Miami tribe

Miami tribe

The Miami are a Native American tribe originally found in Indiana, southwest Michigan and Ohio, and now living also in Oklahoma.


The name 'Miami' derives from the tribe's name for themselves in their own Algonquian language, "Myaamia" (plural "Myaamiaki"). Some sources say that the Miami called themselves the "Twightwee" (also spelled "Twatwa"), an onomatopoeic reference to their sacred bird, the Sandhill crane. However, "Twightwee" appears to be a Delaware language name for the Miamis, and some Miamis have stated that this was only a name used by other tribes for the Miamis, and not a name the Miamis used for themselves. Another common usage was "Mihtohseeniaki", "the people," and the Miami continue to employ this ethnonym today.



The Miami are thought by anthropologists to be one of the cultural descendants of the Mississippian culture, characterized by maize-based agriculture, chiefdom-level social organization, extensive regional trade networks, hierarchal settlement patterns, and other factors.The historical Miami seem also to have enjoyed hunting.


Iroquois War Years [Tanner, Helen Horbeck & Miklos Pinther, Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, Oklahoma 1987] [Rafert, Stewart; The Miami Indians of Indiana; A Persistent People 1654-1994; Indiana Historical Society, 1996]

*1654 Fox River SW of Lake Winnebago
*1670-95 Wisconsin River below the Portage to the Fox River
*1673? Niles, Michigan
*1679-81 Fort Miamis (St. Joseph, Michigan)
*1680 Fort Chicago
*1682-91 Fort St. Louis (Starved Rock, Illinois)
*1687 Calumet River (Blue Island, Illinois)
*1691? Wabash River @ the mouth of the Tippecanoe R.

European contact

When French missionaries first encountered the Miami in the mid 17th century, they were living around the shores of Lake Michigan. The Miami had reportedly moved there because of pressure from the Iroquois further east. Early French explorers noticed many linguistic and cultural similarities between the Miami bands and the Illiniwek. At this time, the major divisions of the Miami were:
*Atchakangouen (also Atchatchakangouen or Greater Miami)
*Mengkonkia (Mengakonia)
*Pepikokia (Kithtippecanuck)
*Piankeshaw (Newcalenous)
*Wea (Ouiatenon) [Anson, Bert (2000). "The Miami Indians", p. 13. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0806131977.]

In 1696, the Comte de Frontenac appointed Jean Baptiste Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes as commander of the French outposts in northeast Indiana and southwest Michigan. Here he became good friends with the Miami people, settling first at the St. Joseph River, and, in 1704, establishing a trading post and fort at Kekionga, present day Fort Wayne, Indiana."Vincennes, Sieur de (Jean Baptiste Bissot)," The Encyclopedia Americana (Danbury, CT: Grolier, 1990), 28:130.]

By the eighteenth century, the Miami had for the most part returned to their homeland in present-day Indiana and Ohio. The eventual victory of the British in the French and Indian War led to an increased British presence in traditional Miami areas. Shifting alliances and the gradual encroachment of white settlement led to some Miami bands merging. Native Americans created larger tribal confederacies as they allied both to participate in European wars and to fight advancing white settlement, led by Chief Little Turtle. By the end of the century, the tribal divisions were:

The latter two groups were closely aligned with some of the Illini tribes and were later lumped with them for administrative purposes. The Eel River band maintained a somewhat separate status, which proved beneficial in the removals of the nineteenth century. The nation's traditional capital was Kekionga.


French Years [Tanner, Helen Horbeck & Miklos Pinther, Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, Oklahoma 1987] [Rafert, Stewart; The Miami Indians of Indiana; A Persistent People 1654-1994; Indiana Historical Society, 1996]
*<1718-94 Kekionga (Portage of the Maumee & Wabash - Fort Wayne, Indiana)
*1720-49 Portage of the Miami River (St. Joseph) & Kankakee Rivers
*? - 1733 Tepicon of the Wabash (Ft. Ouiatenon -Lafayette, Indiana)
*1733-51 Tepicon of the Tippecaone (Headwaters of the Tippecanoe R. near Warsaw)
*1748-52 Pickawillany (Piqua on the Great Miami River in Ohio)
*1752 Headwaters of the Eel River (southwest of Columbia City, Indiana)
*1752 Le Gris (Maumee {Miami} River east of Fort Wayne)

