Published on May 18, 2012 by Amy
The Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma (or Absentee Shawnee) is one of three federally recognized tribes of Shawnee people in Oklahoma.
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The Absentee-Shawnee Tribe is headquartered in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and its tribal jurisdictional area is in Cleveland and Pottawatomie Counties. There are 3,050 enrolled Absentee-Shawnee, with 2,315 living within the state of Oklahoma. The tribe operates its own housing authority and issues tribal vehicle tags. They own a gas station, two smoke shops, a casino, and the AST Country Kitchen Restaurant, located in Norman, Oklahoma. Their casino, Thunderbird Casino, is located east of Norman, Oklahoma and includes the Rednecks Cafe, the Chuck Wagon Snack Bar, and the Jockey Club. Their estimated annual economic impact is $6,353,722.
The tribe is governed by a democratically elected executive committee. Their current administration includes the following:
The Shawnee are an Algonquian-speaking people from the Eastern United States. At the time of European encounter, various bands were living in present-day Ohio, Alabama and other areas of the Southeast.
During the American Revolutionary War, many Shawnee moved from Ohio to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, then in Spanish Louisiana. They evaded the Northwest Indian Wars that followed the revolution. These Shawnee were later joined by others from Alabama and Ohio. Moving southward, they settled in present-day Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. After the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, relations began to change. In 1825 the US offered the tribe a reservation in the Kansas territory in exchange for the lands they occupied. Instead, these scattered Shawnee groups migrated to Indian Territory. Collectively they became known as the “Absentee Shawnee.”
By 1867 the Eastern Shawnee were living with the Seneca in Missouri. Later in the century, both groups were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). On June 26, 1890, the tribe signed an agreement with the Cherokee Commission for individual allotments.
The Loyal Shawnee were removed from Ohio to Kansas, where they were incorporated within the Cherokee Nation, who were, however, Iroquoian speakers. Black Bob’s band initially refused to be removed from Missouri to Kansas. Ultimately, they were forced to do so and joined the other tribes. In the 20th century, the Shawnee reorganized and revived their distinct group traditions, and in 2000 the Loyal Shawnee received separate federal recognition as the Shawnee Tribe.
In 1872, US Congress gave the Absentee Shawnee title to the lands they occupied on the Citizen Potawatomi Nation-Absentee Shawnee Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area (OTSA). Part of this is the Absentee-Shawnee’s tribal jurisdictional area today.
In the late 19th century, Wild Turkey led a band of Absentee Shawnee who favored assimilation, while Big Jim led a band of traditionalists. The tribe’s lands were broken into individual allotments in 1890, and the government recorded its members on the Dawes Rolls.
In 1936, the tribe reorganized and gained federal recognition under the new Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. They ratified their constitution and by-laws on December 5, 1938.
The tribe created the Cultural Preservation Department to support cultural and language preservation. They offer a Shawnee language class. According to the Intertribal Wordpath Society, 200 to 800 people still spoke the Shawnee language in Oklahoma as of 2006. Pauline Wahpepah, a fluent native speaker, teaches Shawnee for the tribe.