The "Indian Motocycle Co." was founded as the Hendee Manufacturing Company by George M. Hendee in 1897 to manufacture bicycles. The bicycles carried brand names such as Silver King, Silver Queen, and American Indian, which was shortened to simply “Indian” and became Hendee’s primary brand name.
George Hendee hired Oscar Hedstrom in 1900 - Both Hendee and Hedstrom were former bicycle racers and manufacturers.
During the 1910s, Indian became the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. Indian's most popular models were the Scout, made from 1920 to 1946, and the Chief, made from 1922 until 1953, when the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company went bankrupt