Strawtown Koteewi Park History

Early Delaware Indians
Koteewi is the Miami Native American word for "prairie". The Delaware Indians inhabited this area after relocating from Ohio around 1795. The Miami Native Americans were stated to have lived and traveled in this area.

These Indians lived off the Strawtown land through fishing, hunting, and farming. The 1st white settlers arrived in this area in 1818 and the Treaty of St. Mary's called for the natives to vacate their lands by 1821.

Settler Interactions with Delaware Indians

The white settlers traded with the Delaware Indians offering glass beads, steel knives, axes, hatchets, blankets, alcohol, and money for the natives' fur pelts, maple sugar, syrup, woven baskets, and beaded moccasins. The Indians were experienced at creating fur pelts and providing superior quality fur. The Delaware Indians farmed this land and lived mainly off maize or corn. This was their staple food item but they also raised beans, pumpkins, squash, and tobacco.

Early Hamilton County & Strawtown
In 1823 Hamilton County was created by the Indiana State Legislators made up of 2 townships: Delaware consisting of the Southern half and White River being the Northern half.

Strawtown is one of the oldest towns in Hamilton County. On July 27, 1836 Bicknell Cole and William Conner recorded the 1st plat of Strawtown, even though the name had been used prior but did not have any record.

Early Indiana Trails
The early trails in central Indiana came together at Strawtown. These trails were shallow places that the river could easily be crossed therefore accommodating pedestrians and horse travel.

Conner trail came through Strawtown and was a frequently traveled trail. It originated in the Cincinnati area and headed north to Strawtown and then south towards Indianapolis.

Strawtown Growth
Many settlers came to the area due to the farm land and ease of travel. The town began to thrive and additions were made. The 1st school opened in the winter of 1822 and was a cabin on the Michael French farm north of Strawtown. Additions to the town included the school, church, tavern, post office and general stores. Many of these buildings were torn down in the 1930's due to the poor structural quality. Strawtown was considered to become the state capitol since that area was highly traveled by settlers.

In the 1840's and 1850's the town stopped growing due to the alternate means of transportation. Railroads were a huge development and the use of the trails around Strawtown ceased. The cities that were closest to railroads prospered, while Strawtown was 4 miles from the nearest railroad.

Michigan Road Development

The development of Michigan Road impacted the Strawtown area.

Lafayette Trace Route
The Strawtown land is rich in Indiana history. The Lafayette Trace route went directly through the park and was highly traveled by Native Americans and early settlers. It was a game trail and trace route and eventually transformed into a trade route as well.

Purchased in 1999 from the estate of a local resident, Dan Taylor, the park has some of the most significant archaeological sites in Indiana. The park covers 750 acres of former undeveloped land in northern Hamilton County. Located along the west fork of the White River, the property contains woods, prairies, wetlands, 3.25 miles of riparian corridors, and wildlife along with newly built trails for recreational activities.

Early Settlers & Hunters
Through the archaeological findings at the park, more knowledge is being uncovered about the inhabitants of the land. The Paleo-Indians are considered to be the 1st Hoosiers. At the end of the most recent ice age, they were nomadic hunters and gatherers that tracked mammoths and mastodons. That prey was most likely responsible for the creation of a game trail that traveled through what is now Strawtown Koteewi Park. Today, the fossilized remains of those ancient mammals have been unearthed very near to the park's boundaries.

The Woodland Era Native Americans had heavy concentration on the land. They populated Indiana between 1000 B.C. and 1400 A.D. The Oliver Phase Native Americans were Indiana's 1st large scale farmers settled on Strawtown Koteewi between 1250 A.D. and 1400 A.D. Through archaeological findings, they had a very complex village.

Strawtown Koteewi Park Today
Construction began in 2002 to further develop the park. The Taylor Center of Natural History was named after the former land owner. It opened in 2005 to serve as an educational and interpretive centerpiece of the park.

Strawtown Koteewi Park Exhibit
The facility includes an exhibit area showcasing information on the park and archaeological finds, a classroom for educating student and visitor groups, a laboratory to clean and catalog artifacts, and a curation room and research headquarters. All archaeological resources on display have been gathered by professional archaeologists and have been obtained following Indiana State Law.

Park Amenities
The parks development has included trails, the Taylor Center of Natural History, interpretation of Native American life, canoe launch, and toboggan run and sledding hills.