Peoples of the
Lower Mississippi Valley
$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 Springtime in the deep South and the magic of one of the world’s greatest rivers, our trip explores the region’s fascinating cultures.
View the schedule below.
Learn more about this tour in Jessica Crawford’s 2020 Virtual Lecture.
Saturday, April 17
Join us in Memphis for a welcome reception.
Sunday, April 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, April 19
Our first stop is Battery D, a Civil War site that was one of the four defense batteries in Union-held Helena, Arkansas. After lunch we’ll visit what was once a Conservancy preserve, the Menard-Hodges site on the Arkansas River. This site has at least six mounds and was likely the Quapaw village of Osotouy. Here in 1686 the Frenchman Henri de Tonti established the first European settlement west of the Mississippi. We will spend the night in Monroe, Louisiana.
Tuesday, April 20
We’ll start the day at the Watson Brake site, near Monroe, Louisiana, some of the earliest and most extensively researched Archaic mounds, which the Conservancy helped preserve. This magnificent ancient mound complex dates to 3500 B.C. and is one of the earliest mound sites in North America. Next we’ll stop at Poverty Point, one of America’s most complex prehistoric sites, dating to 1700 B.C. Then we will continue south to cross the Mississippi River again to spend the night in Natchez, Mississippi.
Wednesday, April 21
In the morning, we’ll tour 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. It was also the center of French Colonial and Natchez Indian relations. After lunch we’ll visit pre-Civil War homes and enjoy a guided tour of the city with local experts. You will also have some spare time to walk around in beautiful, historic Natchez. We will spend the night in Natchez.
Thursday, April 22
Today, we will head back north, starting on the famous Natchez Trace Parkway. We’ll stop at the incredible prehistoric Emerald Mound, and the historic Mount Locust, one of the old stands on the Trace. Then we’ll have lunch 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. We will spend the afternoon at the Conservancy’s Prospect Hill Plantation preserve, then spend the night in Greenville, Mississippi.
Friday, April 23
We’ll start the morning with a visit Winterville Mounds Park, which is owned by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. This massive site once consisted of as many as 23 mounds. We’ll continue up the famous Highway 61, and one of the most concentrated areas of mound sites in the country and visit the Conservancy’s Carson Mounds site before returning to Memphis.
Saturday, April 24
Participants depart for home.