Native American Nations in the Midwest
Migration of Native North American Peoples
Many groups of Indigenous Peoples of North America inhabit our nation's Midwestern States. Some of these nations, bands, and smaller communities range into Canada as well, including the Iroquois and Chippewa peoples who have migrated back and forth between these two large countries for hundreds of years.
As a country, the USA also has a history of these Midwestern tribal groups migrating east and west through the Eastern Woodlands for many reasons.
One reason is the depletion of resources in one area and the search for better hunting and gathering and agricultural grounds. Wildlife, plant life, and humans all can wear out the land and find it necessary to move on or die.
Another reason for native migration in the Midwest is the inter-tribal wars that moved defeated groups out of their original homelands in search of newer pastures, wildlife, and arable land.
A third reason for migration is the forced march back to the West by the Indian Removal legislation begun under President Andrew Jackson before the American Civil War started.
Regardless of the reasons, the peoples of the Midwest diaspora are very interesting.
Eastern Woodlands Peoples
Native North American Nations spread back and forth from Midwest to Northeast, gaining lands and then losing them again to Europeans. Many native groups traveled through the Ohio Valley.
Eastern Woodlands Peoples
Northernmost Midwest States
- At least 14 First Nations or Native North Americans have lived for a length of time in Minnesota, likely at least 10,000 years to date. Migratory evidence supports the idea that these peoples came across Canada and the northern part of what is now the USA to settle in Minnesota.
- Chippewa/Ojibwe - Found in the Northern USA and in Canada.
- The Fox People [not the "Fox tribe"] - Original tribal information is lost.
- A portion of the Oneida Nation of the Iroquois Six Nations, another portion being in New York and Hamilton, Ontario in Canada.
Michigan & Michigan Upper Peninsula
- Ottawa and Chippewa/Objibwe
- Hurons (Wyandot) - Also found historically in Ohio as the last nation to leave the state.
- Miami - also in Ohio.
- Neutrals -- Named by the French. Bands of Indians neutral in wars between Native Americans and Settlers.
Central Midwest States
Illinois & Iowa
- Chippewa/Ojibwe, also found in Indiana and Michigan.
- Dakota Sioux
- Delaware: Passing through to new homelands. Delaware are also found on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada.
- Fox - forced farther West by US Government.
- Illinois: Forced west by the Fox and Sauk.
- Miami, who also lived in Ohio
- Shawnee: United Remnant Band resides in Ohio
- Chippewa/Ojibwe, Delaware, Erie, Illinois - all pushed to the West.
- Iroquois: Others of the Six Nations drove out some of the Seneca.
- Kickapoo: Just passing through.
- Miami: Also found in Ohio.
The Illinois Confederation is also called the Illini. They are historically a federation of a dozen Native North American American Nations the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Five tribes remained by the time of the Civil War: Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Peoria, and Tamaroa.
Rough Boundaries of the Illini Natives In the Upper Mississippi River Valley
Origin of the Mississippi River.
Ohio Indigenous Groups
The Native North American word "Ohio" means "Big River." When the French entered what became the Northwest Territory and then the Ohio Territory, then added "beautiful" the the name. This was misinterpreted by Americans in the 20th century to mean that the word "Ohio" meant "Beautiful River."
Mound Builders: The Alligator Mound
The tribal groups that once lived in Ohio include the following:
Original Tribal Groups
- Adena Culture
- Fort Ancient Culture
- Hopewell Culture
Subsequent Groups Found Later in History
- Erie or "Long Tail"
- Shawnee. The United Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation is still active in Western Ohio, particularly in and around Dayton, Springfield, and Yellow Springs. Fred Shaw, Algonquian and retired Methodist pastor, and his son operate living history events here concerning settlers and Native Americans.
- Note: Another group of Shawnee moved to Shawnee Reservation of Oklahoma: Shawnee Rd, Sand Springs, OK 74063.
Map of United Remnant Band of Shawnee
Map of the Siege at Fort Pitt, Summer of 1763
In Pontiac's Rebellion, Natives tried to drive the British from the Ohio Country and back across the Appalachians to Pennsylvania, especially in 1763.
This historic park surrounds the battlefield areas.
Indigenous Groups that Migrated into Ohio
- Delaware: Forced to the West, but also moved to Ontario Province.
- Illinois: Forced to the West.
- Iroquois Confederacy peoples: Especially Mohawk in parts of East and Southeast Ohio. These peoples were largely settled in New York State, but some lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio. One branch of Iroquois people split off in New York to become the Cherokee on the Southeast Coast. Seneca (also called Mingo) was another group living in Ohio.
- Wyandot/Wyandotte: The last tribal group to move westward during the Indian removals of President Andrew Jackson. These native people may have been paid to leave the state.
Longfellow's "Hiawatha" - Mohawk Nation
Southernmost Midwest State
- Caddo - forced back to the west.
- Dakota - forced farther west.
- Kickapoo - moved on to Kansas.
Native American Organizations in the Midwest
Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio
Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio [NAICCO]
67 East Innis Avenue
PO Box 07705
Columbus, OH 43207
Phone: (614) 443-6120
NAICCO) has served the county since 1975, founded by Selma Walker, a Dakota of the Yankton Sioux Reservation, South Dakota.
For 18 years, Selma was Executive Director. Selma's. Daughter Carol Welsh was elected as a replacement in 1993. Today's Executive Director is Masami Smith.
The Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio is a non-profit inter-tribal group.
- CULTURAL PROGRAMS: 2 large pow wows annually. Mini pow wows, lectures, dance demonstrations, storytelling, and other cultural events.
- CULTURAL ARTS: Classes are available traditional/contemporary Native arts. Beadwork, dancing, singing, language, clothing design.
- WHITE BISON CIRCLE: Native approach to recovery. Meetings on alternate Monday evenings open to anyone who wants to attend. AA Big Book (closed meeting) - Candlelight Meeting, and 12 x 12.
- TALKING CIRCLE: A Talking Circle is held on alternate Monday nights. Topic varies.
- CREATIVE CIRCLE: A Creative Circle is held on Wednesday nights.
- SUBSISTENCE NEEDS: Clothing, household items, hot lunches - Anyone in need. You don't have to be Native American.
- FOOD PANTRY: Food for each member of the family, once each month with proper ID.
- EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION: Job referrals made to local employers. Training referrals to training, GED and adult literacy programs. Tutoring through the Columbus Public Schools.
- VET REFERRAL: Referrals to the Disabled Veterans' Services.
Most of the original nations of worldwide spent the much of the year in scattered bands. Once a year they gathered in the Spring to pray for good crops, or Summer to pray in thankfulness for the Harvest. Marriages were made. Problems were settled. Food was shared.
in the American Plains, High Summer saw the communal buffalo hunt and another celebration. Pow Wows were held often.
- American Indian Center: A large cultural center in Chicago and home of oldest urban Powwow in the USA.
- American Indian Center of Indiana, Inc.: Promotes the empowerment of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Indiana to achieve personal, social, cultural, and economic growth that enhances their quality of life.
- American Indian History of the U.S. Midwest. American Indian Studies, College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University; 2018 - 2019.
- Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh PA.
- Kansas City Missouri Indian Center: Heart of America Indian Center, one of the oldest continuing Indian centers in the United States, has been addressing the issues Kansas City’s American Indian population since 1974.
- Natives and Newcomers: Immigration and Migration in U.S. American Indian Studies, College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University; 2018 - 2019.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS