Shawnee Indians, a North American tribe of the Algonquian language family. “Shawnee” is from an Indian word meaning “southerners.” When the Shawnees were first seen by Europeans in the 17th century, they lived along the Cumberland River in what is now Tennessee and numbered about 3,000. An outlying band lived along the Savannah River in what is now South Carolina. Conflicts with the Cherokee and Catawba Indians caused the Shawnees to move northward and to settle eventually as one group along the upper Ohio River in present-day Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The Shawnees sided with the British in the American Revolution. Afterward about half the tribe moved west to what is now Missouri, while another large group settled in what is now Indiana. Two Indiana Shawnees, Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (called the Prophet), set out to form a confederacy of Indian tribes to resist white encroachment. However, the Indians were badly beaten at the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, and after the death of Tecumseh in the War of 1812 most of the Shawnees accepted peace terms with the United States. They eventually settled in Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma), where many joined the Cherokee Nation.