Indians of Mississippi Uncovering the Truth Buried in Mounds of Misconceptions

From The Lone Ranger's Tonto to Daniel Boone's Mingo, television and movie industries continually captivate audiences with their depictions of Native Americans as the side-kicks to America's adventurous heroes.

However, behind Hollywood's portrayal of white face-paint and feathers in hair, lay the focal pioneers of the America inhabited today and understanding their history, changes the characters who are conventionally deemed the "adventurous heroes".

On Monday, April 10, University of Mississippi Professor of Anthropology Dr. Robbie Ethridge unearthed the nearly 15,000-year history of Mississippi Indians with her lecture in the Faulkner Room of the J.D. William's Library. Traversing their journey from the Paleo Period to modern day, she illustrated their struggles with the American government to their fight against contemporary misconceptions.

“One should not be led to believe that all Indians are now rich, casino operators," said Dr. Ethridge.
Image courtesy of Google Images

Continuing through the Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian and present periods, Dr. Ethridge introduced the vast histories of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians of Mississippi before acknowledging the relevance of these tribes today.

Explore the histories of these two major Mississippian tribes with the interactive timeline below.

[insert interactive element (timeline) depicting history of Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians - see attached Google Docs for the historical information needed for the timeline - this timeline would overlap/be mixed with an aerial view of the Nanih Waiya Mound (something similar to this picture); the mouse would turn into a shovel once maneuvering over the timeline; each historical point (Paleo Period, etc.) and specific dates (significant dates after the Mississippian Period) would be located on the timeline (maybe the mound would just contain dots with each historical point and specific dates rather than a formal timeline); when the shovel is dragged to a point ("Paleo Period" for example), the title is highlighted and the link can be clicked on; once clicked on, the shovel (mouse) seems to be digging up dirt (looks like it is digging into the mound), and it unearths the facts defining the specific time period clicked on (within the facts list, there is a description of the significant events of the time and links to videos and photos for that time); this interactive element should be bright and colorful and play a Choctaw/Chickasaw song throughout.]

From constructing monumental mounds to dealing with pressures to conform to American culture, the Choctaws and Chickasaws have seen and continue to see the good, bad and ugly of the society around them. However, Dr. Ethridge recognizes how these tribes' pasts act as a guiding light for the next generation.

“In many ways, Mississippi’s Indians have provided a model to other native nations for how to not only survive but thrive in the 21st century," said Dr. Ethridge.

Lane Griffin, former Georgia high school history teacher, believes Native American practices not only act as a mirror for their own nations but also for the rest of America, who immigrated onto their lands.

"They lived off the land; they lived within their means," said Griffin. "What could we learn [from] them today - we could learn to appreciate the sounds that the wind makes going through the trees."
Image courtesy of Google Images

Whereas films may place Indians in the assistant role, history paints Indians as the true symbols and warriors of America.

"They were the original settlers of the Americas, and we did them wrong," said Griffin.
Image courtesy of Google Images


All images courtesy of Google Images

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