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Hopewell Mound in Ohio

Hopewell Mound in Ohio

When was the Hopewell?

About 200 BC, people – including the Adena people – formed a culture called the Hopewell culture. (It’s named after a farm where archaeologists first dug it up).

Earlier Adena people
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These people lived in the Northeast and Midwest of North America (from modern New York to Missouri and from Wisconsin to Mississippi).

Where did the Hopewell get started?

Nobody knows for sure where this 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.

Tobacco farming and trading

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 tobacco pipe in the shape of a frog

Hopewell tobacco pipe

Hopewell people were mainly farmers, living on squashsunflower seeds, and various grasses like wild rice, but they did not yet grow much corn, because it wouldn’t grow well so far north.

Native American economy
Native American food
Where is squash from?
How about sunflowers?

Like the earlier Adena people, these people grew tobacco and traded it along the Mississippi river. To the north, they traded for copper. To the south, they traded for expensive beads made of seashells, and for wood to make bows and arrows.

History of tobacco
Bows and arrows

Hopewell mounds

They built a lot of big earth mounds in various shapes, but nobody is sure what the mounds were for – maybe for burials.

The end of the Hopewell culture

Around 400 AD, their 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
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