The Piqua Shawnee is a Native American tribe whose name is derived from the word, shawanwa, meaning “southerner.” In earliest times, the tribe lived in dome-shaped huts known as wigwams or wikkums, which are still built today, albeit only to commemorate their heritage or remember their history. These structures, which were mainly made of wooden frames, were often covered with woven mats, buffalo hides or birch bark.
The Piqua Shawnee tribes people used various modes of transportation, depending on the type of terrain they were traveling on. When crossing waters, they rode in canoes hollowed out from huge trees and paddled with oars they carved from tree limbs. When traveling by land, they usually relied on sled dogs as pack animals.
Among of the best things the Shawnee tribe is known for are its artwork and crafts. Tribe members spend a lot of time doing pottery, beadwork and wood carvings, but not merely as a pastime or hobby. The containers and pottery products they produced were used for many different things, especially grain. The wampum beads they crafted from white and purple beads were also used as a means of currency exchange.
In germs of government, every Shawnee band or village had a chieftain who was helped by a tribal council in performing his functions. Warriors picked the wisest and bravest to be chief of their tribe. All chieftains answered to a principal leader who was chosen through elections involving all villages.
The main economic activities of the Piqua Shawnee tribe revolved around the tribe’s survival. In other words, food, shelter and clothing. Males hunted to provide food on the table and hides for clothing and for the covering of their abodes. Females, for their part, farmed and took care of their homes and children. In certain parts of the culture, such as art and traditional medicine, both men and women had their own participation.
In terms of food provision, farming was one of the most popular methods used by the Shawnees. Women farmed fruits, nuts, beans, squash and corn and made them into stews, soups and cornbread, while men fished and hunted animals like turkeys, deer and buffalo.
One of the things that set the Shawnees apart from other tribes was how they did not wear headresses. Instead, they wore beaded headbands with feather ornaments. Men often wore leggings and breechcloths, while women had on leggings, skirts and moccasins. In colder weather, both wore ponchos.
In the 17th century, the Shawnees were forced out of their home by the Iroquois, driving some of them to an area now known as Illinois, others to the Cumberland Valley and yet another group to the Southeast. The tribes reunited in Ohio in 1725. As of early 21st century, there are about 12,000 individuals of Shawnee descent based on population estimates.