The Confederated Peoria were originally a group of independent, related tribes from the Illinois region. Most supported the French during the French and Indian War and suffered for it. These tribes split during the American Revolution with some supporting Britain and some the colonies.
Between war and disease, the Peoria, Piankeshaw, Wea and Kaskaskia had all suffered heavy population loss. The anthropologist James Mooney suggested the Confederated Peoria's combined population peaked at around 5,000. By 1804 it was estimated in a Spanish report that there were only 50 Peoria men left. By 1818 the surviving Peoria united with the remaining Kaskaskia. The same year the Pianeshaw and Wea survivors united. By then the two “united bands” had been removed to Southwest Missouri. A new treaty was signed removing them further west into the area of the Permanent Indian Frontier (Kansas Territory and later Oklahoma) and the groups started moving on their own before the treaty was even ratified by Congress.
Few members of the Consolidated Peoria took part in the Civil War because it was increasingly clear that no matter who won the tribes were still going to be the losers. A number of treaties were signed in 1854 opening the tribal lands for sale to the new white settlers. Remaining tribal lands were often allocated to individuals and families. A central understanding was that lands allocated to tribal members in severalty (individual ownership) would not be taxed until five years after statehood. Since Kansas did not become a state until 1861 the lands should have been exempt from property tax until 1866.
In 1862 the State of Kansas began a series of tax sales for Indian owned lands intending to eliminate all Indian ownership. A number of tribes sued and the case went to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld the tribal position. Kansas ignored the Supreme Court ruling and continued selling land pleading that since the state was at war it needed the additional revenues.
After the war, final negotiations were carried out leaving only two options—renounce your tribe and apply for citizenship or remove to the southern Indian lands that would become Indian Territory and later Oklahoma. The Confederated Peoria, like many other tribes, split over this issue. Even Baptiste Peoria’s own family was split with wife Mary Ann vowing to remain where she was unless forced out at bayonet point. To the people of Paola she became known as “Mother Batees” while her husband Baptiste held to his role and his people and removed to the new Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
This information was compiled by the Franklin County Historical Society.