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About Shawnee

 

 
Public Law 106-568

Shawnee Constitution


History of the Shawnee Flag
by Ron Sparkman

At the annual meeting on September 15, 2001, I gave a brief explanation about our tribal flag. Since then, I have been asked other questions regarding the flag, so, a more complete explanation is in order.

In 1986, the then Loyal Shawnee Tribe was asked by the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission to provide a flag to display on a Legislature Approved Flag Plaza on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capital. The 39 tribes were invited, but we did not have a flag. The Business Council requested me to work with our people to develop one. After visiting with various members about what type of flag we wanted, it was apparent that we did not want a generic flag having the usual bow and arrow, spears, drums, headdresses or other standard Indian fare. Tribal elders, Jess and Rachel (Washington) Brown, Victoria Daugherty and others discussed various items as the ceremonial cooking kettles, Shawnee Roach, White corn, or the long Council Houses that were indicative of Shawnee customs. From these meetings, the Tribal Flag evolved.

The blue field represents the sky. The large, bright yellow star represents Tecumseh, certainly the most revered Shawnee, and with little argument, the most famous of all Native Americans. Commonly, he is referred to as Shooting Star. The red rectangle having openings at each end represents the ceremonial grounds, with the 12 small stars inside being the milky way. The individual stars have several meanings in tribal history, stating there are 12 clans, the Rabbit, Raccoon, Panther, Turtle, Wolf, Deer, Turkey, Snake, Bear, Horse, Eagle, and the Owl. Others listed could be the Wildcat, Possum, and the Elk but I have not been able to determine which is correct. Some say there are as many as 14 clans, others say 10, but the majority list 12.

The milky way has two meanings. Some state the small stars represent Shawnee babies on the way to earth and another meaning forwarded is that the stars are our ancestors who have left earth. With the limited knowledge available, I think we should choose to accept both theories. Victoria Daugherty interjects that the 12 stars could represent the 12 elder leaders.

On the bottom of the flag are two White Oak Leaves. These were taken from a White Oak tree at Victoria Daugherty’s camp at the Quapaw Pow-Wow grounds. Victoria stated that these White Oak leaves would represent the modern day Shawnee. As it turns out, the elevation of the Loyal Shawnee to the Shawnee Tribe by the U. S. Congress last year was a fruition of Victoria’s prediction. The two leaves are in my possession, sealed in plastic, and someday I hope we can have a Shawnee Tribal Museum where they can be displayed.

After discussing the flag layout with our elders, I asked my good friend Charles Banks Wilson to help with the art work. On a personal note, Charles just last week (Nov. 14, 2001) was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall bf Fame. He painted all the murals in the Oklahoma State Capitol, which, by the way, is now getting crowned with a dome to celebrate the 100 years of statehood! I am proud to call him a friend. He also stated during our work sessions on the flag that I would make a good third grade art student (a joke I hope). After many months of work, our flag was approved by the council and became a reality.

When we presented it to the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission it was not accepted because at that time, we were not a federally recognized Tribe. Of course Public Law 106-568 solved that problem. We are now in the process of having more flags made so that the Shawnee Tribe can be properly recognized at appropriate functions. I am truly honored to have had a part in developing this flag. Especially the time I got to spend with the above mentioned tribal elders. I will never forget their words of wisdom. They truly are Great Shawnee people.

The tribal seal is a take off of the flag, the difference being that the date, November 7, 1811, is the date of the battle of Tippecanoe. On this day there was only one Shawnee Tribe and we thought it appropriate never to forget what a Great Nation we were. So when you view your flag and seal remember what our ancestors endured to have us in our present position. Share this history with the young ones as they need to know and we must never forget. Copies of the flags were given to those at the annual meeting,  would like each Shawnee family to have a copy of our flag. Contact me or your council members and we will mail one to you. I appreciate the interest our tribal members have shown for our elected officials and look forward to advancing the tribe in all areas.

Miami, Oklahoma
December 1, 2001

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