History and Heritage
There is something here—a story, a heritage, a legacy, a passion— that drives and inspires. Something that stirs, shapes, and nurtures the soul. Our Mississippi history is rich, wide and deep, and every Mississippian has been molded and influenced by it.
A legacy of courage.
Native Americans have made an indelible mark on the state’s history. "Mississippi" itself, is Choctaw, and means "Father of Waters." Rich in plants yielding roots, nuts, berries, and herbs, as well as a plentiful population of deer, bear, buffalo, and fish, Mississippi was a comfortable home to many tribes. At one time, Mississippi had a larger Indian population than any other Southern state. Today, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians still resides near Philadelphia, and is an enthusiastic contributor to our economy and culture.
Travelers interested in African American heritage will experience this rich culture of courage, faith, music, and food. Perhaps the best place to capture this intense heritage is Mississippi’s African American cultural center, the Smith Robertson Museum in Jackson. Embrace the lives and accomplishments of people who have forever changed Mississippi history and the rest of the nation.
The war that shaped the nation.
Some of the fiercest and bloodiest battles of the Civil War were fought on Mississippi soil. Walking through the state’s museums and among the Civil War sites and landmarks is the only way to truly capture the bravery and sacrifice demonstrated by so many young men. Architectural treasures still stand, providing a glimpse of how luxuriously some Mississippians lived before the war.
Among these historic sites are the intricate Longwood, the largest octagonal house in America, and Rosalie, where you can witness the grandeur of Mississippi history through an informative tour by the knowledgeable hoop-skirted guides. Both homes are in Natchez, just one of many towns that host annual pilgrimages that attract visitors from around the world. Corinth is home to a spectacular multi-million dollar Civil War Interpretive Center where re-enactments of famous decisive battles are often held.
And, of course, Vicksburg is a haven for Civil War aficionados and those who want to learn more about the magnitude of this devastating war. Explore the Vicksburg National Military Park and its 1,800 acres of earthworks, cannons, and monuments. A local historian will re-create the siege and battle as you tour the battlefield, noting the marked Union and Confederate lines and monuments honoring soldiers from both sides of the conflict. In town, the Old Courthouse Museum and many antebellum homes add to this river city’s fascination.