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The First Americans
by Todd Underwood

     The exact date that humans first lived in the Western Hemisphere is unkown, however, it is commonly thought that when they did come, they arrived over what is known as the "Bering Land Bridge." Becuase the tectonic plates are constantly shifting, and glaciers are constantly melting, it is thought that a bridge of land which may have existed connecting Asia and North America is now covered by water. Had that land bridge actually existed, people would have been able to easily walk and migrate from Asia to North America. Most of the people that came from this area are thought to have been hunters and gatherers rather than farmers. They were nomadic and moved with the seasons.The first permanent houses known to have been built in America were built about 7000 years ago at Koster in the Illinois River Valley.

     Around 300 or 400 b.c. people also began to come north from what is now Mexico. These people brought with them the ways and technologies of farming, leading to the first settled existences in North America. One of these first settled peoples were known as the Hohokam Indians, whose earliest settlements date to 300 b.c. They settled along the Gila and Salt Rivers in what is now central Arizona and were known for building Ameria's first irrigation canals.


Casa Grande, Az - Hohokam Settlement

Around 1000 a.d. the Anasazi Indians had built apartment houses, solar observatories, water systems, hundreds of miles of roads and extensive irrigation projects. About the 14th century, the Anasazi deserted their settlements for unknown reasons, although modern thought is they experienced a period of extensive drought. One ruin still existing today that shows the size and advancement of their civilization is called Pueblo Bonito and is located in New Mexico.

     Following the Anasazi were the Adena, the Mississipians, and the Hopewell who lived in the central regions of North America. The Hopewells are known for building large mounds, many of which are so large their contours can only be seen from the air.


Hopewell Mounds at
Hopewell Culture National Historic Park in Chillicothe, Ohio

Another early tribe of people were the Algonquians, who lived in the Northeast and in the western Great Lakes region. The Algonquians were both farmers and hunters. Their men would spend the day hunting and their women would spend their days tending to the farms. It is to the Algonqians that todays modern society in North America owe the knowledge of planting corn and squash, and dozens of everyday words like moccasin, tomahawk, hominy and moose. Many cities in America also bear Algonquian names such as Chicago, Massachusetts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Michigan and others.

On the eastern coast of North American were the Iroquois nation.The Iroquis were composed of many individual tribes including the Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Mohawk. The Iroquois were known to have a strong political system and great skill in warfare. They were one of the last to hold out against the influx of white Europeans.

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