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Origins of Kentucky


René-Robert Cavelier
René-Robert Cavelier

In ancient times, several different Native American cultures flourished in Kentucky. Nomadic hunters, whose culture is called Paleo-Indian by archaeologists, were present as early as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Divided into small bands, they ranged widely over the land, hunting many now-extinct animals. In the later Archaic culture, from about 10,000 to 3,000 years ago, woven baskets and highly specialized stone tools abounded. The Adena era, beginning about 3,000 years ago, was marked by the practice of horticulture, mound building, and the making of clay pottery. Remains of later Mound Builders cultures, the Hopewell and Mississippian, are found in the west along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

The number of mounds and dwelling sites found in Kentucky suggests that it once had a sizable Native American population. However, most permanent residents were gone by the time the first European explorers arrived in the 17th century. Warfare was one reason for the depopulation; another may have been the spread of new diseases, introduced to the continent from Europe, to which the Native Americans had no immunity. The only peoples living within the present state borders at that time were a few Shawnee, Iroquois, and Delaware. Around 1700 the Shawnee were pushed north of the Ohio River by the Chickasaw people, who then claimed western Kentucky as a hunting ground but did not settle it. Other peoples claimed hunting rights in Kentucky and defended them vigorously against white encroachment. The early white explorers and settlers were subject to Native American raids, mainly from across the Ohio River, until after the American Revolution.

In the early 1670s the English sent explorers westward from their colony of Virginia across the Appalachian Mountains. At least one of these explorers, Gabriel Arthur, entered Kentucky in 1674. Although the French had no particular interest in Kentucky at the time, it was part of the vast Mississippi River drainage basin, which the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, claimed for France in 1682. However, neither the French nor the English made any efforts to explore Kentucky extensively for more than 50 years. Encarta

Most of the municipalities in Kentucky have the mayor and city council form of government. However, some of the municipalities in the state are governed by a commission or by a council and city manager. Kentucky voters elect six members to the U. S. House of Representatives and two members to the U.S. Senate. The state has eight electoral votes in presidential elections. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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