Native Americans, who are also known as American Indians, were the original
inhabitants of North America and South America. There are many subgroups
of Native Americans who live in their own nations and tribes. The Mississippians
were one of these groups.
These Native Americans are called the Mississippians because they settled
along the banks of the Mississippi.
The Mississipians were a sedentary people, which means they stayed in
one place instead of moving from place to place in search of food and
shelter. Their community was based on agriculture and they mainly grew
The center of the Mississipians culture was at Cahokia. Cahokia is located
in southeast Illinois at the juncture of the Mississippi, Missouri, and
The Mississippians are also known as moundbuilders because they built
huge earthen mounds. These mounds were built over time and were used to
bury the dead, as well as build temples and other buildings above the
other dwellings of the city.
The Mississippians built many mounds, as many as 120, the largest of
which is Monks Mound. Monks Mound is about 100 feet high.
900 AD - 1500 AD.
The Mississippians lived along the banks of the Mississippi River
in North America. They lived in what is called the American Bottom, which
is located along the lower Mississippi River delta.
The Mississippians settled at the confluence of three major rivers and
four ecozones. The meeting of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers
created an exceptionally fertile and expansive flood plain called the
American Bottom. It stretched 70 miles along the Mississippi from present-day
Alton, Illinois to Chester, Illinois, and was up to 12 miles wide from
the river east to its bluffs. In spring, when rains swelled the bottom
land's streams, water carrying rich silt from the
riverbeds renewed the nutrients essential for consistent and wide-scale
farming. This extensive network of waterways also gave the Mississippians
access to distant areas where they hunted, traded and learned through
the contacts with other cultures.
The Mississippians found a wealth of natural resources in their environment.
The forested Ozark Mountains to the southwest offered important rocks
and minerals, like granite, sandstone, limestone and especially chert,
or flint, for making tools. The Ozarks were full of white-tailed deer,
the Mississippians' primary source of meat and skin for rawhide and clothing.
The prairie to the north and west was a seemingly endless expanse of tall
grasses that were useful for building and furnishing homes and
other structures. The Woodlands to the east of the American Bottom were
rich in nuts and berries, in animal life and in hardwood deciduous trees.
The Mississippi Valley gave the farmers rich soil, abundant aquatic life
and many edible plants.