Indians first entered the area several thousand years ago. These early inhabitants depended mainly on hunting, fishing, and food gathering for survival. Around 1000 B.C., a new group moved into the area and mixed with the earlier peoples. They constructed ceremonial mounds—and hence became known as Mound Builders—and introduced agriculture.

The eighth century A.D. marked the beginning of a new period, the Mississippian Era. The name of the era refers to a culture developed along the Mississippi River by Indians who lived in large villages and were involved in intensive corn agriculture. They also were mound builders. The Mississippian Era lasted until about the time of European exploration. The most important tribes at that time were the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez.

Important dates in Mississippi
1540 Hernando de Soto entered the Mississippi region.
1699 Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, established Mississippi’s first European settlement, at Old Biloxi.
1763 Mississippi became British territory after the French and Indian War.
1781 Spain occupied the Gulf Coast.
1798 The Mississippi Territory was organized.
1817 Mississippi became the 20th state on December 10.
1858 Mississippi started a swamp drainage program in the Delta region to make the land suitable for farming.
1861 Mississippi seceded from the Union.
1863 Union forces captured Vicksburg in the American Civil War and gained control of the Mississippi River.
1870 Mississippi was readmitted to the Union.
1939 Petroleum was discovered at Tinsley.
1954 The Mississippi legislature passed a law banning required union membership.
1960 Mississippi passed laws that broadened the tax-free privilege of industrial properties.
1964 Atomic scientists set off the first nuclear test explosion east of the Mississippi River at Baxterville.
1969 A federal court ordered the desegregation of Mississippi's public schools.
1969 Charles Evers became the first black mayor in Mississippi since Reconstruction. He was elected in Fayette.
1992-2000 Kirk Fordice was governor, the first Republican to be elected governor of Mississippi since 1874.