Essay Sample on Early Kentucky: Indigenous Ways of Living & Farming 1000-1750 AD

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1405 Words
Date:  2023-03-26


Early Kentucky was based on the indigenous ways of living. Practices hunting and gathering, which were, however, limited to the reduction of animals for hunting. The fertile soils of Kentucky provided a source of food with people later engaging in farming. According to KET (2018), the practices of Kentucky between 1000A.D. and 1750 A.D. are accultured of the prehistoric period. The natives were entirely agriculturalists and cultivated corn, beans, and squash. However, hunting and gathering were also practiced. They used different types of arrows for hunting, with most of them made of leaf-shaped projectile points famously known as arrow-shaped. According to KET (2018), the transition to agricultural life led to reduced production of the hunting tools. The most commonly hunted animals included the deer, bear, turkey, and elk. The transition to communal life led to the need for the farm tools and hunting and fishing items. Int his light, the villages made their tools for farming and hunting. The use of the wooden board used to project the spear improved the ways of hunting and, therefore, could kill animals at a distance. Enough food was consequently produced for the communities as hunting and cultivation were aimed at meeting the community food demands.

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The Indians in Kentucky are not born white but engaged in various practices to darken their skin complexion. This included anointing with grease as well as lying in the sun. They also practiced painting of the body, which included the face, breasts, and shoulders with a wide range of colors but mainly red. Their body structures were well built and were more distinct in women. The Indians shaved or plucked the hair from the head but left a small portion. In most body parts, they pricked gunpowder in specific pretty figures. Marriage was an easy practice with the man expected to present a leg of deer while the woman was supposed to give a corn-ear before witnesses. Polygamy was allowed in some parts of Kentucky, while in some areas, it was strongly abhorred.

The villages served as their religious entities. They lived in the church, which was their villages. They believed in the existence of a supreme being but did not mainly adore him as no one had ever seen him. The Kentuckians also prayed to other natural forces such as the sun for success, food, and other necessities. However, the Indians in Kentucky did not believe in religion and superstitions. However, in the 1800A.D., the communities started to form concentric rings arising around central plots. Smaller units were divided and concentrated around rings. The backyard of their houses was the cemetery where they buried their family members. Similar to other traditional communities, they had trash collected at the back of their houses which comprised of waste food and unused materials. Transport was mainly on foot as individuals trans versed Kentucky hunting and gathering.

The increase in the population of Kentucky led to the emergence of more clusters subdividing the villages into smaller groups. The status of each individual was attributed to personal success, and therefore, status was not achieved paternally. Women also achieved some status in society through their actions and behavior. Control of power and prestige lie in the individual efforts to acquire information. Control over the source of information was considered as the source of power and prestige in the community.

The Fort Ancient Kentucky people maintained the old system of hunting and gathering as well as specializing in growing corn, beans, and squash in supplementing their diets. Their villages were comprised of a dozen of bark covered huts while there were no temple mounds in their settlements. The burying of the dead was in stone box graves or burial mounds. They practiced pottery, which was used for food as well as the storage of water.

The Great Meadows, referred to as sacred land by Indians, were out of reach to Indians except in time of war and tours. The land was fertile and supported a wide range of agricultural activities. The settling of the ancient inhabitants of the region was attributed to the fertility and richness of the land in animals for hunting. The introduction of the pioneers, especially the Europeans, led to the changes in the cultural practices of the area. Along with interest in the fertile land, the Europeans introduced European infectious diseases, which significantly deteriorated the population of the area. The first infectious disease that was reported in the area was chickenpox, which killed around 75 to 90% of the community. The indigenous Indians who occupied Kentucky died from infectious diseases. This led to the mysterious disappearance of the Indians, who initially inhabited the region before the coming of the Europeans.

Kentucky was managed under the kingship system with the powers of the King limited. The kingship was hereditary and, therefore, could run along the lineage. Punishment of the offenders especially was left in the hands of the friends of the deceased. The King could not sentence a murderer to death but delivered the murderer to the friends of the deceased to do what they wish. According to Filson, war captives were ruthlessly handled, and they were taken through a series of unbearable punishments. Upon completion of the punishments, the captive could be incorporated in some families. The justification that the prisoner had no intention of leaving, they could be incorporated into the families and accorded all the privileges of the family members. On the other hand, lamentations were made to honor their dead, which they could bear along with them for remembrance long after their deaths. Cultural ceremonies were held, which were marked by singing, dancing, and rejoicing.

The 1750-1820 period was coupled by a series of habitation of Kentucky with settlers coming from Western Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. The waterways and streams running through Kentucky were the critical areas of habitation by the settlers. The Europeans also inhabited some of the lands while they made several introductions to Kentuckians. The introduction of the Roman Catholic church was attributed to the missionary explorers. The Christian beliefs could be observed with many people going to church on Sundays while others took a day off from personal duties on Sunday. The political alignment of the region was based on the European system, with several laws introduced to enhance the cohabitation of the settlers. The economic influence of the region was influenced by the death as the Indians in Detroit moved to more economically and socially stable areas. The movements of the people from their original lands to new stable areas disoriented the tribal distribution of the original inhabitants of Kentucky. The European infectious diseases killed a lot of people but mainly children and the elderly. In this case, it can be highlighted that the new generation and the old generation were severely affected by the spread of smallpox that resulted in the deaths of very many people. The dispersals which were attributed to diseases and searched for a more stable life were mainly towards the north.


In conclusion, Kentucky was a significantly stable land which was sacredly treated by the native Indians. The land was rich in game and fertile for cultivation as well as well served with waterways, which provided sites for fishing. They made special tools for hunting and also practiced pottery, which was necessary for food and water storage. The abundance in food sources led to the concentration of the population and settlement in villages. The increase in population among the groups necessitated the formation of smaller villages that had individual practices. The leadership was based on the kingship system, which was hereditary but with the powers of the King limited. The Indians believed in the existence of supreme God but also prayed to other natural forces such as the sun. The spread of the European infectious diseases killed a large number of the young and elderly population and led to the migration of the native Indians. Large masses of settlers and hunters then habited the land. The Europeans occupied some parts, but immigration from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and North Carolina were distinct. The movements and the spread of European explorers and missionaries introduced new practices such as religion and state of the economy in the region. The transitions in Kentucky over various periods changed the outlook of the land and its population.


KET (2018). YouTube. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Jan. 2020].

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