By Caleb Flege
Last time we discussed the myth that Kentucky had no inhabitants until the European settled here, and I said that this post would be about the first peoples of Kentucky. I was wrong. Due to a lack of information and my ability to turn that information into an interesting post, I have decided to skip ahead for now to a more recent time period. Between (1000-1539 C.E.) there are two distinct societies in Kentucky, and those who study this have separated them by those who lived in the Eastern part of the region and those who lived to the West. Both of these were hunter-gatherer-farmer societies.
Those who lived to the west have since been named the Mississippian Culture. This society seems to have come to Kentucky in the far western flood plains around 900 B.C.E. By what is considered the end of this culture’s time, they would occupy western, central, and southeastern Kentucky and up the Ohio River all the way to the falls. Now, this group did not just inhabit Kentucky, they occupied the Midwest and areas southeast of what is now the United States. However, for the purpose of this blog, we will be talking about those in the area of Kentucky.
The Mississippians farmed corn, squash, beans, and gourds; this made up the majority of their diet. They did gather some plants for consumption and for medicinal purposes. The women performed domestic duties such as child rearing, farming, and making clothing and pottery. The tools used in farming and clothing production were made of bone, shell, and stone. The men in this society made tools, hunted, and performed political and religious duties. They hunted deer, turkey, and other small animals with the use of bow and arrows. The villages ranged from small single- family homesteads to fortified towns such as one that was discovered in what is now known as Marshal County, named the Jonathan Creek Village. Other Mississippian towns found in Kentucky include the Wickliffe Mounds in Ballard County, Kentucky, near the town of Wickliffe, and some mounds attributed to the Mississippian culture have also been found along the Green River in Kentucky. There are many mounds found within the state, but the origins are either that of a different society or are not known. I personally did not know these mounds existed in Kentucky, and I hope to go see many of these different sites.
Native History for Ky Teachers, Gwen Henderson and David Pollack