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Late Woodland Cultures in the Southeast

In the Southeast, construction stopped at large Swift Creek ceremonial towns such as Leake Mounds in Cartersville, GA and Kolomoki Mounds in extreme southwestern Georgia around 650 AD. Apparently, the populations of these towns dropped substantially. Swift Creek Culture village sites were established in the upper Piedmont and Southern Highlands during this time.  The Weeden Island Culture, which replaced Swift Creek in the Gulf Coastal Plain continued.  Many of its ceramics had a distinct Caribbean or northern South American “feel” to them. While the Middle Woodland Cultures in the Southeast seemed to be waning, the population and cultural development in the Lake Okeechobee Region of southern Florida exploded after 600 AD.  The people of its many towns did not seem to be economically linked to those living in the interior of the Southeast. (See section on Lake Okeechobee.) While the Swift Creek Culture was pushed to the margins of lower Southeast, a new Late Woodland manifestation appeared called the Napier Culture. It was concentrated in the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Upper Piedmont of Georgia, where precipitation maintained more normal patterns.  Napier towns built platform mounds, some of them very large.  There was extensive use of the bow & arrow, while corn was cultivated on a larger scale than during Swift Creek period. Woodstock Culture (c. 800 AD – 1000 AD): Archaeologist still debate is this was a Late Woodland, Transitional, or Early Mississippian culture.  The Woodstock villagers lived in rectangular houses in fortified communities, unlike the round houses in unfortified Swift Creek villages.  Their pottery was different than earlier styles. Their village locations were concentrated...

Eastern Woodland Wigwam

Although as was discussed in an earlier article on the Apache wickiup, some indigenous tribes still lived in very primitive shelters up until the late 1800s, most had long developed larger, sturdier houses that could be heated in the winter. One of the most common types of native houses in the Midwest and New England was the wigwam. It had obviously evolved from the wickiup type shelter, but was far more spacious and durable. A buffalo or bear skin door could seal the opening to block cold winds and rains. It was large enough for occupants to stand or build a fire. Some wigwams could hold up to 20 occupants. Yet, its light woven sapling framework enabled native peoples to dismantle the structure and transport it long distances between seasonal camps. Variations of the wigwam were probably built throughout North America from 4000 to 1000 years ago. As some native societies in the Southwest and Southeast became more sedentary due to increased dependence on agriculture, they developed larger, more permanent types of housing. The arch was the structural principal that made the light weight wigwam so durable. Its builders would first sketch out an oval shape on the ground. Then green saplings were pushed into the ground and bent until they overlapped with saplings from the opposite edge of the oval. The overlapped saplings were then tied with twine or leather thongs to form arches. Then, other saplings were place parallel with the ground and tied to the vertical arches. These horizontal saplings are called purlins. The wigwam’s builder would then strip large sections of bark from such trees...

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