Hunting Ground and Commerce Center
Present-day Jackson County had, since time immemorable, been claimed as a fertile season hunting ground and commerce center – as well as a battleground – for Native American inhabitants including tribes of Shawnee, Mingo/Iroquois, and Delaware (as noted with some unease by George Washington in 1770). To this day, burial mounds, black flint spear and arrowheads, knives, hoes, and other artifacts still make their presence known along the banks of Mill Creek and the Ohio River.
Confrontations and Hostilities
Despite Washington’s amicable relationship with Kiashuta (a chief of one of the Six Nations) and other tribal leaders, his and others’ accelerated focus on claiming lands became a source of contention. Raids against the native people (and subsequent retaliation) led to ever escalating land skirmishes. The construction of numerous defensive structures throughout the region hints at the degree of unease felt by some early settlers. The remains of many of these forts and protective structures can be seen throughout our region. As later imperial tensions heated up between French and British colonies throughout the French-Indian War (1754-63), many Native American allies were made on each side.
Failed Peace Negotiations
By 1777, peace negotiations between native tribes and settlers had become untenable. With tensions high, the situation culminated with the assassination of Shawnee peace advocate, Chief Cornstalk (Hokolesqua) and three others by enraged inhabitants of the storied settler stockade, Fort Randolph, in Mason County. The murderers accused Cornstalk and his men of committing a murder that occurred during Cornstalks’ captivity. Despite the impossibility of Cornstalk having committed the act and an attempt by then-Governor Patrick Henry to hold the assassins accountable, justice was never served.
Additional information about Native Americans history in West Virginia is available at the websites below: