The Mississippian Period (900 A.D.) followed the Woodland Period, and people settled around Cahokia near St. Louis on the Mississippi River. They built a city with a population of about 10,000. Like others, they used resources they knew and understood. They farmed the land and traveled the river system. In these travels, they probably visited the Chicago area, a crossroads around Lake Michigan.
Their unnamed city near Cahokia had temples for worship, government buildings for government business and homes for officials built on mound platforms. Other mounds, like Monks Mound, were used for burials. Their use of the regions’ resources consisted of hunting, fishing and growing corn and squash. Water resources were important, especially the extensive river system, because they used it to trade goods with others in the area.
The settlement near Cahokia was later abandoned, and the people migrated to other regions. Archeologists present several reasons why these people left. Perhaps they experienced crop failures, suffered from disease or faced undesirable climatic changes.
Later, the Sauk (Sac) and Fox tribes of Native Americans used the area’s rich supply of mineral resources. They mined lead and used it for body painting, lead weights and as a commodity of exchange for other goods.
Native Americans searched for exposed lead deposits (floats) and dug their mines with sharpened sticks and antlers. Mines were dug at an angle so they could easily enter and exit. They set fires to heat the rock and then poured cold water over the fires to break the rock. Sometimes they reheated the lead to make molds (pigs). They stacked their layers of lead along riverbanks for easy transport.
As years passed, Native Americans used the Chicago area’s resources more thoroughly.
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