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History

Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma

The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is a confederation of Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankeshaw and Wea Indians united into a single tribe in 1854. The tribes which constitute The Confederated Peorias, as they then were called, originated in the lands bordering the Great Lakes and drained by the mighty Mississippi. They are Illinois or Illini Indians, descendants of those who created the great mound civilizations in the central United States two thousand to three thousand years ago.

Forced from their ancestral lands in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri, the Peorias were relocated first in Missouri, then in Kansas and, finally, in northeastern Oklahoma. There, in Miami, Ottawa County, Oklahoma is their tribal headquarters.

The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is a federally-recognized sovereign Indian tribe, functioning under the constitution and by-laws approved by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on August 13, 1997. Under Article VIII, Section 1 of the Peoria Constitution, the Peoria Tribal Business Committee is empowered to research and pursue economic and business development opportunities for the Tribe.

The increased pressure from white settlers in the 1840’s and 1850’s in Kansas brought cooperation among the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw and Wea Tribes to protect these holdings. By the Treaty of May 30, 1854, 10 Stat. 1082, the United States recognized the cooperation and consented to their formal union as the Confederated Peoria. In addition to this recognition, the treaty also provided for the disposition of the lands of the constituent tribes set aside by the treaties of the 1830’s; ten sections were to be held in common by the new Confederation, each tribal member received an allotment of 160 acres; the remaining or “surplus” land was to be sold to settlers and the proceeds to be used by the tribes.

The Civil War caused considerable turmoil among all the people of Kansas, especially the Indians. After the war, most members of the Confederation agreed to remove to the Indian Territory under the provisions of the so-called Omnibus Treaty of February 23, 1867, 15 Stat. 513. Some of the members elected at this time to remain in Kansas, separate from the Confederated Tribes, and become citizens of the United States.

The lands of the Confederation members in the Indian Territory were subject to the provisions of the General Allotment Act of 1887. The allotment of all the tribal land was made by 1893, and by 1915, the tribe had no tribal lands or any lands in restricted status. Under the provisions of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936, 49 Stat. 1967, the tribes adopted a constitution and by-laws, which was ratified on October 10, 1939, and they became known as the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.

As a result of the “Termination Policy” of the Federal Government in the 1950’s, the Federal Trust relationship over the affairs of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and its members, except for claims then pending before the Indian Claims Commission and Court of claims, was ended on August 2, 1959, pursuant to the provisions of the Act of August 2, 1956, 709 Stat. 937, and Federal services were no longer provided to the individual members of the tribe. More recently, however, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma was reinstated as a federally recognized tribe by the Act of May 15, 1978, 92 Stat. 246.

Tribal Emblem

The general outline of the emblem is an arrowhead bearing four crossed arrows. Each of the arrows represents one of the four tribes making up the tribe now known as Peoria.

The red background symbolizes the tribe’s past – the trickery, the tears, the hardships, and the heartaches that our ancestors endured.

The large arrowhead of natural color represents our present generation – a promise that we will work, as individuals, and as a tribe, to cherish and preserve our heritage and customs. The arrowhead points downward, indicating peace. We will live in peace, but we will not be suppressed.

The turquoise arrow of the Piankashaws represents our native soil.

The red arrow of the Peorias represents the sun.

The blue arrow of the Weas represents the blue waters.

The green arrow of the Kaskaskias represents the green of the grass and the trees.

May our tribe never forget that these are gifts from the Great Spirit.

The crossing of the arrows represents our promise to future generations that by banding together our spirit cannot be broken and our heritage and customs will never be forgotten.

Alice Giles Burgess, a tribal member, designed this emblem. It was presented to the Peoria Tribal Business Committee and approved by them on January 29, 1983. It was presented to the tribal membership at the Annual Meeting in March 1983.