- Where to Go
- The Best of Milwaukee and Madison
- The Best Wisconsin Weekends
- A Perfect Week in Door County
- Wisconsin for Recreationists
- Rustic Road Tripping
- Made in Milwaukee
- Madison Weekend
- Sports: The Packers and Beyond
- Out on the Town in Milwaukee
- Say Cheese!
- Four Days in the Mad City
- A Wisconsin Family Road Trip
- Wisconsin’s Best Brews
The Siberia-to-Alaska Beringia theory, which posits that the progenitors of North America’s Native Americans arrived over a land bridge that rose and submerged in the Bering Strait beginning as many as 20,000 years ago, was dealt serious blows in the late 1990s. Provocative new anthropological discoveries in North and Latin America have forced a radical reconsideration of this theory (a Wisconsin archaeologist was one of the first to bring up the topic—Kenosha County in southeastern Wisconsin has revealed key new finds). The last of the glacial interludes of the Pleistocene era, the Two Rivers, probably saw the first movement into the state of early Paleo-Indians about 11,500 years ago. The time is based on examinations of fluted points as well as a rare mastodon kill site, the Boaz Mastodon, which established Paleo-Indian hunting techniques of the Plains Indians in Wisconsin.
Glacial retreat helps explain why the Paleo-Indian groups entered the state from the south and southwest rather than the more logical north. Nomadic clans followed the mastodon and other large mammals northward as the glaciers shrank.
Solid archaeological evidence establishes definite stages in Wisconsin’s earliest settlers. The Archaic period lasted, approximately, from 8000 B.C. to 750 B.C. The tribes were still transient, pursuing smaller game and the fish in the newly formed lakes. Around 2000 B.C., these Indians became the first in the New World to fashion copper.
The later Woodland Indians, with semipermanent abodes, are generally regarded as the first Natives in Wisconsin to make use of ceramics, elaborate mound burials (especially in southern Wisconsin) and, to a lesser extent, domesticated plants such as squash, corn, pumpkins, beans, and tobacco. Lasting from around 750 B.C. until European exploration, the Woodland period was a minor golden age of dramatic change for the Native cultures. Around 100 B.C., the Middle Woodland experienced cultural and technological proliferations, simultaneous with the period of Ohio’s and Illinois’s Hopewell societies, when villages formed and expanded greatly along waterways.
The people living during the tail end of the Woodland period have been classified into two additional groups: the Mississippian and the Oneota. The former’s impressive sites can be found from New Orleans all the way north into Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota. Mississippian culture showed high levels of civic planning and complex social hierarchies, and it lasted at least until the Spanish arrived (Spanish records reported contact).
© Thomas Huhti from Moon Wisconsin, 5th Edition