The Wyandot natives originally lived in southern Ontario. They were also called Hurons, but they called themselves "wendat" which in time became "Wyandot" or "Wyandotte." They were related to the Iroquois natives, but in the years before European settlement, the Iroquois Confederacy attacked them and drove them from their homeland. Some came to live in northern Ohio. They built their main villages in Wyandot, Marion, and Crawford Counties, but they lived across northern Ohio and as far south as Ross County.
The Wyandots had a special friendship with the Shawnee natives. They referred to the Shawnee tribe as their "nephew" or "younger brother." Other Native American tribes could be allies one day and enemies the next. Political alliances changed with the times.
The Wyandots were allies of the French until British traders moved into the Ohio Country circa 1740. The French pushed the British out of Ohio, and the Wyandots became allies of the French again until the British victory in the French and Indian War. But as French trading posts turned into British forts, the Ohio natives banded together to fight the British in Pontiac's Rebellion in 1764. During the American Revolution the Wyandots fought for the British against the Americans. When the British surrendered, the Native Americans were left to fight the Americans on their own.
The Wyandots were fierce warriors. Colonel William Crawford led an expedition against the Wyandot town at Upper Sandusky in 1782. His army was defeated. The Native Americans captured Crawford and burned him at the stake.
General Anthony Wayne once ordered Captain William Wells to go to the Native American town at Upper Sandusky and bring in a prisoner who could tell them about the Native American's plans. Captain Wells replied that he "could bring in a prisoner, but not from Sandusky, because there were none but Wyandots at Sandusky and they would not be taken alive."
General Anthony Wayne finally defeated the Wyandots and other Ohio natives at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. They surrendered most of their lands in Ohio with the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville.
In 1842, the Wyandots gave up their claim to their reservation at Upper Sandusky. In 1843 the United States government sent the Native Americans off to a reservation in Kansas. They were the last Native American tribe to leave Ohio.
Tarhe and Leatherlips were notable leaders of the Wyandot natives.
- Carpenter, Roger M. The Renewed, the Destroyed, and the Remade: The Three Thought Worlds of the Huron and the Iroquois, 1609-1650. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2004.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
- Tooker, Elisabeth. An Ethnography of the Huron Indians, 1615-1649. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1991.
- Vogel, John J. Indians of Ohio and Wyandot County. New York, NY: Vantage Press, 1975.