Kentucky actually means grassland... There are many articles about Kentucky and the discription of it being called the Dark & Bloody Ground on the net worth checking out. This is just one that I found interesting. Judy
THIS IS IN PART FROM:
This essay was excerpted from a longer article of the same name by A. Gwynn Henderson published by the Kentucky Heritage Council in Native Peoples, Continuing Lifeways: The Native American Cultural Project, edited by Stephanie Darst and David Pollack, 1994.
Separating Fact From Fiction: Myths About Kentucky's Native Peoples
Few Kentuckians are aware of the richness and diversity of the Commonwealth's native cultural heritage. It's easy to forget that native peoples lived here, since neither large resident American Indian communities nor tracts of land set aside as reservations exist in Kentucky today.
A consideration of four main STEREOTYPES and MYTHS can help present a truer picture of Kentucky's indigenous groups. These are:
1) native groups never lived permanently in what is now Kentucky, they used it only as a hunting ground;
2) native peoples were savages or were children of nature;
3) a race of Moundbuilders, not Kentucky's prehistoric native peoples, built the mounds; and
4) all native peoples shared a similar way of life.
1)The MYTH of the Dark and Bloody Ground: Indians Never Lived Permanently in Kentucky
Perhaps the most TENACIOUS MYTH is the myth of the Dark and Bloody Ground. It would have us believe that before Euro-American settlement, native peoples never lived permanently in Kentucky; instead they only hunted here and fought over it. This myth has persisted for a number of reasons: differences between Euro-American and aboriginal conceptions of land ownership; distinctions the settlers perceived between historic American Indian culture and the remains left by prehistoric Indian groups; the benefit land speculators derived from encouragement of this myth; the violent conflicts that took place between Indians and Euro-American settlers during the 1770s and 1780s; and the myth's early codification by widely read author and land speculator John Filson.
The settlers' concept of land ownership differed from that of the Indians'. When the settlers "bought" land, they were buying it for their personal, exclusive use. When the Indians "sold" land, it was access to the land or use-rights they were selling, but not the land itself. Land was available for all to use because, from the Indians' point of view, the land could not be owned. The settlers interpreted this to mean that "no one" owned the land and therefore had no claim on it, which meant it was free for the taking.
The settlers saw no permanent Indian villages in Kentucky when they arrived. These people did not build mounds, and yet the landscape was dotted with these features. Because the settlers believed that the Indians they knew lacked the technology and cultural sophistication to build mounds, they did not consider the Indians they knew to be related to these prehistoric people. The native peoples they met face to face must be newcomers, too, and so the Euro-Americans considered their own claims as newcomers to the land as valid as the Indians' claims.
In the late 1700s, land speculators and settlers thought that a conflict over Kentucky existed between Indian groups, and that the land was not claimed by anyone. This interpretation suited their needs very well. If Kentucky was not Indian territory, land speculators could justify selling this "free" land to settlers. If Kentucky was not Indian territory, settlers had every right to move into the area and set up farms.
The myth of the Dark and Bloody Ground has served Kentucky well. Early Kentucky land speculators had everything to gain and nothing to lose by perpetuating it. Without permanent native inhabitants and unclaimed by any native groups, a dark and bloody Kentucky contested by many meant that the land was empty, open, and free to whoever got there first. It was the perfect advertising slogan, and it worked remarkably well. Today the Myth remains a convenient, though by now probably unconscious, rationalization for the theft of American Indian lands in the state.
2)The Myth of the Savage Indian/Child of Nature
This myth characterizes natives throughout North America, as savage, dull, and brutish, living a marginal, "primitive" existence. This stereotype makes it difficult for many people to believe that Kentucky's native people or their ancestors are worthy of our cultural respect..
While it is true that American Indian technology was neither as advanced nor as complex as that of the Euro-Americans, this difference in technology does not warrant judging native lifeways as inferior. To do so is to fall victim to ethnocentrism (the emotional attitude that one's own culture, race, or nation is superior to all others). As anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss noted, "a primitive people is not a backward or retarded people; indeed it may possess a genius for invention or action that leaves the achievements of civilized peoples far behind." In other words, "simple" does not imply "simple-minded."
A corollary myth to the "Savage Indian" is the "Child of Nature" myth that American Indians are innocent victims of white depravity, of the "manifest destiny" of a callous, land-hungry civilization. Native peoples are praised as examples of humans living in harmony with the environment. But this is reverse ethnocentrism and a stereotype that also denies their humanity. It is no more true of Native Americans than of any other pre-industrial people. Alvin Josephy points out in his study of American Indian heritage that Native Americans "were, and are, all kinds of real, living persons like any others," and included "peace-loving wise men, mothers who cried for the safety of their children, young men who sang songs of love and courted maidens, dullards, statesmen, cowards, and patriots."
3)The Myth of the Moundbuilders
Two hundred years ago, Euro-Americans could not believe that the American Indians they met and interacted with had ever possessed the engineering and administrative skills needed to build mounds. Similarly, they did not think that American Indians could have been responsible for the finely-crafted objects recovered from early mound excavations. To explain the mounds, Americans postulated the existence of a unified and civilized race, far superior to the Indians, who had once ruled an empire in the Ohio Valley. This is the Myth of the Moundbuilders. Today, we know that the great earthen mounds in Kentucky and elsewhere in the Woodlands east of the Mississippi River were constructed by the ancestors of the American Indians the settlers encountered.
4)The Myth of a Shared Way of Life
The "American Indian" brings to mind an image that has been fashioned by radio, television, and the movies. The tall, lithe, young bronze man dressed in deerskin leggings and shirt, with long braided hair armed with weapons ready to fight atop his spotted pony; or the stooped, white-haired old man who speaks wisdom in images from the accumulated experiences of centuries of tribal traditions and his own warrior days.
According to this stereotype (or some version of it), all American Indians hunted buffalo, carved totem poles, lived in tipis, ate corn, built mounds, and warred constantly Kentucky's native peoples, the myth suggests, were no different than groups who lived originally in Kansas, New York, Georgia, Arizona, or Oregon. This stereotype is incorrect, mixing together characteristics of hundreds of Native American groups across time and space into a "generic" American Indian culture. It is analogous to describing all Europeans as people who drink beer, grow grapes, live in castles, eat pasta, attend bullfights, and war constantly. In truth, there were and are many Native American Indian ways of life, as diverse in Kentucky throughout prehistory as they are diverse in North America throughout history.