Maritime Archaic Origins of the Hopewell Mound Builders

Maritime Archaic Origins of the Hopewell Mound Builders

Plummets associated with the Maritime Archaic were found in Hopewell burial mounds in the Ohio Valley.


   Plummets, bar amulets and other iconic Maritime Archaic artifacts are found within the 

Hopewell burial mounds of the Ohio Valley.
   According to Native Americans, the only people that have claimed heredity to the Hopewell mounds and earthworks are the Dakota Sioux Nations. The descendants of the Hopewell are the Dakotan or Siouan family comprised of these known Nations. The Winnebago, Omaha, Osage, Issati, Mandan, Missouri, Dakota, Iowa, Ottoe, Hidatsa (Crow), Blackfeet, Ogala, Ponka, Assinboin, Akansea, Kansa and others. There is also evidence that the Cherokee and the Iroquois may have a common origin with the Dakota. No records and only one tradition exist of war between the Iroquois and the Sioux, west of the Alleghenies, but both of these people maintained bitter and hereditary war against the Algonquin. The prehistoric Siouan people were neighbors in Carolinas of the prehistoric Iroquois, and the two people more or less allied in language and having similar customs.
   The question of what Native Americans were building mounds over their dead also narrows the possibilities as to the descendants of the Hopewell Culture.
    Linguistic studies show that at the end of the Archaic Period (1500 B.C) that bands of the Maritime Archaic split into separate groups. This split would culminate in the respective Sioux, Iroquois and Cherokee tribes.
   Linguistically, the Iroquois, the Sioux and the Cherokee are similar and may have been derived from a common source. All of these tribes were builders of burial mounds and the later Mississippian platform mounds. The only known Algonquin tribe that built burial mounds were the Shawnee that have been erroneously called “Fort Ancient” by archaeologist. Shawnee mounds can be found through out Tennessee, Kentucky, southern Ohio and Indiana. Some are of earthen mounds while others were made of stones with the bodies being places within stone lined graves or in a stone box.

Bulletin 180 Symposium on Cherokee and Iroquois Culture

   The widest cleavage in the Iroquoian family is certainly that between the Cherokee and all the rest of the Iroquoian, i.e., between alone southern branch and a large northern trunk. Ten years ago, at the Fourth Conference on Iroquois Research, I hazarded a guess of around 4,000 years for the time depth of this split. The estimate was based primarily on a rough evaluation of the amount of phonetic, grammatical, and lexical change which has accrued to the Cherokee and which sets it off from the rest of the Iroquoian.

A Brief History of the Cherokee,” 
   Mary Evelyn Rogers writes, “Linguistic studies show the Cherokee had been separate from the Iroquois, their closest linguistic relative, for at least3500 years, based on a 1961 per Duane King in the introduction to “The Cherokee Nation.”  

Sioux Indian Shell Mounds
There is evidence that the early Dakota were the Archaic Maritime people, both of whom buried their dead in shell mounds. These people are pre-Hopewell, called the Shell Mound Tradition. Shell mounds are found most extensively in southern Ohio and Indiana and in northern Kentucky. In Louis F. Burns book The History of the Osage he writes, “Recent archaeological findings seem to indicate that both the Dhegiha Sioux and Chewere Sioux were the Indian-Knoll and Shell Mound culture of Kentucky and Tennessee.” Skeletal remains found in these shell mounds are identical to the later Hopewell showing that they had inhabited the Ohio and Wabash Valleys for hundreds of years. The shell mounds in the interior reveal Laurentian type artifacts, however they were different skull types than the shell mounds in the coastal regions, the Dakota Sioux having long heads and the Laurentian/Adena round.