The first Americans: Digging up the Past

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This booklet covers the history of Americans that depicts their way of living, their claims. In this, you will read about the first people to settle in North America and the adaptations they made to the environment they found there.
1. Chapter 1
The First Americans
2. Physical Features of North
3. North American Land Claims,
4. How did the first Americans
adapt to their environments?
5. How did the first Americans
adapt to their environments?
6. Migration Routes of the First
7. Migration Routes of the First
• Across a Land Bridge
• Between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, some of the hunter-gatherers
reached America. Other migrants may have traveled along the coast of
Beringia by boat to catch fish, seals, and other marine mammals.
• Migrating East and South
• The descendants of Siberian hunters then had to find new sources of
food and new materials for clothing and shelter. So these people, now
known to us as American Indians, became hunter-gatherers, catching
smaller animals, fishing more, and collecting edible plants and seeds.
Over thousands of years, they spread across the two American
continents, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and from Alaska all the way
to the tip of South America.
8. The First Americans Adapt to
the Environment
• Using Natural Resources
• American Indians lived in a variety of places, from snowy forests to dry
deserts and vast grasslands. Each of these kinds of places is an
environment. An environment includes everything that surrounds us—
land, water, animals, and plants. Each environment also has a climate,
or long-term weather pattern. Groups of American Indians survived by
adapting, or changing, their style of living to suit each environment, its
climate, and its natural resources.
• Using Natural Resources American Indians learned to use the natural
resources in their environments for food, clothing, and shelter.
• Over generations, groups of American Indians developed their own
cultures, or ways of life. Many became part of larger groupings that
were loosely organized under common leaders.
9. Native American Cultural
10. Native American Clothing
11. Native American Housing
12. Native American Food
13. How Americans Viewed Their
14. How Native Americans Viewed
Their Environment
• Nature’s Spirits
• Wherever they lived, American Indians had a strong connection to their
surroundings. They viewed themselves as a part of the community of
plants, animals, and other natural objects. American Indians generally
believed that each part of nature had its own spirit. Each person had to
maintain a balance with these spirits.
• Using the Land
• Unlike Europeans, American Indians did not believe that land could be
owned as private property. But each group was deeply connected to its
homeland—the area where its people lived most of the year. If necessary,
American Indians would fight to protect their right to this land.
• American Indians modified the land to suit their needs.
• These practices seldom harmed the environment.
• American Indians tried not to waste anything taken from nature.
15. Native Americans on the
Northwest Coast
16. Native Americans on the
Northwest Coast
• The Northwest Coast cultural region extends from southern Oregon into Canada.
Winters along the ocean are cold but not icy, and summers are cool. To the east,
thick forests of fir, spruce, and cedar cover rugged mountains. The mountains trap
Pacific storms, so there is heavy rainfall much of the year.
• Abundant Food Northwest people found food plentiful, particularly that taken
from the sea. They built their villages along the narrow beaches and bays of the
coastline and on nearby islands. They gathered clams, other shellfish, and
seaweed from shallow waters. They ventured onto the sea in canoes to hunt seals,
sea lions, and whales, as well as halibut and salmon, and other fish. The forests
provided deer, moose, bear, elk, beaver, and mountain goat.
• Builders and Carvers The forests of the Northwest provided materials for
houses and many useful objects. Using wedges and stoneheaded sledgehammers,
men cut long, thin boards from logs or living trees. They joined these planks to
build large, sturdy houses. To keep out the rain, they made roof shingles out of
large sheets of cedar bark.
• With abundant food nearby, the Northwest people had time to practice crafts.
Women made decorative shell buttons and sewed them onto their clothing with
ivory needles. Men used tools such as wooden wedges, bone drills, stone chisels,
and stone knives to carve detailed animal masks and wooden bowls.
17. Native Americans of California
18. Native Americans of California
• The California cultural region stretches from southern Oregon through Baja California. Ocean
storms bring winter rains to this region. Summers are hot and dry, particularly inland.
