Native Americans near Zanesville

Reaching back to around 1,000 B.C., the Archaic Native Americans that had inhabited the lands near Zanesville, Ohio had begun to dissipate. These people had been around for thousands of years (since as early as around 7,000 B.C.) and are characterized by their hunter-gatherer society. Unlike the PaleoIndians before them (11,000 B.C. – around 7,000), the Archaic Natives developed small villages and hunted smaller game (relative to the mastodon and the mammoth that were commonly hunted by the PaleoIndians) such as deer, bear, and wild birds. A feature of the Archaic lifestyle that was not prevalent in the PaleoIndian lifestyle was the addition of fishing. It is likely that the people of the PaleoIndian era did fish a little but the Archaic people implemented fishing as a part of their lives. Fishing during the Ice Age for the PaleoIndians would have been nearly impossible due to the lack of stationary life for this early Indian group.

The Archaic people grew to be more developed than the PaleoIndians, which may be the reason they survived the changes resulting from the end of the Ice Age while the PaleoIndians disappeared. The use of fire became evident in the era during the Archaic people because of the discovery of charcoal at the excavated campsites. The developmental capabilities of these people ultimately led to what can be known as the Adena and the Hopewell people around 900 B.C. The Hopewell were named such because the person who first uncovered the remains of these people on his lands was Captain M.C. Hopewell.

These people came about because they adapted their lifestyle to become more sedentary than their predecessors. These peoples developed agriculture, basing most of their crops around the development of maize, or corn. Adena and Hopewell people created larger villages and built permanent homes mostly in river valleys such as the Muskingum or Licking Rivers (in the case of the Hopewell people).

Copyright: / Helmut Weiss

The picture above shows the housing of the Adena culture while the below picture shows the housing of the Hopewell peoples. The homes are structurally similar which symbolizes that the cultures were close to each other but also had different cultural values.


The Hopewell people, based around the Zanesville area, built more basic homes called wigwams that did not take too much work to create while the Adena created a home that was more structurally sound. This could be because the Hopewell experienced a much different lifestyle than their compatriots of the period. The Hopewell did develop much more than housing during their time in Ohio. They built mounds and made walls of earth in geometric forms such as circles or octagons which suggested that they were advanced enough to develop surveying skills. This development in the Hopewell showed how advanced the people were becoming in the Ohio region despite having no contact with the European world. However, the Hopewell people and the Adena faded from existence around 600 B.C. and no other advanced peoples inhabited the Ohio region until the 1600s.


The above map shows what the distribution of Ohio tribes looked like in 1648. This map can show what the Ohio region looked like before 1655 when the Iroquois drove away the uncivilized ancient tribes that inhabited the northern area (Fort Ancients and the Erie). These other tribes shown on the map (Shawnees, Miami, Wyandot and Lenape) arrived in the years following the evacuation of the previous tribes.

After the Iroquois arrived in 1655, the tribes from the East Coast also began to arrive. The Lenape, Shawnee, Mingo, and the Wyandot all began to come to Ohio because of the Europeans continually driving them out of their territories outside the Ohio region. The Lenape get their Anglicized name, Delaware, from the Europeans as they had once inhabited the area near the Delaware River, had settled near the Zanesville area by the Muskingum and Licking Rivers. This group of Indians referred to themselves as the Lenape, or Lenilenape, had settled around the area most likely because it was similar to the Delaware River valley they had previously inhabited. The Zanesville area was characterized by game such as deer and other animals to hunt because of the water source. Plentiful trees as sources of wood and good land for gardens also helped determine the Zanesville area as a settlement for the Lenape as they tried to get comfortable in their new home.

Most of the villages of the Lenape are made up of only about 25 to 50 people but some could be up to 200 or 300 people. Familial ties usually determined the size of the village and were the basis of social life in the villages. Stealing was never even contemplated in these villages as the belief was that the land belonged to everyone and there was no hoarding of possessions because the community always came before the individual. Chiefs reached their position through merit and battle experience and were always male. The gender roles in this society were based on hunting and gathering just as the Indian tribes before them. The women gathered food and tended gardens while the men hunted and learned woodcrafting. Stone tools developed from flint and quartz became the staple for the Lenape as they did not really develop beyond these tools until Europeans began to arrive in the Ohio region more frequently. The Muskingum and Licking Rivers enabled the Lenape to travel and plant crops as well as hunt game that came to the rivers for water. The Zanesville area was perfect for the people of the Lenape tribe.


Shown above is a picture of what a Lenape village might have looked like based on collected artifacts and knowledge given to us by Europeans who encountered these Indians as they pushed westward.

The struggles by the British and the French over control of Ohio resulted in the fragmentation of many tribes of Indians and the inevitable result of the Native American elimination from the Ohio region. They were either killed, died from disease, or driven westward across the Mississippi in order for the Europeans to take the frontier known as Ohio and make it a state in 1803. There are no current reservations for Indian tribes today in Ohio but what remains of them mostly is the mounds, the walls of earth and the tools that were buried ranging from various dates in history (such as the walls of Fort Ancient built by the Hopewell).




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