Indian Old Fields

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 were permanent and semi-permanent communities. One was Eskippakithiki, which translated to "place of blue licks," and referred to salt licks in the area.

Eskippakithiki was established around 1718 in what is now southeastern Clark County. The settlement consisted of a village, surrounded by a palisade, that was the home of around two hundred families. The community developed on a level plain that was well suited for farming. Corn was a favorite crop. Some historians believe that the place name Kentucky, which in the Iroquois language was kentaki (place of level land) came from the people at Eskippakithiki.

It is unknown how the community came to be, but some experts speculate that a faction of a Shawnee tribe became disaffected, seceded, and located there. Some believe that the group originated in middle Tennessee, while others believe they came from South Carolina. One opinion is that the village formed on a former site cleared either by an earlier migrant tribe or by French explorers as a trading post.

Whatever its true origins, Eskippakithiki was attacked by band of Ottowa Indians about 1753, which may have prompted it being abandoned soon thereafter. Historians believe that the people of Eskippakithiki eventually joined other Shawnees in southern Ohio.