• The California region includes not only the coast, but also the coastal foothills, an inland valley,
deserts, and the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over 100 small groups
made their homes in these diverse environments, more than in any other cultural region.
• Many Sources of Food Groups living along the coast of northern California depended on
salmon for much of their food. Farther south, coastal people relied more on shellfish. Away
from the coast, groups hunted deer with bows and arrows. They set snares to trap rabbits and
used nets to capture ducks. California people also gathered roots, berries, and pine nuts. Most
people in the region relied on acorns from oak trees as a basic food. In the fall, women
harvested the acorns, shelled them, and pounded the nuts into meal.
• Clothing, Houses, and Baskets As they worked, the women wore simple aprons or skirts
made from grasses or other plants, or sometimes from leather strips. In colder months, men
and women wrapped themselves in animal hides.
• Because the climate was mild, California people built simple homes. In forested areas, men
used tools made from the antlers of deer and elk to strip large slabs of bark from redwood
trees. They draped these into a cone shape to form a house. In marshy areas, people wove
thick mats of reeds to drape over a cone-shaped framework of poles.
• California people wove plant materials into many useful items. They made cooking baskets,
storage baskets, sifters, and fish traps. Women used fine weaving and elegant patterns to
make beautiful baskets, decorating their work with clamshells and bird feathers.
19. Native Americans of the Great
20. Native Americans of the Great
• To the east of California lies the Great Basin, a low area between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky
Mountains. The mountains on either side of this region block the rain, making this land mostly desert.
• The types of plants that grow in this area are those that need little water, such as low grasses, sagebrush,
and craggy piñon (PIN-yon) trees. Only small animals, such as rabbits and lizards, live in this harsh region.
• With limited food and water, only a few families could live in a place at one time. For this reason, people of
the Great Basin traveled in small groups and spent much of their time looking for food.
• Extreme Heat and Cold Wherever people camped, they made temporary shelters of willow poles
shaped into a cone and covered with brush or reeds. Almost all year, they carried water in baskets coated
with sap from pine trees.
• When winter came, temperatures dropped below freezing. To keep warm, people made robes out of rabbit
hides. First they twisted long strips of hide so that only the fur showed. Then they wove these strips on a
willow loom. Each adult robe required about 100 rabbit skins.
• Searching for Food In this arid (dry) environment, people followed food sources from season to season.
In spring, they camped by valley lakes and streams swollen with melted snow. Men attracted migrating
ducks with floating decoys made from reeds. When birds landed, the men chased them into nets.
Meanwhile, women gathered duck eggs and the tender shoots of cattail plants.
• When the streams dried up in summer, Great Basin people enjoyed snakes and grasshoppers as treats.
But mostly they ate plants, almost 100 kinds. Women used sharp sticks to dig up roots. They wove flat
baskets, called seed beaters, which they used to knock seeds loose from plants. From the mountain
slopes, they gathered ripe berries
• In autumn, bands harvested pine nuts and hunted fat jackrabbits. As winter arrived, the Great Basin
people bundled into their rabbit robes in the warmer hills. In huts and caves, they lived off food they had
dried earlier, waiting for the ducks to return in spring.
21. Native Americans of the Plateau
22. Native Americans of the Plateau
• North of the Great Basin lies the Plateau cultural region. This region is bounded by the Cascade Range
to the west, the Rockies to the east, and the Fraser River, in present-day Canada, to the north.
• The mountains in this area have dense forests. The flatter, central part is drier and covered with grass
and sagebrush. Winters are long and cold, while summers remain gentle.
• The Plateau people hunted and gathered with the seasons. The cool, wet climate made it fairly easy to
find enough to eat. So, too, did the Plateau’s two mighty river systems, the Columbia and the Fraser.
• Sturdy Houses and Clothing Plateau people built their villages along major rivers. The rivers
provided drinking water, fish, and driftwood to use for shelter and firewood.
