News From Terre Haute, Indiana


December 8, 2007

Genealogy: Many tribes left their mark on Indiana

TERRE HAUTE — Last week’s column discussed Indiana’s most influential Indian tribes, the Miami, Wea, and Piankashaw, as described in The Indian Tribes of North America, by John R. Swanton. Yet, there were other tribes that also left their mark in and on the state.

The Chippewa or Ojibwa was a tribe of the east coast and the Great Lakes area. Like the Miamis, they were part of the Algonquin linguistic group. In treaties made in 1795, 1817, and 1821, they relinquished their lands in Indiana to the whites. Their tribal name means “to roast until puckered,” and referred to the puckered seam in their moccasins.

The Delaware Indians were also of Algonquin stock. They originated on the east coast (Delaware River) and later moved westward into Ohio. In 1770, they obtained permission from the Miami and Piankashaw to move into the area between the Ohio and White Rivers in Indiana. They established six villages in this area, but later moved west to Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

The Illinois Indians were most prominent in Illinois but also had lands in Indiana which they relinquished in 1795 to the whites. Although most closely related to the Miamis, they were often at odds with them. Their tribal name means “men” or “people.”

The Iroquois and Seneca tribes, originally from the New York area, were responsible for driving out the early native residents of Indiana, but they had few, if any, settlements in Indiana themselves.

The Kickapoo tribe lived primarily in Wisconsin and on the Vermilion River in Illinois, but also occupied areas in western Indiana, especially on the Wabash River. Their name means “he moves about, standing now there, now there.” They were of the Algonquin linguistic group.

The Mosopelea was a tribe that spoke the Sioux dialect. In 1673 they were living in southwestern Ohio and most likely extended into southeastern Indiana. They later went west, to the juncture of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, then southward through Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. They were also known as Ofo, or “dog people.”

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    March 12, 2010