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Origins of West Virginia


West Virginia landscape
West Virginia landscape

The first Native Americans in present-day West Virginia are known to archaeologists as Paleo-Indians and lived in the area 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. They were nomads who pursued buffalo and other large game animals, some of which are now extinct. Most Native American remains, however, are from the Adena and Hopewell cultures, also called Mound Builders, which spanned the years from about 500 bc to about ad 800. Mounds, earthworks, and other relics have been found throughout the state. The Grave Creek Mound at Moundsville, 90 m (295 ft) around and 21 m (69 ft) high, is the largest in the United States. The Bens Run earthworks in Tyler County, with mounds, walls, and enclosures, are the most extensive of their kind.

In about the 1640s the powerful Iroquois Confederacy drove the weaker groups out of much of the Ohio Valley, leaving West Virginia almost unpopulated. The region became a hunting ground and a source of salt for tribes north of the Ohio. When the first European settlers arrived about 1730, a few Tuscarora, Mingo, Shawnee, and Delaware (all members or subordinates of the Iroquois League) lived in the state, and their claims to the land delayed settlement. In 1744 the Iroquois relinquished their claims east of the Allegheny Mountains. In 1768 they gave up their remaining claims to West Virginia by the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. The Cherokee surrendered their claims by treaties in 1768 and 1770. The movement of pioneers into the region continued to be opposed, however, by other peoples, especially the Shawnee, until 1794. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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