Welcome to Native AmericanTribes from Indiana

Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion | Learn To Track

Learn about Chief Pokagon
 

Task
Indiana has it's name because of the tribes from the original 13 colonies were forced westward into the "Indiana Territory".  Our task is  to research a Native American tribe which is native to Indiana or who was pushed through Indiana by the white man's expansion.

back to the top
Process:

 We will:

back to the top
Resources
Below you will find links to the Native American Tribes which lived in Indiana.  You will find it interesting how many places in Indiana have Native American Names.

Activity 1
Research a Native American Tribe from Indiana

Delaware | Erie | Kickapoo | Iraquois | Miami | MicMac | Potawatomi | Piankashaw | Shawnee

          

Delaware (Lenape) Tribe

Location: The Delaware called themselves Lenni Lenape or "the men o f our nation" or "the people".  The English name refers to the Delaware River in the mid-Atlantic states where the tribe lived earlier before European invasion and settlement.  With permission from the Miami and other tribes, the Delaware began moving into southern Indiana between the White and Ohio rivers about 1770.  By 1800, the majority settled on the river meadows of the White River West Fork in Delaware, Madison and Hamilton counties.  Fourteen villages were established from Muncie to Noblesville, Indiana. 

Language: Those Lenape or Delaware people who came to live in Indiana spoke a dialect of the Eastern Algonquin language.

Diet: Meals were usually taken in the morning and late afternoon, but not at regular times.  Cornmeal mush was eaten daily, often with dried meat or fish which and been rushed in a mortar.  Fresh meat and fish were boiled or roasted on sticks set near the fire.  A bread dough, made from cornmeal mixed with water was wrapped in husks, and the bread baked in hot ashes.  Special treats were beaver tails, striped bass heads, and fat meat with chestnuts.  Berries were used as sweeteners, because honey and probably maple sugar were not know in the Delaware society.

Travel: Walking and canoeing were the only forms of travel available to the tribe. 

Housing: Their homes were either domed wigwams, log cabins or long houses.

Clothing: Lenape clothing was simple and quite different from what the European colonists were used to.  In fair weather, men wore only a breechcloth and belt.  The breechcloth was a long piece of soft deerskin passed between the legs and folded over the belt to hang in front and back like a small apron.  Most of the Delaware or Lenape people went barefoot, but on rough paths or in cold weather they wore soft-soled moccasins or sandals made from braided cornhusks.

Culture: According to historical accounts the houses and gardens belonged to the women.  The Delaware or Lenape people had a matrilineal society.  This means that the social organization where descent and inheritance was traced through the mother. The father belonged to a lineage different from that of his own children.  Women raised children, ran the household, cooked, tended gardens, made pottery vessels, prepared skins, and tailored garments.  Men hunted, trapped, fished and did most of the heavy work.  They cleared land, built houses, made dugout canoes for river transportation, and made all of the tools and hunting weapons.

Erie Tribe

Location: Erie is a short form of the Iroquian word "Erielhonan" meaning literally "long tail" and referred to the cougar or mountain lion. The Erie tribe were native Americans who originally inhabited the shores of Lake Erie presently the states of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  They were pushed into Indiana by the westward expansion of the white settlers.  

Language: Those Erie people who came to live in Indiana spoke a dialect of the Iroquian language.

Diet: The Erie lived mainly by growing and trading corn and tobacco.

Travel: Walking and canoeing were the only forms of travel available to the tribe. 

Housing: They lived in permanent, stockade towns. They built wooden dwellings, planted gardens and grew fields of grain. When the soil was spent, they moved to new sites.

Clothing: The Erie tribe would trade animal skins with the French Traders.  They were excellent hunters of beaver and deer.  Thee women would use beaver and deer skins to make clothing to be worn by their families..

