“As Native American Civilizations flourished, they began to trade with one another, using waterways and other trails to cross the continent.”

[Barnes, Dr. Ian,  The Historical Atlas of Native Americans], 2010

It is estimated that at about 1450 AD, some major routes included:

  • the Mississippi River was a major north-south route,
  • its tributaries linked routes to east and west (Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas),
  • the St. Lawrence R. was major east-west access through the Great Lakes to Grand Portage and into Lake of the Woods,
  • the Straits of Mackinac was a terminus to link southward travel across Lakes Huron and Erie and via the Sandusky and Scioto to the Ohio River,
  • an eastern link from the St. Lawrence River via the Richelieu R., Lake Champlain, and the Hudson R. led to the Atlantic coast.

These trade links brought tribes into direct and indirect contact with each other and encouraged an exchange of culture and the development of alliances to increase power.