Geophysical Survey of Native American Village Sites Adjacent to Fort Ouiatenon

Fort Ouiatenon markerISAS was awarded a National Park Service grant in collaboration with the University of Southern Indiana (the lead university).  Robert McCullough and the Central Illinois Field Office staff will be working with Michael Strezewski to collect magnetometry and soil resistivity data from a series of sites on and around the 18th-century French Fort Ouiatenon near Lafayette, Indiana.

Built in 1717, Fort Ouiatenon has the distinction of being the first permanent Euro-American presence within the state of Indiana. Its establishment came at the request of the Wea tribe and was built by the French as a trading post and as a means to check British expansion into the area. The fort remained a trading post and locality for Native American occupation after it fell to the British and was then abandoned in 1763. The native occupation continued until 1791 when punitive military action by Kentucky militia under the command of Brigadier General Charles Scott destroyed the native settlements on and surrounding the fort location. Later that year, James Wilkinson returned to burn replanted crops at Ouiatenon and related villages, as well as to destroy additional settlements along the central Wabash River.

Previous work by Strezewski and McCullough has demonstrated that magnetometer surveys were an effective means of identifying native structures on the landform that supports the fort location. The current project will continue the magnetometer survey- but will also include targeted soil resistivity survey on the fort location and on five fur trade era sites in the immediate vicinity of the fort.

This project will be funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund administrated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.