The area that is now Kentucky was first inhabited by prehistoric Indians several thousand years ago. The first group to enter the region were nomads who came to hunt game. They were followed by seminomads of the Adena and Hopewell cultures, who flourished from about 1000 B.C. to 1000 A.D. From around 1000 to 1650, Indians of the Mississippian culture lived in western Kentucky, where they farmed, fished, and hunted.

In the 17th century, at the time of contact with whites from the British colonies east of the Appalachians, there were few Indians dwelling permanently in Kentucky. The region, however, was the traditional hunting grounds of the Shawnee and the Cherokee.

Important dates in Kentucky
1750 Thomas Walker made the first thorough exploration of what is now Kentucky.
1767 Daniel Boone made his first journey to Kentucky.
1774 Harrodsburg, Kentucky's first permanent white settlement, was founded.
1775-1783 Frontier leaders defended Kentucky settlements against Indian attacks during the Revolutionary War.
1792 Kentucky became the 15th state on June 1.
1798-1799 The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions declared the federal Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional.
1861-1865 Kentucky stayed in the Union during the American Civil War.
1900 Governor William Goebel was assassinated, and a civil war almost broke out in Kentucky.
1904-1909 Farmers in western and central Kentucky fought the tobacco monopoly in the Tobacco Wars.
1914 The state legislature authorized a statewide system of roads.
1936 The U.S. Treasury established a gold vault at Fort Knox.
1955 Kentucky lowered its voting-age requirement to 18.
1969 The Tennessee Valley Authority completed its largest steam generating plant, at Paradise.
1990 Kentucky launched reform of its public school system with the passage of the Education Reform Act.
1992 Voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing reelection of state officers to a second consecutive term.
2000 Voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing the state legislature to meet every year.