Chapter 1: New World Beginnings
The Shaping of North America
35,000 years ago, the last ice age lowered the ocean’s level, revealing a path between the
Alaska and Siberia from Eurasia to the New World, until 10,000 years ago, the ocean
began its rise as glaciers began melting.
Attracted by migratory herds of game, the
earliest Native Americans could be characterized as nomadic Asian hunters who started
their journey across this strip of land that took 250 centuries to cross.
The melting of the glaciers caused the Native Americans who had traveled across the
bridge to be isolated in the New World where they would eventually travel southward
and eastward all the way to the tip of South America as well as develop diverse
languages, tribes, and cultures.
The successes of the Incas in Peru, Mayans in Central American, and Aztecs in Mexico
can all be attributed to their advanced agricultural practices of Indian corn; maize proved
vital to New World civilizations for it was the very means that civilizations like the Incas,
Mayans, and Aztecs expanded.
Even though New World civilization at the time lacked basic technologies, like the wheel
and “large draft animals such as horses and oxen”, they created spectacular cities with
their unique human minds, “carried on far-flung commerce”, and made strikingly
accurate astronomical observations.
The Earliest Americans
Agriculture, namely the cultivation of corn, accounted for the large Native American
populations of Mexico and South America.
Originating from the Mexican highlands and
first cultivated by hunter-gatherers, corn eventually spread throughout North America
from the Southeast to the Southwest
In the Southwest, Pueblo natives, who adopted corn in 1200 B.C., were known to have
built extensive irrigation systems for their corn, in addition to “multistoried, terraced
buildings when Spanish explorers made contact with them in the sixteenth century.”
Europeans conquered the Indians with ease because Indian communities except for
advanced ones like the Pueblos adopted an agricultural lifestyle much later after the
As a result, the total Indian population failed to compete with the actively
growing European population.
Later, around 1000 B.C., Indians living along the Atlantic Ocean began their cultivation
of corn along with beans, corn, and squash which they employed into the “three-sister”
farming method; this method involved growing beans around the cornstalks and using
squash plants to maintain the soil’s moisture.
The Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee