The Presence

It has been said and oft repeated that there were no Native Americans living in the area of Kentucky when the Pioneers came. This is not the whole truth. There have been Native Americans here since prehistoric times. And there are Native Americans here now.

As to why the popular conception that no Indians lived here was repeated, you can draw your own conclusions. Was it actually believed to be true or was it propaganda? Was it simply a way to justify the Europeans coming in - since no one lived here? If not true, how is it that so many residents from this area claim Indian ancestry? How did this happen? Was it the water? Or something in the air.

Perhaps it can be said that there were no major villages or settlements belonging to the Native Americans at the time of the pioneers, however, surely there were scattered villages throughout the area. There were also no major villages or settlements of the pioneers. According to the Harden Political Info System, the 1994 census statistics indicated 5,946 Native Americans in Kentucky. This does not consider the thousands of Kentuckians who claim Native American ancestry.

Whether you say there were no permanent settlements, that they were transient villages while hunting, does not mean there were no Indians here. With the amount of contact between the Indians and pioneers it seems unlikely that there were no settlements. Did the "savages" decide to travel 200 miles just to attack the pioneers. This does not, from a logical perception, seem likely.

Less than 50 years before the pioneers came the Cherokee Nation claimed approximately two thirds of Kentucky and a major portion of the states to the east and south. By the end of the Revolutionary War they only retained a small portion in southeastern Kentucky.

Who were the Indians - if any, that were here? There were many names but the two most commonly recognized are the Cherokee and Shawnee. To understand more it would be necessary to delve more deeply into the history of the Native American tribes...

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