Piankashaw Indians, Piankashaw Tribe, Piankeshaw Indians, Piankeshaw Tribe (possibly connected with Päyangitchaki ‘those who separate,’ from pevangiani, ‘ I separate from,’ according to Gatschet; the Miami form, according to J. P. Dunn, is Payŭnggǐsh’ah). Formerly a sub-tribe of the Miami, but later a separate people. In an account of the rivers and peoples of the west, La Salle, about 1682, mentions the Piankashaw as one of the tribes gathered about 10 miles from the Illinois fort; these were bands brought from their usual habitat. In the account by Cadillac (1695) they are spoken of as being west of the Miami Village on St. Joseph River, Michigan, with the Mascoutens, Kickapoo, and other tribes. It is probable they were then on Vermillon River, in Indiana and Illinois. St Cosme (1699) says that the village of the Peanzichias Miamis was on Kankakee River, Illinois, but that they formerly lived on the Mississippi. They had possibly been driven west by the Iroquois. Their ancient village was on the Wabash at the junction of the Vermillion; at a later period they established another settlement, Chippekawkay, lower down the river, at the present site of Vincennes, Indiana.1
By the preceding paragraph one can analyze that the history of the Piankashaw tribe is tied to the history of the Miami tribe at it’s beginning, and the Peoria tribe in it’s present day. The Piankashaw always claimed that they were once a separate tribe from the Miami, not just a sub-tribe, band or village subservient to the Miami. This fact is highly plausible and conceivable when one looks back at the history of both tribes, for instance, it’s clear from the land sale of 1775 and subsequent treaties that they claimed land specific to their own tribe and not to the confederation as a whole. However, from the start of Indian relations with French traders they were at the minimum confederated with other Illinois tribes – this confederacy came with the Miami tribe at it’s head.
The Natchez and Chickasaw Wars interrupted the Jesuit Missionaries work in the Mississippi Delta region, and the continued development of garrisons posts contributed to the demoralization of the area tribes. By 1750 it is estimated that the Illinois tribes had been reduced to 1,000 people, though the Piankashaw mission at Vermillion continued to thrive until the decree of expulsion of all Jesuit Missionaries and the confiscation of the mission property by the French government.2
On 18 October 1775 the Piankashaw ceded a large tract of land on both sides of the Wabash River, southern Illinois and Indiana, to the Wabash Land Company, in exchange for a “large” amount of goods, including: five shillings in money, 400 blankets, 22 pieces of stroud, 250 shirts, 12 gross of star gartering, 120 pieces of ribbon, 24 pounds of vermilion, 18 pairs of velvet laced housings, 1 piece of malton, 52 fusils, 420 large buckhorn-handle knives, 560 couteau knives, 500 pounds of brass kettles, 10,000 gun flints, 600 pounds of gunpowder, 2,000 pounds of lead, 400 pounds of tobacco, 40 bushels of salt, 3,000 pounds of flour, 3 horses; also the following quantities of silverware, viz.: 11 very large armbands, 40 wristbands, 6 wholemoons, 6 halfmoons, 9 earwheels, 46 large crosses, 29 hairpipes, 60 pairs of earbobs, 240 small crosses, 240 nose-crosses, and 1320 brooches. This land deed was signed by 12 french traders and 12 Piankashaw chiefs along with the Commander of St. Vincent. The Piankashaw Chiefs signed by using their totems:
- Meringois? or Nusquitio? a chief
- Sepetit? Castor or Little Beaver a chief
- Kinguibichia a chief
- Grelot Senior a chief
- Grelot Junior a chief
- Lefih or Ce? a chief
- Tabar or Tabacco a chief
- Monfour a chief
- La Grand Couelle a chief
- Ouasuaijao a chief
- Tabar Junior a chief
- Lamouchenaire a chief
The online image representation3 doesn’t enable us to identify any of the 12 French traders who signed this agreement. The description given to the image by The Schøyen Collection4 states the name of three chiefs whom they’ve identified: Crane-Fly, Little Beaver, And Bell And Tobacco. I can clearly identify Little Beaver and Tobacco, but am unable to identify who would be later known as “Crane-Fly.”
About 1770 the Piankashaw gave permission to the Delawares to occupy the east part of their territory. Chauvignerie (1736) says that the Wea, the Piankashaw, and the Pepicokia were the same nation in different villages, and gives the deer as the Piankashaw totem. In the beginning of the present century they and the Wea began to cross over into Missouri, and in 1832 the two tribes sold all their claims in the east and agreed to remove to Kansas as one tribe.
About 1854 the consolidated tribe united with the remnant of the Illinois, then known as Peoria and Kaskaskia, and in 1867 the entire body sold their lands in Kansas and removed to the present Oklahoma, where they are now known under the name of Peoria.
The Piankashaw made or participated in treaties with the United States at:
- Greenville, Ohio, August 3, 1795.
- Ft Wayne, Indiana, June 7, 1803.
- Vincennes, Indiana, August 7, 1803.
- Vincennes, Indiana, August 27, 1804.
- Vincennes, Indiana, December 30, 1805.
- Portage des Sioux, Missouri, July 18, 1815.
- Vincennes, Indiana, January 3, 1818 (not ratified).
- Castor Hill, Missouri, October 29, 1832.
- Washington, D. C., May 30, 1854.
- Washington, D. C., February 23, 1867.
The Piankashaw probably never numbered more than 2,000 souls. In 1736 Chauvignerie estimated the Piankashaw, Wea, and Pepicokia together at about 1,750. In 1759 the Piankashaw alone were estimated at 1,500, and five years later at 1,250. This was reduced to 950 in 1780 , and 800 in 1795. In 1825 there were only 234 remaining, and in 1906 all the tribes consolidated under the name of Peoria numbered but 192, none of whom was of pure Indian blood. Only nine surviving Piankashaw resided in Oklahoma in 1937. They were the children and grandchildren of George Washington Finley, the last Piankashaw chieftain.5
Quapaw Agency (Eastern Shawnee, Miami, Modoc, Ottawa, Peoria Quapaw, Seneca, and Wyandot Indians)
- 1885-1892 Quapaw Agency Census
- 1893-1900 Quapaw Agency Census
- 1922-1929 Quapaw Agency Census
- 1930-1932 Quapaw Agency Census
- 1933-1935 Quapaw Agency Census
- 1936-1939 Quapaw Agency Census
Seneca Agency (Eastern Shawnee, Miami, Modoc, Ottawa, Peoria Quapaw, Seneca, and Wyandot Indians)
MS 2778. MS in English on vellum, Vincennes, Indiana, U.S.A., 18 October 1775, 1 f., 76×69 cm, 58 long lines of notarial cursive script, 12 Piankashaw Indian totems (name glyphs) with 11 red lacquer seals. ↩