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The History of Indiana, for Boys and Girls (Classic Reprint)

The History of Indiana, for Boys and Girls (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from The History of Indiana, for Boys and Girls

I. The Indian inhabitants and the coming of the French.

Indiana became one of the United States in 1816. Her first white visitors a century and a half earlier, under the leadership of the French explorer La Salle, found here a wooded wilderness in the undisturbed possession of Indians, who lived on such products of the soil as they could cultivate without tools and on the game they secured with traps and arrows. Soon the Jesuit missionaries began to come, one at a time, entering the Indiana country from Lake Erie by way of the Maumee River, carrying their light canoes over a nine-mile portage through the woods near what is now Fort Wayne, and reembarking upon the Wabash River to follow it to its mouth. Other adventurous French priests found their way from the northeast to the headwaters of the Ohio River, and, drifting with its rapid current as far as the Illinois border, pushed up the Wabash to where Lafayette now stands. To their superiors in Quebec and in far-off France these devoted men carried back their story of a race of intelligent and hospitable natives who lived in the rich Indiana valleys and had not yet begun to hate or fear the white invader.

Following the trail of these early missionaries, but drawn by the spirit of adventure and the love of gain, there came next the forest rangers and fur traders to live among the natives, in Indian fashion, and engage in commerce with them.

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