The 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.
Shawnee General Facts
Three separate and federally recognized tribes exist today. They are:
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
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.