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The Ohio Country Episode One: Still Here

chief glenna wallace looking forward talking at a mic in a close cropped headshot
Ruthie Herman
Eastern Shawnee Chief Glenna Wallace speaks at the opening of Great Council State Park.

Before Ohio became a state, the so-called Ohio Country was home to Shawnee, Miami, Seneca-Cayuga, Lenape (Delaware), and Wyandotte people, among others.

But after generations of broken treaties and deadly conflict with settlers, colonists, and traders, American Indian people and their governments were forcibly relocated west by the U.S. so their homelands could be sold and settled.

Those Tribal Nations still exist, and many are headquartered in northeastern Oklahoma in Ottawa County. As they expand their economies and citizenship numbers and revive their languages and cultures, they are also reconnecting to their homelands in the Ohio River Valley.

In this episode, we meet Glenna Wallace, visionary leader of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, who has developed a working relationship with the state of Ohio to provide opportunities for her fellow Shawnee people to reconnect with their homelands.

Removal, survival

The removal and survival of Indigenous people is a much larger subject than this podcast, and we encourage you to delve into additional resources beyond this episode.

This map and timeline tool, created by the Wyandotte Nation and University of Cincinnati students, details the story of the Wyandotte's forced relocation and survival in depth.

Watch the video below to see how the Eastern Shawnee are teaching their youngest citizens about their tribe's forced relocation at their Ohio River Valley Splash Pad.

Ottawa County, Oklahoma

We also recommend listening to this episode of The Moth Radio Hour to hear from Alistair Bane, an Eastern Shawnee citizen, about his experience in Ottawa County.

Additionally, the extractive history of lead and zinc mining in Oklahoma is detailed with a good overview by the Oklahoma History Center.


Check out this Indian Gaming article from June 2024 to learn more about how casino revenues benefit some tribes and their communities (including the perspective of Ben Barnes, chief of the Shawnee Tribe)

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO. Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.
Neenah Ellis has been a radio producer most of her life. She began her career at a small commercial station in northern Indiana and later worked as a producer for National Public Radio in Washington, DC. She came to WYSO in 2009 and served as General Manager until she became the Executive Director of The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices where she works with her colleagues to train and support local producers and has a chance to be a radio producer again. She is also the author of a New York Times best-seller called “If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians.”