• Food was so plentiful that some groups were able to live in their villages year-round. To stay cool in
summer and warm in winter, they built their homes partly underground. They dug a pit, lined it with a
frame of logs, and covered everything with saplings, reeds, and mud.
• Plateau people used their weaving skills to create many kinds of baskets, as well as elaborate hats. As
the cold months approached, they spent more time making clothes. In the fall, men hunted antelope
and deer. Then women scraped and softened the hides for dresses, leggings, and shirts. They
decorated their work with designs of seeds and shells.
• Camas and Salmon Although hunting usually provided plenty of meat in the fall, most of the time
Plateau people relied on fish and plants for food. In spring, they gathered sprouts of wild onions and
carrots from the low grasslands. Their particular favorite was camas, a starchy root related to lilies.
Women uprooted it with willow digging sticks for eating raw, for roasting, and for grinding into flour.
• The food most important to Plateau people was salmon. When the salmon migrated upstream, men
stood on wooden platforms built over the water. From there, they could spear or net fish easily.
23. Native Americans of the
24. Native Americans of the
• The Southwest cultural region includes present-day Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and
Colorado, and portions of Texas, Oklahoma, and California. This region has many environments—
canyons, mountains, deserts, and flat-topped mesas. It even has two major rivers, the Colorado and
the Rio Grande. But rain seldom falls anywhere.
• Mesa People Different groups found different ways of surviving in the Southwest. Some lived as
nomadic (wandering) desert hunters. Along the Colorado River, small groups hunted, gathered, and
farmed. Others planted fields of corn, beans, and squash on the tops of high, flat areas called mesas.
• The mesa people lacked trees for building homes. Instead, they made homes from the earth itself.
Using bricks of adobe (sun-baked clay), they built thick-walled houses that protected them from
summer heat and winter cold. Their villages looked like apartment houses that reached up to four
stories high and had hundreds of rooms. A single village, called a pueblo (PWEH-blo), might house
1,000 people.
• To protect their bodies from the sun, mesa people wore clothes made of cotton that they grew, spun,
and wove into cloth. Using plants and minerals, they dyed fabrics with bright colors.
• Corn Culture Despite living in a desert, the early mesa people learned to grow corn, beans, and
squash. Corn was by far their most important crop.
• To make the most of infrequent rain, farmers planted near naturally flooded areas like the mouths of
large streambeds or the bases of mesas, where rain runoff flowed. Men dug irrigation ditches from
the streams to the fields and built small dams to hold summer rain.
• Girls spent many hours a day grinding corn kernels into cornmeal. The women cooked the cornmeal
into bread in clay ovens. In clay pots, they cooked stews of corn, rabbit meat, and chili peppers.
25. Native Americans of the Great
26. Native Americans of the Great
• The Great Plains cultural region is a vast area of treeless grasslands. The Great Plains stretch
for 2,000 miles from the Rockies to the Mississippi Valley, and from Canada to the Gulf of
Mexico. The eastern part of this region has more water and softer soil than the western part. In
the drier west, short, dense grasses provided perfect grazing for millions of buffalo.
• Buffalo Hunters On the eastern Great Plains, various groups took up farming, going on
buffalo hunting trips only a few months each year. On the western Great Plains, American
Indians followed buffalo herds much of the year.
• Using the Buffalo Buffalo provided the main food for Plains people. Women and children cut
up the buffalo with bone knives. Extra meat was dried and kept for winter.
• Plains people used every part of the buffalo. Buffalo hides were turned into shields, waterproof
containers, warm robes, and bedding. For clothing and bags, women softened the hides with
bone scrapers and rubbed in buffalo brains and fat. Buffalo hair and sinew (tough cords made
from the animals’ tendons) were twined into bowstrings and rope. Horns and hooves became
spoons and bowls or were boiled down to make glue. Dried buffalo dung provided fuel for fires.
