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Prehistoric Indians of the Southeast

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1 Prehistoric Indians of the Southeast
The first people in North America Melissa Knowles

2 Paleo-Indians 10,000 years ago the first to inhabit Russell Cave National Monument crossed the Bering Strait land bridge into North America. Small groups migrated east across North America. Along the way this nomadic culture stalked the massive herds of animals and learned how to survive the bitter arctic weather. The artifacts that remain have to do with tools.

3 How did we know about the Paleo - Indians ?
Most of the Paleo people's story was told through the eyes of the archeologists that studied their culture.   Archeologists have agreed from the artifacts studied at various sites that this culture's livelihood depended highly on stone weapons in order to hunt the towering ice age animals. SO… what did they hunt?

4 Mastodon

5 How did the hunt that huge animal!!!
The main weapon : atlatl The atlatl was a wooden stick with a hook on the end. Hunters used the atlatl as a throwing arm to increase the distance they could throw.

6 Archaic Indians Archaic (a term meaning ancient period)
People lived in small communities of closely related family members, known as bands. They obtained food by collecting naturally occurring edible plants and hunting wild animals, a way of life that archaeologists call a hunting-and-gathering economy.

7 What do you see?

8 Yummy! Nuts Fruits Greens Meat Seafood

9 New technology The Process of grinding stones into desirable shape, such as tools and ornaments. These items included weights for fishing nets, axes, pipes, and even large stone cooking bowls. They also fashioned beads and pendants out of colorful rocks.

10 Late Archaic Indians Long-distance exchange networks were established and they traded more raw materials and finished goods. Rocks such as greenstone, steatite, and mica from east Alabama, iron ore from central and north Alabama, flint from north Alabama, and sandstone from southwest Alabama were all quarried and traded around what is now the southeastern United States in a network that linked together many different societies across the region. In the latter centuries of the Archaic period, people began experimenting with horticulture, instead of simply gathering wild plants. There is evidence that people grew small amounts of squash, sunflowers, and other seed-bearing plants in simple gardens during this time, based on plant remains found at archaeological sites. The people did not grow enough of these plants to live off of the produce.

11 Woodland Indians Horticulture, pottery-making, the
bow and arrow, and complex ceremonies surrounding death and burial this group. People usually located their base camps along the Gulf Coast or in Alabama's river valleys and then left as needed to hunt or fish in the surrounding areas. Unlike the people of the Late Archaic, Early Woodland peoples generally did not travel long distances from their base camps. As a result, the long-distance exchange networks broke down. Leadership during the Early Woodland probably consisted of a male elder who provided guidance to the band but had no real power. Everyone was of generally equal status in Early Woodland society.

12 Feed Me! Woodland Indians had basically the same tools as Archaic Indians. They did begin to use a bow and arrow in hunting. Woodland people still hunted, fished, and gathered wild foods, but they also spent increasing amounts of time tending their plots of maize, squash, and other plants. Because they now grew food that could be stored, people developed large, rounded jars used for storage of surplus food.

13 Mounds… why? Mound-building seems to have originated in what is now Louisiana during the Archaic, but by about 1000 BC the tradition was adopted by people all over eastern North America. They were usually conical or dome-shaped and were small, usually between two and five feet high and 30 to 60 feet across at the base. The mounds generally were built on top of burial pits or tombs of important individuals. Often buried with the person were items such as projectile points, natural pigments like ocher, or a few special trade items. Not all Early Woodland people were buried under mounds. As with pottery styles, there was much geographic variability in Early Woodland mortuary practices.

14 What do you notice?

15 Mound builders We will watch a short video about this group later.
You may visit the Alabama mound sites. The Woodland Indians in our area used huts, such as these.

16 Mississippian Indians
Mississippian culture was not a single "tribe," but many societies sharing a similar way of life or tradition. Mississippian peoples lived in fortified towns or small homesteads, grew corn, built large earthen mounds, maintained trade networks, had powerful leaders, and shared similar symbols and rituals.

17 Dinnertime The Mississippians farmed, hunted, and fished.
They grew corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers in plots worked by hand with shell or stone hoes. Farmers cleared fields by burning areas of forest, but because they used no fertilizer, they had to create new fields after a few growing seasons. This practice is still in use among some indigenous peoples of the world and is known as slash-and-burn agriculture. Nuts, acorns, and wild fruits supplemented the cultivated crops. With no domesticated animals except the dog, Mississippian people performed their own field labor and hunted wild game. Fish, deer, and turtles were important sources of protein.

18 Home Sweet Home Mississippian houses rotted away long ago, but archaeologists find remains of house walls and features in the form of square, rectangular, and circular soil stains. Most houses were small, one-room buildings barely large enough for two or three people to sleep in. Walls consisted of vertical logs, covered with cane wattles, grass thatch, or sometimes a mud-and-straw plaster (daub). Fireplace hearths were placed directly on the earthen floor or in clay-lined basins.

19 Hail to the Chief! Chiefdoms, a form of political organization united under an official leader, or "chief." Chiefdom societies were organized by families of differing social rank or status. Although people in chiefdoms inherited their rank at birth, they could gain prestige through personal achievement, as shown in the historical evidence. Spanish documents mention powerful chiefs living in large capital towns marked by earthen mounds and protected by wooden palisades. Less powerful chiefs in smaller surrounding settlements paid tribute to their capital town. Archaeologists have discovered that prehistoric Mississippians had a similar pattern of settlement. For example, the Moundville site was a large, fortified capital town containing many mounds that was surrounded by smaller, one-mound sites.

20 Game Time Games were an important part of Mississippian life, and one of the best known Chunkey this game, a large stone disk was thrown and as it rolled, a player tried to toss his spear closest to where he thought the disk would stop rolling.

21 Mounds of Mounds In the Mississippian period, burial mounds served as monuments to high-ranking families, but mounds were built for other purposes as well. Many mounds are flat-topped platforms of earth; most are less than 10 feet high, but some are larger. The largest known Mississippian mound, 100 feet high, is at the Cahokia site, located in Illinois just across the river from St. Louis, Missouri.

22 What do they remind you of?
Mississippian Mounds What do they remind you of?

23 Bye – Bye Mississippians
Prehistory came to an end in Alabama when Mississippian peoples met the army of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto in 1540. This and other encounters with Europeans introduced new diseases for which the long-isolated indigenous peoples had no resistance. Thousands died, bringing the Mississippian Tradition to an end.

24 How do we know all this? Archaeologists learn about the lives of prehistoric peoples by studying the remains of the things that they made and used, which they call artifacts. The most common types of artifacts found at prehistoric sites are made of pottery and stone because these materials do not deteriorate as easily as bone, textiles, or other organic remains.

25 What pottery tells us? Because Early Woodland people did not move around as much as Archaic people, the various bands did not see each other and share ideas as much, so styles of making pottery became very distinct from region to region. For example, people in northern Alabama tempered their pottery with crushed limestone and decorated it with stamped designs. In south Alabama, pottery was tempered with sand and decorated with different stamped designs. Central Alabamians made their pottery with sand temper but decorated it by using sharpened sticks or other tools to incise designs on the exterior.

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