November is Native American Heritage Month: Native to Crown Point
Although celebrated locally in some areas for years, November has only been an official observed month for native heritage for 28 years. President George H.W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month on August 3, 1990. It was later changed to Native American Heritage Month. The goal of the declaration and the annual celebration is to share culture with local communities and to bridge understanding.
Native American tribes indigenous to the land that became Indiana include Miami, Chippewa, Delaware, Erie, Shawnee, Iroquois, Kickapoo, Potawatomie, Mahican, Huron, Nanticoke, and Mohegan. The name of this state reflects that native heritage when it was designated as Indiana in 1800, when Congress named this area from part of the Northwest Territory. Indiana means Land of the Indians or Indian Land. The territorial name was retained upon statehood in 1816.
Lake County and Crown Point was the native home of the Potawatomie Indians. Tribes of Potawatomie mostly lived in southern parts of county and hunted in northern parts of the county due to terrain. There were several locations of settlements, including present-day Lake Station, Cedar Lake, and Crown Point. The trails they traveled throughout Lake County often became roads we travel on today. The populations of deer, elk, geese, ducks, prairie chickens, fish, otter, muskrat, and other fur-bearing animals, plus the marshy conditions to the north and the prairie and wooded conditions to the south, made Lake County the ideal location for food, shelter, and trade for the Potawatomie.
In the Crown Point area, the Potawatomie used the trails, lakes, and new settlers to their advantage by establishing trade relationships. The paved roads of the Lake County Fairgrounds follow the trails of the Potawatomie as they traded with those settling here. The house at 647 South Court Street sits upon the original foundation of an Indiana trading post. The foundation dates to 1839.
Although Potawatomie remained in the area for some time, the land was acquired by the United States and Indiana with a treaty in 1832. Native peoples were essentially gone from this area by the mid-19th Century. We celebrate Native American Heritage Month to honor the people and land before us and its influence on our lives today.