Indiana — History and Culture
Indiana is primarily a state of farmers and Amish, with friendly locals that epitomize Midwestern hospitality and conservative ideals. There is a rich Native American heritage (thus its name Indiana) that still lingers in small pockets around the state, though most of the modern culture and society is concentrated in the main city of Indianapolis. Above all, Indiana loves its sports and outdoor recreation. This is a land with lots of space to roam, and one of the oldest state park systems in the country to protect its natural beauty.
The Native Americans lived extensively throughout the territory of Indiana for thousands of years before the Europeans discovered North America. The Algonquians, Shawnee, Miami, and Illini were the main tribes in this area, and actually sided with the French during the French and Indian War of 1763. Sites like Angel Mounds Historic Site date back over 1,000 years.
After the American colonists won independence from Britain, they incorporated Indiana into the Northwest Territory in 1787. This included traditional Native American lands, which did not sit well with Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who urged other tribes to rebel against the Europeans in 1810. His loss to the Americans, documented at the Tippecanoe Battlefield and Museum (200 Battle Ground Ave, Tippecanoe) resulted in almost all the remaining Native Americans fleeing to Canada.
Indiana became America’s 19th state in 1816, and quickly developed a plan to place the state at the center of national transport networks with roads, railroads, and canals. The 19th century was also a time of major immigration to Indiana by Germans, Irish and English.
When the Civil War broke out, Indiana was one of the more influential states in the conflict, siding with the Union North. The only fight in the state happened at the Battle of Corydon in July 1863 during the famous Morgan’s Raid, which resulted in a Confederate victory. Just outside the town of Corydon is a state park protecting the battlefield.
After the Civil War, Indiana enjoyed prosperity as an industrial and agricultural center. The Indiana Gas Boom provided cheap fuel for its factories and encouraged the creation of leisure venues like the Indianapolis Speedway in 1909. The Great Depression affected the state like all others in the Midwest, crushing its urban economy and encouraging people to resume a more rural existence via farming and viniculture, which remains today throughout most of the state.
Indiana has an interesting cultural makeup that reflects the general population of America more than people give it credit for. There is a deep respect for the land and farming endeavors like raising livestock. As such, Indiana has excellent local fruit, produce and meat. The majority of Hoosiers enjoy their rural life, where outdoor recreation and family values stand at the center of society.
Few states in America have such as connection to or obsession with sports. Motor racing in particular has a long history with Indiana, going back to the prestigious Indy 500 race each May. There is a thriving college sports scene, as well as a number of professional teams based in Indianapolis. Basketball has a special place in the state’s heritage that goes back to the creation of the sport itself. Visitors who enjoy the outdoors and athletics will find plenty of good company in Indiana.