Cultural Crossroads: Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans

From 1519 to 1798, waves of European explorers, traders, and colonists came to the land now known as Mississippi. Africans—mostly enslaved, some free—also arrived during this time. Native Americans took advantage of European infighting to protect their homeland, but the blending of cultures reshaped Mississippi’s society. 

Spaniards arrived first seeking gold and silver, and conquistadors attacked Native Americans, killing thousands. By 1543, Native Americans forced the hostile conquistadors to flee. French colonists willing to coexist with Native Americans reached Mississippi in the late 1600s and built the region’s first European settlements, bringing enslaved Africans with them. After a brief period of British control from 1763 to 1779, the Spanish regained power until they signed a treaty yielding Mississippi to the United States by 1798. The region’s Native American population had begun to recover from years of conflict, but American expansion in the early 1800s threatened Native Americans’ continued existence in Mississippi.

From the Gallery

Explore artifacts, photos, and documents featured in the Cultural Crossroads gallery.

Timeline: 1519–1798

Explore Mississippi

Journey beyond the museum walls and explore the places where history happened and is preserved.

Mount Locust Inn

Mount Locust InnConstructed circa 1780, this home was a working plantation and an inn along the Natchez Trace.

Milepost 15.5
Natchez, Mississippi 

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LaPointe-Krebs House and Museum

LaPointe-Krebs House and MuseumBuilt in 1757, this is the oldest extant dwelling in Mississippi and oldest building in the entire Mississippi Valley.

4602 Fort Street
Pascagoula, Mississippi

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