Indiana's geographical location made it a prime spot for French communication lines and trade routes. The French were the first to establish a permanent settlement in Indiana, called Vincennes, during their rule. The name Indiana is derived from the Native American population that inhabited the area, meaning 'Land of the Indians'. Later, the United States Congress divided the Northwest Territory into two sections, with the western section being named Indiana Territory.
In 1816, Congress passed an enabling Act to begin the process of establishing Indiana's statehood. The first inhabitants of what is now Indiana were the Paleo-Indians, who arrived around 8000 BC after glaciers melted at the end of the Ice Age. Divided into small groups, they were nomads who hunted big game such as mastodons. They created stone tools made of flint by chipping, cutting and peeling.
The Archaic period began between 5000 and 4000 BC and saw people develop new tools and techniques for cooking food. This was an important step in civilization. They also made ground stone tools such as stone axes, woodworking tools and sharpening stones. The Woodland period began around 1500 BC when new cultural attributes appeared.
People created pottery and expanded their cultivation of plants. An early group from this period called Adena had elegant burial rituals with log graves under earthen mounds. In the middle of this period, the Hopewell people began to develop long-term trade in goods. As the end of this stage approached, people developed a highly productive crop and adapted agriculture, cultivating crops such as corn and pumpkin.
The historic Native American tribes in the area at the time of European contact spoke different languages of the Algonquian family. These included the Shawnee, Miami and Illini. Later, they were joined by refugee tribes from the east such as the Delaware who settled in the White and Whitewater river valleys. In 1679, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the first European to cross into Indiana after reaching present-day South Bend on the St.
Joseph River. Soon French-Canadian fur traders arrived and brought blankets, jewelry, tools, whiskey and weapons to exchange for furs with Native Americans. In 1702, Sieur Juchereau established the first trading post near Vincennes. In 1715, Sieur de Vincennes built Fort Miami in Kekionga (now Fort Wayne). In 1717, another Canadian Picote de Beletre built Fort Ouiatenon on the Wabash River to try to control Native American trade routes from Lake Erie to the Mississippi River.
In 1732, Sieur de Vincennes built a second fur trading post in Vincennes. French-Canadian settlers returned in large numbers after hostilities forced them to abandon their previous post. British colonists soon arrived from the east and fought against Canadians for control of the lucrative fur trade which led to fighting between French and British colonists throughout the 1750s. Indiana's Native American tribes sided with French Canadians during this time known as the French and Indian War (or Seven Years' War). With Britain's victory in 1763, France was forced to cede all their North American land east of the Mississippi River and north and west of the colonies. Southern Indiana is characterized by rugged mountainous valleys and terrain which contrast with much of the state due to its predominant limestone which has led to many caves, caverns and quarries being formed there.
Indiana is one of thirteen United States states that are divided into more than one time zone. Most of Indiana observes Eastern Time while six counties near Chicago and six near Evansville observe Central Time. Indiana is home to several current and former military installations including Crane Division of Naval Surface Warfare Center which is approximately 25 miles southwest of Bloomington and is one of the largest naval facilities in the world covering 108 square miles of territory. Grissom Air Force Base near Peru was realigned as an Air Force Reserve facility in 1999 while Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis is now closed although Department of Defense continues to operate a large financial center there. Indiana was home to two founding members of National Football League teams - Hammond Pros and Muncie Flyers - as well as Evansville Crimson Giants who spent two seasons in league before retiring. Indiana has had great sporting success at college level with men's basketball team Indiana Hoosiers winning five NCAA national championships and 22 Big Ten Conference championships while Purdue Boilermakers were selected as national champions in 1932 before tournament was created and have won 23 Big Ten championships plus national women's basketball championship with Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In college football Notre Dame Fighting Irish have won 11 consensual national championships plus Rose Bowl Game Cotton Bowl Classic Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl while Purdue Boilermakers have won 10 Big Ten championships plus Rose Bowl and Peach Bowl. Missouri Valley Football Conference Southland Bowling League (women's bowling) are other sports teams based in Indiana. Most Indiana counties use a grid-based system for addressing purposes with roads laid out in a grid pattern with numerical prefixes designating how far east or west a road is from a baseline road (usually State Road 37) while suffixes indicate how far north or south it is from another baseline road (usually State Road 144).