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Ohio’s Early People. Ohio’s early people crossed into North America from Asia on a narrow land bridge that connected the two pieces of land at least 20,000 years ago. These peoples were in search of animal herds. Many of these people settled in what is now Ohio. . Prehistoric Indians.

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ohio s early people

Ohio’s Early People

Ohio’s early people crossed into North America from Asia on a narrow land bridge that connected the two pieces of land at least 20,000 years ago. These peoples were in search of animal herds. Many of these people settled in what is now Ohio.

prehistoric indians
Prehistoric Indians
  • The Paleo Indians
    • Lived in Ohio 10,000 to 15,000 years ago
    • Made tools of wood, stone, and bone
    • Wore animal skins and furs
    • Hunted large animals
    • Gathered berries, seeds, and roots to eat

The Archaic Indians

    • Lived in Ohio about 10,000 years ago
    • Lived by hunting and gathering plants
    • Large animals had died out, so they relied on hunting smaller animals
    • Fished
    • Ate a wider variety of plants than Paleo Indians
    • Made baskets, pottery and objects out of copper

The Mound Builders of The Woodland Period

The next Indians to live in Ohio were known as the Mound Builders. They built small hill or mounds of earth over places where they buried their dead or held religious ceremonies. The mound builders were also known as the Woodland Indians because at this time Ohio was covered by forests. The Adena and Hopewell people were both considered Woodland Indians.


The Adena

    • Settled in the Ohio River valley
    • Hunters and Gatherers
    • Grew sunflowers, squash, and other plants
    • Master craftsmen
    • Used mica and copper to make jewelry and other objects
    • Mound builders

The Hopewell

    • Grew out of the Adena about 2,000 years ago
    • Throughout Ohio River and Mississippi River valleys
    • Mound builders – they surrounded them by embankments (earth walls)
    • Mounds used for burials, ceremonies, and to make offerings
    • Hunters, gardeners, and gatherers
    • Grew sunflowers and other plants

Late Prehistoric Indians

  • Fort Ancient
    • Mound builders
    • Built immense walls of earth using wood, shells, and bones to move dirt
    • Built the Great Serpent Mound – shaped like a snake
    • Hunters, gatherers, and farmers
    • Used bow and arrows

Historic Indians

Historic Indians were living in Ohio when Europeans first came. The first written descriptions of American Indians in the Ohio region came from French missionaries from the 17th and early 18th centuries. We know that 6 major American Indians groups lived in the area. They were the Shawnee, Delaware, Ottawa, Miami, Mingo, and Wyandot.


The Algonquian Indian Tribes

The Algonquian tribes(Shawnee, Delaware, Ottawa, Miami) spoke related languages and shared similar traditions and lifestyles.

  • Most lived in wigwams or longhouses
  • Villages were often covered by walls of sharpened, upright logs
  • Canoes were important part of Algonquian life that were used for transportation and fishing

The Shawnee

    • Lived in southern Ohio
    • Lived in bark-covered longhouses
    • Each village had council house for meetings and ceremonies
    • Small hunting groups
    • Hunted deer, beaver, bear, and other animals for fur, skin and meat
    • The women grew corn, squash, beans, and other vegetables
    • Wore buckskin clothes and moccasins
    • Decorated clothes with feathers and shells

The Delaware

    • Originally in New Jersey until English made them flee westward – settled in Ohio by 1700
    • Lived in wigwams near creeks and rivers and had longhouses for council meetings
    • Planted corn, beans, squash, tobacco, and other products
    • Women did farming, cooking, and raising children
    • Gathered berries, nuts, and wild plants
    • Buckskin clothes decorated with shells, beads, feathers, and other ornaments
    • Men did hunting, fishing, and fighting
    • Expert boat makers
    • Villages contained steambaths (sauna) to fight sickness and purify members before religious ceremonies
    • After ceremonies, men painted their bodies and women painted their faces with colored dyes
    • Believed spirits ruled the world and felt a person’s spirit went to another world after their death

The Ottawa

    • Originally lived in Canada and moved to Ohio in 1740
    • Hunted, fished, gathered wild rice
    • Collected sap from trees to make syrup
    • Trading tribe – traded woven mats and foods for pottery and dyes
    • Believed 2 great spirits – good and evil – fought for control of the world
    • Middlemen between French and other Indian tribes in the Great Lakes region
    • Lived in longhouses – 50 to 100 feet long – 10 families shared one home

The Miami

    • Moved to Ohio around 1700
    • Powerful, independent, and warlike
    • Lived in wigwams
    • Fished, hunted, and farmed for food
    • Wore animal skins, leggings, and moccosasins
    • Tattooing of the body was common for men and women
    • Feather dance often done to imitate birds
    • Introduced peace pipe
    • Buried dead in ground under logs
    • Believed the sun was the creator of all things

The Iroquois Indian Tribes

The Iroquios tribes(Mingo and Wyandot) spoke Iroquoian languages and were related to the Iroquois tribes of New York and Canada.


The Mingo

    • Were a small tribe
    • Lived in longhouses
    • Hunted, fished, gathered plants for food
    • By 1760, settled in eastern Ohio – later moved to central Ohio
    • One village was located near present-day Columbus is located

The Wyandot

    • Known as Hurons
    • Originally lived in Canada
    • Moved to southern Ohio when Iroquois attacked them
    • Lived in longhouses
    • Had similar customs and practices as the Algonquians
    • Fished in birch bark canoes
    • Used nets for fishing
    • Men hunted deer and other game
    • Grew corn, beans, squash
    • Wore buckskin clothes
    • Fur traders
    • Middlemen between Europeans and other tribes

The Iroquois

    • Known as People of longhouses or Six Nations
    • Lived in longhouses 25 to 150 feet long and held 30 to 60 people
    • Deerskin clothes
    • Hunted and farmed
    • Women tended the crops
    • Women were very powerful in the tribe: they owned the longhouse, chose the chief, and controlled the land
    • Rivals of the Algonquians