Removal to Indian Territory

In the December 3 blog post, we learned about the 1847 second forced Removal of Myaamiaki from Indiana and the subsequent movements of Myaamia people between Indiana and the Miami Reservation in present-day Kansas.

In the November 5 post, we saw that the winter of 1846-1847 was very hard for Myaamiaki, and many died. Still, they began immediately to build their houses, and soon they were making this new land their home. Within the next few years, they started much-needed businesses, such as a blacksmith shop and a mill. After two years on Sugar Creek, they began to move to a new location on the Marais des Cygne River. They worked hard to make a better life for their children. For a few years, life was good for Myaamiaki on the Miami Reservation.

Then, in 1854 things started to change. In the 1854 Treaty, the Miami Reservation was allotted, giving sections of land to individual Myaamiaki. Much of the unallotted land was designated to be sold. Encouraged by the U.S. government, squatters came onto the land, laying claim to purchase the land. Without visible boundary markers, the squatters also came onto land that was still the Miami Reservation and even onto individual Myaamia allotments. The sale of the land and the arrival of squatters on the Reservation directly violated the promises the United States commissioners had been making since they first started talking to the Miami Nation about going west in 1826. During the negotiations for the Treaty of 1826, Michigan Territorial Governor Lewis Cass told Myaamia representatives that if they removed to land west of the Mihsi-Siipiwi ‘Mississippi River’,

“Your Great Father will never suffer any of his white children to reside there, for it is reserved for the red people. It will be yours, as long as the sun shines, and the rain falls.”

The protection of Myaamia land, should they go west, was even included in Article X of the Treaty of 1838, which said,

“The United States stipulate to [give] the Miami tribe of Indians [possession] of, and guarranty to them forever, a country west of the Mississippi river, to remove to and settle on, when the said tribe may be disposed to emigrate from their present country, and that guarranty is hereby pledged…And when the said tribe shall have emigrated, in their rights and possessions, against the injuries, encroachments and oppressions of any person or persons, tribe or tribes whatsoever.”

The sun still shone, and the rain still fell, but the white people were coming onto Myaamia land. Myaamiaki on the Miami Reservation must have been reminded of the stories of Americans encroaching and squatting on their land in Indiana and Ohio.

Just two weeks before signing the Treaty of 1854, the Territory of Kansas was organized, and in 1860 the Territory passed a law stating,

"That all Indians in Kansas Territory to whom lands have been set apart in severalty or by families and who shall receive patents therefor from the United States are hereby declared to be, and are, made citizens of the Territory of Kansas."

By this law, Kansas was attempting to say that all Myaamiaki and other tribal land allotments now belonged to the Kansas Territory and were taxable. Not surprisingly, the tribes challenged the law. After Kansas was admitted as a state in 1861, the case rose to the U.S. Supreme Court as The Kansas Indians, 72 U.S. 737 (1866). The Supreme Court decided in favor of the tribes and for Myaamiaki, acknowledged that:

“The patents in the case of this tribe declared, however: ‘That the lands now patented shall not be liable to levy, sale, or execution, or forfeiture, PROVIDED that the legislature of a state within which the ceded county may be hereafter embraced may, with the assent of Congress, remove the restriction.’"

The outcome of the case was favorable for Myaamiaki, but the process was demanding and created considerable stress for Miami people.

During the late 1850s, Myaamiaki on the Miami Reservation experienced what came to be known as Bleeding Kansas. Missouri was a slave state, and Kansas was not. The border in question is usually identified as the Kansas-Missouri border; however, most of the land west of the border was not yet Kansas but belonged to a number of tribal reservations, including the Miami Reservation.

Map of Eastern Kansas identifying tribal reservations and other landmarks in the area.
The rectangular area highlighted in blue along the eastern border is the Miami Reservation in what is now Eastern Kansas. In the pink square at the top left of the Miami Reservation is the town of Osawatomie. In 1856, Missouri Bushwhackers rode through the Miami Reservation to attack John Brown at his Osawatomie headquarters. The Battle of Osawatomie occurred only five miles from Myaamia homes.
Map by E.B. Whitman and A.D. Searl, General Land Agents, Lawrence, Kansas. Image courtesy of KansasMemory.org, Kanas State Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Missouri Bushwhackers came across the border fighting to extend slavery into Kansas. Since the tribal reservations were just across the border, the Bushwhackers rode through the reservations to fight the Kansas Jayhawkers. Myaamia were fearful of the Bushwhackers led by William Quantrill, and based on reports from other reservations, Myaamia women farmers did not want to go into the cornfields for fear Quantrill’s men might find them there alone. Although battles were never fought on the Miami Reservation, the 1856 Battle of Osawatomie was just five miles from Myaamia homes. Bushwhackers coming from Missouri would have ridden directly through the Miami Reservation to attack abolitionist John Brown’s headquarters in Osawatomie.

During the Civil War, the U. S. government wanted the Miami Reservation and other reservations in what is now Kansas for white settlers and proposed that tribes move to Indian Territory, today’s Oklahoma. Life had become so difficult for Myaamiaki, that in 1867 the Miami Nation signed a treaty along with other tribes to remove a second time. The treaty allowed for any Myaamiaki who chose to stay in Kansas to become U.S. citizens.

In 1872 the Miami National Council signed a contract with the Peoria Tribe to buy a portion of their reservation in the Indian Territory. Ultimately, the Peoria and Miami had a shared reservation, but Myaamiaki wished to maintain a separate government, as indicated in an 1874 letter to our agent, saying, “Our People wish to continue there [sic] chiefs after the consolidation with the Peorias and to hold the same Privlage [sic] as the Peorias.”

Allotment Map of Ottawa County Oklahoma
This map shows the locations of the tribal reservations in Ottawa County following the second Removal. Within the Peoria and Miami Reservation is listed Miami Tribe and the historic tribes that confederated into the Peoria Tribe.
Map compiled by J.L. Speer. Copyright by Dick James, 1978. Source Unknown.

Most Myaamia families went south to Indian Territory between 1870 and 1873. The tribal government moved to the Indian Territory, and the seat of government for the Miami Tribe was established on the Neosho River in what is today Ottawa County, Oklahoma.


This is the last blog post of our commemoration of the 175th year since Myaamia forced Removal.

For additional information about the history of the Miami Tribe after arrival in Indian Territory, refer to keehkaapiišamenki: A History of the Allotment of Miami Lands in Indian Territory. It is available for purchase through the Miami Nation Gift Shop.


Post written by Diane Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. Diane can be contacted at dhunter@miamination.com.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Tammy Godfroy says:

    Thank you so much Diane, for helping to keep our history before all!! Knowledge of our past, present, and future depends on people such as you! Thank you for all that you do!!

    My highest regards,

    Tammy Godfroy

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