Although founders of the state like Rufus Putnam pointed to the remaining prehistoric earthworks at Marietta as evidence that the architects were a people of “ingenuity, industry, and elegance,” their words did not prevent a rivalry with the area's Indian inhabitants that was settled only through decades of warfare and treaty-making.
Native American armies managed to win battles with Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair, but not the war with Anthony Wayne. By the early nineteenth century only a few native peoples remained, still hoping to retain their homes. Pressures from federal and state governments as well as the settlers' desire for land, however, left the earlier inhabitants no refuge. By the mid-1840s they were gone, leaving behind relatively few markers on the land.
Ohio's First Peoples depicts the Native Americans of the Buckeye State from the time of the well-known Hopewell peoples to the forced removal of the Wyandots in the 1840s.
Professor James O'Donnell presents the stories of the early Ohioans based on the archaeological record. In an accessible narrative style, he provides a detailed overview of the movements of Fort Ancient peoples driven out by economic and political forces in the seventeenth century. Ohio's plentiful game and fertile farmlands soon lured tribes such as the Wyandots, Shawnees, and Delawares, which are familiar to observers of the historic period.
In celebrating the bicentennial of Ohio, we need to remember its earliest residents. Ohio's First Peoples recounts their story and documents their contribution to Ohio's full heritage.
Andrew U. Thomas Professor of History and Director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Learning at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, James H. O'Donnell has a primary interest in Native American studies. His earlier works include Southern Indians in the American Revolution and Southeastern Frontiers: Europeans, Africans, and American Indians, 1513-1840.
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