The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state of the United States located in the southern part of the United States, although geographically it is also sometimes included in the Midwest. In 1792, Kentucky became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the fact that blue grass is found in many prairies throughout the state. Kentucky is also known for its thoroughbred horses, horse racing, bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music and high school basketball.
In 1776 the county of Virginia outside the Appalachian Mountains became known to European-Americans as Kentucky County, named for the Kentucky River. The exact etymology of the name is uncertain, but is likely based on an Iroquoian name meaning "(in) the meadow" or "(in) the meadow" (cf. Mohawk kenhtà:ke, Seneca gëdá'geh (phonemic /kɛ̃taʔkɛh/), "in the field"). Others suggest the term Kenta Aki, which may be of Algonquian origin and may be of Shawnee origin. Folk etymology translates this as "Land of the Our Father". The closest approximation in another Algonquian language, Ojibwe, translates as "The Land of Our In-laws", thus making a fairer English translation "The Land of Those Who Became Our Fathers". However, the word aki means "land" in most Algonquian languages. Some have also theorized that the name Kentucky may be a corruption of the word Catawba, referring to the Catawba people who inhabited Kentucky.
Native American settlement
It is not known exactly when the first humans arrived in what is now Kentucky. Based on evidence in other areas, humans most likely lived in Kentucky before 10,000 BC, but "archaeological evidence of their occupation has not been documented". Around 1800 BC, a gradual transition began from a hunter-gatherer economy to agriculture. Around 900 CE, Mississippian culture took root in western and central Kentucky; instead, Forts of Ancient Culture appeared in eastern Kentucky. While the two have much in common, the distinctive ceremonial earthen mounds built in the former centers are not part of the latter's culture.
Around the 10th century, Kentucky's native maize varieties became very productive, replacing the Eastern Agricultural Complex, and replacing it with maize-based agriculture in the Mississippi era. French explorers in the 17th century documented many of the tribes living in Kentucky until the Beaver Wars in the 1670s; however, by the time European colonial explorers and settlers began to enter Kentucky in greater numbers in the mid-18th century, there were no major Native American settlements in the region.
In the 16th century, the area known as Kentucky was home to tribes from five different cultural groups – Iroquoian, Sioux, Algonquian, Muskogean, and Yuchi. Around the Bluestone River is Siouan Tutelo. To the north of the Tennessee River is the Yuchi and to the south is the Cherokee. Most of the interior of the state is controlled by Cisca; the area where the Mississippi and Ohio meet is home to the Chickasaw. During the period known as the War of the Beavers, 1640–1680, another Algonquian tribe called the Maumee, or Mascouten were driven out of southern Michigan. Most of them moved to Kentucky, pushing Kispoko east and war broke out with Tutelo which pushed them deeper into Appalachia, where they joined Saponi and Moneton. Maumee is closely related to the Miami of Indiana. Later, Kispoko merged with the Shawnee (which broke away from Powhatan on the east coast) and Thawikila of Ohio to form the larger Shawnee state that inhabited the Ohio River Valley until the 19th century.
The Cherokees from the south and the Shawnees from the northeast also follow