• Image of bluebells in the spring

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

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  • Valley Bridle Trail Partial Closure

    A section of the Valley Bridle Trail is closed across from the Brandywine Golf Course. There is no estimate of when this section will be open. Please observe all trail closures. More »

  • Plateau Trail Partial Closure

    The outer loop of the Plateau Trail is closed at the Valley Picnic Area junction for bridge repair. The bridge is now unsafe for pedestrian traffice due to accelerated erosion around the base. More »

  • Bald Eagle Closure in Effect Until July 31, 2014

    Returning bald eagles are actively tending to last year's nest within the Pinery Narrows area in CVNP. To protect the eagles from human disturbance, the area surrounding the nest tree will be closed until July 31, 2014. More »

  • Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) Bridge Construction Closures

    Rockside and Canal Visitor Center boarding sites will be closed through Apr 27. From Jan 18 - Mar 16, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Brecksville stations. From Mar 22 - Apr, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Peninsula. More »

  • Do Not Feed the Waterfowl and Birds!

    Many people enjoy feeding waterfowl and birds, but the effects of this seemingly generous act can be harmful. Regular feeding can cause: unatural behavior, pollution, overcrowding, delayed migration, and poor nutrition and disease.

  • Closure on Fishing Will Remain in Effect for Virginia Kendall Lake

    Due to the government shutdown, we were unable to survey the fish community in VK Lake as scheduled. Our survey partners (ODNR) will not be able to get into the lake until early spring of 2014. Therefore, the closure on fishing will remain in effect. More »

American Indians

 
Wild Turkey

Wild turkey

Courtesy/ODNR

The First American Indians

Paleo-Indian hunters armed with spears likely followed mastodons and other Ice Age mammals into the Cuyahoga Valley about 13,000 years ago, becoming its first people. After the Ice Age, a forest of oak, elm, and maple trees filled the valley. Groups of Archaic Indians hunted the valley’s deer, wild turkeys, elk, and bear. They fished the river and streams and also gathered hickory nuts, walnuts, berries, seeds, and other plant foods.

These early inhabitants of the Cuyahoga Valley didn’t live in permanent villages. They moved around, following game and gathering the foods in season. The Paleo-Indians probably lived in movable shelters that could be packed-up after days, weeks, or months in a particular camp. These tents may have been constructed of tree branches covered in animal hides, probably from deer. Later Archaic people lived in structures made of wooden posts.

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Hopewell

More recent American Indian cultures in the Cuyahoga Valley did build long-term villages—and much more. The Hopewell culture is famous for its mound building. The Hopewell weren’t a tribe or a group of people who lived in the same place. Hopewell was a culture, like how Western culture is today. Wearing jeans and listening to pop music is common in many places around the world. It’s not limited to any one country or a single group of people. Western culture has spread to many places, like Hopewell culture did thousands of years ago.

 
Hopewell Tools

Stone tools from a Hopewell site in Everett Village

nps collection

The major Hopewell culture was to the south where villages were larger, more numerous, and occupied for a longer period. Hopewell culture reached Northeastern Ohio about 2,100 years ago. By this time, people here lived in scattered small villages in the valley’s fertile floodplains. They grew foods like squash, as well as hunted, fished, and gathered fruits and nuts. Elaborate trade networks developed among distant groups. The network reached from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. The tribes traded raw materials such as obsidian from the Yellowstone National Park area, mica from the Great Smokey Mountains, and jade from Mexico. Archeologists have also found ocean seashells from the Gulf Coast and Michigan copper in excavations of this period. Hopewell artists crafted beautiful tools and decorative objects from these exotic materials. These materials from faraway places are evidence that the Cuyahoga River was a trade route for American Indians.
 
Southern Ohio Hopewell Mound

Southern Ohio Hopewell mound group

SQUIER AND DAVIS 1848

Hopewell peoples are most famous as builders of large earthworks and mounds made of piled-up soil. In southern Ohio, Hopewell peoples constructed complex groups of geometric structures used for ceremonies. In Northeastern Ohio, the Hopewell culture influenced the building of mostly small mounds and structures. Hopewell earthworks in the Cuyahoga Valley are in places like Everett Village where national park archeologists found evidence of house posts and cooking hearths.

We do not know why Hopewell groups left the area, but it seems to have been deserted for a time except for seasonal hunters.

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VIDEOICON


Kids Asked, We Answered!

Click the questions to play video of real kids getting answers from park experts.

What types of houses did Hopewell build?

How long did it take to build Hopewell mounds?


 
Arrowheads & Pottery

South Park Village points (above) and pottery fragment (below) in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

NPS COLLECTION

Whittlesey and Other Late-Prehistoric Tribes

The Whittlesey culture shaped the lives of American Indians in the Cuyahoga Valley between the years 1000 and 1600. The Whittlesey people lived mostly in small, scattered villages in long, multi-family homes made of wood poles. Unlike the Hopewell, they didn’t have a complex trade network. They lived off the local landscape, hunting with bow and arrows, and growing fields of corn, squash, and beans.

South Park Village is a Whittlesey site across the Cuyahoga River from the Towpath Trail in the northern part of the park. It was a year-round village for hundreds of years. Archeologists have found pieces of decorated pottery and arrowheads of many sizes there. Animal bones, seeds, and shells found at the site tell us that the villagers ate river mollusks, deer, beaver, elk, ducks, acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, grapes, and chokeberries.

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beaver chewing stick2_Jack Rigby

Beaver pelts were once an important trade good

©Jack Rigby

Historic Tribes

As far as we know, Whittlesey villagers never encountered Europeans. They were gone before the first explorers passed through the Cuyahoga Valley in the late 1600s. Why they left and where they went is unknown. Some historians think they were pushed out by neighboring tribes fighting in the “Beaver Wars,” a conflict over who would control the beaver pelt trade with Europeans. A newer theory is that many died from European diseases that spread with trade goods from more eastern tribes. Whatever happened, no one lived in northern Ohio between 1650 and the 1730s. The Seneca (part of the Iroquois Confederation) probably send hunting parties though here, but the Cuyahoga Valley was otherwise empty of humans.

 

American Indians briefly returned to the valley in the mid to late 1700s. American Indian tribes forced out of their lands migrated to Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley had an Ottawa camp north of Boston. There was an Ojibwa settlement near Brecksville, and the Mingo tribe (the local name for the Seneca) may have had a camp near Ira. Many hunted along the Cuyahoga River in winter and early spring. Groups of men, women, and children canoed the river stopping along the way so the men could hunt on shore. At night they’d use the canoe as a shelter. By 1805 few American Indians remained in the Cuyahoga Valley. Treaties had stripped them of their lands and sent them to reservations in western Ohio.

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Did You Know?

Image courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Natural History

American Indians in the Cuyahoga Valley were influenced by the Hopewell Culture, which created large mound complexes in central Ohio from 100 B.C. – A.D. 500? In the Cuyahoga Valley, American Indians built small mounds rather than large ceremonial centers.