The Miami Indians originally lived in Indiana, Illinois, and southern Michigan at the time of the first European's arrived to North America. Around the 1700s they moved into the Maumee Valley and soon became the most powerful Indian nation in Ohio. Miamis spoke an Algonquian dialect and were thus loosely related to the Delaware, Ottawa, and Shawnee Indians.
Allies with the French
Like many of the Indian nations in Ohio, the Miamis were French allies until British traders moved into the Ohio Country around 1740. When the French forced the British out of Ohio, the Miamis again allied themselves with the French until the British victory in the French and Indian War.
Allies with the British
As the once French trading posts became British forts some of the Miami moved into present-day Indiana to avoid further battles with the more powerful British. However, as the American Revolutionary War began to drag on, the Miamis began siding with the British. Although they had fought against the British, they were more fearful of the increasing flood of white settlers moving into the Ohio Country and so joined forces with the British against the Americans. After the defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War, the Miami continued fighting the American settlers and the American military outposts.
For years after the war there was a dispute between the United States and Great Britain over some terms in the treaty. Until the matter was settled, the British kept Detroit and other American frontier posts. This British presence encouraged the Indians not only with their manned fortifications, but also their supply of arms and munitions that helped them carry on the war.
At the conclusion of the American Revolution, a number of Delaware were not only astonished, but alarmed to find that the Americans had "laid the king on his back." After all it was the King of England that had been their major supplier. With the King surrendered, what would happen to them? Thanks to British agents and traders still in the area, they encouraged them to make good their boast that "no white cabin should smoke beyond the Ohio."
One of the great leaders of the Miami was called Little Turtle. He lead a force of Miamis and other Indians to a victory over two American armies. They defeated the army of General Josiah Harmar in 1790 and the army of General Arthur St. Clair in 1791. It was these 2 defeats of the American army that ultimately lead to the total defeat of all the Indian nations then in Ohio. Revenge for these defeats came from President George Washington, who sent General Anthony Wayne with a superior force into the Ohio valley.
General Anthony Wayne finally defeated the Miamis and other Ohio Indians 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 1818, the United States forced the Miami Indians to give up their last reservation in Ohio. Most of these people settled in Indiana, but the United States removed them to Kansas during the late 1820s.
Note: There is no relationship between the Miami Indians and the city of Miami, Florida. It is just a coincidence that there are 2 words that sound alike. Both terms were used by Native Americans, but meant entirely different things. The term referring to the Native Americans meant "allies" or "mother" and the term referring to Miami Florida came from the Tequesta (a Native American tribe living in southern Florida and the Keys) word Maymi, which may have meant "wide lake."