Peoria people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
Peoria tribal flag
Total population
Regions with significant populations
United States (Oklahoma, formerly Illinois)
English, formerly Miami-Illinois
Christianity (Roman Catholicism),
Indigenous religions
Related ethnic groups
Kaskaskia, Piankeshaw, and Wea

The Peoria are a Native American people. They are enrolled in the federally recognized Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma headquartered in Miami, Oklahoma.[2]

The Peoria people are descendants of the Illinois Confederation. The Peoria Tribe were located east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River.[2] In the colonial period, they traded with French colonists in that territory.

After 1763, when the British took over those lands following victory in the Seven Years' War, the Peoria were moved west across the Mississippi.[3] In 1867 their descendants moved to Indian Territory with remnants of related tribes and were assigned land in present-day Ottawa County, Oklahoma, which was primarily occupied by the Quapaw.

Language and name[edit]

The Peoria speak a dialect of the Miami-Illinois language, a Central Algonquian language in which these two dialects are mutually intelligible.

The name Peoria, also Peouaroua, derives from their autonym, or name for themselves in the Illinois language, peewaareewa (modern pronunciation peewaalia). Originally it meant, "Comes carrying a pack on his back."[4] No native speakers of the Peoria language survive. The Peoria Language was revitalized in August 2022 by a 10-week online course offered by the tribe.[5][6] Along with the Miami language, a smaller number of historic members of the Peoria tribe of Oklahoma once spoke related Algonquian languages of Cahokia, Moingwea, and Tamaroa.


The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is headquartered in Miami, Oklahoma.[2] Their tribal jurisdictional area is in Ottawa County, in the northeast corner of the state. Of the 3,713 enrolled tribal members, some 777 live within the state of Oklahoma. Craig Harper is the tribe's elected Chief, and is serving a four-year term.[1]

Economic development[edit]

The Peoria issue their own tribal vehicle tags and operate their own housing authority. The tribe owns one casino and the Peoria Ridge Golf Course. The estimated annual economic impact of the tribe in the area is $60 million.[1] Tribal businesses, the Peoria Gaming Center, Buffalo Run Casino and Hotel, and Joe's Outback are all located in Miami, Oklahoma, their tribal lands.[7]


Peoria moccasins, ca. 1860, collection of Oklahoma History Center

The Peoria are Algonquian-speaking people. Their ancestors traditionally lived in what are now the state jurisdictions of Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri.[8] The Peoria are related to, and partially descended from, the Cahokia people, not to be confused with Cahokia Mounds.[9]

The Peoria were one of the many Illinois tribes encountered by early French explorers, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet. French Jesuit missionaries converted tribal members to Roman Catholicism.[9] Father Jacques Gravier, superior of the Illinois mission, compiled the most extensive bilingual dictionary of Kaskaskia Illinois and corresponding French terms, nearly 600 pages and 20,000 entries.[10]

After 1763 France ceded its Illinois Country and other territories east of the Mississippi River to the British, who had defeated them in the Seven Years' War. Like many of the French colonists in villages in this area, the Peoria migrated southwest into Missouri Territory.[9] For instance, Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis were founded in that era by French colonists from east of the river who did not want to live under British Protestant rule.

In 1818, after the United States (US) had taken over former British territory east of the Mississippi following their gaining independence, they pressed the Peoria to sign the Treaty of Edwardsville, which provided for the cession of Peoria lands in Illinois to the US.[11] The US pressed for Indian Removal from areas desired by European-American settlers, who kept pushing west, and President Andrew Jackson signed the act of that name in 1830. By the 1832 Treaty of Lewisville, the Peoria ceded Missouri lands in exchange for land in Kansas near the Osage River, which was then part of Indian Territory.[9]

The tribe suffered from introduced new infectious diseases and intertribal wars in new areas of resource competition. In 1849, remnant members of the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankeshaw, and Wea tribes formed a confederacy under the Peoria name.[2] The confederation included the last members and descendants of the Cahokia, Moingwena, Michigamea and Tamaroa tribes, who had assimilated with the Peoria many year before. The Pepikokia also joined, having merged with the Wea and Piankashaw in the later part of the 18th century.[12] In 1851, an Indian agent reported that the Peoria and the Kaskaskia, along with their allies, had intermarried among themselves and among white people to such an extent that they had practically lost their identities. An 1854 treaty recognized this as a factual union and classified these groups as the Confederated Peoria. The treaty also provided for opening the Peoria-Kaskaskia and the Wea-Piankashaw reserves in Kansas to settlement by non-Indians.[12]

After the Civil War, most of the confederated tribe signed the 1867 Omnibus Treaty.[8] By this means, the US federally government purchased land from the Quapaw tribe and relocated the majority of the Confederated Peoria tribe onto a 72,000 acres (290 km2) reservation in Indian Territory, part of present-day Ottawa County, Oklahoma.[9][12][a] Congress enacted a law to unite the Miami tribe, then also in Kansas, and assign them to lands with the Confederated Peoria.

