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[Detail] Memoirs of mammoth...Thomas Ashe 1806.

Native Peoples

Several monographs in the collection focus on the indigenous people of North America.  A selection from Josiah Priest’s monograph “American Antiquities, and Discoveries in the West” examines an ancient “city” and mounds at the junction of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers in eastern Ohio, the forts of Circleville, and the remains of structures near Chillicothe in central Ohio. Priest extols these “stupendous works” and compares them to Mesopotamian and Indus River civilizations. An earlier ethnological study, “Ancient History, or, Annals of Kentucky,”  includes a survey of the ancient monuments of North America.

Many of the works on Native Americans survey the conflicts between settlers and Indians in the frontier.  “A Historical Account of the Expedition Against the Ohio Indians, in the Year 1764” explores Henry Bouquet’s service with the British in the Seven Years’ War and includes references to Pontiac’s Rebellion.  Selected chapters of “History of the Backwoods, or, The Region of the Ohio,” published in 1843, surveys the early settlement of Kentucky and the conflict with British and Native American forces during the Revolutionary War.  Several chapters of “History of the Shawnee Indians, from the Year 1681 to 1854, Inclusive” dealing with Tecumseh, William Henry Harrison, and Tippecanoe are also part of the digital collection.

Use the Subject Index to find descriptions of white settlers’ interactions with the Native Americans. Read several documents from different time periods.

  • How are Native Americans described in general histories of the Ohio Valley? In documents in the collection, find several phrases that you think typify the European settlers’ attitudes toward the Native Americans. 
  • Do you note any changes in perceptions of Native Americans over time? If so, describe those changes.
  • Compare the descriptions of the Native Americans with whom white settlers interacted with the conclusions drawn about the ancient inhabitants from studies of remains of settlements and artifacts. How are they similar? How are they different? What might account for the differences?

Settlers in the Ohio Valley were in frequent conflict with Native Americans in the region. Because they felt the state of Virginia was not doing enough to protect them from the native people, many settlers in Kentucky began arguing for statehood.