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Woodland Era (500 - 900 A.D.)     

Increasing reliance on nuts and grains led to the development of new techniques for manufacturing waterproof, fired-clay pottery containers by 600 B.C. Used at first for boiling acorns to remove tannic acid and later for cooking grains, pottery technology revolutionized Native American food storage and preparation methods.

The Hopewell culture of Ohio and Illinois flourished between the first and fifth centuries A.D. and influenced populations across eastern North America. Trade in exotic goods and elaborate burials for community leaders were two distinctions of this era. A Hopewell-style log tomb was discovered earlier this century beneath a burial mound in Arkansas. The logs were oak, some measuring nearly four feet in diameter. The honored dead were buried with copper-covered panpipes, conch shell drinking cups from the Gulf of Mexico, and necklaces and bracelets made of shell beads and wolf teeth.

Native Americans began to use the bow and arrow towards the end of the Hopewell era. This was such an effective and efficient weapon that by 500 A.D. it had largely replaced the throwing stick and dart. The warfare between communities that early European explorers witnessed in the Mississippi Valley seems to have begun about the time the bow and arrow appeared.

The development of gardening and pottery technology stimulated more population growth and led to the emergence of settled village life after 500 A.D. Corn, originally domesticated in Mexico, was adopted by many groups in the Mississippi Valley between 900 and 1200 A.D., but the shift to grain-based diets gave rise to a need to add salt to prepared food. The production of salt for trade became an important activity.

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