Popular Images of Native Americans
1. Native Men were always in charge of the village. Wrong. Many female chiefs were often related to the men and had their own duties, sat on councils and were highly respected.
2. Most people think Native people always wore animal skin clothing. Wrong. Many Woodland Native cultures made very sophisticated tightly woven or “twined" plant fiber clothing before Europeans arrived. How do we know?
A. Pottery shards left by Mississippian peoples reveal the use of textiles pressed into the wet pottery
B. Early explorers left journals of their observations of people making cordage, mats, capes, and clothing –some said it was better quality than European
C. Archaeological evidence- pieces of woven materials found as far back as 10,000 years ago, some Hopewell samples are so finely woven, the experts are still amazed by the delicate techniques
D. Missionaries lived among the Natives in the 18th century and heard stories of ancestral use of twined skirts (Zeisburger, David, David Zeisberger’s History of the N. American Indians in 18th Century Ohio, New York, & Pennsylvania, 1999 Reprint)
3. All the Natives of the Ohio and Wabash used canoes for transportation. Wrong. The Miami apparently were not big canoe users. They referred to other people who did as, “canoe people." Many of the rivers were full of rapids, falling water, snags of logs, and were not navigable with bark canoes. The only other choice was a dugout or pirogue, which was heavy and not easily transported on portages.
4. All Woodland Indians lived in tipis or wigwams. Wrong. By the mid-18th century, log cabins had begun to replace many traditional types of houses. Most of the 19th century villages in Ohio and Indiana were log cabin villages.
5. There were no villages in Kentucky or West Virginia because it was “hunting grounds." Wrong. Early French maps clearly point out several distinct villages of Shawnee in both areas. The Shawnee inhabited this region on both sides of the Ohio River until driven out by the Iroquois. They slowly returned and occupied sites once again, but like their neighbors, the Miami, and the Lenape, they no longer had the populations to occupy all of their lands and white settlers were moving in on them from the south into Kentucky.
6. Probably one of the most notorious stereotypes that continue to haunt even modern Native Americans is the myth that all Indians were hostile and warlike. Wrong. Many of these people were sedentary people who had been largely consumed by agricutlural production. However, when their homes and lives are threatened, all people may resort to violence to stop attacks and threats. The settlers in the East and Ohio Valley who constantly complained about attacks from small bands of hostile Indians were the ones who were the squatters. The Natives fought back to protect and defend what had been their homeland for centuries.