In 1893, under the Dawes Act, the US broke up communal lands in Indian Territory to speed assimilation and make more land available for sale to non-Indians. Allotments were made to enrolled heads of households over the next few years, to extinguish Indian claims and enable the territories to be admitted as a state. In 1907, after admission of Oklahoma, any "surplus" land as determined by the US in former Confederated Peoria territory was transferred to Ottawa County, which could sell it.[12]

Under the Dawes Act and Curtis Act of 1898, the US government conducted registration of tribal members in order to make individual allotments of land to heads of families. They believed that encouraging subsistence agriculture was the way to bring the tribal members into European-American practices. It also enabled them to break up the communal culture and make land available for sale to whites. At the same time, they forced tribal governments to dismantle before Oklahoma was admitted as a state. The Peoria lost much of their land in these transactions and suffered with the pressure to give up their culture. For decades, the Bureau of Indian Affairs appointed tribal chiefs, who previously had been selected by hereditary roles.

The federal government changed its approach during the President Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, after realizing the adverse effects of those actions. In 1934 it passed a law encouraging federally recognized tribes (generally those who had been on reservations) to reorganize their governments, encouraging a constitutional, representative model similar to that of the US and states. Similarly, the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act was passed in 1939. Under that, the Confederated Peoria reorganized and re-established its historical form of council government.[8]

During the 1950s, the US government changed policies again, promoting Indian termination to end its special relationship with tribes that it believed were ready to be independent. It terminated the Peoria tribal government, which lost federal recognition in 1959. Tribal members objected and began the process to regain federal recognition, because it provided important education and welfare benefits. They achieved federal recognition in 1978.[9] The Miami tribe was never 'terminated'.[12]

Descendants of the Piankeshaw, Kaskaskia, and Wea, who were all members of the Illinois Confederacy, are also enrolled in the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.[2][13]


Notable Peoria people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In 1873, only 55 members of the Confederated Peoria chose to become citizens of Kansas (and the US) in order to remain on their own land in that state. They identified with their tribal culture.[12]


  1. ^ a b c 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Archived 2012-04-24 at the Wayback Machine Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 26. Retrieved 24 Jan 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma". Southern Plains Tribal Health Board. April 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Culture - Peoria Tribe Of Indians of Oklahoma". Archived from the original on July 25, 2021. Retrieved January 16, 2022. Upon being removed from their ancestral lands in the late 1 the Kaskaskia, Peoria and Wea tribes all found a new home in Ste Genevieve before being removed to Miami County, Kansas in the early 1800s
  4. ^ Peoria Indian Tribal History. Access Genealogy: Indian Tribal Records. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  5. ^ [1]. ‘’Peoria Language Course.’’ 2023 (retrieved 2 Jan 2023)
  6. ^ Anderton, Alice, PhD. "Status of Indian Languages in Oklahoma", Intertribal Wordpath Society. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  7. ^ Oklahoma Indian Casinos: Casinos by Tribes. 500 Nations. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  8. ^ a b c History. Archived 2009-03-07 at the Wayback Machine Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. 2007 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  9. ^ a b c d e f Vaugh-Roberson, Glen. Peoria. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  10. ^ "Review" of Carl Masthay, Kaskaskia Illinois-to-French Dictionary, Saint Louis: Carl Masthay, 2002, International Journal of Lexicography, 17(3):325–327, accessed 1 Mar 2010
  11. ^ Illinois Indian History Timeline, Illinois State Museum
  12. ^ a b c d e f Simpson, Linda. "The Tribes of the Illinois Confederacy." May 6, 2006. Accessed November 27, 2016.
  13. ^ House, Office of the Law Revision Counsel. United States Code 2006, Volume 15. §1224, page 986

External links[edit]