Culture: They were traditional enemies of the Iroquois and were almost exterminated by that tribe during the Indian wars in 1656. They could be fierce warriors and were known for using poisoned arrows. The Eries once used the seven-acre "Dead Man's Island" (now Yacht Club Island) near the river's mouth as a burial ground. After being vanquished, tribe survivors returned to the island from time to mourn their dead and build fires to the Great Spirit.Years later, many skeletons together with trinkets, arrowheads and other Indian artifacts were found there by the early white settlers

 

History:

In a story in an 1845 edition of the Buffalo Commercial newspaper, Seneca Chief Blacksnake described events leading up to the Erie slaughter. He explained that the Eries had challenged the Senecas to a ball game, similar to lacrosse. The Seneca team won it and prepared for peaceful leave-taking. But the Eries were not satisfied. They proposed a foot race, 10 against 10, which they also lost. Wrestling bouts followed and they, likewise, were won by the Senecas.

The Eries, who had felt they were superior to all elements of the Five Nations, were so humiliated by the contests that a short time later they formed a war party, intending to destroy the opposing tribes one after another.

Erie warriors fought bravely, but had no firearms. The combined alliance forces, wielding muskets and using their canoes as ladders to scale the wall of the Erie stronghold, finally killed most of the defenders. Following the conflict, the Eries lost their identity. Eventually, the few who remained were absorbed by other tribes.

The Kickapoo Tribe

Location: The Kickapoo are a native American people who, prior to the arrival of the white man, lived in the area between Lake Erie and Lake Michigan.  The name Kickapoo is derived from the Algonquin word Kiwegapawa, which means "he stands out" or "he moves about."  

Language: The Kickapoo speak an Algonquin language which is closely related to that spoken by the Sulk and Fox and the Shawnee peoples.

Diet: The Kickapoo were hunters and farmers. They raised crops such as corn, gathered fruits and nuts when in season, fished the rivers and hunted deer, bear and small game.

Travel: They were very good at Buffalo hunting in the winter time.  With the arrival of the horse, they became skilled riders, using it extensively in the buffalo hunt.

Housing: The Kickapoo would live in permanent villages during the summer.  their dwellings were wooden long houses.  In the winter time, they would break into smaller groups and go off into their winter camps.

Clothing: The Kickapoo people wore clothing made from buffalo and other animal skins.

Culture: The Kickapoo were not very friendly and were wary of the strange white settlers.  Neither wee they interested in the white man's religion.  

History: The Kickapoos were in the forefront of an unsuccessful Indian resistance movement.  They joined with other tribes to try to drive the white man from their lands.  These associations not only turned the white settlers against the Kickapoos, but also effected deep divisions within the tribe.

 

The Iroquois Tribe

Location: The original homeland of the Iroquois was in upstate New York between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls.  Through conquest and migration, they gained control of most of the northeastern United sates and at it's maximum, their empire extend throughout Indiana.

 

Language: The Iroquois spoke a northern dialect of Algonquin

Diet: The Iroquois found their food by hunting, fishing, and gathering berries, fruits, and nuts. They also cleared the land and planted large fields of corn, beans, and squash which Native Americans called "the three sisters".  The Iroquois used a bow and arrow to hunt. They would sometimes wear the skin of a deer over their body to sneak up to the deer. The Iroquois also used traps for small animals. A canoe made from a hallowed out tree was used to fish in the lakes and streams nearby. Nets and traps were also used to catch fish. During the winter months, trees were tapped to get maple sugar. The liquid was put in wooden troughs and stirred day and night over a fire. After a long time the liquid syrup changed into sugar.

Travel: They were very good at Buffalo hunting in the winter time.  With the arrival of the horse, they became skilled riders, using it extensively in the buffalo hunt.

Housing: The Iroquois Indians lived in wigwams and longhouses. Wigwams were made by bending young trees to form the round shape of the home. Over this shape pieces of tree bark were overlapped to protect the Indians from bad weather. Over the bark a layer of thatch, or dried grass, was added. A small hole from the top allowed smoke from the fires to escape. Beds were matting covered with animal skin.

