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Ohio History
© 2005 Rickie Lazzerini

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Historical Review 1.10   
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Native Americans

     There were several different types of Indians who occupied what is now Ohio. These people ranged from the Paleo-Indians who date back to 13,000 B.C., to the Shawnee and Algonquin Indians who occupied the area during the Colonial and Early Republic times.

      The Paleo-Indians were the first humans to occupy present-day Ohio. These people date back to 13,000 B.C. and survived by hunting large vertebrates such as the wooly mammoth and the mastodon. The next group of people to occupy the area were the Archaic people, a hunting and gathering group that disappeared by 1000 B.C. The Adena came after the Archaic. These inhabitants appeared in Ohio sometime between 1000 and 800 B.C. The Adena were semi-permanent, cultivators and traders. They left behind burial mounds that still exist today. This group disappeared sometime between A.D. 100 and 300 . The Hopewell began to occupy the southern Ohio river valleys around 100 BC. Like the Adena, the Hopewell were hunters and gatherers as well as traders and cultivators. These people left behind artwork in the form of large geometric shapes in the ground that can still be seen today in Marietta, Newark, Portsmouth and Hamilton County. These shapes are interesting not only for their artistic value but because they indicate that the Hopewell possessed some surveying skills. But, by A.D. 600 these people would vanish.

      After A.D. 1000 two distinct groups would follow the Hopewell, the Fort Ancient People and the Whittlesey Focus People. The Fort Ancient people lived in southern Ohio and were part of a larger Mississippi people who demonstrated similarities to native cultures of central Mexico. These people grew new strains of maize, beans and squash which allowed them to sustain a larger settlement. By the mid 17th century, however, they too would disappear, with the remains possibly being absorbed by the Shawnee. The Whittlesey Focus People inhabited northern Ohio, building villages that overlooked the river valleys. Many of these people fell victim to European diseases or guns in the hands of Iroquois. With the coming of the Iroquois, Ohio's pre-historic Indian period comes to an end, and the Historic Indian period begins.

      For fifty years after the demise of the pre-historic people no one inhabited Ohio. The Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, later known as the Six Nations, were based in New York and destroyed tribes ranging from the Northern Great Lakes region to the Ohio River. Small villages would begin to appear in Ohio in the early 18th century becoming more permanent by the 1730s. From the north came the Hurons, also known as the Wyandots. They were of the Iroquoian linguistic group who settled in the Sandusky Bay area of Ohio after being driven from Ontario by the Iroquois. In the 1740s, the Miamis came to Ohio from the west. These people were also known as the Mingos, and were of the Algonquin linguistic group. This group was a combination of people from other tribes, mostly Senecas, but Cayugas, Mohawks, Onandagas, Oniedas, Tuscaroras and Mohicans were among them as well. The Ottowa, an Algonquin linguistic group, moved into Ohio from the north in 1740, and the Shawnee, another Algonquin group, came from Pennsylvania to occupy Ohio's Scioto Valley. Between 1750 and 1815 other tribes moved into Ohio for short periods of time; some of these tribes include the Pottawatomies, Chippewas, Kickapoos and Cherokees.

      The Native Americans of Ohio enjoyed a long history before the discovery of the Americas by Europeans, and played a big role in the settlement of Ohio by way of resistance. Many Native Americans took part in Indian wars, as well as the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

The French Presence

      While the English were settling Jamestown, the French were gaining a foothold on the St. Lawrence, a river explored by Jacques Cartier in the 1530s and 1540s who claimed it for France. Samuel de Champlain established a post in Quebec in 1608 and continued to establish a French presence in North America over the next two decades.

      The area that includes present day Ohio became the subject of a three way tug of war. The British, wanting control of the Great Lakes region, claimed that their charters from the King gave them the right to it. However, the French discovered the region first, and claimed it for themselves while the Native American presence was laying claim to the entire Great Lakes and Northwestern region.

     The French continued to build forts in the region and maintained trade with the Indians. Meanwhile, traders from Pennsylvania and Virginia began to encroach on French and Indian trade relations by undercutting French prices. Virginia traders and settlement companies continued pushing into the area, and the French continued building fortifications. Soon, these French forts would be interpreted as an invasion, and the war between the colonists and the French would begin.

The French and Indian War

     The French controlled the Ohio area for three years during the war, but by 1759 all of the key French forts had fallen. In 1760 Montreal was seized, proving to be the final blow to the French. After the British had won, they held claim of the Great Lakes region, and had to control it, which was hard to do because of constant Indian attacks. England was forced to deplore 100,000 men to the Colonies to control the borders, which Parliament didn't want to pay for. This led to the Sugar Act, a tax on the Colonists which kindled separatist fervor, one of several factors leading up to the American Revolution.

Ohio and the American Revolution

     Although not yet a state, Ohio Played a significant role in the Revolution. The issues between the French, English and the Indians in the Ohio area were a precursor to the war and added to the desire for the colonists to rule themselves. There was also a lot of fighting that took place in what is now Ohio, and when the war ended in the east, it was brought to a climax in the Northwest in 1782 when a group of Christian Indians were massacred at Gnadenhutten.

By Rickie Lazzerini

BA History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Index of Historical Reviews

2005 Rickie Lazzerini, All Rights Reserved
This page may be freely linked to but may not be reproduced
in any form without prior written consent from the author.

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