The word “Ohio” takes its name from the Iroquois word ‘ohiːyo’, which means “the great river.”
Our state’s Native American heritage is deep, from the hunter-gatherers who explored its fertile grounds thousands of years ago to the moundbuilders whose earthen monuments remain today as a quiet testament to times past.
Though life has sped up since the days of the Iroquois, many sites throughout the state still stand as an invitation for visitors to stop by, learn about ancient culture and experience – if only in part – life as it was in Ohio’s early days.
The Newark Earthworks, located in Newark and Heath, are a National Historic Landmark consisting of the Great Circle Earthworks, Octagon Earthworks and Wright Earthworks. Though access to the Octagon Earthworks – currently the site of Moundbuilders Country Club – is restricted to scheduled visitation days, the Great Circle Earthworks are open to the public during all daylight hours. Be sure to stop in the Great Circle Museum, where you can learn about the history of the mounds and look at relics from the time period.
The lesser-known Wright Earthworks are tucked into a now-residential area of the city; a portion of one wall that was once a square-shaped mound can be viewed from Newark’s James Street (for GPS directions, input 101 James St., Newark).
Flint Ridge Ancient Quarries and Nature Preserve
Nearby in Glenford, the Flint Ridge Ancient Quarries and Nature Preserve offer a scenic and informative way to experience our state’s heritage. After you stop into the museum (open May through October) for hands-on exhibits and historical information, take a stroll along the flint-laden path through the adjacent forest and marvel about how ancient cultures used this stone in their everyday life. Twice a year, Flint Ridge also hosts “knap-ins”, where visitors can watch artisans craft arrowheads and other items from flint–an art form known as “knapping.”
Serpent Mound Historical Site
The Serpent Mound Historical Site, located in Peebles, is the world’s largest effigy mound – a mound constructed in the shape of an animal. At this site, visitors can stroll past the delicate curvature of these ancient mounds and climb an observation tower for an aerial view. The on-site museum contains an array of displays with information about Ohio’s ancient earthworks.
For additional stops to add to your Ohio Native American history must-see list, check out this list from ohiohistory.org.