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Indiana

State History

Native Americans

People have lived in the land that is Indiana for thousands of years. The Woodland culture inhabited the area until 1000 AD when the Mississippian culture emerged. There were a number of Algonquian speaking Native American tribes living in the region when the Europeans arrived. They included the Illini, the Shawnee, and the Miami peoples. In the 1600s, other tribes arrived from the east as they were pushed out by Europeans such as the Delaware peoples.


Indianapolis Skyline
Indianapolis, Indiana by Jasssmit

Europeans Arrive

The first European to explore Indiana was French explorer Robert de La Salle in 1679. Many French settlers came down from Canada to trade for furs with the local Native American tribes. The first trading post was established in 1702. In 1715, the French built Fort Miami which would later become Fort Wayne. Later, British colonists arrived in the area and began to vie for control of the fur trade.

French and Indian War

In 1754, the British and the French went to war over the fur trade in the Americas. The Native Americans in Indiana allied with the French and fought the English. However, in 1763, the British won the war and the land became part of the British Empire.

Pontiac's War

Despite the French losing the war, the Native Americans didn't want to give up their land. They continued to fight. Many tribes allied under the leader Pontiac and fought the British Army. The Indians eventually lost the war, but the British did make a law that said English settlers would not take over their land. Unfortunately for the Indians, many Europeans still settled their land despite the new law.

Northwest Territory

After the American Revolution, the United States took control of Indiana. It became part of the Northwest Territory in 1787. The Northwest Territory was a large area that also included the future states of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In 1800, the region was renamed the Indiana territory when Ohio became a state.


Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee
Tecumseh by Unknown

Tecumseh's War

The United States had made treaties with the Native American tribes promising them land. However, as more and more settlers moved in, they continued to take land from the Native Americans. The chief of the Shawnee, Tecumseh, united a number of tribes together to fight the United States. He met with Indiana Governor William Henry Harrison (who would later become president) in an effort to negotiate a fair treaty. However, in 1811, Harrison attacked and defeated the Shawnee at the Battle of Tippecanoe.

Becoming a State

In 1813, the capital city was moved to Corydon. The legislature petitioned the U.S. Congress to become a state in 1815 and Indiana was accepted as the 19th state on December 11, 1816. Nine years later, in 1825, the state capital was moved to Indianapolis.


An early Indianapolis 500 race
1916 Indianapolis 500 by Unknown

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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