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Prehistoric Native American Cultures. What is PREHISTORY ?. History before there was written language There was history before it was written down, but some societies just didn’t write

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Presentation Transcript
what is prehistory
  • History before there was written language
  • There was history before it was written down, but some societies just didn’t write
  • Native American societies were oral and have always been aware of their history, even without writing it down.
three phases of prehistory in north carolina
Three Phases of Prehistory in North Carolina
  • Paleo-Indian Period
  • Archaic Period
  • Woodland Times (includes the Mississippian Culture)
bering strait theory
Bering Strait Theory
  • During the last Ice Age (25,000-35,000 years ago) people began populating North America, coming across the Bering Strait from Asia
  • Around 14,000 years ago, North America was fully populated by people
how do we know about the people that lived before history was recorded

How do we know about the people that lived before history was recorded?

They left items & the items they left are discovered today in archeological sites.

various levels of social organization among prehistoric native americans
Various levels of social organization among prehistoric Native Americans

Bands (20-35 people)

Tribes (several bands)

Chiefdoms (100-300 people)

States (thousands of people)

paleo indian period 14 000 12 000 years ago
Paleo-Indian Period (14,000-12,000 Years Ago)


  • People lived in bands (20-35 people), with 2 or 3 extended families
  • Natural leadership developed
  • The social structure was based on kinship and skills
paleo indian period
Paleo-Indian Period

Way of Life

  • Nomads who moved with the hunt (mostly ate meat and hunted big game)
  • The archeological sites left by these people are few with few deposits, probably because they were nomads
  • In North Carolina, at least one Paleo-Indian site has been found in every county
paleo indian period1
Paleo-Indian Period


  • Only stone material is found from this period
  • They had some of the finest tools in prehistory
  • Projectile points are most of what is found (tips of spears, darts, lances, etc.)
projectile points arrow heads
Projectile Points & Arrow Heads

What are the differences?

Projectile points were created before arrow heads. Arrow heads were not invented until around 4000 years ago



arrow heads

the end of the ice age causes changes
The end of the Ice Age causes changes
  • Global warming occurs between 12,000 & 10,000 years ago (it took about 2000 years)
  • It causes forests to change, thus food sources change
  • Something else key happens….

Culture evolves

archaic period 10 000 4 000 years ago
Archaic Period(10,000-4,000 years ago)


  • Bands got larger, containing 50-75 people
  • Tribes began to evolve consisting of closely related bands of people tied together by kinship
archaic period 10 000 4 000 years ago1
Archaic Period (10,000-4,000 years ago)

Way of Life

  • The archeological sites found from this period are larger
  • The people are semi-sedentary, not moving as much (they move with the seasons rather than the hunt)
  • They are still hunter-gatherers (nuts, berries, plant material)
archaic period
Archaic Period


People begin making tools, to make other tools.

They create more diverse and advanced tools such as:

  • Grinding stones
  • Dishes
  • Stone net sinkers
  • Fish hooks
  • Awls (engraving tool)
  • Drills
  • Scrapers
  • Atlatl (Spear thrower)