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This history is not intended as a comprehensive or all-inclusive history on the state of Indiana. Thousands of years before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the Americas which led the way to North America for the Europeans, an ancient race of people lived in North America. These people were the ancestors of the Indians. Along with the native peoples that lived around the Great Lakes area large animals roamed.
One of these prehistoric animals was the mammoth sometimes referred to as the Woolly Mammoth which looked like a modern day elephant. In addition, there were large wolves, saber-toothed tigers, bears and beavers. The first people who lived in what would later become Indiana were hunters of these and other animals.
They cooked their food over open fires and used the skins of animals for clothing and shelter.
As time went on hunting and gathering among the Indians changed. They began to hunt smaller animals such as deer and rabbits.
To do so they had to change their weapons. Small spearhe were used in place of large spearhe. Eventually the bow and arrow was invented because it was easier to hunt small, quick animals. The Indians used the lakes, rivers and streams of Indiana to fish for food. Sometimes shellfish and mussels were eaten and the Indians threw away the shells. These shells are found by archaeologists even today and provide a glimpse into the everyday life of early Indiana residents.
Scientists have also discovered that the Indians ate deer, bear, turtles and water fowl.
They also collected berries, apples and nuts from the forest in which they lived. Indians learned that if they placed seeds into the soil these seeds would grow into plants.
This is the beginning of farming. They paid very close attention to the seeds that they were planting which would grow to feed their tribe or group. Indian farmers turned wild plants into foods which we have today: corn, pumpkins, beets, squash and tomatoes. Around this time in Indiana history the Indians learned to create pottery and baskets.
And because they were able to grow their own food, they started to live together in small communities or villages. Once you have a stable food supply you do not have to travel around every season.
Since the search for food was now not an all day, every day event, Indians spent more time becoming skilled at a certain craft. Some Indians became very skilled at making better and sharper arrowhe.
Others started to make things from copper. When an Indian or whole village became skilled at one craft they sometimes exchanged their craft with products from other villages. This became known at trading. Trading is the selling or exchange of products. Indians that traded with other Indians would not only gain a specific product, but would share ideas and customs.
One idea that was popular among Indians in Indiana was mound building. A mound was a hill that consisted of built up earth and stone. The Indians that learned this custom are referred to as Mound Builders. The Mound Builders. The first mounds that Indians constructed within Indiana were burial mounds.
A mound was built to house the body or bodies of the mound building Indians. The bodies were usually decorated with products the Indians had traded from other villages sometimes as far away as the Rocky Mountains.
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This was possibly the home of an important Indian within his tribe. The largest mound inside the park is feet across. The mound is in the shape of a circle with a large platform in the center of the mound circle.
The hollow circle is wide enough to place an entire football in the center. In the middle of the mound, scientists have discovered human skeletons and other Indian artifacts.
Angel Mounds in Evansville, Indiana is the location of another mound building community. In the s there were two major groups of Indians living in the Eastern Woodlands the land east of the Mississippi Riverthe Iroquois and the Algonquian groups. These two groups of Indians had some similarities. They both farmed and hunted for food, used canoes to travel the waterways of North America and used wood and bark for building shelter.
They also had a very important difference, they spoke two different kinds of languages. The two groups also had different customs and traditions. Within both of these groups there were several tribes.
A tribe shared the same language, tradition, history and customs. The Miami Tribe. A majority of Indians living in Indiana belonged to the Miami tribe. The Miami tribe was part of the Algonquian group of Indians. Out of all of these tribes the Miami were the largest. The Miamis lived in villages that were usually along waterways and trails throughout the state. Each spring the men of these Miami tribes would help the women clear the fields for planting. The Miami women were then responsible for planting and harvesting the crop. When the harvest of crops was over the entire village celebrated by having a large party with singing, dancing, game-playing and, of course, eating.
In the fall and winter, Miami men left the villages to hunt. They usually hunted deer, rabbits, bear and beaver. These animals not only provided food, they provided their skins and fur for clothing.
When these men returned to the village after a successful hunting trip there would be another large party. In the latter part of winter and early spring, Miami women and children went out into the woods to tap the maple trees for their sap. This sap was boiled and placed into birchbark containers.
If the sap was boiled a long time it eventually turned into maple syrup. The Miami tribe, just like many other tribes, was divided into clans.
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The people who belonged to a clan were usually blood related. Each of the clans within the Miami tribe had their ownwhich is similar to having a last name. Within each clan there was an elected chief. There were also chiefs for the village and for the entire tribe.
Usually, each chief had a group of advisors which made up his council. There were chiefs ased just to oversee wars, oversee the community and a civil chief that was ased to keep peace within the clans, villages and tribe.
Early history of indiana to
Believe it or not, there were actually two chiefs of war and the community. Beside the male chief there was a female chief. The female war chief was responsible for making certain that if the tribe went to war the warriors had the supplies they needed. The female community or civil chief was in charge of food preparation for the large festivals that were held at different times of the year. The Arrival of the Europeans. The Miami Indians, along with most Indians in North America, embraced the tools first brought by the Europeans in the early s.