Peoples of the Lower Mississippi Valley

Where: The Mississippi River Valley
Cost: $1,895 ($300 single supplement)

Beginning in Memphis and following the Mississippi River south to Natchez, our journey travels through more than five thousand years of history – from ancient earthen mounds to Civil War battlefields.

As early as 3500 B.C. and for the next five thousand years, rich and complex moundbuilder cultures developed along the fertile Mississippi River Valley.  But in the 1500s Spanish invasions led to a drastic decline in the native population.

Amidst the charm of the Old South and the magic of one of the world’s greatest rivers, our trip explores the region’s fascinating cultures.

Saturday, October 17
Join us in Memphis for a welcome reception.

Sunday, October 18
We’ll cross the river, following DeSoto’s route to Parkin, Arkansas where archaeologists have uncovered evidence of Hernando de Soto. Today the 18-acre moated village is a state park. Dr. Jeffrey Mitchem, who is stationed at Parkin Archaeological site and is an archaeologist with the Arkansas Archaeological Survey, will join us. Then we’ll head to the McClellan-Ritter Site, a Conservancy preserve that was occupied during the Woodland and Mississippian periods. We’ll spend the afternoon at the impressive new Hampson Museum in Wilson, Arkansas. We’ll return to our hotel in Memphis for the night.

Monday, October, 19
This morning, we’ll head south to the Conservancy’s Carson Mounds preserve, a large Mississippian mound site that once consisted of as many as 80 mounds. We’ll discuss recent research conducted there. Then we’ll go farther south to visit Winterville Mounds Park in Greenville, Mississippi, a large multi-mound site owned by the State of Mississippi. We will spend this evening in Greenville.

Tuesday, October 20
We’ll begin the day with a trip to Watson Brake Mounds, some of the oldest Mounds in North America. The Conservancy purchased a portion several years ago and turned it over to the State of Louisiana. We’ll spend the afternoon at Poverty Point, one of America’s most complex prehistoric sites, dating to 1700 B.C. Then we’ll head to Natchez, Mississippi to spend the next two nights on the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, October 21
We’ll start the day at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, which was the last mound site to be used by Native Americans and was well documented by the French. They lived together in relative peace, until a fateful day in 1729. After lunch, we’ll visit two historic homes as well as Forks of the Road Slave Market. We’ll also enjoy a guided tour of the city with local experts followed by some free-time to walk around in beautiful, historic Natchez.
Thursday, October 22
We will head back north on the famous Natchez Trace Parkway. We’ll stop at the awe-inspiring prehistoric Emerald Mound. Then we’ll see the beautiful Windsor Ruins, once one of the largest antebellum mansions in Mississippi. It stood from 1861 to 1890 until it was destroyed by a fire. Only 23 standing Corinthian columns and a plantation archaeological site remain. Then we’ll have lunch with Mr. D at the famous Lorman Country Store, which has been featured on the Food Network and is said to have the best fried chicken in the South. After lunch, we’ll visit the Conservancy’s Prospect Hill Plantation preserve to discuss its preservation and the role archaeology plays in changing long held narratives in the deep south. We’ll spend the evening in Vicksburg on the Mississippi River.

Friday, October 23
We’ll begin the day with a visit the Vicksburg Military Park to see the U.S.S. Cairo, an excavated and restored Civil War gunboat. Then we’ll begin our trip back to Memphis, along Highway 61, with stops to explore several Mississippi Mound Trail sites along the way including the Conservancy’s Cary Mound Preserve.

Saturday, October 24
Participants depart for home

Tour Highlights:

Cost includes hotel accommodations based on double occupancy (single supplement is $300), tour guides, fees, lunches, refreshments, cocktails and land transportation via air-conditioned bus with restroom.  Not included is transportation to and from Memphis and meals other than lunches.  The tour involves moderate walking.

To join us on this tour, or for further information, contact us at or by phone at (505) 266-1540.

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