Early Cultures: Pre-European Peoples of Wisconsin
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Wisconsin Mississippian
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Aztalan

Image showing major Mississippian and Oneota sites in Wisconsin
Map of major Mississippian and Oneota sites in Wisconsin
By the time Mississippian ideas reached Wisconsin they had been adapted into a uniquely Wisconsin form of Mississippian. People didn't want to give up some of their Woodland ways so they blended the Mississippian ways with their existing Woodland ways. Remember, everyone doesn't just leave the state and new people with new ideas move in. Instead the Woodland tradition was still in Wisconsin. Woodland people were in the state when Mississippian ideas were brought in, either by the migration of people bringing their unique Mississippian ways of doing things or Woodland people bringing back ideas from trade or travel to Mississippian territories. This meant that Woodland traditions were adapted to include aspects of the Mississippian traditions. It is not known whether this occurred as a peaceful transition or whether it may have been met with resistance and conflict. However the transition took place, the presence of the Mississippian Tradition in Wisconsin was short-lived, only about 200 years, and overlaps the end of the Late Woodland period.

What was Mississippian life like in Wisconsin? How was it different from the Woodland tradition? The climate and environment were similar to today. There were fewer trees and more prairies in southern Wisconsin. The big changes were that people began farming, they lived in large villages and there was now a ruling class. Some things that archaeologists encounter that indicate changes from Woodland ways include large platform mounds, changes in pottery construction and design, and the appearance of exotic trade goods such as marine shell beads from the Gulf coast, and catlinite or pipestone from western Minnesota.


Corn being milled on rocks
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