We as Mississippians are fortunate to have such a rich history of early human life. For example, remains of a Paleo-Indian were found near Natchez in 1846. It was found with the remains of several …
We as Mississippians are fortunate to have such a rich history of early human life. For example, remains of a Paleo-Indian were found near Natchez in 1846. It was found with the remains of several Ice Age mammals and is estimated to be at least 10,000 years old. It is one of the oldest direct evidences of humans in North America.
For us, thoughts of hunting and fishing recall deer stands, duck blinds, turkey calls, and hi-tech depth finders. For the early inhabitants, however, hunting and fishing were their means of survival. And, though most of the animal species we see throughout Mississippi today were probably present then, there were also elk, bear, wolves, mastodons, and other species to contend with and hunt.
We also know that mammoths were hunted in Mississippi because of evidence found in other states such as New Mexico that tie the weaponry used for hunting these larger animals to Mississippi. For instance, in Blackwater Draw, in New Mexico, there have been prehistoric spear points found among mammoth bones. These early spear points are indicative of Clovis peoples and have been found throughout the United States, even in Mississippi. The only place these spear points have not been found is the extreme West Coast.
It is believed that sometime between 5,000 and 2,000 B.C. our climate started changing and could no longer support the mammoths and mastodons. Therefore, the hunting practices changed as well. To adapt, specialized hunting practices gave way to a more generalized way of hunting. Specifically, spear points became smaller as the hunters turned their attention to deer and bear. At this time, other stone tools were also developed.
Fishing for the Indians was done with hooks made from deer or turkey bones. The method used probably resembled the “trot‑line” that is common today. However, they also used long-handled spears to spear the fish. It wasn’t long before the Indians changed from moving their hunting camps to different locations to a more settled lifestyle. Villages sprang up around mounds. Also at this time, pottery was invented. Some pottery was even tempered using crushed mussel shells.
It was during the Mississippian Period that the Indians discovered the benefits of growing corn and other crops. As their farming knowledge grew so did their innovations in other areas. They learned how to hunt by the rivers and use them for transportation. Dugout canoes were crafted from cypress and sycamore trees, and they also designed clever traps for fishing. As they explored agriculture around these rivers and other fishing methods, hunting became more of a recreation than a way of life, much like it is today.