A people of consequence: The Shawnee, 1662--1789

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Stephen Saunders Webb


Shawnee, Seventeenth century, Eighteenth century

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | History | United States History


The history of the Shawnee people, prior to the 1790s, has been largely ignored. James Howard, in his recent anthropological study, Shawnee! The Ceremonialism of a Native American Tribe and Its Cultural Background , wrote that the Shawnee have been "slighted," by academics, and "at present...are one of the least known groups of Native Americans." What attention the Shawnee have been given has primarily focused on the role the Shawnee played in the pan-Indian resistance movements to American expansion in the 1790s and early 1800s. The result is that Shawnee history lacks depth. There is no narrative history of the Shawnee from 1662-1789. This is due, in part, to the fact the Shawnees moved so frequently and were so widely dispersed throughout eastern North America between the 1670s and 1740s. Reconstructing Shawnee history has been difficult because, beyond trade, the Shawnees wanted little to do with whites. The result was that the Shawnees, prior to the 1740s, were not well documented by European observers. Yet, the scattered and partial records, when assembled, reveal that the Shawnees influenced the course of North American history, substantially and out of all proportion to their numbers. Diplomatically and militarily the Shawnee left an indelible imprint on the early history of North America. They were a people of consequence. This work endeavors to chronicle and explain the significance of the Shawnees in North American history between 1662-1789.


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