British Years [Tanner, Helen Horbeck & Miklos Pinther, Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, Oklahoma 1987] [Rafert, Stewart; The Miami Indians of Indiana; A Persistent People *1654-1994; Indiana Historical Society, 1996]
*1763 Captured British at Fort Miami (1760-63) as a part of the Pontiac’s Rebellion)
*1774 Warriors participated in Lord Dunmore’s War (in Ohio)
*1778- Kenapacomaqua (Wabash at the mouth of the Eel River - Logansport, Indiana)
*1780 October - Agustin Mottin de La Balme (Spanish - St. Louis) headed a raid of Detroit. Stopped and destroyed Kekionga. La Balme withdrew to the west, where Little Turtle (5 Nov.) destroyed the raiders killing a third.)

United States

The Miami had mixed relations with the United States. Some villages of the Piankeshaw openly supported the Americans during the American Revolution, while the villages around Ouiatenon were openly hostile. The Miami of Kekionga remained allies of the British, but were not openly hostile to the United States (except when attacked by Augustin de La Balme in 1780). The U.S. government did not trust their neutrality, however, and attacked Kekionga multiple times during the Northwest Indian War. Each attack was repulsed, including the battle known as St. Clair's Defeat, the worst defeat of an American army by Native Americans in U.S. history. [Sisson, Richard; Zacher, Christian; and Cayton, Andrew (eds.) (2007). "The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia", p. 1749. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253348862.]

The Northwest Indian War ended with the Battle of Fallen Timbers and Treaty of Greenville. Those Miami who still resented the United States gathered around Ouiatenon and Prophetstown, where Shawnee Chief Tecumseh led a coalition of Native American nations. Prophetstown was destroyed in 1811 by territorial governor William Henry Harrison, who would use the War of 1812 as pretext for attacks on Miami villages throughout the Indiana Territory.

The Treaty of Mississinwas, signed in 1826, took away most of the Miami lands and gave them to the United States government. It also allowed Miami lands to be held as private property. When the Miami were officially removed in 1846, those with private property were allowed to stay in Indiana, while the rest of the tribe was moved to reservations West of the Mississippi River, first to Kansas, then to Oklahoma. The divide in the tribe exists to this day. The U.S. government has recognized the Western Miami (or Oklahoma Miami) as the official tribal government since the forced divide in 1846, although migration between the tribes has been a source of frustration for bureaucrats and historians alike. [Rafert, Stewart (1996). "The Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People. 1654-1994", p. xxv. Indiana Historical Society. ISBN 0-87195-111-8.]

The Eastern Miami (or Indiana Miami) has its own tribal government, but lacks federal recognition. Although they were recognized in an 1854 treaty, that recognition was stripped in 1897. In 1980, the Indiana legislature recognized the Eastern Miami and voted to support federal recognition. [Rafert, p. 291.] Senator Richard Lugar introduced a bill to recognize the Eastern Miami, but withdrew support due to concerns over gambling rights. [Rafert, p. 292.] On 26 July 1993, a federal judge ruled that the Eastern Miami were recognized in the 1854 treaty, and that the federal government had no right to strip them of their status in 1897. However, he also ruled that the statute of limitations had expired, and the Miami no longer had any right to sue. [Rafert, p. 293.]


