Shawnee Divisions

There are five semi-autonomous divisions among the Shawnee known in historical times, though there were probably more formerly.  Our oldest certain information comes from the early 19th century in which ancient traditions can help us trace some aspects of the social organization of the 16th and 17th centuries.  Information from the 20th century relates to the period when all of the tribes were gathered in the Ohio valley before removal to the west and in some cases reflects historical dynamics of that period.  Mention is made of a potential sixth and seventh division, but these cannot be identified.  Another division appears to be an alternative name for one of the better known appellations, but its identification is not certain. And a “Shawano” division was thought by the Shawnee Propher to have been a tribe that joined with the others and that the name of the confederated tribes took their name because it was the largest division.

Trowbridge (Prophet) has Tshilekautha, Kishpookoo, Pikewaa & Maakootsha; Black Hoof adds the Thauweekeelau’s but says they are extinct, although elsewhere he mentions them as having gone down to the Creeks and then beyond the Mississippi.  This is odd, because Black Hoof was the brother of Kishkalwa, the leader of the Thawikila.  Perhaps there were bad feelings about the desertion of this division when they moved back to Creek country in the south. They later joined the Kishpoko and Pekowi who split with the two divisions who wished to remain in Ohio and fight the Americans, the Chalakatha and the Mekoche.



Notes and Comments

1.  Chalakatha

2.  Thawikila

3.  Mekoche

4.  Kishpokotha

5.  Pekowitha

Excellent historical material is available for the disposition of the Shawnee villages just prior to the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 on the Scioto River and its tributaries.  From this period we have a journey made by the Rev. Daniel Jones to the Shawnee in January and February of 1774, the map of Crevecoeur of the Scioto (published in his Letter from and American Former, [Paris, 1767]; reproduced in Hanna, 2911:2.386). Crevecoeur got his information from General Richard Butler who had been a trader in the area at the time of Jones visit – and, in fact,  had been Jones traveling companion at the village of “Kiskapookee” in February, 1774. The following table correlates these data.  We can also add the names of the divisions from Trowbridge’s Shawnee Traditions roughly half a century later and just prior to removal. To this we can add information from Zeisberger (from Schweinitz, 1871:374-5) for tribes and towns.

1 The Thawiikila had already departed for the South at this time, but shortly thereafter united with the Kishpoko and Pekowi who departed for Missouri in Spanish territory in 1779.

2 The final -ki (-ke, -kee) is an ending formerly used more extensively for tribal or divisional designation, where later it seems that -tha became more common.  The final vowel is sometimes dropped by Zeisberger, indicating probably influence from the Delaware.who were possibly the source of his information.

3 Walter H. Shawnee was a member of the Hathawekilah division. Otherwise we do not have it attested as having an initial ha-.

4 The Spitotha, because it is missing from Walter H. Shawnee’s list, is often identified as Mekoche.  However, in the summer of 1973, Robert Williams listed it as a separate former division.

5 Listed by another Moravian,, Heckewelder, in a manuscript in the Library of the American Philosophical Society.  This may simply be the inhabitants of the village of Waketameki;  alternatively, it may be a division not otherwise identified -- though this seems doubtful..

6 A secondary source, McKenney and Hall(1836), list the Chiicothe, Makostrake, Kickapoo, and Pickaway, but also this Wauphauthawonaukee.  The information may come from Governor Cass' researches, but if so the original data is lost. It probably begins with the stem waap(a-) 'white, light'.

Before 1767