Peoria tribe

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Peoria Tribe of Indians
Ruthe blalock jones.jpg
Ruthe Blalock Jones,
Peoria-Shawnee-Delaware artist
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Oklahoma)
English, formerly Miami-Illinois
Christianity (Roman Catholicism),
traditional tribal religions
Related ethnic groups
Kaskaskia, Piankeshaw, and Wea

The Peoria (or Peouaroua) people are a Native American tribe. Today they are enrolled in the federally recognized Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. Historically, they were part of the Illinois Confederation.

Language and name[edit]

Traditionally, the Peoria spoke a dialect of the Miami-Illinois language. The name "Peoria" derives from their autonym or name for themselves in the Illinois language, peewaareewa (modern pronunciation peewaalia). Originally it meant, "Comes carrying a pack on his back."[2] No speakers of the Peoria language survive.[3]


The Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma is headquartered in Miami, Oklahoma, and their tribal jurisdictional area is in Ottawa County. Of the 2,925 enrolled tribal members, only 777 live within the state of Oklahoma. John P. Froman is the tribe's elected Chief, currently serving a four-year term.[1]

Economic development[edit]

The Peoria issue their own tribal vehicle tags and operate their own housing authority. The tribe owns one casino[1] and the Peoria Ridge Golf Course. The estimated annual economic impact of the tribe is $60 million.[1] Tribal businesses, the Peoria Gaming Center, Buffalo Run Casino and Hotel, and Joe's Outback are all located in Miami, Oklahoma.[4]


Peoria moccasins, ca. 1860, collection of Oklahoma History Center

The Peoria are Algonquian-speaking people, whose ancestors came from what is now Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.[5] Once thought to be descendants of the Cahokia Mississippian culture of Moundbuilders, they are now believed to be related to Algonquian-speaking peoples of the Great Lakes and East Coast.[6] The Peoria were one of the many Illinois tribes encountered by the explorers, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet. French Jesuit missionaries converted tribal members to Roman Catholicism.[6] Father Jacques Gravier, superior of the Illinois mission, compiled the most extensive dictionary of Kaskaskia Illinois-French terms, nearly 600 pages and 20,000 entries.[7]

The Peoria migrated southwest into Missouri Territory after 1763.[6] In 1818, the Treaty of Edwardsville included the cession of Peoria lands in Illinois to the United States.[8] By the 1832 Treaty of Lewisville, they ceded Missouri lands in exchange for land in Kansas, near the Osage River.[6]

Moscelyne Larkin (1925–2012), Peoria-Shawnee ballerina

Infectious disease, to which they had no natural immunity, and intertribal wars drastically reduced the tribe's numbers. Members of the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankeshaw, and Wea tribes formed a confederacy under the Peoria name. After the Civil War, most of the confederated tribe signed the 1867 Omnibus Treaty.[5] By this means, the US government purchased land from the Quapaw tribe and relocated the majority of the Peoria tribe to Indian Territory, now part of Oklahoma.[6]

Under the Dawes Act and Curtis Act of 1898, the US government attempted to make individual allotments of land to heads of families, to allow separate ownership and cultivation of land, and break up the common landholdings of the tribes. It was part of an effort to have the tribes assimilate to European-American ways. At the same time, they forced tribal governments to dismantle. In 1939, after passage of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act, the tribe reorganized and re-established its traditional form of council government.[5]

During the 1950s, the US government pursued a policy of Indian termination to end its special relationship with tribes. It dissolved the Peoria tribal government, which lost federal recognition in 1959. Tribal members objected and began the process to regain federal recognition, which they achieved in 1978.[6]

The descendants of the Piankeshaw, Kaskaskia, and Wea, all members of the Illinois Confederacy, are also enrolled in the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.[9]


Notable Peoria people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 26. Retrieved 24 Jan 2012.
  2. ^ Peoria Indian Tribal History. Access Genealogy: Indian Tribal Records. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  3. ^ Anderton, Alice, PhD. "Status of Indian Languages in Oklahoma", Intertribal Wordpath Society. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  4. ^ Oklahoma Indian Casinos: Casinos by Tribes. 500 Nations. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  5. ^ a b c History. Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. 2007 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  6. ^ a b c d e f Vaugh-Roberson, Glen. Peoria. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 8 Feb 2009)
  7. ^ "Review" of Carl Masthay, Kaskaskia Illinois-to-French Dictionary, Saint Louis: Carl Masthay, 2002, International Journal of Lexicography, 17(3):325–327, accessed 1 Mar 2010
  8. ^ Illinois Indian History Timeline, Illinois State Museum
  9. ^ House, Office of the Law Revision Counsel. United States Code 2006, Volume 15. §1224, page 986

External links[edit]