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The origin of the North American Indian is unknown. "Many theories have been advanced to account for the red man's presence in the New World, but most of them have been vague and unsatisfactory." Our knowledge of the Ohio Indians does not extend beyond the year 1650. It is difficult to realize that the third state in the Union, now occupied by prosperous cities, villages and cultivated fields, was peopled only two and a half centuries ago by a race of savages, who were not only wild rovers of the forest, but were unskilled in aught, save warfare, and the excitement of the chase.
The Ohio of 1650, we assume to have been a wilderness of vast extent, occupied in the northern part by a nation of Indians, called the Eries, whose villages skirted the southern shore of Lake Erie. The wanderings of the Indians were confined, chiefly, to that portion of the state, as they depended for their sustenance on fish taken from the lake, and game taken from the dense forest skirting the shore.
At that time the Wyandots. (or Hurons) held the peninsula between Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario, and their hunting excursions extended as far south as the regions about the mouths, of the Maumee river, while a tribe called the Andastes occupied the villages of the Allegheny and upper Ohio.
In 1655 Five Nations or Iroquois, as the French called them, attacked the western tribes, and their extinction soon followed. After the great massacre, the remnant of survivors was incorporated with other tribes, to which they fled for refuge.
Nothing in Indian history is more imposing than the Confederacy of the Five Nations, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, and Senecas. This great league of red men exercised for many years a fierce kind of despotism over other branches of its own race, sweeping everything before it in battle, crushing the obstinate, and establishing a jurisdiction over an amazing spread of country. Later, the Confederacy was joined by the Delawares and Shawanese, after which it was called the Six Nations. The Shawanese being late arrivals, accepted, after many struggles, the bitter necessity of acknowledging the rule of the Iroquois. They became united, as the Delawares were, by conquest.
"Thus it was at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Ohio was almost unclaimed and uninhabited by human beings, save as it was used as a hunting ground by the Iroquois, or crossed and recrossed by them in their long war expeditions. But they were not able to maintain complete supremacy over so vast a region. Between 1700 and 1750, Ohio again became occupied by different tribes of savages, as weeds take possession of a neglected field." They sprang from the surviving members of the tribes that had been overcome and dispersed by the Iroquois. A mere enumeration of them must suffice:
1. The Wyandots, who formerly occupied the northern portion of the state along the Sandusky river, now returned and occupied their old hunting grounds.
2. The Delawares occupied the territory through which the Muskingum flows, and held possession over nearly half of the state.
3. The Shawanese consisted of four tribes, or sub-divisions, namely: Mequachake, Chillicothe, Kiskopocoke and Piqua tribes. These tribes occupied an extensive area in Ohio and Indiana. They were always a restless people, moving from place to place with such frequency that much of their history is wrapped in obscurity. There is scarcely a doubt that they were present at the treaty of peace and friendship negotiated by William Penn in 1683. They must have been considered a very prominent people, from the fact of their having preserved a copy of the treaty in their possession or keeping, as we are informed that, at a treaty held with them by the governor of Pennsylvania in 1722, the Shawanese produced Penn's treaty on parchment to the governor.
From "History of Western Ohio and Auglaize County with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers and Prominent Public Men" by C. W. Williamson, W.M. Linn, Pub, Columbus, 1905.