THROWBACK THURSDAY – Southern Kentucky’s “First Farmers”
As we head into November and start thinking of Thanksgiving traditions,
celebrations of the harvest and fellowship come to mind. In this week’s Throwback
Thursday, we visit the newest exhibit at the Kentucky Museum on Western
Kentucky University’s main campus. The “First Farmers” exhibit tells stories of the
Native Americans who lived in the Barren River Valley thousands of years ago.
The Kentucky Archaeological Survey conducted excavations over the past few years
at what’s named the Holt Site, a spot in the Gasper River floodplain where a bridge
replacement project was planned. Between WKU student bob Zoellner, Dr. Jack
Schock, and Dennis Holt, their discoveries all showed that indigenous farmers lived
in southern Kentucky sometime after the year 1000.
These excavations showed the agricultural lifestyle these Native Americans lived.
These small communities focused on crop production along the Green River, yet
were all connected by the central religious and political regime held by a chief.
These areas had large trade networks in raw materials and products, many showing
evidence of communication and similarities in other southeastern United States
Native American cultures.
Kentucky Museum visitors can learn more about the Native American ways of life in
southern Kentucky before Europeans crossed the Atlantic and changed the course of
history. These “First Farmers” breathed life into their own prosperous era for
hundreds of years. The exhibit says these peoples abandoned the towns and villages
along the Barren River area sometime around 1400.
Visit the Kentucky Museum in person to see the full “First Farmers” exhibit, which is
on display until 2025.