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Indiana State History

For thousands of years, the area known today as Indiana was inhabited by many different native tribes including the Woodland and Mississippian peoples, the Illini, the Shawnee, and the Miami tribes.

Indiana State Seal

By the 1600s, other tribes arrived in the area, such as the Delaware peoples.

Related: Indiana State Facts

Natives Guiding French Explorers Through Indiana

The French and British

What happened next?

Well, Indiana was first explored by a French explorer named de la Salle in 1679. Thereafter, many French settlers and fur traders arrived from Canada and lived peaceably among the natives.

The French built the first trading post in 1715 and called it Fort Miami. It later was named Fort Wayne when colonists from Britain arrived and wanted to take control of the fur trade.

Cavelier De La Salle

War was declared by the British against the French in 1754. The native tribes joined the French to fight the British but lost after nine years of fighting.

The land was claimed for Britain.

Fort Miami

Native American Wars

Chief Pontiac

Even though the British claimed victory over the French in 1763, the native tribes refused to give up their claim to the land and continued to fight the British troops.

Many tribes joined forces to be led by Chief Pontiac in the war against the British Army.

The natives lost the war but the British made a law that English settlers were prohibited from settling on native land.

The law failed and settlers continued to settle the land wherever and whenever they wanted.

Pontiac Chief Artist Impression

After the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the United States made Indiana part of the Northwest Territory.

Later, in 1800, Indiana was renamed Indiana Territory.

The United States made treaties with many tribes in the area and promised them land but could not keep their promises because an increasing number of settlers moved into the area and they continued to take land from the natives.

Illinois Territory

Chief Tecumseh

Tecumseh was the chief of the Shawnee and he gathered many tribes together to fight the United States.

He tried to negotiate a treaty with Governor William Harrison that would be fair to the Native Americans.

In a surprise attack in 1811, Harrison and his army defeated Chief Tecumseh and his warriors during a battle that became known as the Battle of Tippecanoe.

Read more about Chief Tecumseh.

William Henry Harrison Daguerreotype

The State of Indiana

Then, it was time for Indiana to become a state.

Indiana became the 19th state of the United States in December 1816.

At that time, the capital of Indiana was Corydon.

Flag Of Indiana

In 1825, nine years after Indiana became a state, the capital was moved to Indianapolis, and it is still the capital today.

In 1846, the last of the Native Americans were ordered to leave their native lands in Indiana.

La Course Indianapolis


Who was the first European to explore the area of Indiana and when?

Why did French people come to Indiana?

Who was Chief Pontiac?

Who was Chief Tecumseh and how were his people treated by the United States?

Who was the Governor of Indiana who attacked Tecumseh and his followers in 1811?

quiz time


In 1679, de la Salle, a French explorer explored the area of Indiana.

French fur traders arrived in Indiana to trade for furs with the native tribes.

Several tribes joined forces with Chief Pontiac to fight the British who were stealing their land.

crime and corruption

After Indiana was named a territory of the United States in 1800, the United States made a law to prohibit settlers from occupying native land but the settlers ignored the law. Chief Tecumseh tried to negotiate a treaty but failed.

Governor Harrison led a surprise attack on Chief Tecumseh and his followers even though Tecumseh was trying to negotiate a peaceful and fair treaty.

US State History

Towboat Ben Mccool Upbound On Ohio River With Two Tank Barges

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