Cuyahoga Valley National Park is Whittlsey and Five Nations Land


{Cuyahoga Valley National Park originally posted by @usinterior - part 1/2 on Cuyahoga} Just a short way from the home of the Cleveland Indians, one of the most racist MLB mascots, it is no surprise that the the main story told about the Cuyahoga Valley is one of erasure. It basically says, “Yes, there is an indigenous history, but by the time the Europeans got here, the Indians were already long gone.” Unsurprisingly, the story is more complex than that and it’s going to take two posts to tell it. 

A people known as the Whittlsey - we don’t know what they called themselves - had been in the Cuyahoga Valley for hundreds of years by the time Europeans were pushing into North American in the 17th century and it is true that they had left the region by the time Europeans got to Ohio, but what is often left out of the narrative is that, even though they weren’t directly removed through treaties or war like other tribes, they were still impacted by the ripples of colonialism further east. Waves of epidemic disease stemming from colonial contact probably hit their communities hard and then the better armed Iroquois Confederacy, expanding and strengthening their position in response to pressure from the East, pushed them out completely. Cuyahoga still wasn’t abandoned. With declining game and fur in the east, Ohio and the valley became an important resource area for the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, especially the Seneca (the Tuscarora hadn’t joined yet, but I haven’t forgotten about you guys @fishuponastar). When Europeans started exploring the area, it is true they may not have encountered many Native people, but the empty land was still the result of a violent removal. #publiclandisnativeland