An Examination Of The Mississippian Culture
Mississippian culture refers to a Native American civilization that dominated a large portion of the Eastern United states between the years of 800 and 1600 CE. A vast network of Native American tribes, settlements, and villages were included within this civilization. They were primarily linked together via a trade network, which was responsible for spreading significant cultural influence.
It is so called Mississippian culture because it originated from the Mississippi River valley. Similar traits were exhibited in the nearby Tennessee River Valley as well. The culture began to flourish in 800 CE. It remained dominant in the area until the exploration of Hernando de Soto. There are very few signs of Mississippian culture existing past 1540, which is around the time that Hernando was exploring that region of North America.
What Are Their Traits?
This particular culture can be identified by observing its cultural traits. Not every village or settlement would follow the exact same activities or exhibit the same traits, but you could always find some of these traits in each settlement.
The building of large, earthen mounds is one of their most significant traits. The mounds may be used as the base for housing, for temples, or even burial sites. They were most often square in shape. Some were rectangular and very few had a circular shape. The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois has the largest of the remaining mound structures.
Other traits included extremely long trade routes that could reach as far north as the Great Lakes and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. They institutionalized social inequality and developed a chiefdom system in their villages.
What Happened To It All?
There are still many Mississippian sites remaining in part in the United States. As for the people themselves, it is believed that many of the historic and modern era Native American tribes descended from these Mississippian people. This includes the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Apalachee.