The Piqua Shawnee (officially the Picqua Sept of Ohio Shawnee) is one of nine indigenous tribes recognized by the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission. Evidence for Shawnee settlement in present-day Alabama dates to the late 17th century.
The Shawnee tribe was centered in the area of present day Indiana and Ohio. The Picqua or Peckuwe Sept was one of five tribal divisions named for a legendary evil man who was sent back from death to lead a group of Shawnee to walk in harmony with the great spirit. He appeared to the group in a cloud of smoke billowing from the coals of their fire. "Peckuwe" means "man who rises from the ashes."
The tribe was forced twice to scatter, first by the Iroquis in the 1660s. Some settled in Alabama, where they lived among and were often grouped with other tribes as "Creeks" by traders in the territories. The Alabama Shawnee, unlike many of their tribesmen north of the Tennessee River, did not return to Ohio after peace was made. A new wave arrived in the late 18th and early 19th century, seeking refuge from the continuing fighting between French, English and American interests in King George's War and the French and Indian War.
It was among the Shawnee that an outbreak of smallpox introduced by infected blankets from Fort Pitt during Pontiac's rebellion took its greatest toll. Other tribes which had allied with the French in King George's War had already been exposed to the disease. Smallpox spread with the Shawnee into Creek territory in the South, and then among the Chickasaw and Choctaw and to British colonists as well.
After the Creek Indian War most indigenous people were resettled in the Oklahoma territory, but many were able to avoid resettlement or later returned. The Picqua Sept now represents a small number of interrelated families that preserve Shawnee heritage and live scattered around the south, midwest and Canada. The tribe was officially recognized in Kentucky in 1991 and in Alabama in 2001.