The Differences Between the Adena and Hopewell Indian Tribes

Published on September 27, 2014 by Amy

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Hopewell Indian Tribes
Hopewell Indian Tribes

The ancient Adena and Hopewell Native-American tribes of North America are more properly described not as tribes but as cultures. These designations refer to two different cultures, separated by hundreds of years, but both inhabiting the same region around present-day Ohio and sharing certain cultural traits. Often known as “the mound builders,” both erected earthen structures for religious, ceremonial and burial purposes.

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The Adena People

The Adena culture thrived from about 1000 B.C. to about 100 B.C. in the present-day Central Ohio Valley. They also were found in nearby areas that today include portions of Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The people of this culture were primarily hunters and gatherers of food, but did engage in limited farming. Based on archaeological discoveries, we know they were excellent potters and very artistic sculptors who developed an intricate network of trading. The funeral ceremony of ordinary Adena people required cremation of the body. However, their celebrated deceased were buried underneath earthen mounds.

The Hopewell People

These people lived primarily in present-day southern Ohio along the Ohio River from about 100 A.D. to about 500 A.D., but also established communities in the valleys of the Miami, Muskingum and Scioto rivers. The Hopewell tribes are believed to have been effective farmers, growing a number of crops such as squash, sunflower, goosefoot, and maygrass They also were excellent hunters and fishermen. In many ways, their culture was a more advanced reflection of their Adena forebears. The practice of building mounds is but one example.The mounds built by the Hopewell were larger than those of the Adena and more ornate, incorporating shells, pigments, and exquisite sculptures and pottery.

Primary Differences Between the Adena and Hopewell

There are three basic differences between these two peoples. The first and the most obvious are the periods in which they lived. The second involves the more advance mound technology exhibited by the Hopewell. The third is that the Hopewell were established farmers who hunted only seasonally, while their Adena ancestors were primarily hunter-gatherers.

Other Cultural Considerations

There are a few less significant differences: The Hopewell were more adept at using the natural resources around them to create more significant mounds. The Hopewell were also far more artistic in building their mounds. They also mined and used mica to create highly artistic carvings, such as the ‘Mica Hand’–precisely carved from a piece of mica nearly a foot long–which points at a far more advanced technology.

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