More than a dozen tribes of the Great Lakes Region collectively called themselves Wendat, much like saying, "I am an American." Five of these tribes comprised a confederacy known as the Huron Confederacy. The founder of the Huron Confederacy was the Attignawantan. Another tribe, the Tionontati, lived adjacent to the Attignawantan; however, they were not part of the Huron Confederacy. They also referred to themselves as being Wenday.
The Wyandotte are in fact, descendants of the Tionontati and the Attignawantan. They were two tribes; however, culturally they were almost identical. After a series of wars with the Iroquois Confederacy known as Beaver Wars, in 1649-50, they set aside their individual tribal names, united as one people and called themselves Wendat, and this was their collective name.
In 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, invited the Wendat to settle near Fort Detroit. Within a few years a portion of the tribe ventured south. They settled around Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where they held a position of honor among other tribes of the Ohio Valley. In Ohio, after sustained contact with the British, their traditional name Wendat became corrupted and spelled as Wyandot. Pressure from settlers forced the Treaty of 1855 and the Wyandot being terminated [disbanded]. Their land was quickly allotted and sold to white interests.
In 1857, some Wyandot who were unwilling to accept citizenship relocated to Indian Territory. The name Wyandotte was officially used after the 1867 Treaty and reflects an influence from the French language. Although they came to Indian Territory to remain Indian, their small population, external influences and the decisions they made, compromised their traditional way of life.
In the early 1900s, many did not teach their children their native language and soon those capable of continuing the traditional ceremonies were gone. Their tribal interests focused on the care of orphans, land disputes and ongoing issues with the government. In 1983, Leaford Bearskin was elected chief. He had a vision and determined purpose for his people. Under his leadership the Wyandotte have grown to almost 5,000 members, secured their right of self-governance, initiated cultural renewal and achieved economic growth unlike any other time in their history. In September the Wyandotte Nation hosts an annual Culture Days, a celebration that includes language, history and special-interest classes, a powwow and other activities.