1301 Lecture #1 The New World (1).docx - 1301 LECTURE...

This preview shows page 1 - 2 out of 5 pages.

1301 LECTURE NOTES #1: The New WorldThe first people to settle in North and South America traveled here from Siberia about 15,000 years ago by crossing what has been called a “land bridge.”1In fact this bridge was a huge subcontinent known today as BERINGIAthat used to exist across what is now the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska. Beringia was formed two million years ago in a period known as the PLEISTOCENE– more commonly referred to as theIce Age – when sea waters were soaked up like a sponge by giant glaciers that dropped the global sea level by 400 feet. This decrease in sea levels exposed sea floor and created Beringia, a vast grassy plain that attracted herds of animals. Following those herds were small bands of hunter-gathers. When a warming trend began gradually melting the ice, Beringia was again submerged by the rising oceans, cutting off the people and animals from the rest of the world. The Paleo-Indian people who came across Beringia were not explorers seeking a new world, they were panic-stricken refugees escaping disaster. As hunter-gatherers, their organizing principle was the quest for food which urged them to move south and east, chasing game for survival. In North America they found vast grasslands sustaining abundant herds of slow-moving animals inexperienced in defendingthemselves from attack. Using cooperative strategies to hunt, the Paleo-Indians killed massive numbers of these animals, cooked and ate them.2The plentiful supply of food created a population explosion that depleted local resources, forcing smaller groups, known as bands, to break away from the main tribe and venture out in different directions to find ample hunting grounds, the need for which increased as the mega- sized animals were hunted to extinction. This separation and wandering of people caused the bands to become culturally and linguistically diverse. It took roughly 1,250 years for the Paleo-Indians to inhabit the farthest regions of North and South America. By the time Columbus arrived, there were, in North America, about 2 million Indians dispersed in 240 different tribes speaking 375 languages.3In what is now the United States, THREE MAJOR INDIAN TRIBAL GROUPSdeveloped: 1. Eastern Woodlands tribes, 2. Great Plains tribes and, 3.Western tribes. Geography determined the ways in which the tribes lived. Many of them were connected by networks of trails and rivers that allowed them to trade and make war on one another. The native tribal people were constantly at war. As one 19thcentury Indian explained, “We cannot live without war. If we make peace with one tribe, we must immediately look out for some other nation with whom we can engage in our beloved occupation.”4Most of the tribes were nomadic, moving to different hunting grounds in different seasons. The nomadic tribes lived in teepees that were portable tents. Wigwams are not very portable because of the 1 Figures vary depending upon which archeologist or historian you consult and which people are referred

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture