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History Other Tribes and Forced Relocation

Other Tribes and Forced Relocation

In addition to the Osage, several other tribes passed through or nearby the watershed, including the Kickapoo, Delaware, and Shawnee. In the early 19th century, a massive government program led to the forced relocation of many eastern tribes to uninhabited areas farther west. The best account we have found of this American diaspora and its relevance to our part of the woods is in this essay researched and written by Shirley Piland, retired Ava High School journalism teacher, and published in A History of Ozark County 1841-1991. It is reprinted here in part, by permission of the Ozark County Genealogical and Historical Society. 

On June 18, 1812, the American Congress declared war on Great Britain because of British impressment of American sailors, interference with American trade and shipping on the high seas and, to a lesser degree, British abetment of Indian hostilities on the frontier. The conflict ended with the Treaty of Ghent on December 14, 1814, without settling the fundamental issue, the violation of American maritime rights, but it did break the power of the great Algonquin tribes east of the Mississippi who had fought with the British. Their deportation to the West was begun. 


The Kickapoo, Delaware, and Shawnee 

Three reservations of particular interest to us were established in southwest Missouri. One, the Kickapoo, lay south of the Osage River and included what is now Greene County and the City of Springfield. South of that, the Delaware reservation lay west to the Osage line, south to the Arkansas border and extended east to a line running north and south across Beaver Creek about halfway between Ava and Forsyth. From that line to the North Fork River at Tecumseh lay the Shawnee reservation, encompassing all of central and western Ozark County, part of Taney County, and parts of several counties to the north. Small clans from other displaced tribes drifted into the area and lived among these groups. A clan of some 60 Piankashaws under Chief Laharst lived on Cowskin Creek west of Ava, and another group of the same tribe lived on Cedar Creek two miles north of Forsyth. A few white hunters, explorers, trappers, traders and missionaries also lived among the Indians from time to time. 

There were frequent clashes with the Osage who still claimed hunting privileges on their old hunting grounds. Clashes were most frequent with the Delawares and the Cherokees whose lands joined the Osage boundary. These later tribes, with guns and copper kettles, dressed and lived much the same as did the white settlers who followed them and therefore left less of an Indian legacy in Ozark County than did their predecessors, although a number of Ozark(s) natives can point to a red man or woman in their family trees, legacy enough. 

Elmo Ingenthron, well-known Ozark(s) historian, published in his book, Indians of the Ozark Plateau, part of a letter dated August 4, 1825, from Francois Lesieves and son to Pierre Menard concerning fragments of Shawnee, Delaware and Creek tribes living on the southeast borderlands of the Ozarks.

The excerpt reads as follows: ". . . They raise stocks of horses, cattle, and hogs and make a sufficiency of bread stuffs for home consumption. No charge of dishonesty has ever been even colorably sustained against them, and the little trade they furnish in fur, peltries, beaver, oil, etc., is extremely acceptable to our small community from its vicinity."

Shawnee Life and Customs 

Although the Shawnee had no written language of their own, they were, nevertheless, considered highly intelligent. Chuck Fulkerson, a student of Indian cultures, wrote that the Shawnee were quick to adopt the ways of the white man, his tools, and his guns. They began early replacing the wigwam, with its hole in the top to let out the smoke, with neat, well-built log houses. The men were the hunters and traders, Mr. Fulkerson wrote, and the women did the farming and the cooking. "They had no sugar," he said, "but they collected wild honey and made maple or hickory syrup." 

The Shawnee played games, ran foot races, gambled, held festivals, raced horses, and danced. They believed in life after death. There remained, however, some major differences in lifestyles between the Indians and the whites. A show of emotion was considered a sign of weakness by the Shawnee, and noisy or whining children were not tolerated. Babies were strapped to a cradle and carried on the mother's back as she worked or traveled until the infant could sit alone. This practice flattened the back of the baby's head; that was considered a mark of beauty. 

As soon as the baby was out of the cradle, the tribe held a naming ceremony with much feasting. An elder of the tribe named the child identifying it with an animal. The name might be such as Running Deer or Howling Panther, but if the child became ill, its name was changed. The people believed that somehow the name was responsible for the illness. At about the age of sixteen to twenty, a boy was expected to prove his manhood by showing great skill as a hunter or as a warrior. He was then presumed ready for marriage to the girl chosen for him by his parents. 

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Forced Relocation 

Life on the Ozark Mountain reservations was to be short-lived, however. In 1821 Missouri became a state. Lured by the crystal streams teeming with goggle-eye, soup turtles, and bullfrogs; by the narrow, fertile valleys profuse with wild berries and fruits; by the wood hillsides replete with fuel, nuts and timber; and by abundant animal life for food, fur and leather; hardy pioneers began moving, in ever greater numbers, into the region. 

The Shawnees were the first to surrender. On November 7, 1825, they accepted and moved to a tract of land south of the Kansas River and west of the Missouri state line. 

The 'Treaty of the James Fork' on September 24, 1829, removed the Delawares to a tract adjacent to the Shawnees in Kansas. On October 24, 1832, the Kickapoos signed the 'Treaty of Castor Hill' and were removed to a new range on the Missouri River west of Leavenworth, Kansas. 

The smaller clans were absorbed by the larger tribes or were given small holdings west of the Missouri border, and the state was declared free of Indians and legally eligible for settlement by the whites. Eventually, all these (Indian) people were shuttled into Oklahoma along with the Osage and with the Arkansas Cherokees and their brothers from east of the Mississippi who survived the march on the 'Trail of Tears' in 1838. 

Sources cited by author Shirley Piland: 
Clifford, Eth. Show Me Missouri: A History of Missouri and the World Around It. 1975. 
Fulkerson, Chuck. Native American People:The Shawnee.Rourke Publications,Inc., Vero Beach, FL, 1992. 
Gibson, A. M. Lords of the Middle Border. University of Oklahoma Press. 1963. Second ed., 1975. 
Ingenthron, Elmo. Indians of the Ozark Plateau. School of the Ozarks Press, Point Lookout, MO. 
Meyer, Duane G. The Heritage of Missouri. St. Louis River City Publishers, St. Louis. Third ed. 1982. Previous eds. 1963, 1970. 
Rafferty, Milton D. Historical Atlas of Missouri. University of Oklahoma Press, 1982. 
The Americana Encyclopedia. "The War of 1812." Americana Corporation, 1968.