Woodland period Native American history

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A bowl with a painted design on the inside

Early Anasazi (Pueblo) pottery from about 550-800 AD

Early Woodland

The third period of North American history, after the Archaic period, is the Woodland period.

What happened in the Archaic period?
More Native American articles

The Early Woodland period began in the southern and midwestern part of North America about 1200 BC.
People like the Pueblo people settled down more in permanent villages and towns. More and more people used pottery for their containers in addition to baskets.

History of baskets
Who invented pottery?
More about the Pueblo people

Farming and earth mounds

During this time, while some people were still using spears and atlatls to hunt with, most people were switching over to the more modern bows and arrows.

What’s an atlatl?
Where did bows and arrows come from?

And a lot of people began planting and harvesting crops – farming – around this time. About 700 BCAdena people began to build earth mounds. The time of this change depended on where you lived. So the Blackfoot, far to the north, did not enter the Woodland period and start using pottery and bows and arrows until about 200 BC.

More about the Adena
Who were the Blackfoot?
The Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash

Hopewell Mound in Ohio

Hopewell Mound in Ohio

Middle Woodland

In the Middle Woodland period, about 400 BC, some Native people began to live in bigger towns and build bigger earth burial mounds for their leaders. Most of these people lived along the Mississippi valley and other places near there. They lived in the middle of North America. One of these cultures is called the Hopewell culture.

More about the Hopewell

Late Woodland period

In the Late Woodland period, beginning about 500 AD, something seems to have happened to the Hopewell culture, and people stopped building new earth mounds and stopped trading up and down the rivers. Villages and towns got smaller. On the other hand, more people began using bows and arrows, and even though the villages are smaller there are more of them. More people were relying on farming corn and beans for their food. People were also growing tobacco.

History of corn
Where did beans come from?
What was the tobacco for?

Learn by doing: take an archery class
More about the Hopewell culture
Go on to the Mississippian period

Bibliography and further reading about the Woodland period:

Hopewell culture
Mississippian period
More about Native Americans
South America and Central America
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By |2018-10-05T06:52:43+00:00August 10th, 2017|History, Native American|2 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Woodland period Native American history. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 10, 2017. Web. January 18, 2019.

About the Author:

Dr. 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, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. owen October 4, 2018 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    not a lot of info

    • Karen Carr October 4, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for, Owen! If you ask your questions here, I’ll try to answer them.

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