Clothing: The Iroquois Indians used the pelts of animals for their clothing. In the winter, the men wore shirts, leggings, and moccasins made of buckskin. Buckskin is clothing made from the skins of animals, mainly deer. The women wore skirts they had woven from the wild grasses, covered with furs, with leggings underneath.. In the summer, the men wore a breechcloth, a short piece of buckskin that hung from the front to the back of the Indian. The women wore their grass dresses, and the children wore nothing at all.

Culture: Some historians have portrayed the Iroquois as savages. They wrote of how fierce the Iroquois were. However, the  kindness of the Iroquois is also talked about by historians. Strangers were welcome and food was always provided. When visiting an Iroquois home one was expected to taste the food offered and to say -Hi-ne-a-wah-I thank you. Visitors were given food, clothing, and a place to sleep.

Very important to this culture was wampum. Wampum belts and necklaces were made from wampum beads. These beads were actually white and purple shells. Wampum was used as money between white man and Indians. Wampum belts were used as a form of communication between Indian tribes. Wampum belts would be made into pictures showing the reason it was made. All Indian messengers carried wampum belts when going to other tribes.

 

Miami Tribe

Location: The Miami Indians were very intelligent, a generous and kind people, who fought only to preserve their way of life. Outside the Miami Valley. The Miami people were a tribe that lived in several areas near the Great Lakes including the southern edge of Lake Michigan in Indiana.  The Miami Nation of Indiana is located at Peru, Indiana.  They were divided into six bands.  Two of the band, the Wea and the Piankashaws, became independent tribes in the early 1800's.  The name Miami was probably derived from an Ojibwa word, oumamik, meaning "people of the peninsula."  The were also know as Twightwee by the English.

Language: The Miami tribe spoke Algonquian.  This is closely related to the language spoken by the Illinois tribe. 

Diet: Most of their diet came from agriculture, but the Miami were noted for a unique variety of white corn which was generally regarded as superior to that of other tribes.  They also grew melons, squash, pumpkins and beans.

Travel: These Native Americans traveled mostly by foot and later used horses.

Housing: Their summer villages, located in river valleys for the fertile soil, consisted of framed longhouses covered with rush mats.  A separate, larger structure was used for councils and ceremonies.  After the harvest, the village moved to the nearby prairies for the buffalo hunt, then separated into winter hunting camps.

Clothing: The Miami people had a reputation of being slow-spoken and polite but had an inclination toward fancy dress, which means that they liked to have clothing that was really fancy and liked the European clothing, especially their chiefs.  Tattooing was common to both men and women and like the neighboring Illinois tribe, there were harsh penalties for female adulterers who were either killed or had their noses cut off.

Culture: The Miami people had a well-organized political structure, based on the clan system.  Each person inherited the clan of his father and was forbidden to marry within his own clan.  Each village had a council made up of the chiefs of the various clans. The Miami people had important festivals to celebrate the fall harvest and the return from the winter hunt.  Both were celebrated with feasting, games, dancing and the music of drums, rattles, flutes and whistles.  

History- In 1897 the Miami tribe in Indiana lost its Federal recognition.  They are trying to get it back today.


Micmac Tribe

Location:

The Micmac tribe were originally from eastern Canada but were pushed through Indiana because of the western expansion of the white man.  The Micmac most likely lived around Lake Michigan in Indiana because of the way they lived.  The Mi'kmaq called themselves L'nu'k, meaning "the people". The term Mi'kmaq comes from their word nikmak, meaning "my kin-friends".

Language: The Micmac tribe spoke Algonquian. 

Diet: The Micmac once fished and gathered clams, mussels, and bird eggs from spring to fall.  They hunted bears, moose, and small game during the winter.  

Travel: These Native Americans used birch bark canoes for summer travel, and wooden toboggans and snowshoes in the winter.  

Housing: They lived in tepees that they covered with animal skins or birch bark.  

Clothing: The Micmac made clothing from animal skins called pelts and carved utensils from bark.  

