10,000BCE–1518CE
Early Civilizations: The First Peoples

This era examines the people who call Mississippi their aboriginal homeland. Native Mississippians lived in this area for over 12,000 years before contact with Europeans and eventual removal.

This span of time is often referred to as “precontact,” referring to the time before encounters with Europeans. Information about precontact culture is derived from a combination of Native oral tradition and the archaeological record. Native Americans have a long history of oral traditions. These include stories about the creation of the world, migration of people, interactions between animals, and a plethora of other topics. Understanding oral traditions is the most important way to understand the culture and everyday lives of Native people in the past. Archaeologists study how people in the past lived using the material remains that people left behind, such as tools, buildings, artwork, settlements, mounds and other earthworks, and trash. The combination of oral histories and archaeological evidence informs a more complete picture of the past.

Mississippi precontact era is divided into four broad periods:

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