The name Miami derives from Myaamia (plural Myaamiaki), the tribe's autonym (name for themselves) in their Algonquian language of Miami-Illinois. This appears to have been derived from an older term meaning "downstream people." Some scholars contended the Miami called themselves the Twightwee (also spelled Twatwa), supposedly an onomatopoeic reference to their sacred bird, the sandhill crane. Recent studies have shown that Twightwee derives from the Delaware languageexonym for the Miamis, tuwéhtuwe, a name of unknown etymology. Some Miami have stated that this was only a name used by other tribes for the Miami, and not their autonym. They also called themselves Mihtohseeniaki (the people). The Miami continue to use this autonym today.
Early Miami people are considered to belong to the Fischer Tradition of Mississippian culture. Mississippian societies were characterized by maize-based agriculture, chiefdom-level social organization, extensive regional trade networks, hierarchical settlement patterns, and other factors. The historical Miami engaged in hunting, as did other Mississippian peoples.
During historic times, the Miami were known to have migrated south and eastwards from Wisconsin from the mid-17th century to the mid-18th century, by which time they had settled on the upper Wabash River in what is now northwestern Ohio. The migration was likely a result of their being invaded during the protracted Beaver Wars by the more powerful Iroquois, who traveled far in strong organized groups (war parties) from their territory in central and western New York for better hunting during the peak of the eastern beaverfur trader days. The Dutch and French traders and, after 1652, the British fueled demand. The warfare and social disruption contributed to the decimation of Native American populations, but the major factor were fatalities from infectious diseases for which they had no immunity.
When Frenchmissionaries first encountered the Miami in the mid-17th century, the indigenous people were living around the western shores of Lake Michigan. The Miami had reportedly moved there because of pressure from the Iroquois further east. Early French explorers noticed many linguistic and cultural similarities between the Miami bands and the Illiniwek, a loose confederacy of Algonquian-speaking peoples.
Kilatika, Kilatak, Kiratika called by the French, later known by the English as Eel River Band of Miamis; autonym: Kineepikomeekwaki (?People along the Snake-Fish-River, i.e. Eel River?, their main village Kineepikwameekwa/Kenapekwamakwah/Kenapocomoco ("Snake-Fish-Town" or "Eel River Village") moved its location from the headwaters of the Eel River (Kineepikwameekwa Siipiiwi) ("Snake-Fish-River") (near Logansport, Indiana) down to its mouth into the Wabash River (Waapaah?iki Siipiiwi) (?Shining White River/Bright Shiny River?) (near Columbia City, Indiana) in northern Indiana; the Kilatika Band of the French years had their main village at the confluence of the Kankakee River and Des Plaines Rivers to form the Illinois River about 16 km southwest of today's Joliet, Illinois)
Mengakonkia or Mengkonkia, Michikinikwa ("Little Turtle")' people
Pepikokia, Pepicokea, later known as Tepicon Band or Tippecanoe Band; autonym: Kiteepihkwana (?People of the Place of the buffalo fish?), their main village Kithtippecanuck / Kiteepihkwana (?Place of the buffalo fish?) moved its location various times from the headwaters of the Tippecanoe River (Kiteepihkwana siipiiwi) (?River of the buffalo fish?) (east of Old Tip Town, Indiana) to its mouth into the Wabash River (Waapaah?iki Siipiiwi) (near Lafayette, Indiana) - sometimes although known as Nation de la Gruë or Miamis of Meramec River, possibly the name of a Miami-Illinois band named Myaarameekwa (?Ugly Fish, i.e. Catfish Band?) that lived along the Meramec River (?River of the ugly fish?)
Piankeshaw, Piankashaw, Pianguichia; autonym: Peeyankih?iaki (?those who separate? or ?those who split of?) lived in several villages along the White River[a] in western Indiana, the Vermilion River (Peeyankih?iaki Siipiiwi) (?River of the Peeyankih?iaki/Piankashaw?) and Wabash Rivers (Waapaah?iki Siipiiwi) in Illinois and later along the Great Miami River (Ahsenisiipi) (?Rocky River?) in western Ohio, their first main village Peeyankih?ionki (?Place of the Peeyankih?iaki/Piankashaw?) was at the confluence of Vermilion River and the Wabash River (near Cayuga, Indiana) - one minor settlement was at the confluence of the main tributaries of the Vermilion River (near Danville, Illinois), the second important settlement was named Aciipihkahkionki / Chippekawkay / Chippecoke (?Place of the edible Root?) and was situated at the mouth of the Embarras River in the Wabash River (near Vincennes, Indiana), in the 18th century a third settlement outside the historic Wabash River Valley named Pinkwaawilenionki / Pickawillany (?Ash Place?) was erected along the Great Miami River (which developed into Piqua, Ohio)[b]
Wea, Wiatonon, Ouiatanon or Ouaouiatanoukak; autonym: Waayaahtanooki or Waayaahtanwa (?People of the place of the whirlpool?), because their main village Waayaahtanonki (?Place of the whirlpool?) was at the riverside where a whirlpool was in the river, under the term "Ouiatanon" was both referred to a group of extinct five Wea settlements or to their historic tribal lands along the Middle Wabash Valley between the Eel River to the north and the Vermilion River to the south, the ?real? Quiatanon at the mouth of the Wea Creek into the Wabash River was their main village[c]
By the 18th century, the Miami had for the most part returned to their homeland in present-day Indiana and Ohio. The eventual victory of the British in the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War) led to an increased British presence in traditional Miami areas.
