New WYSO podcast tells Ohio history from Indigenous perspective

YELLOW SPRINGS, OHOhio’s Indigenous people have been largely left out of Ohio history narratives. In WYSO’s latest podcast, “The Ohio Country,” the perspectives of Ohio’s tribal nations are at the center of a refreshed version of Ohio’s complicated history.

The 12-episode series, which launches July 2 with a preview, introduces citizens of federally recognized tribes, whose homelands were once in the region we now call Ohio. They tell a version of Ohio history that’s been often overlooked and misunderstood in the nearly 200 years since the tribes were removed. Indigenous scholars and historical researchers and other Ohio and Midwestern scholars explain how generations of broken treaties and deadly conflict with settlers and colonists led to the forced removal of the tribes so their land could be sold and settled. The series also shows how tribal descendants are reviving their languages and renewing their cultures and reaching out to reconnect with Ohio.

In one episode, we meet Jeremy Turner, a citizen of the Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and an Indiana farmer and Eastern Shawnee citizen Talon Silverhorn. They describe the Shawnee hunting and farming practices that sustained their people in the Ohio River Valley for thousands of years—until the disruption brought by European traders, settlers and colonists. In another episode, Dr. Mary Stockwell, Ohio historian and author of “The Other Trail of Tears,” talks about the deadly removal of Shawnee, Miami, Wyandotte and other Indigenous people from Ohio as a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

The podcast also takes us to a stomp dance at the Miami Tribe’s annual Winter Gathering in Oklahoma, marking the 50th anniversary of the partnership between the tribe and Miami University.

The series ends with the opening of Great Council State Park in Greene County, Ohio, built in collaboration with the three federally recognized Shawnee tribes and intended to bring their story to light. “We rarely learned these stories in school—very few of us know what happened to Ohio’s Indigenous tribes,” says Neenah Ellis, former executive director of the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Ellis conceived of the podcast in 2021 and co-produced it with Chris Welter, the Center’s managing editor. “So many narratives have reduced our state’s past to a heroic story about white settlement,” Ellis continues. “Ohio history is bigger than that, richer than that, more complex than that, and curious listeners will welcome this series at a time when Ohio’s indigenous history is deservedly a more common part of public conversations.”

Dr. John Bickers, a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and an assistant professor of history at Case Western Reserve University, is the series cultural adviser. He says that for far too long the story of Native America, and Native Ohio, has been a Euro-American narrative of “settlement” and “progress” that either does not include Indigenous peoples or views them as obstacles to be overcome: “If we exist at all, we are a people of the past with no impact or relationship with Ohio today. What I hope audiences receive from this podcast is not only a better understanding of the vast Indigenous history of Ohio but also the ways in which Indigenous Ohioans and tribal nations with historic ties to Ohio have maintained a presence in the state. Today, Ohio is home to thousands of Native Americans. We are not a people of the past.”

“The Ohio Country” is funded in part by Ohio Humanities with support from WYSO, as well as from the National Endowment for Humanities’ A More Perfect Union initiative and the Kettering Foundation. It is available on all major podcast platforms and on

WYSO is a non-profit, community-owned public radio station serving southwest Ohio with news, music and storytelling. We are the area’s only NPR News station, carrying flagship programs such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Our news team provides local news and public affairs programming and is a founding member of The Ohio Newsroom, a formal collaboration of Ohio’s existing network of public radio newsrooms that creates a sustainable model for news coverage. Our music department produces many unique music programs featuring hand-selected music from songwriters and bands that reach across genres. Our Center for Community Voices provides hands-on audio production and digital storytelling training and producers make stories that address the most pressing issues in our community including race relations, immigration, veterans affairs and more.

Heather Martin