OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — They were trying to reset the clock to a better, more prosperous time.
“They were trying to end the environmental crisis that was occurring,” says historian and archeologist Eric Singleton.
He says the Mississippian people were part of a vast trade and religious network that stretched for thousands of miles.
One of those religious centers stood by the Arkansas River, near what is now Spiro, Okla.
Singleton continues, “They were large centers where the ritual and social elite lived.”
In response to drought and climate change, they prepared a collection of sacred religious items and placed them in a concealed room, buried in an earthen mound.
“What we’ve identified is pieces from all over the Americas,” he says.
They hoped this offering would bring about a better future.
Remnants of the Mississippian culture still exist in the Caddo language and folklore.
The room prepared more than 600 years ago lay undisturbed until 1933, when an unscrupulous collection of treasure hunters started plundering.
Eric argues that, “Unfortunately, because of what happened, we’ll never really know all of what was taken.”
It took two years for state preservationists to stop the looting.
Even so, Singleton says what was left, “is the largest single source of Mississippian material ever uncovered.”
Scattered across private collections and dozens of museums, Singleton spent the better part of a decade identifying and collecting artifacts from the Spiro Mounds.
They make up this unique exhibit at the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, an unprecedented look at an era of Oklahoma history that we’re, only now, beginning to appreciate.
“It’s about bringing this to the forefront of people’s attention.”
For more information on the exhibit or the National Cowboy Museum go to www.spiromounds.com.