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Origins of Indiana


Indiana state capitol
Indiana state capitol

Successive stages of human development have left their traces in Indiana. Nomadic hunters, whose cultures are called Paleo-Indians by archaeologists, were present 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Divided into small bands, they were nomads who hunted large animals like the giant bison, woolly mammoth, caribou, and musk ox that lived along the edge of the retreating glaciers that had covered much of North America. As the climate changed and these large animals either became extinct or retreated to cooler climates, the hunting cultures had to adapt. They learned to gather mussels, which they shucked in large mounds, and roots and seeds, which they ground with stone pestles. This culture, known as the Archaic, lasted in Indiana from about 6,000 to 2,500 years ago.

Later, highly organized groups, known today as Mound Builders for the ceremonial earthen platforms they built, lived in the Indiana country. Such mounds are found throughout Indiana, although most are in the south. The first Mound Builder culture was the Adena, which spread from the Ohio River valley about 2,500 years ago. It was followed about 2,000 years ago by the Hopewell, which built even bigger mounds. About the year 1200, the Mississippian culture appeared. Angel Site, an archaeological dig near Evansville, has the remains of a walled Mississippian village of about 1,500 people that was apparently a political or religious capital of the area.

From about 1100 to 1300, peoples of the Algonquian language group were coming into Indiana from the north and west. From the first contact with Europeans until the first decades of the 19th century, at least 12 Native American peoples inhabited the area.

The Miami, Piankashaw, and Wea lived in Indiana during much of that period. Other groups, such as the Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Nanticoke, Wyandot, Shawnee, Munsee, Delaware, and Mahican, lived there for periods ranging from about a year to more than 50 years. In many instances, a Native American group arrived in Indiana ahead of the white settlers moving westward across the country. They were forced to move farther west as large numbers of settlers migrated to Indiana. By 1838, few Native Americans remained in the state. "Indiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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