United Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation

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Shawnee Nation, URB
Total population
Enrolled members:
Regions with significant populations
 United States Ohio
English, formerly Algonquian Archaic Shawnee/ Shawnee
Native spirituality/Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Miami people, Lenape people, Illinois, and other Algonquian peoples

The United Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation (also called the Shawnee Nation, URB) is an unrecognized tribe located in Ohio who claim descent from the historic Shawnee before that Native American people's removal to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

The Shawnee Nation, URB was recognized in a 1980 resolution of the Ohio state legislature, but the legal status of that resolution has been disputed. In 1989 the band purchased land near Urbana, Ohio, becoming the first Native American group to own land in the state since Indian Removal in 1830.[1] To generate revenue for welfare and development, they purchased the Zane Shawnee Caverns in 1996 and a museum. The latter is now named for and devoted to George Drouillard, a Shawnee interpreter and hunter who was a member of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery.


Prior to 1831, the Shawnee were relocated, band by band, to Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and other parts of the American Plains west of the Mississippi River as a number of Shawnee chiefs surrendered independently to the United States. By the time chief Black Hoof died, historians claim only 400 Shawnee remained in Ohio. Most of these Ohio Shawnee left Wapaughkonetta (today, Wapakoneta) and Hog Creek (near present-day Lima, Ohio) for Kansas after the death of Black Hoof. However, the United Remnant Band claims that some Shawnee continued to live in scattered communities in Ohio after Black Hoof's death. The URB members say that Black Hoof never signed a treaty ceding the remaining Shawnee settlements in Ohio to the U.S. government, and they have claimed there are lands in Ohio still legally owned by the Shawnee nation.

In 1971, at a time of Indian activism across the United States, self-identified Shawnee in Ohio organized the United Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation as a 501-C3 Non-Profit, in part to reclaim their ancestral lands. In the latter part of the decade, the band filed historic and genealogical documents with the state to support their claim of descent from the historical Shawnee. The Ohio General Assembly held hearings and heard testimony from numerous groups.[2] This legislature passed a joint resolution in 1979-1980 recognizing the United Remnant Band as an Indian tribe descended from the historic Shawnee.[3] The URB acknowledges that it is not a federally recognized tribe but points to this resolution as evidence that it is a state recognized tribe.[1]

In 1989 the URB purchased a tract of land consisting of 20 acres, three miles (6.4 km) south of Urbana, Ohio. This historic land purchase resulted in the Tribe's being the first Native American group to own land in Ohio since 1830.[4] In 1996 the URB purchased the Zane Caverns between Zanesfield and Bellefontaine, Ohio and an associated museum.[5] In total they have bought 330 acres in four counties, both to aid their economic development and to create communal holdings for future generations.[5]

The 100-acre (0.40 km2) Camp Ground, Museum, Gift Shop, Concert Venue, Caverns and surrounding property were renamed as the Zane Shawnee Caverns and Southwind Park. They have enlarged the museum in Bellefontaine, renaming it as the George Drouillard Museum. It is devoted to the Shawnee-French man, a Métis who was interpreter and hunter for the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806).[6]

In the 21st century, the URB was one of several tribes hired by the US Mint, through the temporary Circle of Tribal Advisors, to produce items related to the celebration of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. They crafted about 2,000 leather pouches to hold commemorative silver dollars; 50,000 were issued by the Mint. The Mint subsequently offered refunds after the Indian Arts and Crafts Board told the Mint that the tribe was not state or federally recognized.[7][8]

In November 2007 Chief Hawk Pope of the Shawnee Nation, URB was told by a Los Angeles Times reporter that their status as a state-recognized tribe had been challenged over the crafting of the pouches for the bicentennial. Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, only members of tribes that are state recognized may identify as Native American for the sale of their goods. The reporter said that a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General had stated that the legislature's 1980 resolution was ceremonial and not official. Chief Hawk Pope responded that the tribe's understanding at the time of its of adoption and since had been that the legislature intended to grant formal recognition. The chief said the tribe had always acknowledged that it had state rather than federal recognition, and that they had been recruited to participate in making items for the bicentennial. [7]


The Shawnee Nation, URB has an elected form of government, with council members and a chief.[7] Until his death in 2015, the chief was Jerry L. Hawk Pope, who led for more than 40 years.[5][9] Geah (Crow Woman) has the position of Mother of the Nation. Both men and women may be elected to the inner council.

The band has maintained its clan kinship affiliations. Both clan mothers and chiefs have roles in the society.


The Shawnee Nation, URB requires people to trace their lineage and document at least one-eighth Shawnee ancestry (the equivalent of one great-grandparent), or one-sixteenth if the person is a child "of a provable person."[1]

Indian gaming[edit]

In 2003 the Ohio legislature debated authorizing video slots at racetracks in the state, a move that would establish Class III gaming. With the state having established that level of gaming, under federal law, federally recognized Native American tribes would be able to negotiate with the state to establish gaming casinos as well, although no federally recognized tribe held sovereign land in the state to use as a base for such a casino. There was much debate about whether the Shawnee United Remnant Band would be able to participate in such development; they tried to negotiate with the state to set up a bingo center on land they owned but did not want casino gambling.[6]

Federally recognized Shawnee tribes, particularly the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, were said to be trying to set up gaming casinos in Ohio.[6] The Eastern Shawnee Tribe has a casino on the border of Oklahoma and Missouri. By November 2007 its chief Glenna Wallace said that it had discussed potential sites in Ohio with some towns.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Dark Rain and James Alexander Thom wrote Warrior Woman (2003), a novel about Nonhelema, a historical Shawnee woman.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Boice, Judith. "A Place Without Apology", Cultural Survival Quarterly, Issue 14.2, 30 April 1990, accessed 11 January 2014
  2. ^ "American Indians in Ohio", Ohio Memory: An Online Scrapbook of Ohio History. The Ohio Historical Society, retrieved October 10, 2006
  3. ^ "Joint Resolution to recognize the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band" / as adopted by the [Ohio] Senate, 113th General Assembly, Regular Session, Am. Sub. H.J.R. No. 8, 1979-1980
  4. ^ Kevin Harter, "Ohio Home At Last For The Shawnees", Cox News Service in The Free Lance–Star, May 26, 1989, also available as "Split Shawnee Tribe Gains a 'Homeland'", Associated Press in Tulsa World, May 18, 1989.
  5. ^ a b c "Native Americans Buying Back Ohio Land"; The Ojibwe News, October 16, 1998
  6. ^ a b c Jon Craig, "Indian Gaming Interests Eye Ohio; Secrecy, Big Money Surround Land Deals, Plans", Columbus Dispatch, 1 June 2003, hosted at American Policy Roundtable, accessed 9 January 2014
  7. ^ a b c d DAVID LAZARUS, "Tribal question a matter of dollars", Los Angeles Times, 2 November 2007, accessed 11 January 2014
  8. ^ "United States Mint Offers Refund for Pouches That Are Not Authentic American Indian Products", United States Mint, October 1, 2007.
  9. ^ Obituary for Jerry L. Pope, April 26, 1941 - May 13, 2015 (accessed 2015-10-02).
  10. ^ Robert Shull, "Shades of Democracy: Dark Rain Thom Interview", March 2005, Shawnee Way, accessed 11 January 2014

External links[edit]