Hopewell Native American Culture
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Hopewell Culture

Hopewell Mound
Hopewell Mound in Ohio

September 2016 - About 200 BC, people - including the Adena people - formed a culture called the Hopewell culture (named after a farm where archaeologists first dug it up). These people lived in the Northeast and Midwest of North America (from modern New York to Missouri and from Wisconsin to Mississippi). Nobody knows for sure where the Hopewell culture got started - maybe these people lived first near Lake Erie and then expanded west and south, or maybe they lived first near Lake Superior and then expanded east and south. Maybe they didn't move around at all, but just invited towns near them to join their network. Most of the towns and villages of the Hopewell culture were along the banks of rivers, and traders and rulers used the rivers to travel between the towns in canoes.

Hopewell people were mainly farmers, living on squash, sunflower seeds, and various grasses like wild rice, but they did not yet grow much corn, because it wouldn't grow well so far north. Like the earlier Adena people, Hopewell people grew tobacco and traded it along the Mississippi river. They built a lot of big earth mounds in various shapes, but nobody is sure what the mounds were for - maybe for burials.

stone tobacco pipe with a frog carved on it
Hopewell tobacco pipe

Around 400 AD, the Hopewell culture collapsed. Nobody knows why this happened. It may have something to do with changes in the environment. After several hundred years, the Mississippian culture took its place.

Learn by doing: cook some squash
More about the Mississippian Culture

Bibliography and further reading about the Hopewell culture

Mississippian culture
Native American history
Central and South America
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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