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WYANDOTTE

The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma is a federally recognized American Indian tribe of 4,410 members (2003). The first known Wyandotte (Wendat, meaning "islanders" or "dwellers on a peninsula") villages were situated near present Montreal, Canada. The French, who called the Wyandotte "the Huron," reached them circa 1536, when the tribe warred with the Five Nations of the Iroquois. Defeated in 1649, the Wyandotte fled westward and took shelter with the Ottawa and Illinois tribes. Of the estimated twenty thousand Wyandotte in 1639, only about seventeen hundred survived by 1700.

During the early 1700s most Wyandotte migrated to the Ohio River Valley and parts of present Indiana. A large party moved from the Detroit vicinity to the present Sandusky, Ohio, area around 1745. With permission from the Shawnee and the Delaware, the Wyandotte made claims north of the Ohio River. A 1785 treaty with the United States set the tribe's territorial boundaries to include much of present Ohio and part of Indiana. The Treaty of Greenville in 1795 further restricted them with additional land cessions to the United States.

The Fort Miegs Treaty of 1817 marked the loss of most of the Wyandotte domain in Ohio and Michigan. A twelve square-mile tract was designated the Wyandotte Reserve at Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Another one square-mile section was included along nearby Broken Sword Creek. Tracts were added to the reserve in 1818, and acreage was given to the Wyandotte along the Huron River in Michigan.

In 1842 a treaty was signed which ceded all Wyandotte land in Ohio and Michigan to the United States. A trans-Mississippi tract of 148,000 acres was promised to the tribe. The Wyandotte were removed west, and the remainder of their Ohio land was sold. They bought and settled on forty thousand acres of the Delaware reservation in present eastern Kansas in 1843. In 1867 the Wyandotte were removed from Kansas and received a reservation of twenty thousand acres in northeastern Indian Territory (present Oklahoma). This land was allotted to 241 tribe members by 1893.

The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma was organized in 1937 with bylaws and a constitution. Their present land base is centered around Wyandotte in Ottawa County. Tribe operations include a motor fuel outlet and a gaming casino. Other large concentrations of Wyandotte are found in Kansas and Quebec, Canada.

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS, INDIAN TERRITORY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 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). Barry M. Pritzker, A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). Elisabeth Tooker, "Wyandot," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978). Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).

Rick Stansfield

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