Indiana DescriptionAn advanced mound-building culture (the Mississippians) flourished in this area of North America from 800 A.D., up to the mid-15th century.
As a result of the mid-17th century French and Iroquois Wars in New France, a large slice of North America, many indigenous Indian tribes were forced further west into the central Great Lakes area just to survive. The Miami and Pottawatomie came first, followed by the Delaware and Shawnee nations.
In 1679, the French explorer Robert de La Salle traveled through the Ohio River Valley area; he claimed the lands for France; French fur traders soon ventured in and isolated trading posts were established.
Needing protection from the indigenous Indians, the French built forts in the 1720's at Fort Wayne and Lafayette. Along the Wabash River in southwestern Indiana, Vincennes (a trading post) became the first permanent settlement around 1732.
As the French expanded their control in the region, Jesuit (Catholic) priests soon followed. Their mission was to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, and although that task proved difficult, their attempts proved rather fruitful for the French as Indians became their valuable allies against a widening British influence.
This land first claimed by France and now coveted by Britain was soon embroiled in the French and Indian War (1754-1763), as both European powers fought for total control of North America. In the end, the British dealt crushing blows to the French and their Indian allies, and they now controlled all lands east of the Mississippi.
During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), George Rogers Clark, an accomplished military officer from the Virginia Colony, led American forces into Indiana to fight the British and to claim this land for America. After the war, the Indiana area became part of America's expansive Northwest Territory in 1787.
In 1800, the Indiana Territory, or Land of Indians," was formed by an act of the U.S. Congress. It included lands that would later become the U.S. State of Indiana, as well as Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
It was the first new territory formed from lands of the Northwest Territory; its first governor, William Henry Harrison, would later become the 9th President of the United States of America.
As more settlers arrived into the southern-reaches of the territory, the indigenous Indians were determined to make a final stand. Tecumseh, a Shawnee leader and warrior, rallied the Native American tribes to fight. After many agonizing defeats, including the 1811 pivotal Battle of Tippecanoe, the Indians were all but crushed.
At the conclusion of the War of 1812, the remaining British forces in America and a somewhat small Indian confederation led by Chief Tecumseh were firmly defeated; settlers were now free to move in, as the United States had firm control of the Indiana Territory.
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