Thursday, July 22, 2010

Land of my future

The western European nations were yet to arrive in my neighborhood when three cultural groups, the Shawnee, the Cherokee, and Iroquois nations had their knock down, drag out. As early as 1673 it appeared that the Shawnee had defeated the Cherokee and occupied a major settlement called "Eskippakithiki". This settlement had a large ceremonial grounds and was located in none other than Clark County [now known as Indian Old Fields]! Located just north of the Kentucky River and just west of a knob known as "Pilot Knob", it would tell all those who planned to use the Warrior's Path, that they had to go through the Shawnee first. The Cherokee centered their nation in the Great Smokey Mountains and challenged anyone to take it from them. Now both these tribes had yet to face the powerful Iroquois nation; and for more than 60 years they had warfare along this Ohio Valley. Just prior to 1700, there seemed to be a decisive battle near the Falls of the Ohio where the Iroquois defeated both the Shawnee and Cherokee, leading to their claim to this "Dark and Bloody Ground". The Shawnee withdrew to their stronghold near Chillicothe in Ohio, and the Cherokee to their mountains in what was to become eastern Tennessee. The Iroquois had bigger fish to fry and wanted to push their growing empire further east. They chose to name this newly conquered land "Ken-Tah-The". In the Iroquois language this meant "the land of their future". To the English ear this became Kentucky. I guess they planned to come back to it when they had finished conquering the rest of the tribal groups that they saw as their enemies. Now when the western European nations finally got around to exploring this land, the Iroquois made it clear that they owned this land. At a meeting held at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 1744, their chief, Tachanoontia, is recorded to have said:

"All the world knows we conquered...the back of the great mountains in Virginia...As to what lies beyond the mountains, we conquered the nations residing there, and that land, if the Virginians ever get a good right to it, it must be by us."

Thus came the name "Ken-Tah-The", certainly the land of my future.

1 comment:

  1. Most of this history is not recorded in the books and records belonging to our English ancestors. For a detailed account see A Sesqui-Centennial History of Kentucky, Vol. I-III. The Historical Record Association, Hopkinsville, Ky, 1945.