Indian Tribes of Ottawa County, Oklahoma


The Quapaw were one of the most prominent of these rapidly disappearing tribes to find a home among the Cherokees. They were an offshoot of the once famous Sioux family and early history connects them with the, mound builders. They were encountered by De Soto and his band of adventurers as early as 1540. During the early part of the 16th century, they migrated from their eastern home and settled on the west bank of the Mississippi River, within the limits of the present State of Arkansas. There they were visited by the French Missionary, Jacques Marquette, in June, 1673. In March, 1682, La Salle, the French explorer, while on his trip down the Mississippi River, landed near the Quapaw settlement and took possession of the country in the name of the French King, Louis XIV. As the white settlers in Eastern Arkansas increased in number the Quapaw became restless and dissatisfied with their surroundings, although they had made considerable progress in clearing land and raising crops, and in 1824 they were induced to abandon their Arkansas possessions and emigrated to Western Oklahoma where they settled temporarily among the friendly Caddo Indians, along the banks of the Washita River.

By the treaty of 1867 they were located in the northeast corner of Indian Territory, where they remained for ten years, then joined the Osage, 100 miles to the west.

In 1893, however, they journeyed back to their Cherokee home and were granted a tract of land, bounded on the east by Missouri and on the north by Kansas, containing 56,245 acres. This tract was divided among (allotted to) 236 members of the tribe, about one hundred of whom have since died. Their band now numbers 332 individuals, many of whom still reside upon their allotments, own live stock and have become intelligent, law-abiding farmers.


The Peoria Indians originally belonged to the historic Algonquian family, but as early as 1670 were found in the Mississippi Valley in Eastern Iowa. Upon Marquette’s return to the North, after having explored the Mississippi Valley he found them, in 1673, located on the Illinois River, near the present site of Peoria, Ill. About five years later they became involved in a war with the Kickapoo and quite a number of them wended their way westward, sojourning for awhile in Missouri, but later, taking up their abode in Kansas. Some of them, however, retained their claims in Illinois until 1832, when, by a treaty with the United States, they surrendered their possessions there and joined their relatives in Eastern Kansas. Here they were joined by their former neighbors, the surviving members of several small tribes, the Kaskakia, Piankashaw, Wea and Miami, and by treaty of 1867 they all located in Indian Territory and were given a tract of land containing 43,334 acres, adjoining the Quapaw reservation on the South. These little tribes, some of them once powerful, had become almost entirely exterminated by disease and numerous wars, so that when finally settled upon their present reservation, they numbered in all only 393 souls. Their land has been divided among these 393 individuals and their restrictions have been removed, so that the adults may sell, lease or use their own land as they may choose. Many of them still reside upon their farms and have built comfortable homes.


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.


The Wyandotte belonged to the great Huron family of Indians whose ancient home was in the vicinity of the Michigan lakes. They were on friendly terms with their neighbors, the Potowatomi tribe, but at different times were in trouble with the ambitious Iroquois.

As early as 1649 they were driven out of their homes by the Iroquois and settled in Wisconsin.’ Dissatisfaction arose among them, and like many other-tribes, they were divided into bands or factions which were scattered over the country, some going to Canada and others to Michigan.

By treaty of 1815 they were given a tract of land in Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan, but in 1842 they disposed of their possessions there and settled in the present County of Wyandotte, State of Kansas. By treaty of 1867 they were located on their present reservation in Northeastern Oklahoma, immediately south of the Ottawa, Shawnee and Modoc. They were 481 in number when they settled here and their reservation contained 29,942 acres, all of which has been allotted.


The Seneca Indians were originally a branch of the great Iroquois confederacy which, according to the hand book of American Indians issued by the Bureau of Ethnology, from which much of this tribal history is gleaned, were first located in Western New York and constituted the largest of the five divisions of the Iroquois confederacy. They were involved in most of the numerous wars waged by the Iroquois in colonial days and their ranks were fast depleted by family quarrels and divisions. In 1817 they were granted a large tract of land in Northern Ohio, near Sandusky, which they retained until 1831, when they were induced to exchange it for a tract in Kansas. In 1867, by treaty they were located on their present reservation immediately adjoining the Wyandotte on the south. Their land lies in the southeastern part of Ottawa County and includes a strip off the northern end of Delaware County. It consists of 41,813 acres which has been allotted to 481 individual members of the tribe.

The restrictions have been removed from all the members of these little tribes and each adult Indian is permitted to lease, sell, or use his land as he may choose. Their farms have been fairly well developed and improved, about one-third of them being still occupied by the original allottees, the remaining twothirds, having been sold or leased to white men. The federal relations of these small tribes have, for many years past, been under the control of what has been known as the “Quapaw Agency,” located near the Town of Wyandotte. Here, too, an excellent boarding school has been maintained,. in which many an Indian boy and girl has been given a good common school education. For a number of years during one of the most critical periods in the history of these tribes, this agency and school were ably supervised by Mr. Horace B. Durant, now a lawyer in Miami.

The religious welfare of these Indians has been well nourished by the missionaries, who at different times have labored among them.
The religious society of Friends or Quakers has been active among them, almost from the beginning of their settlement in this corner of the state. Of the missionaries, Asa C. Tuttle and Emeline, his wife, were among the first to preach to and teach the Indians. They came to the Territory soon after the Indians began to settle here and made many converts among them.

Dr. C. W. Kirk, a missionary from Indiana, came in 1878 and labored faithfully for several years.

Henry Thorndike was another missionary who labored faithfully and successfully among these Indians for several years.

But among all of these missionaries, probably Jeremiah Hubbard, “Uncle Jerry” as he was familiarly called, was best known. He came to the Quapaw agency in 1879 and for forty years thereafter he devoted his time and energy to teaching and preaching among the Indians. He was a friend to the whites as well as the Indians and his advice was frequently sought on business as well as religious matters.

During his forty years of faithful service he officiated at several hundred marriage ceremonies, oftentimes traveling on foot or in his little buggy to perform such services without any thought of fees.

Eight years ago, “Uncle Jerry” wrote an interesting little book entitled “Forty Years Among the Indians,” in which he gives an interesting account of his work among these little Indian tribes.

Concerning his little book, one of his friends writes

“It would be a hard matter for a person to read the pages of this book and not discover in it the simple story of a life that gave all its best and asked nothing in return, the secret of its strength of hold upon the lives and hearts of the people with whom he has come in contact for forty long years is herein detailed.

“To do as the savage did; to sleep in his tents; to eat his food; endure the hardships of the winter’s blasts and the summer’s drouths; to toil night and day in an effort to bring to the lives of an unenlightened race the light of a better way, of a sublime hope; the turning of darkness into day,, for benighted minds, and do it all so cheerfully day by day, shows a strength of character which can not but excite the admiration of, and be an inspiration to any person who may have the good fortune to read, these lines.

“And, as you grasp his hand and look into his eyes-steady eyes-sincere eyes, you ask yourself the question, what is the force, the inspiration back of this man?

“What gives him this power to win the hearts of children and men?

“Take the pains to turn to page three of this book and there read your answer, for besides his God who gives him grace, is the wife, Mary G. Hubbard, the sublime queen of motherhood, the dauntless inspiration of manhood.”

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

1 thought on “Indian Tribes of Ottawa County, Oklahoma”

  1. I am trying to find family that was a member of the Wyandotte tribe. I think I see their names in the census. How can I get some help with this?
    Family name Biron

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