Shawnee Nation Case Study

How did many members of the Shawnee Nation, who previously lived in what is now Ohio, end up living in Oklahoma? These sources allow you to further investigate this story of American Indian removal.

The Shawnee Nation tried for many years to hold onto their lands. In 1802, Catahecassa asked President Thomas Jefferson to uphold earlier agreements that the United States had made with the Shawnee Nation.

Be the Historian

What does this letter from Catahecassa to U.S. President Thomas Jefferson tell you about Shawnee removal?

  1. How many years before the removal of the Shawnee Nation did Catahecassa write this letter?
  2. Who is “Brother” in this letter?
  3. What is the tone (or emotion) of Catahecassa’s (Black Hoof’s) words?
  4. Challenge Question
  5. Try putting each line of the letter into your own words. What does Catahecassa want to achieve with this letter?
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Document Transcription

The Shawnee Nation tried for many years to hold onto their lands. In 1802, Catahecassa asked President Thomas Jefferson to uphold earlier agreements that the United States had made with the Shawnee Nation.

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Address/letter of Black Hoof [Catahecassa] to Thomas Jefferson, February 5, 1802

BROTHER,

According to the agreement of the Nation of our people, we shall address you on the important business of our affairs which is the cause of our long Journey to see you at this time.

Brother

You know the same God who made you made us and all things, why cannot we enjoy the good of this Land as well as our Brothers—our hearts are always sorry to think they do not know better.

Brother,

Consider our sad situation in the country we come from we live in a very bad place for farming, the water is very bad in the summer; if you will turn your head back, you will hear the lamentations of our women and children distressed for want of clothing and by hunger, we hope you will pity them and relieve them—

Brother,

We will offer our prayers to the great spirit above for your health, happiness and prosperity, and that he will direct you to have mercy on your brothers the poor Indians.

Brother,

We have many requests to make, and we hope you will comply with them while we are here, for we shall not be able to come such a distance from our Country again—

Brother, Our first request to you is that you will give us a good piece of land, where we may raise good Grain and cut Hay for our Cattle…It is our desire to live like good Brothers & good neighbors, as long as the Grass grows, & the water runs in the rivers.

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Address/letter of Black Hoof [Catahecassa] to Thomas Jefferson, February 5, 1802

BROTHER,

According to the agreement of the Nation of our people, we shall address you on the important business of our affairs which is the cause of our long travels to see you at this time.

Brother

You know the same God who made you made us and all things, why cannot we enjoy the good of this Land as well as our Brothers—our hearts are always sorry to think they do not know better.

Brother,

Consider our sad situation in the country we come from we live in a very bad place for farming, the water is very bad in the summer; if you will turn your head back, you will hear the sad cries of our women and children distressed because they lack clothing and by hunger, we hope you will pity them and give them relief—

Brother,

We will offer our prayers to the Great Spirit above for your health, happiness and prosperity, and that he will direct you to have mercy on your brothers the poor Indians.

Brother,

We have many requests to make, and we hope you will comply with them while we are here, for we shall not be able to come such a distance from our Country again—

Brother,

Our first request to you is that you will give us a good piece of land, where we may raise good Grain and cut Hay for our Cattle…It is our desire to live like good Brothers & good neighbors, as long as the Grass grows, & the water runs in the rivers.

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