Collecting of Wild Plants and Mussels

© Photographed July 21, 2015
Aztalan State Park
Jefferson, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
43.063353, -88.861921
Google Map

Collecting of Wild Plants and Mussels
 In addition to farming, hunting and fishing, people at Aztalan collected native or wild plants. Hickory nuts, acorns, berries, cattails, and grasses were gathered on a seasonable basis, and provided a year-round supplemental food resource. Some of these foods were likely stored for later use. In addition, plant fivers were used in making baskets and matting, and they were also mixed with clay to produce the plaster for house wall and the stockade.

Another food resource that was collected, rather than hunted or fished, is freshwater mussels from the Crawfish River. These freshwater clams represent not only a steady food supply, but an important raw material that was shaped into shell hoes, spoons, pendants, and beads. For the Mississippian people at Aztalan, shells were important for another reason -- the making of ceramics. The clay used to make pottery must be "tempered" with something hard to give the pot its strength after firing.

Mississippian pottery is distinctive in that people almost always used bis of shells as a tempering agent.
The marker is one of a series of markers located on the grounds of Aztalan State Park,



Aztalan has remained a mystery since the early 19th century when it was discovered by settlers who came to the Crawfish River, 50 miles west of Milwaukee. Who were the early indigenous people who inhabited this place? When did they live here? Why did they disappear? Robert Birmingham and Lynne Goldstein attempt to unlock some of the mysteries, providing insights and information about the group of people who first settled here in 1100 A.D. Filled with maps, drawings, and photographs of artifacts, this volume examines a time before modern Native American people settled in this area.

To receive a review copy or press release, to schedule an author event, or for more information contact the WHS Press Marketing Department:
whspress@wisconsinhistory.org.

Note: This book meets and exceeds the requirements of the Wisconsin American Indian Education Act (Act 31).


With the CrawfishRiver in the background.

Collecting of Wild Plants and Mussels
Portions of a cattail mat (upper) and a woven bag (lower) found in the "crematorium" in the northwest platform mound at Aztalan. Drawings enlarged to show detail (from Rowe 1958: 109, Figures 8 and 9).
With the Crawfish River in the background.

View of the large mound from the marker location.

 The Visitor Center was closed at the time of my visit.

The marker is located at Aztalan State Park in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

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