The Ouiatenon Preserve- A Roy Whistler Foundation Project has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is a 310 acre archaeological and nature preserve along the Wabash River approximately 3/4 of a mile west of the Tippecanoe County Parks Department Fort Ouiatenon Park. It is co-owned by the Tippecanoe County Historical Association and The Archaeological Conservancy and is operated by Ouiatenon Preserve Inc. It is currently the only National Historic Landmark -Archaeological District in the State of Indiana.
The Ouiatenon Preserve contains the archaeological site of Fort Ouiatenon, established by France in 1717, as well as more than a dozen other sites relating to it, including the sites of Native American Kickapoo and Mascouten villages. While the Native American history of our region dates back to over 10,000 years, Fort Ouiatenon was the first fortified European settlement in what would later become Indiana. The First of three such forts establish by France in the early 18th Century. Others being Fort Miamis c.1722 (modern Fort Wayne) and Fort Vincennes c.1731. The site of Ouiatenon is internationally recognized, as one of the best archaeologically preserved sites of its type because unlike many other such sites, later 19th and 20th century urban development did not occur at the site.
The Preserve is a designated National Historic Landmark Archaeological District, and the only one in the State of Indiana. It was awarded the Depart of Natural Resources Archaeology Award in 2018, is a designated Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project, and is one of the largest archaeological preserves east of the Mississippi River in The Archaeological Conservancy network of more than 550 sites across the United States. The Preserve was dedicated in 2016 and was made possible largely through the financial support of the Roy Whistler Foundation, the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust and Indiana Heritage Trust. The Roy Whistler Foundation, for their support for the creation of the Preserve was recognized with an award from the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation. With support from the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, Tippecanoe Soils and Water Conservation District and the US Fish and Wildlife Department, 275 acres of former agricultural fields are currently being restored to a native lowland prairie. This protects the archaeological sites from erosion and provides critical habitat for native flora and fauna.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy the Ouiatenon Preserve Overlook that provides a wonderful vista, view of the site, and wildlife observation opportunities (binoculars recommended). Interpretive signage is currently under development as well as are plans for a future interpretive trail. The rest of the Preserve is currently restricted access, although private and group tours may be arranged.