What you'll see when you enter the first gallery of the Museum of Mississippi History is an authentic 500-year-old canoe, 25 feet long and used by Native Americans.
"(It's) A fantastic example of the way native people used these trees and dugout canoes to travel throughout the Mississippi River," says Rachel Myers, Director of the Museum of Mississippi History.
But pre-Mississippi history doesn't start there.
Around the corner, you can learn about how the Mississippi River was shallow enough to walk across 15,000 years ago. People who migrated to the region gathered near the waters, crafting bowls, pitchers, and weapons.
Then, as French explorers came on the scene, as another exhibit shows, they often clashed with the Native Americans.
"This time period is the early 1500's when the first European explorers were coming to Mississippi," Myers tells us.
Another area depicts the Natchez Trace, which has a history that dates back before Native Americans in Mississippi.
Back in the early 1800's, people walked the trace and stopped off at inns, which were also called stands. The museum features a re-creation of how the Mount Locust Inn might have looked in the early years.
The Inn still stands in Natchez.
As the 1700's became the 1800's, many discovered that the soil and climate in Mississippi was perfect for growing cotton. It helped families build wealth in what was known as the "flush" times of Mississippi.
"But that term "flush" can be very relative, because a lot of those flush times were built literally on the backs of the labor force that was doing it, and that was mainly of course the African American slaves who were the dominant labor force in the agricultural industry," says Clay Williams, Sites Administrator of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Another exhibit illustrates the tension between the land owner and the slave. It includes the cotton gin, which sped up the process of separating the seeds from the cotton, creating a boom in production and profits.
"Everybody kind of stopped what they were doing and got into the cotton," Williams tells us. "Setting that up became a formative period in Mississippi, because by the 1840's we had more African Americans in the state of Mississippi than whites, so that is a predominant social change in Mississippi that has influenced us all the way to today."
Mississippi became a state on December 10, 1817.
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