Native American Heritage

Young girl in a costume stands smiling, holding her fringed purple cape open. Unicorns decorate her white and pink overshirt and shoes. She wears a long, belted skirt, beaded headdress and round beaded ornaments with streaming ribbons in her hair.
A young dancer from the Lake Erie Native American Council.

NPS / Ted Toth

About 500 generations of native people have made Cuyahoga Valley their home. The first were travelers, following large game across the subarctic landscape at the end of the last Ice Age. Later people lived in seasonal base camps that became more permanent in time. They hunted and gathered food from abundant forests and waterways. Meals were shared around cookfires. They practiced religious rituals along streambanks and on bluffs above the Cuyahoga. As conditions changed, they adapted. There were periods of trade when local flint was exchanged for exotic materials from distant places. There were periods of warfare which ultimately killed or displaced most native people from Ohio by the mid-1800s.

In the 1950s, a relocation program brought about 5,000 individuals from 33 western tribes to Cleveland. Those who live here now work together to preserve and celebrate their cultures.

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If you are in the park, we ask that you leave any archeological finds in place. It is illegal to disturb cultural sites or collect artifacts. Part of being a park that welcomes everyone is showing respect to all those who came before us.

Native American Heritage Walking Tour

Over thousands of years, Native peoples left their mark on the Cuyahoga Valley. Explore some of their stories through interpretive wayside exhibits along the Towpath Trail. Download the NPS App to find this self-guided walking tour and other information about Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

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    Last updated: November 28, 2023

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