Seven Native American tribes which are headquartered in Northeast Oklahoma were once located in Ohio. These seven tribes were removed to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) from about 1832 until the 1850s.
Most people are familiar with the Trail of Tears, the route that the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) walked to a new home in Indian Territory. But the trail the seven tribes from Ohio made is not as well known. Not only that, but tribal people who remained in Ohio, do not know much about their brothers and sisters who are located at the end of that lesser known trail.
All that is about to change.
Dr. Sharon Dean, director of museum and library services at the Ohio Historical Society, is now working to bind together the histories of these people, too long separated.
Over the New Year’s holiday, Dr. Dean led a team from Ohio to Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma as part of that effort to tie two histories together.
According to Dr. Dean, the Indians in Ohio study their history from the Paleolithic times to the date of the removal. The Indians in Oklahoma and surrounding states study their history from the time of the removal to the present day. The goal is to bring both of these histories together for all to study and appreciate.
While on their visit, the Ohio contingent met with members of several tribes and had a chance to observe many cultural events and visit with several artisans. They took part in authentic Indian dances, ate a traditional meal, and attended several tribal meetings.
On Sunday, Dec. 30, they drove to McDonald County and met Native American artist Doug Hall. With Glenna Wallace, of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma as their guide, they met with Hall in his log cabin near the Huckleberry National Forest and then visited his studio.
Hall’s painting of Tecumseh, the famous Shawnee Indian chief, brought the most money at the famous Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale this year in Cody, Wyo. The painting has attracted the attention of several tribes and has earned Hall great respect for his work.
The group also planned to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, and met with a Native American potter in Oklahoma.
The Ohio Historical Society has applied for a grant to fund the binding together of the two histories. If the grant comes through, Dean expects to hold some seminars that would bring members of the eastern tribes together with their brothers and sisters in the west. And what now is two histories will become one.
The Ohio visitors included Dean, Molly Uhline-Olmsted, Karen Hassel and Matthew Dean.