Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2





On behalf of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical

Society and the Ohio State University, I want to welcome you all

to this first meeting of the organization tentatively entitled "Ohio

Valley Historic Indian Conference." Our discussions today will be

general rather than specific: a matter of viewpoints and perspectives

of the three disciplines represented in the meeting--archaeology,

ethnohistory, and history. We hope this will be the introduction

to a series of annual meetings that may do much to solve the

problems of Indian occupation and relations with Caucasians in

the early historic period of the Ohio Valley.

I need not tell you why we all feel this is an important task.

A decade ago the Ohio Valley was believed to be the key geo-

graphical area in the great Indian movements of the protohistoric

period. The subsequent historical loci of the Iroquois, the Shawnee,

the Delaware, and Siouan peoples and other tribal groups were

viewed as end products of a process that began in, or at least in-

volved, the Ohio Valley. It was assumed that archaeological exca-

vation and documentary study would subsequently establish these

presumptions as fact. As a graduate student at the University of

Chicago I can recall long and confident discussions of the great

Siouan traverse of the valley, and its meaning for the subsequent

Indian history of the prairies and plains.

Few or none of these old hypotheses have been verified. The Ohio

Valley has become the great blind spot of the East, and its

monotonous representation as "uninhabited territory" on maps of

the early historic period attests to the failure to find the evidence

so confidently anticipated a decade or so ago. Perhaps that evidence

is simply not in existence. Whether present or absent, it is evident

that very little work has been accomplished by any of the con-

cerned disciplines. The recent world war prevented and obscured

efforts begun in Chicago and elsewhere; the shift of interest in

academic history from fact-gathering to functional analysis, and a