WYANDOT. A remnant of the once large and powerful Huron Indian nation, the Wyandot Indians were a small but strategically significant Indian nation who, during the eighteenth century, inhabited the southern Great Lakes basin. The Wyandot were British allies during the War of the American Revolution.
In the early seventeenth century, the Huron Indians inhabited a region (Huronia) on the south end of the Georgian Bay, in modern-day Ontario. The Huron spoke a northern Iroquoian language and subsisted through a combination of agriculture, hunting, and farming. The Huron, along with their neighbors and close relatives the Petun, may have numbered between eighteen thousand and thirty thousand in the 1610s and 1620s. The Huron were decimated by epidemics of European diseases in the 1630s and then fared poorly in the Beaver Wars against the Iroquois League after 1640. The community that became the Wyandot opted to leave Huronia in the 1650s. (The Huron called themselves the Wendat.) It was likely a small community, as eighteenth-century accounts of the Wyandot population fix the number of Wyandot warriors between 150 and 250.
The Wyandot migrated throughout the northern Great Lakes during the second half of the seventeenth century and eventually settled in the area around Detroit after 1701. The Wyandot were one of many Indian nations to establish communities near the French post at Detroit. The Wyandot ranged into modern-day Ohio to hunt and began to establish contact with British traders in the mid-1740s. French agents strengthened their alliance with the Wyandot (and other Indians) and the Wyandot fought on the French side in the Seven Years' War, participating in the 1755 defeat of Edward Braddock. After participating in Pontiac's Rebellion, the Wyandot committed themselves to alliance with the British. They remained on the British side during the American Revolution. From their community at Sandusky, on Lake Erie, the Wyandot were active in the harassment of the communities of the Pennsylvania frontier. They were part of the force that defeated the William Crawford expedition of 1782 and that famously captured Crawford and burned him at the stake.
The Wyandot were part of the Ohio Valley alliance that resisted the United States until Anthony Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers (1794). The Wyandot signed the Treaty of Greenville (1795). After a series of subsequent treaties, the Wyandot were eventually removed west of the Mississippi—first to Kansas (1843) and then to Oklahoma (between 1855 and 1870)—where they remain today.
Heidenreich, Conrad E. "Huron." In Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15: Northeast. Edited by William C. Sturtevant. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1978–.
Tooker, Elisabeth. "Wyandot." In Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15: Northeast. Edited by William C. Sturtevant. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1978–.
White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
revised by Leonard J. Sadosky