Modoc, Shawnee, and Ottawa Indians of Oklahoma



     The Modoc were Western Indians, formerly inhabiting a portion of the present State of Oregon. They were closely related to the Klamath tribe. By 1864 the white settlers were coveting their lands and they were induced to give up their reservation and unite with the Klamath. They soon became dissatisfied with their new location and longed to return to their former reservation. The refusal of the Federal authorities to permit their return, resulted in the Modoc war of 1872 which lasted about a year and terminated in the defeat and dispersion of the Indians. At the close of this war some of the Modoc wandered back to Oregon and the remaining members of their greatly depleted band were brought to Indian Territory and were given a tract of 3,966 acres of land bordering the State of Missouri and adjoining the Peoria on the South. This land has been allotted to their individual members, about forty in number, most of whom still reside in that vicinity.


     The Shawnee, during the latter half of the seventeenth century, inhabited a portion of the Savannah River country in South Carolina and the valley of the Cumberland River in Tennessee. They were next door neighbors to the Cherokees and on friendly terms with them for many years. As early as 1680 they began to be annoyed by white settlers who viewed, with covetous eyes, their fertile valley lands and very soon they began to migrate northward, a few at a time, some of them settling in Pennsylvania, near the Delaware Indians, with whom they were closely related. About the middle of the 18th century they became involved in wars with the whites and during the Revolutionary war they rendered some assistance to the British by opposing the American pioneers, but before the close of that war, they were driven farther to the West and effected a settlement in Ohio, along the Miami River. A few years later they were forced to leave Ohio and a goodly number of them crossed the Mississippi River and settled near Cape Girardeau, Mo., while others sought refuge with friendly tribes in Ohio and Indiana. In 1825 they -exchanged their claim to Missouri lands for a reservation in Kansas, where they were soon joined by their brothers who had been left back in Ohio and Indiana.

     In 1845 quite a number of them wandered away from their Kansas reservation and settled in the western part of Indian Territory and soon acquired the title of "Absent Shawnees." Those remaining in Kansas moved to the Cherokee Nation in 1867 and, two years later, by treaty, were given their present reservation, "and designated as "Eastern Shawnees." Their present reservation, consisting of 13,816 acres, adjoins the Modoc on the west and the Peoria on the south, and has been divided among their 160 members. Throughout their whole history, the fact is very noticeable that the Shawnees were not as closely bound together by tribal ties, as were most other Indians. They would move from place to place in bands and were never united upon one reservation, hence their power and influence as a tribe were not as great as they might have been if they had held together.


     The Ottawa were Northern Indians who inhabited the region around Lake Champlain when the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock, and were early known as traders, dealing in furs, hand-made blankets and mats, and medicinal roots and herbs. They got into trouble with the powerful Iroquois in 1648 and were driven across the Niagara River, stopping on the shore of the Georgian Bay in Canada. They remained in the vicinity of the Great Lakes until 1833 when they exchanged their reservation for land in Northeastern Kansas. About this time, however, dissensions arose among members of the tribe and they were divided into factions, some going to Kansas, while others wended their way into Canada, Illinois and Oklahoma.

     By treaty made in 1867 they acquired their present reservation which adjoins the Shawnees on the west and the Peoria reservation on the South. Here they were granted 12,995 acres of land which has been divided among the 270 members who located here.

Ottawa County

Source: Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, 1922

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