• Buffalo provided materials for housing as well. Using tendons as thread, women sewed 8 to 20
buffalo skins together. The skins were then fastened around a tall cone of poles to make a tipi,
a Plains word for “dwelling.”
• Plains people became even more successful hunters when Spanish explorers introduced
horses to the region. With horses, they could bring down more buffalo and move faster and
more comfortably to new hunting grounds.
27. Native Americans of the Eastern
28. Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands
• The Eastern Woodlands cultural region reaches from the Mississippi River eastward to the Atlantic
Ocean and from Canada to North Carolina. Winter snows and summer rains produced endless forests,
lakes, and streams.
• Two language groups emerged in this cultural region. In most of the territory, people spoke Algonquian
(al-GON-kwee-in) languages. In New York and around the southern Great Lakes lived the Iroquois
speaking groups described in this section.
• Plentiful Woods The forests provided most of what Iroquois (EER-uh-kwoi) people needed to live. For
food, hunters prowled through the forests to track deer. Men also hunted bears, trapped beavers,
caught birds in nets, and speared fish. Women gathered fresh greens, nuts, and berries. They made
syrup by boiling down sap from maple trees.
• Instead of walking through the thick forests, Iroquois often paddled log and bark canoes along lakes and
rivers. Because waterways also provided fish and drinking water, Iroquois built their villages nearby.
• Each village had dozens of sturdy log-frame houses covered with elm bark. Such longhouses were
usually about 20 feet wide and over 100 feet long. Several related families lived in sections of the
• Women Farmers To clear a space for farming, Iroquois men burned away trees and underbrush.
Women did the rest. After hoeing the soil, they planted corn, sometimes several varieties. Around the
cornstalks, they let beans twine. Squash grew near the ground, keeping down weeds and holding
moisture in the soil.
• When the planting was done, women tanned deerskin to make skirts, capes, and moccasins (soft
shoes). They scraped corn kernels with bone tools and ground the corn between stones. In the fall, they
stored the harvest, often in large bark bins in the longhouses. Iroquois crops included sunflowers,
tobacco, and many vegetables that are still planted in American gardens today.
29. Native Americans of the
30. Native Americans of the
• The Southeast cultural region stretches from the southern part of the Ohio Valley to the Gulf of Mexico and
from Texas to the Atlantic Ocean. This region’s fertile coastal plains, river valleys, mountains, and swamps
all have long, warm, humid summers and mild winters. In this green countryside, the people of the
Southeast found growing crops fairly easy.
• Towns Built Around Mounds Some Southeastern peoples built towns dominated by large earthen
mounds. The first mounds were burial sites. Centuries later, people made mounds several stories high as
platforms for temples.
• Building these mounds took months, even years, because people had to move the dirt one basketful at a
time. Workers building mounds had no time to help grow or find food. But Southeastern groups had
developed a type of corn that grew so fast, they could harvest two crops a year. Farmers raised enough
food to feed the people building the mounds.
• A single Southeastern town might have had 2 to 12 mounds arrayed around a central town plaza. People
clustered their houses around these mounds. They built their homes from strips of young trees woven into
a rectangular frame and plastered with clay. Roofs were pointed and made of leaves.
• A Fertile Region Beyond their homes, fields lay in all directions. With the region’s long growing season,
Southeastern people relied on corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers for most of their food.
• Women worked the fields with hoes made of stone, shell, or animal shoulder blades fastened to wooden
handles. Men sometimes hunted, using blowguns for squirrels, rabbits, and turkeys and bows and arrows
for large animals like deer. They even brought home alligators and turtles.
• To complete their varied diet, women gathered edible plants like sweet potatoes, wild rice, and
persimmons. As they wore simple, short deerskin skirts, they didn’t have to spend much time making
clothing. Instead, they had time to fashion rings, earrings, arm rings, and hairpins from stones, shells,
feathers, pearls, bones, and clay.
31. Chapter Summary
32. Secotan People of North
33. Digging Up the Past