Wea Tribe

Wea Indians (probably a contraction of the local name Wawaagtenang, ‘place of the round, or curved, channel’ (Schoolcraft); possibly contracted from Wayahtónuki, ‘eddy people,’ from waysqtonwi, `eddy,’ both renderings coming from the same root. Wawaqtenang was the common Algonquian name for Detroit. (Cf. Wawyachtonoc). A subtribe of the Miami. They are first mentioned in the Jesuit Relation for 1673 as living in east Wisconsin. In the later distribution of the tribes of the confederacy they occupied the most westerly position. Allouez in 1680 found a Wea town on St Joseph River, Indiana.

Marquette visited a Wea village at Chicago which Courtemanche found still there in 1701. A part of them were for a time with the bands of various tribes gathered about La Salle’s fort near Peoria, Ill. La Salle says their band had 35 cabins. In 1719 their chief village, Ouiatenon, was on the Wabash, below the mouth of Wea creek, where, according to Charlevoix, they were living nearly half a century before. This is possibly identical with “Les Gros” village of a document of 1718. Besides this they had two or three villages near by. Ouiatenon was one of the principal headquarters of the French traders.

In 1757 the Wea and Piankashaw endeavored to come into friendly relations with the whites, and an agreement to this end was entered into with Col. George Crogan, but was rejected by the assembly of Virginia. Subsequently various agreements of peace with other tribes and the whites were entered into, chiefly through the efforts of Col. Crogan and Sir William Johnson, to be as often followed by outbreaks. In 1791 their neighboring villages were destroyed by the U.S. troops under Gen. Scott. They participated in the treaty of Greenville, Ohio, Aug. 3, 1795, their deputies signing for them and the Piankashaw.

In 1820 they sold their last lands in Indiana, near the mouth of Raccoon creek in Parke County, and removed with the Piankashaw to Illinois and Missouri. In 1832 the united tribes in turn sold their claims in those states and removed to Kansas, where some had already settled. The few Wea still remaining in Indiana afterward joined them there. In 1854 the Wea and Piankashaw, having rapidly dwindled away, joined the remnants of the cognate Illinois, then known as the Peoria and Kaskaskia. The united body, all that remained of 7 tribes, then numbered but 259, a large proportion of whom were of mixed blood. In 1868 they removed to a tract on Neosho River, in the northeast corner of the present Oklahoma, where they now are. In 1885 the united tribes numbered 149 souls. In 1909 the number of the confederated Peoria was 204, only about 75 of whom had as much as one half Indian blood.

Miami, Wea,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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