Explore KY's Native American History

Tour curated by: The ExploreKYHistory Team

Long before the first Euro-American hunters and explorers ventured through the Cumberland Gap and down the Ohio River into what became Kentucky, Native American people lived, hunted, and traveled through the region. The same bountiful natural resources that drew in the early white settlers also made Native Americans fight to keep what was theirs first.

Much of Kentucky's early history has centered on those early settlers and explorers like Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, John Floyd, and Benjamin Logan, all of whom fought long odds and extreme dangers to make a new life west of the Appalachian Mountains. For too long, however, their opponents have been viewed as secondary, cursory, and antagonistic figures in the frontier drama.

Kentucky Native Americans' understanding of land use/ownership and their distinct cultural differences from that of the encroaching whites ensured that conflict between the two groups would occur. The Native American perspective of defending the land and its resources is one that should be taken into greater consideration when learning about our state's frontier history and trying to comprehend its sometimes tragic events.

We hope this app tour will provide a better understanding of not only the people, places, and events that unfolded due to misunderstandings and cultural domination, but we also hope it provides insight into the diverse and vibrant culture that Native American people have expressed in Kentucky for centuries.

Locations for Tour

Historical Marker #697 in Jackson County notes the location of part of the Warrior's Path, a Native American route used by various warring tribes and factions to travel north and south. Long before white hunters and explorers entered into what…

Historical Marker #1042 in Hopkinsville remembers the location where Cherokee Indians camped in 1838 on their long route to lands established for their relocation in Indian Territory. The Indian Removal Act is remembered today as one of…

Historical Marker #31 in Greenup County notes the location of Shannoah, a Shawnee Indian village that existed on the south bank of the Ohio River. The area has also been known as Lower Shawneetown. Although Shannoah was an eighteenth century Native…

Historical Marker #1675 in Livingston County notes the natural geological formation where hundreds of Cherokees camped for two weeks waiting to cross the Ohio River on their forced removal to Indian Territory in 1839. Cherokees traveling overland on…

Historical Marker #2290 in Mount Sterling notes the location of an ancient Native American burial mound that was leveled in 1845. Mount Sterling, founded around 1792, was originally known as Little Mountain Town. It developed this name from the…

Historical Marker #1614 in Bracken County notes the location where, in 1793, Simon Kenton and a party of settlers crossed the Ohio River to attack a group of Native Americans returning from a raid into central Kentucky. By the 1770s, most Native…

Historical Marker #1274 in Clark County notes the location of Eskippakithiki, a Shawnee village that was inhabited during the eighteenth century. While Kentucky was largely an area in which different Native American tribes warred and hunted, there…

Historical Marker #921 in Ashland's Central Park notes the location of a series of six ancient Native American mounds. The Indian mounds constructed in what became Kentucky are believed to have been built by the Adena Culture, a prehistoric…

Historical Marker #135 in Scott County notes the location of the Choctaw Indian Academy. Established in 1818, it was later sponsored by future U.S. Vice-President Richard M. Johnson. At the end of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth century, as the…

Historical Marker # 908 in Clay County remembers Chief Red Bird, a Cherokee leader and the namesake of the Red Bird River, a tributary of the Kentucky River. The late eighteenth century was a period of conflict between the increasing numbers of…

Historical Marker #21 in Fayette County commemorates Bryan's Station, a frontier fort that came under a combined Native American, Tory, and Canadian Ranger attack in 1782. The settlements in what became Kentucky found themselves in an…

Historical Marker #953 in Falmouth (Pendleton County) notes British Colonel Henry Byrd's strike against Kentucky settlements in the summer of 1780. The problems that the British experienced with the American colonists in the 1760s and 1770s…

Historical Marker #18 in Robertson County commemorates the Battle of Blue Licks, which is sometimes called the last battle of the Revolutionary War. In August 1782, a combined British, Canadian, and Native American force made a foray from southern…

Historical Marker #2410 in Stanford notes the role that Cherokee Indians played in the settlement of Kentucky, and thus the westward expansion of the United States. Cherokee Indians are believed to have lived and hunted in what became Kentucky for…

Historical Marker #735 in Johnson County commemorates Jenny (Jennie) Wiley and her daring escape from the Native Americans who held her captive for nearly a year. Virginia Sellards Wiley was born about 1760 in Pennsylvania. When Jennie was a small…

Historical Marker #1006 in McCracken County commemorates the Jackson Purchase. This land, which was secured in 1818, includes Kentucky's eight westernmost counties, including McCracken County. The purchase was primarily negotiated by two…

Historical Marker #1579 in Madison County commemorates the final destination point of Daniel Boone and his party of trail cutters. These men had taken a long journey during the months of March and April 1775, creating Boone Trace, which was the…

Historical Marker #77 in Madison County commemorates the site of a Native American attack on Daniel Boone's trailblazing party while they constructed Boone Trace in the spring of 1775. Boone and his men camped at this location on Taylor's…

Historical Marker #1577 in Madison County commemorates the home of early Kentucky settler Captain Nathaniel Hart. Hart, a Revolutionary War soldier, was a member of the Transylvania Land Company. As chief negotiator and a leading advocate for the…

Historical Marker #1520, located at Fort Boonesborough State Park in Madison County, commemorates the founding of this early Kentucky settlement and fort. Fort Boonesborough was the final terminus of the epic journey that Daniel Boone and his group…

Historical Marker #1600 in the town of Flat Lick (Knox County) commemorates an important point of divergence, if traveling north, or convergence, if traveling south, of the three major frontier roads in this region: the Warrior's Path, Boone…

Historical Marker #2059 in Bourbon County marks the location of the death of Edward "Ned" Boone, the brother of Daniel Boone. In 1780, Daniel and Ned Boone were returning to Boone's Station located in present Fayette County, where…

Historical Marker #150 in Bourbon County commemorates Martin's Station, an important frontier Kentucky settlement that was captured by British Captain Henry Byrd in 1780. John Martin, an early Kentucky pioneer who had spent time at Fort…

Historical Marker #1462 in Bourbon County tells the story of Ruddle's Mill, one of Bourbon County's first industrial districts. The location of Isaac Ruddell's grist mill, the "mill seat," required legal authorization and…

Historical Marker #163 in Silver Grove remembers Mary Draper Ingles for her bravery. After escaping from Native American captors, she navigated through the Kentucky wilderness back to her Virginia home. Mary was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,…

Historical Marker #56 in Stanford notes the significance of Logan's Station, an early Kentucky frontier fort. Logan's Station (also known as St. Asaph) was established in 1775 by its namesake, Benjamin Logan, and John Floyd, after the men…