IntroductionThe Shawnee Indians are originally Northeast American Indian tribes. Today they reside mainly in Oklahoma where the tribes are now headquartered. They live on what is technically considered trust land but is also called a reservation. The name Shawnee, when translated, means Southerner. Although the Shawnee tended to move around a lot, historically, there are several states where they were known to have large populations. They include present day Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The below list of information about the Shawnee Indians is broken down into interesting facts about the tribe including why their language is almost extinct today.
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Shawnee General Facts
- Three separate and federally recognized tribes exist today. They are:
- Absentee-Shawnee Tribe
- Shawnee Tribe
- Eastern Shawnee Tribe
- Today, English is the predominant language spoken these Native Americans. Although some tribal elders do speak the Shawnee language; it is quickly becoming an endangered language because it is not being taught to children.
- The Shawnee tribe tended to be very nomadic. They moved often, mostly to avoid confrontations with other tribes and only fought when it was necessary to protect their families.
- Because of their nomadic nature, their homes were never permanent structures. They lived in temporary dome-shaped homes called wigwams which were constructed of tree bark and sap, brush, cattails and sometimes hide.
- Several Northeast American Indian tribes including the Shawnee are known for a style of dance called Stomp Dance which is held for both social and religious purposes.
- Although they did not always get along, the Cherokee Indians to the south were very important to the Shawnee. The Shawnee adopted a lot of music and dance from them and regularly traded with them.
- In the early 1800s, disease and war brought the Shawnee population of over 10,000 tribe members to a mere 3,500. The numbers have since increased and now there are approximately 15,000 Shawnee Indians living today.
Shawnee Daily Life Facts
- The Shawnee women were farmers. They predominantly grew squash, beans and several varieties of corn on the land around their homes.
- Women spent a lot of time doing arts and crafts. They are known for their beautiful woodcarvings, pottery and beadwork. They would also weave bags and rugs and create rope out of wild hemp.
- The Shawnee men were responsible for going to war when necessary, mainly as a means of protecting their family.
- The men did the hunting and fishing for their families. For food, the Shawnee preferred deer, buffalo and turkey to other animals but would eat whatever they could catch with bows and arrows, spears and nets.
- Fur trade was an important part of Shawnee life so a great deal of time was spent hunting and trapping for that purpose.
- The Shawnee are proud of their ancestors and their heritage and spent a great deal of time telling stories as a way of passing on important historical information.
Shawnee Clothing Facts
- The Shawnee are not known for their elaborate clothing. Both men and women wore fairly basic clothing styles that were often adopted from other Indian tribes that they came into contact with.
- Women mostly wore wraparound skirts with leggings while the men wore traditional breechcloths with leggings.
- Ponchos and moccasins were standard attire for men and women.