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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


With the Absentee Shawnee and the Eastern Shawnee, the Shawnee Tribe (formerly the Loyal Shawnee or Cherokee Shawnee) comprise Oklahoma's three federally recognized Shawnee Indian groups. Headquartered in Miami, the Shawnee Tribe counted 1,290 members in the year 2003. Their ancestors were the last of the Shawnee to relinquish their territory in Ohio.

During the late eighteenth century one Shawnee band (the origins of the Absentee Shawnee) migrated to present Missouri, in July 1831 another (today's Eastern Shawnee) agreed to relocate with Seneca to the Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) in July 1831. The remaining Shawnee ceded their Ohio lands to the U.S. government in August 1831. They removed to Kansas and lived on a 1.6 million-acre reservation established for the Missouri Shawnee (then known as the Black Bob band) in 1825. That reserve was reduced to two hundred thousand acres in 1854 and was allotted to tribe members by 1858.

The Shawnee prospered in Kansas because they were skilled cultivators. During the mid-1840s many joined the Absentee Shawnee along the Canadian River in the Indian Territory. During the Civil War some Kansas Shawnee served in the Union army, earning the tribe's "Loyal" designation. Expecting compensation for their wartime service, they returned to destroyed homesteads. White settlers, hungry for land, had acquired 130,000 acres of the land granted to the Shawnee in 1854. Of the tribe's remaining seventy thousand acres, twenty thousand had been reserved for the Absentee Shawnee.

After Kansas statehood in 1861, Kansans demanded that all Indian tribes be removed from their state. In 1869 the Loyal Shawnee and the Cherokee Nation entered into an agreement by which 722 Loyal Shawnee were granted Cherokee citizenship in the Indian Territory. By 1871 most had settled in present Craig and Rogers counties in Oklahoma. Having no political organization, they lost their tribal identity and became known as the Cherokee Shawnee.

The Loyal or Cherokee Shawnee received federal recognition as the Shawnee Tribe in 2000. They are governed by an eleven-member business committee. Tribal operations during the early twenty-first century were limited, but in 2011 a language retention program was developed. In 2018 in Miami the tribe opened the Shawnee Tribe Culture Center, which offers exhibits and special programming.

Pamela A. Smith


Charles Callender, "Shawnee," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978).

Grant Foreman, The Last Trek of the Indians: An Account of the Removal of the Indians from North of the Ohio River (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946).

Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Pamela A. Smith, “Shawnee Tribe (Loyal Shawnee),” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SH019.

Published January 15, 2010

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