to be). Religious practices were designed to insure good crops, successful hunts, or to ward off disease. Medical practice attempted to restore a sick or injured person back to normal.

    Shawnee medical practice was very much wrapped up in ideology and even witchcraft. In fact the Shawnee word for...

    (pp. 55-61)

    Next to migration, nothing about the Shawnee is so obvious as their conservatism. The reasons for this conservatism are not entirely clear. The historian Clark Wissler argued that the Shawnee never stayed in intimate contact with other tribal groups over sufficiently long periods of time for much diffusion to have taken place between them and their neighbors. Erminie Voegelin extends this, saying that they had contact with such a variety of cultures that they became aloof to all of them. Perhaps their extensive contacts with other Indian groups and with Europeans did help to stabilize native customs. But aloof they...

    (pp. 62-71)

    The extensive migration of the various Shawnee divisions and bands brought them into contact with a large number of other Indian groups. Some of these encounters were brief and relatively insignificant, but others were extensive and played an important role in influencing the Shawnee. Unfortunately, except for a few references in the speeches of Shawnee chiefs, one must rely for information about these encounters on the accounts left by European observers. Many important intertribal ties were never recorded or observed, and those that were recorded are often sketchily described. Intertribal wars are better documented than peaceful relations and economic arrangements....

    (pp. 72-91)

    Shawnee relations with whites were complex, based in part on their resistance to European culture, in part on economic realities, and in part on the various Indian policies of the colonies and later the United States.

    It is somewhat misleading to generalize about colonial Indian policy, for the lack of a uniform, just system for managing Indian affairs characterized the colonial period. So lax was the central control of Indian affairs that policy was actually made in many instances by those who had contact with the Indians. Nevertheless, certain attitudes prevailed which determined the nature of Indian-white relations. Since in...

    (pp. 92-96)

    Although the Shawnee gave up any claim to land in Kentucky in 1795, they had a profound influence on the early history and the traditions and legends of the state. Unfortunately, much of the early record is marred by a hatred and hostility between them and the settlers that led to the description of Kentucky as the “Dark and Bloody Ground.” As land speculators and settlers trickled and then swarmed over the Appalachian Mountains, the Shawnee fought hard to retain their hunting territory and homeland. The Shawnee also became a victim in the colonial land struggle between Pennsylvania and Virginia...

  14. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 97-99)
  15. Index
    (pp. 100-105)