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The Native American
inhabitants of what is now Missouri can be classified
into a number of categories ranging from the Paleo-Indians
of 12,000 B.C., to the Historic Indians whom Europeans
came into contact with during their first explorations.
The Paleo-Indian period
lasted from 12,000 B.C. to 8,000 B.C. These people
were big-game hunters. They hunted the mastodon
for meat, and the giant ground sloth for fur. The
Ice Age was coming to an end during this period
causing great floods as the glaciers melted.
period (8,000 B.C. - 7,000 B.C.) followed the Paleo-Indian
period. The disappearance of the large mammals,
like the mastodon and the mammoth, was another result
of the end of the Ice Age. This caused the people
to hunt smaller game and rely more heavily on gathering.
These people often lived in caves, such as that
currently known as Graham Cave State Park. They
crafted tools for hunting, sewing, and cooking.
They also made fluted points for hunting, used needles
for making clothing and hand-woven nets, and mortars
for crushing seeds.
The Archaic Period
followed, and lasted from 7,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C.
Like the Hunter-Foragers, these people hunted small
game and gathered seeds. Fish and vegetables became
an important part of their diet.
The next era would
be the Woodland Period, (1,000 to 500 B.C.). The
Hopewell tribe inhabited Missouri during this period.
They learned how to fire clay pots and tools, engaged
in trade, and created large ceremonial earthworks.
They cultivated corn and hunted deer and wild turkey.
Period followed, and lasted from A.D. 900 to 1700.
During this time, southern tribes influenced the
Mississippians. They were highly dependent on the
river; eating river dwelling animals and utilizing
the fertile soil of the riverbeds to grow crops.
During this period the Mississippians became more
dependent on agriculture than ever before. They
grew corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, and gourds.
These people were sedentary, living mostly in towns.
The Historic Period,
beginning in 1700, is the last classified era of
Native American development. These would be the
Indians the European explorers and settlers would
come into contact with. These tribes include the
Missouri, Osage, Delaware, and the Shawnee. These
tribes lived in large villages, gathered wild food,
and cultivated corn, beans, and squash. Contact
with Europeans brought dramatic changes to these
tribes. As more and more European settlers moved
into the area, the local Indians were pushed west
of the Mississippi, but many remained in the state.
After statehood, more than 6,000 Native Americans
lived throughout the state of Missouri to the dismay
of settlers. Missourians wanted the entire state
available for settlement, so through the 1820s they
broke treaty agreements and forced the Indians to
leave the state. By this time, the Missouri Indians
had been so weakened by disease and war that they
had disappeared. The Osage, Sac, Fox, Shawnee, and
Delaware were still present in Missouri until they
were forced to move west across state lines and
eventually to Indian Territory.
The first Europeans
to explore modern-day Missouri were the French.
(At first the area that now includes Missouri was
known as Illinois Country, then after 1770 it was
known as Spanish Illinois or Upper Louisiana. The
name Missouri wasn't adopted until 1812.) In 1673,
Louis Jollet and Father Jacques Marquette set out
to explore the area that now encompasses Missouri.
Marquette was a French-born Jesuit missionary and
Jolliet an explorer and mapmaker from Canada. They
started out from Green Bay and traveled down the
Fox River until they arrived at an Indian village
at the headwaters of the Wisconsin River. There
they traveled down the Wisconsin until finding a
footpath that led them to an Illinois Indian village
where they would spent the night. Leaving there,
they traveled 300 miles down the river where they
passed the mouths of the Illinois, Missouri, and
Ohio Rivers arriving at the mouth of the Arkansas
River. Here they met with local tribes and learned
that the river led to the Gulf of Mexico instead
of California, like they had hoped. They were also
warned that if they continued down the Arkansas
they would encounter hostile Indians and Spaniards.
They turned back and learned of the shortcut back
to Lake Michigan via the Illinois River. This expedition
brought awareness of the frontier and the first
detailed information of the Missouri and Illinois
The First Settlements
The first resident
of Missouri was the French Jesuit Priest, Father
Gabriel Marest. In the fall of 1700, he accompanied
a band of Kaskaskia Indians to the west bank of
the Mississippi. Here they constructed cabins, a
chapel, and a primitive fort. The following spring
a group of French traders joined Father Marest at
the settlement. The settlement was eventually abandoned
when the settlers moved to a safer site.
The first permanent
settlement in Missouri would be St. Genevieve, established
in 1750 by French Canadian farmers. The settlers
here grew wheat, tobacco, cotton, flax and corn,
and brought slaves in to work the fields. The population
grew from 23 in 1752, to 691 in 1772, but a great
flood washed the town away in 1785, forcing them
St. Louis, the second
of Missouri's permanent settlements, was founded
in 1764. St. Louis found its beginning in its present
location because the founder of the City, Pierre
Laclede Liguest, wanted a site to establish his
fur trading post that would not be subject to flooding,
yet would have a central location. The city grew
slowly, yet steadily, and by 1700 the population