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American Indian History

American Indian History

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Published by tex1965able
History of American Natives,the culture to is for all.
History of American Natives,the culture to is for all.

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Published by: tex1965able on Nov 19, 2010
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Date: c. 9500 b.c.e.-c. 1600 c.e.
Locale: Southeastern North America
Tribesinvolved:Paleo-IndianpredecessorstoAlabama,Atakapa,Biloxi,
Caddo, Calusa, Catawba, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Chitimacha, Choc-
taw,Coushatta,Creek,Hasinai,Hitchiti,Mobile,Natchez,Pensacola,
Seminole, Timucua, Tuskegee, Yamasee
Categories: Pre-Columbian history
Significance: The native inhabitants of the Southeast had a long and
complex evolution into a number of different types of culture.

The prehistory of the Southeast may be divided into five basic periods:
Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Early and Middle Woodland, Mississippian, and
Later Woodland Tribal.
The first known inhabitants of the Southeastern region were Clovis cul-
ture Paleo-Indians who arrived about 9500 b.c.e. following the herd of
mammoths. They were efficient hunters, and by 9000 b.c.e., aided by a
warming climate, they had killed all the mammoths. They were replaced
by the bighorn bison specialists known as Folsom. Adopting the atlatl (or
spearthrower), they moved in smaller bands but still in a nomadic manner.
Local variations of nomadic big-game hunters, including the Cumberland,
harvested a variety of large animals until approximately 8000 b.c.e. One of
the oldest Indian skeletons was found at Little Salt Spring in southern
Florida, dated at 9000 b.c.e.
At approximately 8000 b.c.e., a transition was made to the Archaic cul-
ture. For 6,500 years, or more than half of the entire period of human oc-
cupation, the Archaic peoples dominated the Southeast. Spread over eons
of time and a large region, there were many variations of the culture. All
showed a mastery of hunting and gathering and effective adaptation to
lifeintheriverandstreambottomsofawetarea.Theyhuntedwhite-tailed
deer, buffalo, rabbit, squirrel, and ducks and other birds. They became
the first fishers of the area, specializing in catfish in many areas. They
also gathered the abundant wild plant matter. From the first, they wan-
dered less, and by 4500 b.c.e. they had settled down to centralized move-
ment based on two homes: one on the stream and one nearby in the
hillcountry.Thisbroughtaboutapopulationexplosion.By2500b.c.e.,pot-
tery had reached the Savannah River area, from where it slowly spread
throughout the Southeast. In 1700 b.c.e., the Poverty Point culture ap-
peared in northern Louisiana; it probably consisted of migrants from

Prehistory: Southeast / 447

Mexico. They brought elaborate villages, small-scale agriculture, and jade-
working.

Combinedwithinfluencesfromthenorth,PovertyPointledtotheEarly
Woodland phase. The most noticeable factor in Early Woodland is the ap-
pearance of a cult of the dead, with its burial mounds filled with grave
goods. By 1 c.e., improved agriculture had led to the much more elabo-
rate Middle Woodland period, with hundreds of oval and circular burial
mounds. Their grave goods included copper from Lake Superior, obsidian
from the Rockies, and soapstone from Minnesota, indicating both a long-
range trading system and excellent craftsmanship. After 400 c.e., Middle
Woodland declined from overpopulation, too much violence, local goods
competing with the imported, and perhaps other causes.
About800c.e.,theclimacticMississippiancultureemergedtodominate
most of the Southeast, except Virginia and Florida, until 1600. Based on an
elaborate maize, beans, and squash agriculture (with fields often running
for miles along river bottoms), they developed city-states such as Mound-

448 / Prehistory: Southeast

Manahoac

Saponi
Monacan

Tutelo

Waccamaw

Catawba

Cheraw

Cherokee

Yuchi

Coushatta

Guale

Yamasee

Calusa

Seminole

Ais

Timucua

Apalachee

Chiaha

Hitchiti

Creek

Mobile

Tohome

Alabama

Tuskegee

Chickasaw

Choctaw

Biloxi

Chitimacha

Houma

Natchez

Yazoo

Ofo

Tunica

Atakapa

Hasinai

Caddo

Southeast Culture Area

ville, Alabama; Mound Bottom, Tennessee; Etowah and Okmulgee, Geor-
gia; and Natchez, Mississippi, all of which were centered on mound towns.
Moundtownsweretemplemoundsonwhichwerebuiltreligiousandgov-
ernmental centers and possibly homes for the prominent. They were a
highly stratified society led by priest-rulers and a nobility. After 1200,
the Southern Death Cult imported from Mexico dominated religion. Art
reached its pre-white climax in pottery, statuary, and shell-work.
The Mississippians dominated the Southeast when Hernando de Soto
traveled the region from 1539 to 1543, but they had disappeared from ev-
erywhere but Natchez by the early 1600’s. European diseases are often
blamed for their downfall, but it is also known that Moundville split up
from overpopulation. The Mississipians were replaced by the Cherokee,
Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw, as well as many other tribes, by the time
of white entry in the early 1600’s.
Seealso:Prehistory:Arctic;Prehistory:California;Prehistory:GreatBa-
sin;Prehistory:Northeast;Prehistory:NorthwestCoast;Prehistory:Plains;
Prehistory: Plateau; Prehistory: Southwest; Prehistory: Subarctic.

Fred S. Rolater

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