Published on August 13, 2014 by Amy
The Pequea was a branch of the larger Shawnee tribe that inhabited the southeast corner of Pennsylvania, near the towns that later were named Paradise and Intercourse. The land is now mostly inhabited by the Amish. The Pequea tribe joined with other groups to form the Absentee Shawnee tribe, which were forced to migrate to Oklahoma in the mid-1800s.
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The Pequea tribe is part of the larger Shawnee tribe, which was originally divided into five subdivisions: Chillicothe, Hathawekela, Kispokotha, Mequachake and Piqua. The Pequea tribe was part of the Piqua, which later joined with the Hathawekela and Kispokotha to form the present-day Absentee Shawnee. Shawnee means “southerners” and their closest relatives were the Fox, Sauk and Kickapoo, while the Pequea share their name with the valley they inhabited.
The Pequea lived near the mouth of the Pequea Creek in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where it opened into a valley. The Pequea tribe inhabited the land since the late 1600s until, in 1843, European settlers founded the town of Paradise without consulting the tribe. While both cultures lived peacefully for a long time, the Pequea were soon expelled by colonists to Oklahoma.
Tanawa was the Pequea Chief during the tumultuous time when colonists began settling on the land. He instructed his people to live peacefully and even sent his people to tell Madame Ferree, a famous French Huguenot settler, “Indian no harm White; White good to Indian.” Chief Tanawa was also believed to be a friend of William Penn and was buried on Lafayette Hill until the Literary Society of Paradise had his remains disinterred and archived.
The Pequea joined the Absentee Shawnee group in the 1800s before migrating to Oklahoma. The name “Absentee” was given to them by the U.S. government when they began vacating the land, including a reservation established for them in Kansas. By the early 1900s, there were only 481 members left in the Absentee tribe. The Absentee Shawnee in Oklahoma now consists of two bands: The White Turkey Band and the Big Jim Band. Enrolled tribal members must have at least one-fourth Absentee blood.