Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#Ohio Native History: The First #NativeAmericans

The Shawnee nation are perhaps the most famous of all Ohio tribes but they weren't the only Native American tribal group in the area. The Great Lakes region were home to many small and large tribal groups with their own dialects and cultures. Each of the tribes had their own creation stories of how their ancestors had arrived in the region in which they lived. Oral stories were passed down from generation to generation. Cultural groups have come and gone in Ohio but they left behind archeaological and cultural evidence of their existence. In order to understand the Native American cultural heritage of Ohio we must go back in time and visit upon the tribes who once dwelt within the Buckeye State. We begin our journey during the Paleoindian Period.

The Paleoindian Period lasted from 13,000 -7,000 B.C, which was towards the end of the Late Pleistocene Period. Paleoindian life revolved around the hunting of the great animals and was greatly affected by the Ice Age. The glaciers killed the plant life which meant the herbivores had to migrate elsewhere. Thus humans and the carnivores had to move with the herds into previously unknown territories. Paleoindian groups were highly mobile. Any given band could consist of anywhere between 20-60 members, all of whom were extended family. Hunting and gathering were done during the spring and summer months when smaller hunting parties left the group. These hunting parties would return during the fall and stay throughout the winter. Their diets varied depending on how successful the hunt was. Their clothes and the covers for their shelters were made of animal skins.

The earliest known Native American group to inhabit Ohio was the Clovis Culture. The Clovis Culture appeared around 11,500 B.C. but didn't inhabit Ohio until between 9500 - 8000 B.C.  The northern glaciers retracted, exposing new land for exploration and settlement between 17,500 to 14,500 years ago. The animals and Clovis culture took advantage of the new Ohio lands. During the late 20th century, the predominant theory of human colonization of the Americas had been Clovis First, meaning the Clovis Culture were the first group to inhabit the Americas. But scientists and historians are beginning to question the Clovis First theory.

In 2011, archaeologists at the Buttermilk Creek Complex close to Salado, Texas unearthed an occupation that was proven to be older than Clovis. The Buttermilk Creek Complex isn't the only archaeological site that predates the Clovis Culture.   The following are a list of sites that predate the Clovis Culture.

Pedra Furada, Piauí, Brazil (55,000 yr BP ABOX)
Topper, (at least 22,900 yr BP; possibly 50,000 yr BP but this is disputed) South Carolina, US
Meadowcroft, Pennsylvania, US (16,000 yr BP)
Cactus Hill, Virginia, US (15,070 14C yr BP)
Monte Verde, Chile (14,800 14C yr BP)
Saltville, Virginia, US (14,510 14C yr BP)
Taima-Taima, Venezuela (14,000 yr BP)
Connley Caves, Oregon, US (13,000 yr BP)
Page-Ladson prehistory site, Florida, US (12,425 ± 32 14C yr BP [15,405–14,146 cal yr BP])
Lapa do Boquete, Brazil (12,070 ±170 14C yr BP)
Paisley Caves, Oregon, US (14,300 cal yr BP)
Tanana Valley, Alaska, US (13,000–14,000 cal yr BP)
Nenana valley, Alaska, US (12,000 yr BP)
Tibit√≥, Colombia (11,740 ±110 14C yr BP)
Tagua-Tagua, Chile (11,380 ±380 14C yr BP)

New archeological discoveries and research is starting to shed light on an earlier group of people to inhabit North American known as the Solutreans. The Solutreans were Caucasians tribes that inhabited the Americas. Ohio does not have evidence of this group because at the time of their existence Ohio was under sheets of ice. 


  1. Excellent post.
    I will add that on the map, my people are called the Delaware. Actually, we are the Lenni-Lenape. Delaware is the slave name we were given after becoming property instead of people. Just tossing out a bonus fact. For the year stated, it was what the colonist were calling us. (Those who didn't die, anyway.)
    We do refer to ourselves as the Grandfather tribe, that which the others in our area descend from. I can't say scientifically how accurate it is, but that's the story. No idea if that fits with the Clovis theory or not.

    1. Thank you. I'm so glad you are enjoying the series.