Native Languages of the Americas: Shawnee (Shawano, Savannah, Sewanee)
Language: Shawnee is an Algonquian language spoken by 200 people in
Oklahoma. It is most closely related to the Sauk-Fox and
Kickapoo languages. Shawnee is a polysynthetic language with
complex verb morphology and fairly free word order.
People: Originally from the Ohio-Pennsylvania area, the Shawnee tribe was migratory, with villages scattered from Illinois to New York state
and as far south as Georgia. They were rounded up and sent to Oklahoma by the US government in the nineteenth century, where 14,000 Shawnee Indians still
History: Kinfolk of the Lenape (whom they addressed as "grandfather"), the Shawnee tribe
frequently moved from place to place, both willingly and under duress from Iroquois and colonial
assailants. In the early 1800's, the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa tried to unite the eastern tribes under the banner of pan-Indian unity.
When this alliance was broken up by the Americans, the Shawnees were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma. They still live there today, in three distinct communities.