The last pre-historic cultural development in North America was the Mississippian Culture, thriving from approximately 800 AD until the arrival of European explorers. The Mississippian Culture spanned from Wisconsin and Minnesota in the north, through Georgia to the south, and westward into the Great Plains. These people enjoyed an intricate system of trading, were accomplished craftsmen, and practiced sophisticated religious beliefs.
Chief Priests governed their fortified towns. These leaders lived in temples atop large earthen mounds overlooking a central ceremonial plaza. Lesser leaders might also live on mounds, but the tallest would be for the temple of the Chief Priest. Upon the death of the Chief Priest, his temple would be destroyed and another layer of earth would be added for his successor. Ones social standing would be reflected in how close his home was to the plaza.
"It is altogether unknown to us what could have induced the Indians to raise such a heap of earth in this place . . . It is reasonable to suppose, however, that they were to serve some important purpose in those days, as they were public works, and would have required the united labour and attention of a whole nation." --William Bartram, writer/naturalist, 1775
Although the Mississippian people, particularly the Chief Priests, were of significantly larger physical stature than the Europeans explorers who encountered them, they had no immunities to the explorers' diseases. Even the common cold was a killer. The spread of diseases introduced by the Europeans, as well as violent encounters, hastened the decline of the Mississippian Culture. The Creek Nation is believed to be the southeastern descendant of these Moundbuilders.
According to Dr. Max White the most important Moundbuilders sites in Georgia are
Note: The Kolomoki Site appears to be a transitional site from Woodland Indians to Moundbuilders and is not included in the list.
The most intact Mississippian Cultural site in the East is the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. The site was recognized as a De Soto Trail Site by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1989 and is an anchor site on northwest Georgia's Chieftains Trail. Located in Bartow County, Georgia.
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