Like most Oklahomans, the citizens of the Wyandotte Nation are the children of immigrants. The complicated history that explains their residence in the state’s far northeast corner is unique. It is a story that is a testament to the Wyandotte’s dedication to each other and to their persistence as a people.
The small town of Wyandotte, Oklahoma is the center of the Wyandotte Nation today, but the locations in which the Nation settled read like a road atlas spanning present-day Canada and the United States.
In the period between 1701 and their arrival in Indian Territory in 1867, the Wyandot faced nearly continuous pressure to relocate westward. In the early period, conflicts with the Iroquois Confederacy were a key factor prompting Wyandot movements to what is today Michigan and Ohio from their traditional homeland in Ontario, Canada on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. After the founding of the United States, the Wyandot faced enormous pressure to surrender their lands in the Great Lakes region. In 1843 they were forced to relocate to present-day Kansas.
Just as American settlers in Ohio and Michigan had coveted Wyandot lands and pressured them westward, the same dynamic played out in Kansas. A treaty in 1855 ended Wyandot government in Kansas and dispersed tribal land. While many people stayed behind, less than 200 of those most committed to preserving the Wyandot community moved again, this time onto lands in Indian Territory, present day Oklahoma. The land in Indian Territory was purchased from their old friends from the Ohio country – the Seneca. The Seneca under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1937 became known as the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma.
Since coming to what is today Ottawa County, Oklahoma, the Wyandotte have actively pursued their own community, economic, and cultural projects while also engaging with their native and non-native neighbors.
In 1999, the Wyandotte Nation joined with the three other Wendat communities (Kansas, Michigan and Quebec) in reaffirming their common peoplehood, reestablishing the Wendat Confederacy that once tied their ancestors together.