Historic Period

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A.D. 1650 to Present

The archaeological designation that archaeologists and others once called "prehistory" was said to have ended in what is today Ohio when French explorers and map makers began to obtain the first vague reports regarding the lands lying south of the southernmost of the Great Lakes that eventually became known as Lake Erie. Today, contemporary historians instead refer to this period as "pre-contact" -- designating the time before significant European and American Indian contact on the American Indian continent. American Indian groups, of course, did possess a history in this period; these histories, however, were not necessarily written down, or were preserved through other cultural ways of knowing.

The so-called " historic" period, then, refers to the living traditions and histories of American Indian peoples during the time of Anglo-America settlement. This period, as it was traditionally marked by archaeologists, "begins" with Nicholas Sanson's map of 1650 shows unnamed rivers flowing southward the yet unnamed lake. The Sanson map is the earliest known historic record of northern Ohio, although geographic knowledge of the region was more approximate than accurate.

The Iroquois drove out the indigenous American Indian peoples of the Ohio valley during the Beaver Wars. Later, as the Iroquois tribes grew less powerful, other tribes from the east and south moved into Ohio. Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandot, and Miami are among the groups who lived in Ohio when the first European pioneers moved into this area.

In 1843, the Wyandot iving on a reservation at Upper Sandusky were forcibly removed from Ohio and sent to live on a reservation in Kansas. The Wyandot were the last American Indian nation to be removed from Ohio, so their departure marked the end of an era. However, Many American Indians peoples remained in Ohio as isloated groups or as spouses of European-Americans. On the 2000 census, 76,075 Ohioans identified themselves as either American Indian or as having American Indian ancestry.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.