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Native Americans in Indiana

Scientists believe that the first humans to settle in North America probably migrated across a land bridge from the area known today as Siberia along the Bering Strait to the land known today as Alaska. This migration occurred near the end of the Ice Age between 30,000 and 15,000 years ago. Generations later some descendants of these first North American immigrants settled in what became Indiana, a land that provided abundant animal life including mastodons, lush forests, and rivers teeming with fish. Eventually the early people grew crops. The rich soil and long hot summers were ideal for growing corn which became a staple of their diet. Even today the vast corn fields checker the landscape. Like the first white settlers in Indiana who followed centuries later, the early people were river-centric – they lived and traveled along rivers.

Several Native groups lived on the land and the Potawatomi and Miami were particularly influential groups. By 1787 settlers began to pour into the Indiana Territory as the Northwest Ordinance and treaties opened land to settlement. Native groups tried to slow or halt the advance of settlers but American encroachment onto Native lands continued.

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Suggested search terms

  • French and Indian
  • British and Indian
  • Miami Indian
  • Fort Wayne
  • fur traders
  • Northwest Territory
  • Potawatomi Indian
  • Delaware Indian
  • Shawnee Indian
  • Piankashaw Indian
  • Chief Little Turtle
  • Tecumseh
  • Frances Slocum
  • Anthony Wayne
  • Trail of Death

Download related curriculum

Frontier Indiana

Read about this subject in Hoosiers and the American Story

Chapter 1: Native Americans in American History
Chapter 2: American Expansion Across the Appalachian Mountains

Related Indiana Academic Standards for Social Studies (2014)

Grade 4: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.9, 1.17, 2.7, 3.8, 3. 12
Grade 8: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.10, 1.11, 1.12, 1.14, 1.16, 1.17, 1.18, 1.20, 1.21, 2.1
USH: Standard 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3

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