Wapakoneta, Ohio has a vast and rich American Indian history. In fact, the name “Wapakoneta” is an Indian name that come from the Shawnee word “Wa·po’kanite”, meaning “The Place of White Bones”.
Most likely this is due to the fact that mastodon bones have been found in the Wapakoneta area three times since 1870! One mastodon skeleton was found in a swamp about eight feet deep. It was about 19.5 feet long and 14 feet tall with tusks about 12 feet long. For real. These things existed. (For more on this and other Wapakoneta history, check out http://www.wapakoneta.net/history)
The land around Wapakoneta including most of Auglaize County were originally lived in by the Miami tribe of Indians. Members of the Wyandotte indian tribe would also come upon the land from the north and east.
However, as the white man does, the Miami tribe was attacked and their main village of Pickawillamy (which was near Springfield) was destroyed. The entire tribe picked up and headed west for Indiana.
Meanwhile the Shawnee tribe had been driven out of their home in Georgia and the Carolina’s. The Shawnee found a new home in the Wapakoneta area.
Two of the most legendary Indian Chieftains, Blue Jacket and Black Hoof, helped establish a settlement in the Auglaize County area. A council house was created where Wapakoneta now exists.
This council house served as a meeting place where many of the most prominent names of the time came together. These include both Blue Jacket and Black Hoof of course, but also James Blue Jacket (Blue Jacket’s son), Tecumseh and his brother the Prophet, Little Snake, Little Turtle, Peter Cornstalk and Captain Logan.
The Shawnee were funded by the British and given weapons to help fight the encroaching Americans. Of course eventually the British gave up and left America, leaving the Indians to fend for themselves. Shortly after the Battle of Fallen Timbers and the signing of the Green Ville Treaty, many of the Shawnee began to move west.
Other Shawnee stayed in Wapakoneta on land that was given to them by the U.S. as a reservation. The Shawnee began to gradually accept Western ways under the guidance of Black Hoof. Black Hoof knew that the white man would never give in and they couldn’t win a war against them. Black Hoof didn’t like it but believed essentially, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.
Despite the Shawnee peacefully trying to adapt to new ways, in 1830 the Indian Removal Act forced all Native Americans to move to new land west of the Missisippi in exchange for their land east of the Missisippi.
By 1831, all of the Shawnee tribe had moved, mainly to the northeastern corner of Oklahoma.