Southeast Indians - The Mississippians in Olden Times for Kids and Teachers Illustration

Mississippians
People of the River
Native Americans
in Olden Times for Kids

Hesci (Hello in Muscogee)

Many years ago, from about 900 AD until about 1450 AD, the Mississippians lived along the banks of the Mississippi River, in the Mississippi Valley.

The Mississippian Culture lasted for hundreds of years. They are often referred to as the mound builders. They spent hundreds of years building huge, steep platforms made of hard packed dirt - mounds. Many of the mounds were built in geometric patterns. Some were very long and wide - 1,000 feet long and over 700 feet wide. If you think of it as a football field - these huge mounds would cover over 3 football fields long and over 2 football fields wide! We're talking huge!

Most of the mounds were not very tall, perhaps only 3 feet or so. But some were over 70 feet tall! Scholars estimate it took over 200 years to build one of the super huge mounds. What does it take to get people working on one project for 200 years? For one thing, it takes strong rulers.

Why all the mounds? Scholars believe that mounds were used as a burial grounds. As archaeologists explore the mounds, they have found the ancient remains of toys and clothes and bones. But some mounds have nothing hidden in the dirt. No one knows what they were built to accomplish. It is a history mystery.

What we do know is that the Mississippians were great traders. They traded with people from the Gulf of Mexico to Great Lakes region. They traded a stone that was native to their area. Natives in other parts of the country used this this stone to make weapons. In exchange they received a variety of goods including copper, food, clothing, pipes, headdresses, and masks. The Mississippians, in their heyday, were a powerful group.

They also grew food. They raised corn, beans, and other food.

The leaders of the Mississippians lived in luxury, with many servants. Government was in the hands of a few. Everyone else took orders and worked very hard to supply the needs of the people.

The Mississippians had no system of writing. But, scholars have found pictographs of winged warriors, feathered snakes, and spiders, which helped them to learn more about these people. It has never been proven, but some scholars believe these ancient people visited the Aztecs in olden times.

Today, the Mississippians are considered a vanished culture. But the people did not actually vanish. Scholars believe that drought, which caused a reduction of crops, together with deforestation and overhunting, forced many people to move away from the major population areas. As well, early European explorers brought disease. The people scattered. They formed new nations, and developed a mix of old and new cultures. There are many historic and modern day Native American nations believe to be descended from the Mississippian culture including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, the Seminole, and many more.

You can learn more about the Mississippians here:

Mississippian Activities for Teachers and Students

Activities available on the Web in HTML format.

Pictionary with the Past
Mississippian Regalia
Mississippian Gorget
Pottery-making Methods
Falcon Dancer Mask

Available as a PDF (Portable Document File), you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read and print these files.

Pictionary with the Past
Mississippian Regalia
Mississippian Gorget
Pottery-making Methods
Falcon Dancer Mask

Free Native American Presentations in PowerPoint format

Free Native American Clip Art

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