Indiana State Study

IndianaSmack dab in the middle of the heartland and home to the Hoosiers and the Indianapolis 500, it’s time for an Indiana State Study.

Indiana History

Indiana was the center of the Adena culture and the later Hopewell people, two highly organized and advanced groups of people who lived before the modern tribes that the Europeans found inhabiting the North American continent.  When the Europeans did arrive it was the Miami, the Shawnee, and the Illini who inhabited the land that is now Indiana.
The French were the first to move in, explore, trade with the tribes, and lay claim to the land.  Then the British fearful of being cut off from the Mississippi waterway and already fighting with the France in Europe made it a point to wrest the territory from Canada.  They were successful, only to have the upstart rebels from the American colonies wrest it from the British.  This territory to the west of the 13 colonies was known as the Northwest Territory and the United States was awarded the territory after the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Revolutionary War.

The United States divided the territory further into Ohio territory, which they designated for new European settlers and the Indian territory, which was held reserved for Indian tribes.  Eventually this territory was whittled down further into the current state of Indiana.  The tribes weren’t quiet through all of this European and American land grabbing.  They launched several rebellions including the famed Pontiac’s Rebellion.

This is the siege of Fort Detroit, an event during Pontiac’s Rebellion. Image in the public domain.

Indiana was granted statehood in 1816.  To attract new citizens to the state and create better economic and social conditions, Indiana began major road, canal, and railroad building projects, and established publicly funded schools.  The program was a complete financial disaster and bankrupted the state.  However, it did  create an environment which turned Indiana into a center for industrial development when the industrial revolution came along.  Today Indiana is still heavily industrial, supporting large population centers.  It also has big agriculture in soybeans, corn, hogs, cattle and many other crops.

Central Indiana is flat, fertile, and covered in squared off farmers fields like these. Image in the public domain.

Fabulous Facts About Indiana

  • 84% of the population are Christian of various denominations, most of the rest are secular.
  • The first long distance automobile race ever held in the U.S. happened at the Indianapolis motor speedway.  The cars traveled a whopping 75 miles per hour . . . I know you’ve done more than that on the freeway.
  • Abraham Lincoln grew up in Indiana.
  • The state is called the Hoosier state, but no one is really sure why.
  • Raggedy Ann was born in Indianapolis.
  • Indiana is criss-crossed with more interstate highways than any other state, thus the motto “Crossroads of America.”
  • Indian limestone was used to build the United States Treasury building, the Pentagon, the Empire State building, the Rockefeller Center, and over a dozen state capitol buildings.
  • Large Mennonite and Amish communities are located in the northeastern area of the state.

Indiana Map Exploration

Color an Indiana Map.


Here are some ideas on how to do the map work.

  • Label major cities, rivers, and landmarks.
  • Make an elevation map.
  • Show the screwy timezones in Indiana and learn more about the time zone debate and the daylight savings time debate in Indiana.  Take it a step further and take sides, holding a formal debate over the issue.
  • Make a map showing the lands occupied by the tribes of Indiana.  Learn more about their history.
  • Make a population map.  Include graphs of various distribution facts like religion, ethnicity, age, etc.
This is downtown Indianapolis, the largest city in Indiana. Photo in the public domain, Wikimedia.

Additional Layers

  • Compare the Indiana state tax system to the system of your own state.  Compare the economics of the state to yours.  Which do you think is a better system?  Which parts of yours would you keep and which parts of Indiana’s?
  • Research some of Indiana’s famous car races like the Indianapolis 500.
  • Read poetry by James Whitcomb Riley, an Indiana native.
  • Learn about the greatest Olympic swimmer ever, Mark Spitz, an Indiana boy.
  • What is limestone and why does Indiana have so much of it?

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One Comment

  1. In Indianapolis, we abbreviate the state capital to “Indy”. And that building with the two antennae in the photo of downtown Indy? We call that “The Bunny Ears Building”! 🙂

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