Ancient Cultures in the United States – Surely many already know that the United States was once the land of native Indians, right? It is true that the sensational mass media, western films, and pop culture have made this tradition of the American Indian community quite famous in the world. For example through a typical Indian hat or mohawk hairstyle.

In short, the term “Indian” for Native Americans is imprecise and sometimes quite offensive to some circles, because Indians were the ejection of Christopher Columbus who initially thought that the new world he discovered was India in South Asia.

Ancient Cultures in the United States

Ancient Cultures in the United States

Apparently, the Native Americans, who are divided into more than 500 tribes, managed to build many cultures and even civilizations, long before the arrival of Europeans.

Unfortunately, the majority of these remains are just memories. So it is not well known by the majority of people. Let’s look at the legacy of these Native Americans, especially in terms of culture:

1. Fremont culture

Beginning in AD 300 and possibly disappearing around 1300, the Fremont culture has remains that are now located near the Fremont River in the state of Utah.

The people there are believed to be the ancestors of several indigenous tribes that still exist, such as the Ute, Hopi and Zuni. The Fremont people are known to live in natural caves or circular pit houses.

The ancient community there is believed to have made ends meet by hunting and also growing corn, beans, pumpkins and berries. Some of the artifacts found show the hallmarks of this culture, namely baskets made with natural ropes from plants endemic to the area of Utah.

However, the best known of Fremont’s cultural heritage are the petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings), which depict human figures, animals, anthropomorphisms, and other symbols.

These unusual art forms in the United States may have religious significance, the location of natural resources, migration events, or even astronomical information.

2. Mogollon culture

The Mogollon culture is concentrated in the southwestern United States, near the Mogollon Mountains in the states of New Mexico and Arizona. Emerging from around AD 200, this culture is divided into at least five main periods.

The ancient Mogollon practiced hunting, gathering and farming (mainly maize) from the 1st period. Mogollon architecture was originally a wattle-and-daub house which developed into terraced houses made of adobe bricks in the later period.

In addition, another structure that is unique to this culture is the kiva, a kind of place for religious rituals. The Mogollon people were also familiar with pottery-making techniques, which became increasingly superior at the turn of the century.

This culture disappeared in the 15th century as a result of migration or fusion with other communities. Mogollon’s architectural works are precarious and some of them can still be seen today, for example the ruins of the Kinishba ‘mansion’ in Arizona.

3. Hohokam Culture

The Hohokam culture, which began in AD 200, controlled the areas around the Gila and Salt Rivers in Arizona. The word “Hohokam” in the Pima language (aboriginal tribe of Southern Arizona) means ‘those who are lost’.

At one time, the Salado tribe, a branch of the larger Pueblo tribe, entered peacefully and participated in the development of this culture.

The ancient inhabitants of the Hohokam lived in gigantic houses made of all the natural materials one could find, namely stone, wood and clay.

They also grow cotton, peanuts, corn and pumpkins on a large scale. The Hohokam’s agricultural activities were greatly assisted thanks to their knowledge in the field of irrigation and the construction of canals which were estimated to have reached a length of 240 km.

The Hohokam lost population starting in the 14th or 15th century for several possible reasons, such as a severe drought (the Great Drought since 1276) or heavy, unpredictable rains.

Several Hohokam heritage houses, one of which is Casa Grande Arizona, managed to survive all the severe natural disasters that once hit there.

4. Anasazi culture

It is estimated that as early as AD 100, the Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) Culture is confirmed to have included areas of modern Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

Sadly enough, the name “Anasazi” actually means ‘ancestor of enemies’ in the Navajo language, because the Pueblo people were known to be less hospitable and often clashed with their neighboring tribes.

The ancient Pueblo people who pioneered this culture still have several surviving descendants, such as the Acoma, Laguna, Zuni, and Hopi tribes.

The life of the Anasazi people underwent gradual changes, for example in terms of making ends meet, those who initially only hunted became skilled at farming thanks to the science of building dams and reservoirs to prevent erosion or increase soil moisture.

The locations where the Anasazi lived also underwent changes from caves or semi-underground individual houses, to large above-ground mansions that sometimes had more than 100 rooms.

At one point, the people there began to build villages on hillsides or mountains, one of which is still intact and has become the most unique destination in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.

The ancestral Pueblo people left the area around 1300 due to a severe drought, increasing quarrels with some neighboring tribes (ancestral Navajo and Apache), and the subsequent threat of Spanish colonialism.

Nevertheless, elements of the ancient Pueblo culture did not disappear and are still being preserved today by their descendants in the fields of religion, art, language, and farming methods.

5. Mississippi Culture

Mississippi culture or civilization can be said to be the legacy of the most glorious Native Americans in history. Thought to have existed since AD 700, this culture now covers the entire southeastern United States, such as the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Mississippi culture is known to patronize many large cities or villages ruled by theocracies by tribal chiefs who were also ‘priests’.

The architectural characteristics of this culture are the houses and burial places of the residents which are built on high mounds and are in a large complex. The chief’s house and temple had higher mounds because the Mississippi community cared deeply about social hierarchy.

On the other hand, the village government ordered the formation of many artisans’ and artists’ guilds, which produced the most diverse native art of any culture at that time.

By utilizing clay, shells, wood, and copper, the artisans there are able to produce works in the form of statues and pottery with human or animal shapes, jewelry, masks, ritual weapons, and so on.

Unfortunately, this greatest civilization in the United States has experienced a decline since the arrival of Europeans (16th century) who brought infectious diseases and foreign traditions which forced the natives of Mississippi to leave their culture and live under the umbrella of colonialism.

However, there is one Mississippi sub-culture that is known to have survived European influence, namely the Natchez tribe.


So, you already know, some ancient cultures or civilizations that you may not have realized were pioneered by the indigenous people of the United States long ago. Wow, it turns out that the tribes and their living habits there are very diverse, huh!

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