Few People Realize How Much Native American History Is Preserved In The Small Town Of Pioneer, Louisiana
Pioneer, Louisiana is a tiny little village in the northeastern corner of the state that’s home to fewer than 200 residents. At first glance, it may not seem like a road trip-worthy destination, but this little village is home to Poverty Point, one of the most historically significant landmarks in the entire country.
Not only is Poverty Point a U.S. National Monument and a National Historic Landmark, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While there are still many mysteries surrounding this ancient area, the artifacts that have been uncovered help tell the story of a long-forgotten ancient civilization. Let’s check it out:
Here’s a mockup drawing of what Poverty Point could have looked like over 3,000 years ago.
In its heyday, Poverty Point was a massive trading hub and possibly a ceremonial site and a settlement.
Built by Native Americans between 1700 and 1100 BCE, Poverty Point was a massive site. The 402-acre area is the largest and most complex Late Archaic ceremonial site ever found in North America (so far).
It gets tricky to piece the day to day lives of those that built this area, because no written word has ever been found. Since it was clearly built around Bayou Macon, we know the waterway was of great importance, both as a highway for trade and a food source.
During your visit, you'll get to view many of the items that have been discovered during excavations.
Archaeologists and historians have been researching Poverty Point since the 1950s.
There are several mysteries surrounding Poverty Point and the people that inhabited the area.
For starters, just the sheer size of these earthworks. The six C-shaped ridges vary in height, but are six feet tall in some places, and it’s believed that these could have been much taller 3,000 years ago. All built by hand, one basket of dirt at a time.
Ceremonial figurines, spear points, and other tools have been unearthed, giving us a tiny glimpse into the past.
Many of the artifacts that have been found are made with materials that aren't found anywhere nearby, giving credibility to the theory that the bayou was used for trade. For example, many of the spearpoints were made with raw materials that are found in the Ozarks, and in some cases, materials known as far east as the Appalachian Mountains.
Though it may not look like it now, 3,000 years ago, the bayou could have been a much larger waterway.
The bayou may hold the answer to why the site was suddenly abandoned around 1100 BCE. Some historians believe it was abandoned due to flooding or other geographical changes that made the land less hospitable. It wasn't until around 700 A.D. that another group moved in, but only briefly.
Today, the Poverty Point World Heritage Site is open to the public.
You can view all of the artifacts in the visitor center as well as take the walking paths all around the mounds and ridges.
To learn more, visit the
Poverty Point World Heritage Website, and follow Poverty Point on Facebook, too. If you plan to spend the day here, consider renting a cabin at the nearby Poverty Point Reservoir State Park. These cabins overlook the reservoir and are perfect for a weekend getaway.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.
Address: Poverty Point World Heritage Site, 6859 LA-577, Pioneer, LA 71266, USA