The Michigamea are no longer extant as an American Indian tribe. Their descendants may be included among today's Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. The Michigamea were an Algonquian-speaking people and the southernmost of the Illinois, a group of approximately twelve tribes who inhabited portions of present Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas. The Michigamea once dwelled along the upper Sangamon River in Illinois, where they subsisted by farming, hunting, fishing, and gathering. Despite their proficiency in warfare, they were driven south by the Fox and other enemies. In 1673 Father Jacques Marquette visited their principal village, which was then situated along the Mississippi River in northeast Arkansas.
By 1700 the Michigamea had been forced from Arkansas by the Quapaw. They and the Chepoussa, an Illinois tribe whom they later assimilated, returned to Illinois and settled near the mouth of the Kaskaskia River in present Randolph County. The French, conveyors of liquor, warfare, and disease, completed Fort de Chartres nearby in 1720. Consequently, the Michigamea declined in strength and number. The Sauk, enemies of the French, attacked and overwhelmed the Michigameas' village in June 1752.
Eventually the Michigamea were absorbed by the Kaskaskia, a neighboring Illinois tribe, and were recognized as such by the United States in 1803. As Kaskaskia they joined with the Peoria and removed from Illinois to present Kansas during the 1830s. There, as members of the Confederated Peoria tribe, they received a new reservation in northeast Indian Territory (present Ottawa County, Oklahoma) in 1867. That land was allotted to 153 Peoria, including an unknown number of Michigamea, starting in 1889.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Joseph Bauxar, "History of the Illinois Area," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978). Charles Callender, "Illinois," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978). Grant Foreman, The Last Trek of the Indians: An Account of the Removal of the Indians from North of the Ohio River (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946). Frederick W. Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Vol. 1 (1907; reprint, New York: Pageant Books, 1960). Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).
Jon D. May
© Oklahoma Historical Society