Of the estimated thirty to forty American Indian earthwork mounds in Oklahoma and Arkansas, Spiro is the largest—and the only such prehistoric archaeological site open to the public. Without Peterson—a passionate, seemingly endless source of knowledge on Spiro civilization, artifacts, and culture—these mounds would remain as inaccessible and mysterious as they did for six hundred years.
Before they were disturbed by the Pocola Mining Company during the Great Depression, the mounds at Spiro served their intended purpose as mortuaries holding bodies, structures, and sacred objects. But before the intervention of archaeologists, these sites were looted, their artifacts and bodies scattered globally. A handful of books tells this story, and scholars continue to interpret Spiro and its people, but there is nothing like visiting the place itself to experience the remnants of a great civilization.
Peterson now acts as the guardian of this ancient city, again on the edge of abandonment, as if he has been chosen to bring it back to life for those who come here.
WHILE MANY DETAILS of Spiroan life have been pieced together by archaeologists and anthropologists, together they give only broad sketches of the rise and fall of Spiro. The people who lived in this region and used this land to varying degrees from circa 800 to 1500 CE are known as Caddoan Speaking People of the Mississippian Period.
“The Mississippian is a confederation of more than sixty different tribes, more than thirty different language groups directly involving at least six million people, everywhere from the Rockies to the Virginian coast to the Gulf Coast of Florida to the Great Lakes,” Peterson says. “The moundbuilding people at Spiro and scattered across the continent were autonomous but interconnected, partly through economics but also through politics, religion, and society structure.”
Outward from Spiro branched a trade network of ambassadors who gathered raw materials from coast to coast and spread their culture’s influence through art. The shared mythological and ceremonial aspects of the Mississippian religion are referred to as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, or Southern Cult. Cahokia, eight miles from present-day St. Louis, Missouri, and perhaps America’s most famous mound site, was the largest and most influential Mississippian city.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Let Them Eat Cake, Cookies, Pie, Etc.
The Pastry Nook in Enid reigns supreme over northwestern Oklahoma’s sugar scene.
LIFE Of SLICE
OH, PIZZA. THAT MOST BELOVED OF ENTRÉES. WHILE THERE ARE AS MANY WAYS TO ENJOY PIZZA AS THERE ARE HUMAN BEINGS, THESE OKLAHOMA RESTAURANTS KNOW HOW TO DO PIE RIGHT.
Drizzle it over biscuits, use it to sweeten a cup of tea, or just sneak a spoonful out of the jar every now and then—there’s nothing like Oklahoma honey.
Hungry for Taters
Though this historic restaurant may seem off the map, its antique charm, hospitality, and service proves why it’s been around for nearly a century.
Oklahomans are adding plant-based items to their menus for a more health-conscious, colorful, and inclusive culinary experience.
Let's Make a Meal
Reckoning with a return to restaurants, our mutual responsibility, and memories of shared tables long past
FOOD WORTH THE DRIVE 2021
FOR THE EIGHTH YEAR RUNNING, OKLAHOMA TODAY’S EDITORS TRAVELED TO EVERY CORNER OF THE STATE TO BRING BACK WORD OF THE MANY WONDERS OF OUR SHARED CULINARY SCENE. WHETHER YOU’RE CRAVING A CHICKEN-FRIED STEAK, CAJUN DELIGHTS, INDULGENT DESSERTS, OR JAPANESE SOUL FOOD, OUR GUIDE TO OKLAHOMA’S DRIVE-WORTHY EATERIES IS HERE TO HELP.
AS A PANDEMIC THREATENED TO SHUTTER THEIR BUSINESSES FOR GOOD, OKLAHOMA RESTAURANT OWNERS MARSHALED THEIR COURAGE, GRIT, AND CREATIVITY TO MAKE DINING OUT A SAFE AND ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL.
Whether satisfying hunger or providing work experience, Special Kneads is making Shawnee stronger.
Bobbing for Apples
Though there may be apples on the brain at this cidery, a beer-like experience is in store for those who venture to OK Cider Co.
SORRY, GRINCH. VIRUS WON'T STOP NORAD FROM TRACKING SANTA
Children of the world can rest easy. The global pandemic won’t stop them from tracking Santa Claus’ progress as he delivers gifts around the globe on Christmas Eve.
Running by the numbers
“I’m not the type of guy that wants to go down on the first contact. I want to get those extra yards.” -Antonio Gibson
WIFE KILLER SCOTT PETERSON COULD GO FREE!
Eyes new trial after death sentence overturned
EVIL PETERSON DODGES DEATH!
But sicko wife-killer seethes about ruling he’ll rot in jail
CAGED SCOTT PETERSON'S COVID NIGHTMARE!
VIRUS PLAGUES SAN QUENTIN AS WIFE KILLER TRIES TO GET OUT
3 Big thoughts
HASKINS IMPROVES GAME BY GAME
3 Big Thoughts
Derrius Guice is healthy once more so it’s time for the Redskins to learn what they really have – a potential star or an injury-prone player.
SPIROCERCA LUPI – what is it?
Spirocerca Lupi is a worm that affects dogs in the summer rainfall areas of South Africa. If this condition is left untreated, the consequences are devastating.
Our shoot star, 21-year-old Aylah Peterson, nearly quit modelling as soon as she began. A few years, an auspicious chop and a VIP (very important phone call) later, she’s living the cool-girl dream in Paris — and she has the insouciance and bold red lip down pat
Guardians Of The Grasslands
How conservationists and ranchers in Saskatchewan are working to slow the loss of an endangered ecosystem