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More on the First Americans. Jargon, Themes and Early European Encounters. Jargon. Paleolithic Period : from beginnings of human life through ~10,000 BCE when people were nomads.

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more on the first americans

More on the First Americans

Jargon, Themes and Early European Encounters



  • Paleolithic Period: from beginnings of human life through ~10,000 BCE when people were nomads.
  • Nomad: person who belongs to a group of people who move from place to place seasonally in search of water and food.
  • Neolithic Revolution: Beginning about 10,000 BCE when they started to cultivate crops and domesticate animals.

Jargon, 2

  • Social Class:a group of people within a society who share the same social, political, and economic status.
    • Class usually determined by work performed like farmer, craftsman, priest, and warrior
  • Civilization: a society having a high level of culture and social organization including organized government, job specialization, and an organized belief system.

Jargon, 3

  • Council of Elders:
    • usually ran the villages
    • Composed of the heads of the village’s various families
    • Some villages may have had a chief elder as a single leader.
    • In times of scarce resources, warfare increased between villages.
    • Some men gained stature as great warriors during time of warfare.

Neolithic Revolution

  • Changed the way humans lived.
  • Agriculture allowed permanent settlements, social classes, and new technologies.
  • New technologies
    • Simple calendars to track planting and harvesting.
    • Simple metal tools like plows.
      • May have used animals to pull the plows.
    • Metal weapons.

Neolithic Revolution, 2

  • Took place in places besides Western Hemisphere
  • Some of these early groups settled in the fertile valleys of the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Yellow, and Indus Rivers.
    • Rise of great civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and India.

In North America

  • First Americans of the North
    • North of Rio Grande
    • Less complex and coercive societies
    • Lacked occupational diversity, social hierarchy, and strong state institutions
    • Most were self-governing kinship groups based on lineage


  • ~100 CE, present-day Ohio
  • Spread influence from Louisiana to Wisconsin
  • Organized in large villages
  • Extensive trade networks and domesticated plants
    • Obsidian from Rocky Mountains
    • Copper from Great Lakes
    • Pottery and marine shells from Gulf of Mexico

Built large burial mounds.

  • Artisans make ornaments to bury with the dead.

This map shows the Hopewell mounds and earthworks around Chillicothe Ohio.


In the Southwest

  • ~ 600 CE Hohokam and Mogollon cultures
    • Hohokam used irrigation to grow crops
    • Worshiped their gods on platform mounds
    • By 1000, lived in elaborate multi-room stone structures called pueblos
  • ~ 900 CE Anasazi
    • Master architects
    • Built residential-ceremonial villages in steep cliffs
      • Chaco Canyon houses 1,000 people

In the Southwest, 2

  • These societies collapsed ~ 1150
    • Drought ???
    • Invasion ???
    • Illness ???
  • Descendents include Acomas, Zunis, Hopis, and Navajos


  • ~800, Mississippi River Valley
  • Last large-scale culture to emerge north of the Rio Grande
  • ~1150, Cahokia was largest city
    • Near present-day St. Louis
    • Population of 15,000 – 20,000
    • Temple mounds as large as great Egyptian pyramids
  • Tributes paid by peasants supported the privileged class of nobles and priests

Mississippian, 2

  • ~1350
  • Decline due to overpopulation, urban disease, and warfare


  • Included Algonquian-speaking peoples
  • Lived further north and to the east
  • Included modern-day Virginia
  • Farming became the work of women
    • Used flint hoes
    • Corn, squash, and beans
  • Men hunted and fished
  • Matrilineal inheritance system developed among many due to importance of farming.

Mediterranean Crossroads

  • African, Asian, and European peoples interacted in the Mediterranean region
  • West African gold enriched Turkish sultans.
  • European guns strengthened North African armies.
  • Indian spices found their way to Italian kitchens.

Religion and Politics

  • Closely intertwined in Mediterranean commerce.
  • From 7th to 14th centuries, Islam spread to Southeast Asia, West Africa, and much of Southern Europe.
  • Roman Catholic rulers introduced Christianity to central and northern Europe.
  • Frequent religious cooperation to secure commercial ties and fight piracy.


  • Some Africans and Native Americans were matrilineal -- children traced descent through mother’s bloodline.
  • In many agricultural societies, women as well as men farmed.
    • In some, women did most of the field cultivation.
  • Europe divided tasks by gender
    • i.e., men were weavers but women were spinners.
  • Primogeniture in Europe

European Encounters

  • Explorers financed by King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile
  • Columbus
    • October 12, 1492, disembarked on an island in the present-day Bahamas
    • Native inhabitants were the Taino, Arawak, and Carib
    • Future expeditions began colonization of West Indies

European Encounters,2

  • Hernan Cortes and the Aztecs
  • Pizarro and the Incas
  • Desoto explored much of southeastern US
  • Spanish invasion changed life forever in the Americas
    • Disease and warfare wiped out virtually all of the Native Americans of Hispanola (300,000)
    • Conquistadors


  • Between 1500 and 1650, ~350,000 Spaniards migrated to Mesoamerica and Western South America
    • 75% were men who took Indian wives
    • Mestizos = mixed race population
    • Elaborate race-based caste system emerged
      • 3.2 million Spaniards, 5.5 million Mestizos, 1 million African slaves and 7.5 million Native Americans
    • Surviving Native Americans lost most of their cultural identity

Columbian Exchange

  • Profoundly impacted Americas, Europe, and Africa
  • Changed natural environment through new flora, fauna, minerals, and diseases
  • Native Americans catastrophic population losses
  • European nations economic profit from precious metals
  • New class of peoples (mestizos)
  • And ultimately, African slaves
  • Kokopelli:
  • The Enduring Vision by Boyer, et al
  • College Board Teacher Resources
  • (picture)
  • (picture)
  • (picture)
  • The American Vision by Appleby, et al (picture)