United States Years [Tanner, Helen Horbeck & Miklos Pinther, Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, Oklahoma 1987] [Rafert, Stewart; The Miami Indians of Indiana; A Persistent People 1654-1994; Indiana Historical Society, 1996]
*1785 Delaware Villages locate near Kekionga (refugees from American Settlements)
*1790 Pickawillany Miami join Kekionga (refugees from American Settlements)
*1790 Gen. Harmar marches on Kekionga to punish the Miami, Delaware, & Shawnee villages. 17 October Harmar found the seven villages deserted. The rear guard left to destroy the returning villagers was destroyed by Little Turtle’s warriors.
*1790 Mississinewa (Missississinewa River below the Wabash, SE of Peru, Indiana)
*1791 Gen. Arthur St. Clair moves on Kekionga. Little Turtle destroys the US Army (1400) near the future Fort Recovery.
* Kentucky Militia destroy Eel River villages.
*1793 December - General Anthony Wayne moves to Fort Recovery to prepare to destroy Kekionga.
*1794 August - Fort Defiance (Defiance, Ohio) built on the Maumee River site of deserted Shawnee Village of Blue Jacket. 20 August battle of Fallen Timbers, Blue Jacket loses to Wayne.
*1794 Kekionga site abandoned
* Mississinewa towns become the center of the nation.
*1809 Gov. William Henry Harrison orders destruction of all villages within 2-days march of Fort Wayne. Villages nr Columbia City and Huntinton destroyed.
* 17 December, Lt. Col. John B. Campbell ordered to destroy the Mississinewa villages. Campbell destroyes villages and kills women & children.
* 18 December, At 2nd village, Americans repulsed and return to Greenville.
*1810 July, US Army returns and burns deserted town and crops.
*1817 Maumee Treaty - loose Ft. Wayne area (1400 Miami counted)
*1818 Treaty of St. Mary’s (New Purchase Treaty) - lose south of the Wabash - Big Miami Reservation created. Grants on the Mississinewa & Wabash given to Josetta Beaubien, Anotoine Bondie, Peter Labadie, Francois Lafontaine, Peter Langlois, Joseph Richardville, and Antoine Rivarre. Miami National Reserve (875,000) created.
*1818 Eel River Miami settle at Thorntown (ne of Lebanon).
*1825 1073 Miami (includes Eel River Miami).
*1826 Mississinewa Treaty - loose between the Eel and the Wabash to create a right of way for the canal. Eel River Miami leave Thorntown (ne of Lebanon) for Logansport Area.
*1834 Western part of the Big Reservation sold (208,000 acres)
*1838 Potowatomi removed from Indiana. No other Indians in the state. Treaty of 1838 made 43 grants and sold the western portion of the Big Reserve. Richardville exempted from any future removal treaties. Richardsville, Godfroy, Metocina received grants, plus family reserves for Ozahshiquah, Maconzeqyuah (Wife of Benjamin), Osandian, Tahconong, and Wapapincha.
*1840 Remainder of the Big Reservation (500,000 acres) sold for lands in Kansas. Godfroy descendants and Meshingomesia (s/o Metocina), sister, brothers and their families exempted from the removal. 800 Miami
*1846 1 October, removal was suppose to begin. Began October 6 by canal boat. By ship to Kansas Landing Kansas City and 50 miles overland to the reservation . Reached by 9 November.
*1847 Godfroy Reserve (between the Wabash & Mississinewa)
* Wife of Benjamin Reserve (east edge of Godfroy)
* Osandian Reserve (On the Mississinewa, se boundary of Godfroy)
* Wapapincha Reserve (south of Mississinewa at Godfroy/Osandian juncture)
* Tahkonong Reserve (east of Wapapincha south of Mississinewa)
* Ozahshinquah Reserve (on Mississinewa se of Peoria)
* Meshingomesa Reserve (north side of Mississinewa from Somerset top Jalpa)
*1872 Most reserves partially sold to non-Indians.
*1922 All reserves sold for debt or taxes.

Places named for the Miami

A number of places have been named for the Miami nation:
* Miami, Oklahoma
* Fort Miami (Indiana)
* Fort Miami (Michigan)
* Fort Miami (Ohio)
* Great Miami River in Ohio
* Miami Valley, Ohio
* Little Miami River in Ohio
* Maumee River
* Miami County, Indiana
* Miami County, Kansas
* Miami County, Ohio
* Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

It should be noted that Miami, Florida, is not named for the Miami nation, but rather the Mayaimi tribe of Florida.

The state soil of Indiana is called Miami, giving unexpected depth to the phrase "Land of the Indians".

Notable Miami

*Little Turtle (Mishikinakwa), 18th century war chief
*Pacanne, 18th century chief
*Francis La Fontaine, last principal chief of the united Miami tribe
*Jean Baptiste de Richardville (Peshewa), 19th century chief
*Frances Slocum (Maconaquah), adopted member of the Miami tribe
*William Wells (Apekonit), adopted member of the Miami tribe


External links

* [ Miami Indian Collection (MSS 004)]
* [ Guide to Native American Resources]
*CathEncy|wstitle=Miami Indians

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