What Types of Arts and Crafts Did the Shawnee Indians Have?

Shawnee arts and crafts – produced largely by their women – included beadwork, woodcarvings, and pottery. They also produced woven bags, rugs, and made rope out of wild hemp, as well as crafting ‘wampum’ – a series of shells strung together in patterns, used for decoration, or story telling.

Perhaps pushed southward out of the Northeast by the Iroquois around the 16th century, the Shawnee (which translates “southerner”) were a wandering people – travelling lands throughout the Ohio River Valley. As a result of this mobile lifestyle, they are not believed to have developed much of a significant artistic tradition, but instead engaged heavily in trade between several tribes to the south, west, and north. As a result of this wide exposure, the Shawnee dialect became one of the more widely known languages among Native American tribes in that time.

Generally more willing to move than to fight, when it came to protecting their families or way of life, however, the Shawnee earned a reputation for being fierce warriors.

Likely the most widely known of all Shawnee, both in his own day and still today, is Tecumseh. A great military strategist, renowned orator, and Shawnee chief active around the turn of the 19th century, Tecumseh’s greatest aim was to unify Native tribes so they might hold back the rising tide of American expansionism. Fighting with the British in the war of 1812, Tecumseh was killed by American forces in 1813.