Pink Palace Front Entrance

First Americans

Native American Culture

Long before European settlers arrived in the Mid-South, American Indians made their homes here between 1200 – 1700 A.D. Today, you can see the pottery they created for cooking, storing food, and for use in ceremonies in our Cultural Exhibits. The American Indians were devoutly religious and constructed monumental temple mounds in their villages to honor the Sun God. They believed in an afterlife and buried vessels containing food and water with the dead to sustain their souls after death.

The Mississippi Valley just south of Memphis is famous for its beautifully decorated American Indian pottery. The dog effigy vessel on display was found near the town of Walls, Mississippi, and is an excellent example of the high degree of workmanship attained by Mississippian women potters.

Head pots are associated with the Quapaw Indians who lived on the Arkansas River. They occur late in the history of the American Indians of the Mid-South and are often found on sites containing European trade goods.

Archaeologists believe the vases in the exhibit either represent the severed heads of enemies killed in battle or the heads of ancestors. Incised lines on the face are the only surviving evidence of the facial and body tattooing reported by European explorers and colonists. Holes in the ears once contained ornaments made of feathers and beads.

Visit MoSH Cultural History Exhibits to learn more about how the first Americans lived, worked and played.