The Piqua Shawnee Tribe
Most historians label Shawnee people as nomadic because they have found
evidence of Shawnee people moving about in North America, settling in various places
and often retaining small family units for long periods of time.
The state of Alabama has long been the home of many Shawnee people. In fact, some
historians state that perhaps the Shawnee people have inhabited Alabama for a longer
period of time than any other geographic region. Some archaeologists set the date
of 1685 as the first evidence of Shawnee settlement in Alabama. However, oral tradition
states that we have been here much longer than that. Ancient burial sites that use
burial methods common to the Shawnee have been located in several sections of the
state. Early accounts can be confusing since what is now called Alabama was once
a part of Georgia territory. Several early maps show Shawnee settlements in what
is now called Alabama.
Early French and English maps show several Shawnee towns in what would be considered
Upper Creek territory in Alabama. Some of the most notable were near modern Alabama
towns. One village was near present day Talladega and was known in English as Shawnee
Town. Another town was near Sylacauga. In 1750 the French took a census mentioning
the Shawnee at Sylacauga as well as enumerating another Shawnee town called Cayomulgi,
(currently spelled Kyamulga town) that was located nearby. Kiamulgatown was also
listed in an 1832 census. A 1761 English census names Tallapoosa Town. This town
was also named in a 1792 census by Marbury. There are French military records that
mention a Shawnee presence at Wetumpka near Fort Toulouse. In most cases the traders
called Alabama Indians “Creeks” because they lived on the numerous creeks and waterways
in the area. Many of these “Creeks” were not of the same tribe or nation. Rather
they went by a large number of names. Each group maintained their own unique heritage
while living side by side with their neighbors.
Now, in the 21st century, there are many descendants who still call Alabama
home. Many of their family stories are varied. Some avoided walking the Trail of
Tears. Some families escaped into the Cumberland mountains, others hid in swamps
or less traveled places. A careful study of southeastern history will reveal that
not all settlers agreed with Andrew Jackson’s removal policy. While many people
did not escape the removal, some did. After the turmoil subsided some families returned.
Many families chose to live in outlying rural areas where there was little government
scrutiny and their neighbors weren’t too curious. While a lot was lost, family histories
and ways were passed down.
It is out of that background that current Piquas live and work to preserve their
unique heritage. The tribe consists of several family groups that are interrelated
and live in several states. We also have relatives who reside in Canada. Currently
the majority of Piquas live in Alabama, with members also in Tennessee, Kentucky,
Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Maryland, and South Carolina. Because we are so
widely dispersed, we have at least four tribal gatherings per year in alternating
geographic locations, thereby preventing any of our people from having to travel
much farther than the others.
While we have a Principal chief, and second chief, our tribal government is maintained
by a Tribal Council. The Council is composed of clan mothers and clan chiefs, with
an advisory body known as the Council of Elders. Tribal Council is conducted in
accordance with Clan protocol. All issues are debated and taken before the clans
for consideration and deliberation. It is the function of the Council to debate
and seek consensus on all tribal matters so that the people speak with one voice.
Modern positions such as treasurer and secretary are determined by election for
a set period of time. These positions do not have a vote on Council.
In 1991 the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky recognized the Piqua Sept of
Ohio Shawnee as an Indian tribe. On July 10, 2001 the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission
under the authority of the Davis-Strong Act recognized the Piqua Sept of Ohio Shawnee
Tribe as an Indian tribe in the state of Alabama, thus making the Piqua Sept the
first petitioning group to be recognized in 17 years.
Enrollment will be considered by the Tribal Council for applicants who can document
their Shawnee ancestry. Those applicants who are of American Indian descent other
than Shawnee must be descended from a tribe that was known to live with the Shawnee
prior to the 1832 removal act. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit so that
we may get to know you before any decisions are made regarding enrollment.
For further information please contact:
Principal Chief: Gary Hunt
Piqua Shawnee Tribe
3412 Wellford Circle
Birmingham, Alabama 35226
Indian Commission Representative: Don Rankin
3412 Wellford Circle
Birmingham, Alabama 35226
Tribal Secretary: Debbie Hurst
If you would like to read more about the Shawnee people the following books may help:
Shawnee!!, James Howard, Ohio University Press
Tecumseh..a Life, John Sugden, Henry Holt
The History of Alabama, Albert Pickett (originally pub,1851 reprinted 1962), Birmingham
Book and Magazine
The Shawnee, Jerry E. Clark, The University of Kentucky Press
Tukabatchee, Archaeological lnvestigations at an historic Creek town Elmore County,
Alabama 1984, by Vernon James Knight, Jr.,
The University of Alabama.