Not Just a Hunting Ground: Native Americans in Kentucky

There has long been a myth that Native Americans never lived in Kentucky. This myth due largely to land speculators, who promoted Kentucky as an empty country to improve land sales.  Sadly this myth holds on strong to this day.  Native Americans have lived in Kentucky for more than 14,000 years. The first Native Americans to call Kentucky home were the Paleoindians, who moved into Kentucky around 12,000 B.C. According to the 2010 Census 31,335 people of Native American decent live in Kentucky, with 10,120 of those being people of full blood status. The Purpose of this exhibit is to shed some light on the history and culture of Kentucky’s first peoples. It will take you on a journey to highlight their history from the Paleoindian period to the Present day. Due to the sheer amount of information on Native American history and culture this exhibit serves merely as a starting point.

To learn more about the history and culture of the Native Americans of Kentucky these sites are wonderful resources: The Kentucky Native American Heritage Council, The University of 
Kentucky Anthology Museum, and Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site. There are also numerous books on the Cherokee, Shawnee and Chickasaw peoples. 

Paleoindian Period

Archaic Period

Adena Culture

Rockshelters and Caves

Fort Ancient Culture

Mississippian Culture

The Fight for Kentucky

Choctaw Academy

The Cherokee

The Chicksaw
The Shawnee

State Recongition

Kentucky Native American Hertiage Commission

Archaeological Site Maps 



The Lexington History Museum would like to thank the following, without whom this exhibit would not have been possible:
Images courtesy of the Kentucky, Archaeology Survey/ KentuckyHeritage Council

Images courtesy from the Kentucky Living Archeology Weekend

Images, artifacts, and information courtesy of The University of Kentucky Anthropology Museum

Image courtesy of the Chickasaw Community Council

Images Courtesy of the Chickasaw Cultural Center

Images Courtesy of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Dioramas and wigwam courtesy of the Henry Clay Highschool History Club

Exhibit space courtesy of the Lyric Theater