Shifting alliances and the gradual encroachment of European-American settlement led to some Miami bands merging. Native Americans created larger tribal confederacies led by Chief Little Turtle; their alliances were for waging war against Europeans and to fight advancing white settlement. By the end of the century, the tribal divisions were three: the Miami, Piankeshaw, and Wea.
The latter two groups were closely aligned with some of the Illini tribes. The US government later included them with the Illini for administrative purposes. The Eel River band maintained a somewhat separate status, which proved beneficial in the removals of the 19th century. The nation's traditional capital was Kekionga.
1780 October -- Agustin Mottin de La Balme (French, from St. Louis) headed a raid of Detroit. Stopped and destroyed Kekionga. La Balme withdrew to the west, where Little Turtle destroyed the raiders, killing one third of them, on the 5th of November.
The Miami had mixed relations with the United States. Some villages of the Piankeshaw openly supported the American rebel colonists during the American Revolution, while the villages around Ouiatenon were openly hostile. The Miami of Kekionga remained allies of the British, but were not openly hostile to the United States (US) (except when attacked by Augustin de La Balme in 1780).
The Treaty of Mississinewas, signed in 1826, forced the Miami to cede most of their land to the US government. It also allowed Miami lands to be held as private property by individuals, where the tribe had formerly held the land in common. At the time of Indian Removal in 1846, those Miami who held separate allotments of land were allowed to stay as citizens in Indiana. Those who affiliated with the tribe were moved to reservations west of the Mississippi River, first to Kansas, then to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
The divide in the tribe exists to this day. The US government has recognized the Western Miami as the official tribal government since the forced divide in 1846. Migration between the tribes has made it difficult to track affiliations and power for bureaucrats and historians alike.:XXV Today the western tribe is federally recognized as the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, with 3553 enrolled members.
The Eastern Miami (or Indiana Miami) has its own tribal government, but lacks federal recognition. Although they were recognized by the US in an 1854 treaty, that recognition was stripped in 1897. In 1980, the Indiana legislature recognized the Eastern Miami and voted to support federal recognition.:291 In the late 20th century, US SenatorRichard Lugar introduced a bill to recognize the Eastern Miami. He withdrew support due to constituent concerns over gambling rights. In recent decades, numerous federally recognized tribes in other states have established gambling casinos and related facilities on their sovereign lands.:292 Such establishments have helped some tribes raise revenues to devote to economic development, health and education. On 26 July 1993, a federal judge ruled that the Eastern Miami were recognized by the US in the 1854 treaty, and that the federal government had no right to strip them of their status in 1897. However, he also ruled that the statute of limitations on appealing their status had expired. The Miami no longer had any right to sue.:293
The grave of Miami Chief Francis Godfroy, located at Chief Francis Godfroy Cemetery, Miami County, Indiana
1785 - Delaware villages located near Kekionga (refugees from American settlements)
1790 - Pickawillany Miami join Kekionga (refugees from American settlements)
1790 Gen. Harmar marches on Kekionga to punish the Miami, Delaware, and Shawnee villages. On October 17, Harmar found the seven villages deserted. The rear guard, left to destroy the returning villagers, was defeated by Little Turtle's warriors.
17 December - Lt. Col. John B. Campbell ordered to destroy the Mississinewa villages. Campbell destroys villages and kills women and children.
18 December, at second village, Americans repulsed and return to Greenville.
1810 July - US Army returns and burns deserted town and crops.
1817 Maumee Treaty -- loose Ft. Wayne area (1400 Miami counted)
1818 Treaty of St. Mary's (New Purchase Treaty) - lose south of the Wabash -- Big Miami Reservation created. Grants on the Mississinewa and Wabash given to Josetta Beaubien, Anotoine Bondie, Peter Labadie, Francois Lafontaine, Peter Langlois, Joseph Richardville, and Antoine Rivarre. Miami National Reserve (875,000) created.
1826 Mississinewa Treaty -- loose between the Eel and the Wabash to create a right of way for the canal. Eel River Miami leave Thorntown, northeast of Lebanon, for Logansport area.
1834 Western part of the Big Reservation sold (208,000 acres (840 km2))
1838 Potawatomi removed from Indiana. No other Indian tribes in the state. Treaty of 1838 made 43 grants and sold the western portion of the Big Reserve. Richardville exempted from any future removal treaties. Richardsville, Godfroy, Metocina received grants, plus family reserves for Ozahshiquah, Maconzeqyuah (Wife of Benjamin), Osandian, Tahconong, and Wapapincha.
1840 Remainder of the Big Reservation (500,000 acres (2,000 km2)) sold for lands in Kansas. Godfroy descendants and Meshingomesia (s/o Metocina), sister, brothers and their families exempted from the removal. 800 Miami
1846 - October 1, removal was supposed to begin. It began October 6 by canal boat. By ship to Kansas Landing Kansas City and 50 miles (80 km) overland to the reservation. Reached by 9 November.