The Ouiatenon Preserve

Ouiatenon Preserve Overlook

The Ouiatenon Preserve: A Roy Whistler Foundation Project

Fort Ouiatenon (1717-1791) was the first European settlement and the first of three forts built by the French in the 18th Century in what would later become Indiana. It was constructed across the river from the principal Ouiatenon (Wea) Native American village and existed during many of the pivotal periods of early American history including the European colonization of North America, the French and Indiana War, the American Revolution and the subsequent birth of the United States of America and the Northwest Territory Wars. Fort Ouiatenon is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Indiana and is one of the only preserved sites of its type in our country.

The Ouiatenon Preserve is located west of the Fort Ouiatenon Historical Park along South River Road and the Wabash River. It contains the site of the original 1700s era Fort Ouiatenon and nearly 200 acres of land surrounding it. The Ouiatenon Preserve is a Roy Whistler Foundation Project and an Archaeological Conservancy Research Preserve. The property will be co-owned and operated by the Tippecanoe County Historical Association and the Archaeological Conservancy. A significant portion of funding was awarded under the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust and the Indiana Heritage Trust with matching contributions provided by the Roy Whistler Foundation and The Archaeological Conservancy. The purpose of this effort is to protect these unique, important and nationally significant archaeological sites while simultaneously creating a nature preserve that will improve the environmental and ecological health along the Wabash River.

Plans are underway to protect this site for future generations to research and learn from and create a wonderful place in our community to enjoy nature and celebrate our incredibly rich and unique Native American and early European history while improving the health of our environment and river.



Fort Ouiatenon Blockhouse Opening Celebration @ Fort Ouiatenon Historic Park
Jun 3 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Fort Ouiatenon Blockhouse Opening Celebration @ Fort Ouiatenon Historic Park

Celebrate the opening of the Blockhouse Museum at Fort Ouiatenon Historic Park with games and activities for the whole family. Step back in time to the 1700’s- era fur trading post. Encounter characters from this historic fort and learn about the current research being done to help preserve this important site.

The Blockhouse Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

Woodland Native American Life @ TCHA History Center (Former Masonic Lodge)
Jun 10 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Woodland Native American Life @ TCHA History Center (Former Masonic Lodge)

“Their Bearing is Noble and Proud.” presentation by James F. O’Neil. It will be a look at what clothing Native Americans of the 18th Century actually wore.  The talk will be based on period quotes, slides of period paintings, engravings, and sketches, and slides of items that are in museums from around the world.  We will see that the image presented to the world is far from what the Native Americans looked like in this time period.  We will also look at the effect of the fur trade upon the appearance of Native Americans.

James F. O’Neil has a Bachelors in history and masters in education from the University of Dayton. He compiled and edited “Their Bearing is Noble and Proud Vol. I & II”, A collection of narratives regarding the appearance of Native Americans from 1740-1815.

Firearms at the Fort @ Fort Ouiatenon Historic Park, River Shelter
Jul 1 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Firearms at the Fort @ Fort Ouiatenon Historic Park, River Shelter

The program, entitled Firearms at the Fort will be a discussion and live – fire demonstration of historic firearms of the 18th century frontier.  The program will be led by Rick Conwell, manager of the Tippecanoe Battlefield Interpretive Center and History Store, with the support and cooperation of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.

Visitors will have the chance to:

  • Examine and handle, (with supervision), several original and reproduction arms.
  • View firearms related artifacts from TCHA’s collections which were excavated at the site of Fort Ouiatenon during the 1970’s.
  • Learn how a flintlock works, both from the inside and out, and, btw, why do they call it a “lock”, anyway?
  • Learn the differences and similarities between a musket, a rifle, and a “trade gun”, and the military, social, and economic rolls each played in daily life at the fort.
  • Examine the equipment and accessories peculiar to each type of arm, along with how each is safely loaded, fired, and maintained.
  • Discuss the technological progress that led to the development of modern firearms as we know them today.
  • Find out what a ”Kentucky” rifle is, how it got the name, why the barrel is so long, and how far it will shoot.
  • Learn what we mean by “guage” and “caliber”.
  • Find out how to tell if it’s loaded, and how to safely extract a load.

The program will be held at the west picnic shelter near the boat ramp. The Ouiatenon  blockhouse will also be open, set up to resemble an early French trading post and staffed with historical interpreters in period clothing. So bring a picnic lunch, if you like, and make it an afternoon of historical fun and education. 



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