The Americas Before the European Migrations

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Read Section 1 from this week’s Webtext titled “The Americas Before the European Migrations,” then briefly summarize the early development of the indigenous population of America. Be sure to include their origin, methods of survival, domestication, innovations, trade, settlements, and other important elements in your response. Which three (3) elements did you find interesting? Provide a rationale your response.

(I attached a video as we’ll, let me know if it did not load.)

Key Takeaways – First Contacts

Key takeaways:

  • Pre-contact societies in North America were economically, politically, and culturally diverse.
  • A variety of regional political and trading networks and rivalries existed across the continent before the arrival of the Europeans.
  • Our understanding of Indian cultures is often distorted by popular representations in books, visual art, and especially movies.
  • The arrival of Europeans to the continent caused dramatic changes for both populations. One example highlighted in this video is horses, which did not exist in North America before European contact but became essential to several Indian societies across the continent.
  • Environment shaped cultures – the practices of pre-contact societies were generally determined by their surroundings. For example, coastal communities in the northwest focused on fishing while tribes in arid southwestern regions were either nomadic or learned advanced irrigation techniques that allowed them to farm.

Map of Native American Tribes

Key Terms – First Contacts

Matrilineal Some Indian societies traced their ancestry through the mother’s family, a practice that contrasted with European traditions and made the tribes seem uncivilized to explorers from Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands.
The Iroquois League The most powerful military and political alliance in the Northeast region. A formidable opponent or ally for European explorers.
The Five Civilized Tribes A group of southeastern tribes who received this name from Europeans because they adopted many of the traditions of the exploring cultures. Nonetheless, many of them were forced to leave their land during the Trail of Tears and other nineteenth-century removals.
Nomadic Versus Agrarian Tribes The predominant division among Southwestern tribes. This distinction is an indication of the diversity of cultures that existed in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans.