About 11,000 years ago, Native people moved into what is now Wisconsin. In the Chippewa [Ojibwe] language, Wisconsin means "gathering of the waters."
The Native American found a land of many possibilities. Animals such as mammoth, mastodon, moose, and giant beaver lived in the surrounding forests. For thousands of years, the Wisconsin River was an important transportation corridor for ideas and goods.
Around 2000 years ago, Native American farmers, traders, and extraordinary craftsmen living along rivers in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin began trading their fine pottery, stone knives, and other works of art throughout the Midwest.
Wisconsin's Native Americans adapted many new technologies, including the manufacture of pottery for cooking and food storage, the use of the bow and arrow in hunting small animals, and the cultivation of wild plants, corn, beans, and squash. These changes resulted in a more settled village life.
About 1700 years ago, Native Americans built a village on the south bank of the Wisconsin River in Grant County.
Archaeologists call the village Millville. The houses at Millville are the only ones that have been discovered from this time period in Southwestern Wisconsin. Millville also has early evidence of plant cultivation (squash, domesticated sunflower, and sumpweed). The villagers gathered wild rice, nuts, seeds, and berries, and continued to hunt animals such as elk and white-tailed deer.
This artist's drawing of the Millville village is based on information from the archaeological excavation.