Culture: The Families usually camped together in bands.  The chief called a "sagamore" (This is the name used by people who attend Indiana State University) led each band.  He provided his followers with canoes, hunting dogs, and weapons in exchange for fish, game, and pelts.

 

Piankashaw Tribe

Location: The Pinkashaw people were a part of the Miami tribe.  The Piankashaw were a small tribe who lived originally in Illinois and Indiana.  Their ancient village was on the Wabash River near the present day Vincennes, Indiana

Language: They spoke a form of Algonquian and are closely related to the Wea tribe. 

Diet: Most of their diet came from agriculture, but they were noted for a unique variety of white corn which was generally regarded as superior to that of other tribes.  They also grew melons, squash, pumpkins and beans.

Travel: These Native Americans traveled mostly by foot and later used horses.

Housing: Their summer villages, located in river valleys for the fertile soil, consisted of framed longhouses covered with rush mats.  A separate, larger structure was used for councils and ceremonies.  After the harvest, the village moved to the nearby prairies for the buffalo hunt, then separated into winter hunting camps.

Clothing: The coming of the French fur traders from Canada brought about many changes to the Indian's way of life. The fur traders were the first white men to come to northern Indiana. They wanted the Indians to bring them large amounts of pelts and furs in exchange for guns, knives, cooking utensils, and other goods. This tended to cause the Indians to be too dependent upon the French for their necessities. Many abandoned their farming for trapping.  The people were then inclined to buy clothing and fabric from the Traders instead of making their own clothing out of animal skins.  They had an inclination toward fancy dress, especially their chiefs.  This means that they enjoyed having clothing which was very colorful with lots of ornamentation. Tattooing was common to both men and women and like the neighboring Illinois tribe. 

Culture: This tribe had a reputation of being slow-spoken and polite.  Their society was based on the clan system.  Each person inherited the clan of his father and was forbidden to marry within his own clan.  Each village had a council made up of the chiefs of the various clans. This tribe had important festivals to celebrate the fall harvest and the return from the winter hunt.  both were celebrated with feasting, games, dancing and the music of drums, rattles, flutes and whistles.  

Potawatomi Tribe

Location: According to tradition, the Potawatomi tribe originally migrated from somewhere northeast of Michigan, settling along the eastern Lake Michigan shore. Thanks in part to the wise leadership of Chief Pokagon, many of the Potawatomi tribe still lives in Michiana region today.  To learn more about Chief Pokagon, Click Here  

Language: The Potawatomi tribe spoke Central Algonquian. The Potawatomi name is a translation of the Ojibwe meaning "people of the place of fire."

Diet: They raised corn, beans, peas, squash, melons and tobacco in their gardens, at times selling a surplus to traders.  After the harvest each year, they would break into smaller groups for their winter hunt, which lasted several months.  Deer, elk, bear and beaver abounded as did fish, which were caught with nets, weirs or traps.  Maple sap was gathered in spring to be boiled into syrup and sugar.  Beechnuts gathered in autumn were pounded into flour.  

Travel: The Potawatomi people of the 1680's used birch bark canoes for travel but later abandoned the canoes for horses borrowed from the white settlers.  this served well for buffalo hunts, first on the prairies of northern Indiana and Illinois, and later the Great Plains.

Housing: Villages were usually built along streams and were composed of large bark-covered lodges or smaller mat-covered, dome-shaped wigwams, both constructed over a pole framework.  On open field for playing Lacrosse (This game is very similar to soccer) was usually found nearby.

Clothing: Warriors wore their hair long except in times of war when they shaved their heads except for a scalplock to which they added an upright roach of porcupine hair with an eagle feather.  War paint was read and black.  Women's hair was parted in the middle with a single long braid behind. They were excellent hunters of beaver and deer.  Thee women would use beaver and deer skins to make clothing to be worn by their families.

