Originally, the Shawnee Indians lived in the northeastern parts of the United States in areas now known as the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and neighboring states. It is believed that they inhabited these areas as early as the 1600′s. Treaties in the late 1700′s and throughout the 1800′s establish the Shawnee as having a large population and land holdings in the State of Ohio.
The United States Government removed the Shawnee to the Midwest United States to what is now the state of Kansas. The name “Absentee-Shawnee” comes from the United States government, when a division of the traditional Shawnee Tribe absented itself from the reservation in Kansas. This occurred in the early 1800′s, when a treaty was about to be signed. This group moved to what was then called “Indian Territory,” later to become the State of Oklahoma. The Absentee Shawnee Tribe of OK consists of two bands: The White Turkey Band and the Big Jim Band. Three Tribes of the Shawnee exist today – the Absentee-Shawnee, the Loyal Shawnee and the Eastern Shawnee.
In the late 1800′s, the Indian Agent from the United States Government brought soldiers from Fort Reno in western Oklahoma and forced the Shawnees located on the Deep Fork River to leave. They were brought south to the area known as Hog Creek and Little River where they were to remain. The group settling here is known as the Big Jim Band. This community was called the Big Jim Settlement who was later changed to “Little Axe,” and is located in Cleveland County, east of Norman Oklahoma. Another Band of the Absentee-Shawnee stayed in Pottawatomie County near the town of Shawnee Oklahoma and is known as the White Turkey Band.
Currently, enrolled members are required to be at least one-fourth (1/4)-degree Absentee-Shawnee blood. Tribal members must be 18 years of age to vote in elections and meetings of the general council. Most members either live in the Little Axe community or in and around Shawnee.