Culture: The Potawatomi were organized in to 30 or more different clans, with each person inheriting the clan of his father.  Villages were ruled by a chief, who was responsible to a council of elders.  Religious leaders included three classes of shaman: doctors, diviners and advisor-magicians.  The Potawatomi were very religious but believed it was very personal.  The believed in an afterlife somewhere in the west.  In early times, the Hare clan practiced cremation, while other clans employed scaffold burials.  In later times, persons were buried amid personal items they might need for their journey, and a shelter was built over the grave.  The family of deceased person might ceremonially adopt a person to take his place.

 The Shawnee Tribe

The Shawnee people were fierce warriors.  They were among the most feared and respected of Woodland tribes.  Tecumseh was their greatest chief.  The Shawnee fought bravely to keep their lands but were defeated by General Anthony Wayne (This is the U.S. general that Ft. Wayne, Indiana is named after) at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.  After this the Shawnee moved into Indiana and continued to fight for their land and freedom.  General William Henry Harrison defeated the Shawnees by destroying their villages at the Battle of Tippecanoe which is near the city of Lafayette in 1811.

Location: The Shawnee people consider themselves as the descendants of the Delaware, who they consider to be their 'grandfathers'.  They also have strong links to the Kickapoo, with whom they have a common language.  The Shawnee lived in the southern Ohio valley which includes southern Indiana. 

Language: The Shawnee tribe spoke Central Algonquian. Shawnee means "southerner" or "people of the south wind".

Diet: The men were the hunters who sought out deer, rabbits and small game.  The women were responsible for cultivating crops, dressing game, gathering wood, cooking and storing food.  Several varieties of corn were grown and cooked in numerous ways.  Strawberries, dewberries, plums, cherries, grapes, pawpaw, persimmon, and maple syrup were among the wild foods gathered.  Hunting, fishing and protection of the tribe were the primary duties of the men.

Travel: Shawnees traveled mostly by foot and later used horses.

Housing: As the Shawnee changed locations, their house styles varied, according to the available materials.  When they lived in Indiana, they built wigwams of a pole framework covered with elm or birch bark.  In the summer months they Shawnee would gather together in large villages.  Their homes were long houses covered with bark.  Each village would have a large council house which would be used for council meeting and religious ceremonies.  Over the winter period, the Shawnee would break into smaller groups and would hunt and camp in search of game.

Clothing: The Shawnee people wore clothing made from buffalo and other animal skins and were not opposed to wearing the clothing of the white man and would wear these clothes if the opportunity presented itself.

Culture: Among the Shawnee people, the elders were the ones who trained youngsters in history, culture and traditions.  Tribal history was passed in this way form one generation tot he nest.  The Shawnee lived by a Golden Rule, it states, "Do not kill or injure your neighbor, for it is not him you injure but yourself.  But love him, for Moneto (The Great Spirit) loves him as he loves you."

 

Resources:

The Indians of Lenapehoking (The Lenape or Delaware Indians) by Herbert C. Kraft and John T. Kraft

Indiana Indians-  Alan McPherson

The Culture of the Shawnee Indian Tribe- http://oh.essortment.com/shawneeindiant

The Eastern Woodland Indians http://www.germantown.k12.il.us/html/woodland2.html

Indians of Northern Indiana by Deborah Wyman

 

Potawatomi
Delaware
Iroquois
Piankashaw
Shawnee
Miami

Native American Culture
Listing of Native American Tribes
Native Americans of Indiana
Electric Library

back to the top

Activity 2
Create the PowerPoint or Media Blender Presentation
This web site will help you research your  tribe and gather information about their:

Location
Population
Name
Language
Sub-Tribe
Villages in Indiana
Culture
History
back to the top
 

Evaluation:
Your Media blender or PowerPoint will be evaluated with the following criteria:
Card 1- Title, Your Name, Date
Card 2- Name of Tribe, location in Indiana (if known)
Card 3- Language
Card 4- clothing
Card 5- diet (what they ate)
Card 6- Travel, Housing

back to the top
 

Conclusion:
Through this study, we hope that you have learned that the Native American people from Indiana were a proud and intelligent people.  Indiana is a much richer place to live today because of the influences of these tribes.

back to the top