Paleo-Indians - The first Native Americans
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Paleo-Indian Period

May 2016 - Archaeologists call the time just after people first came to North America the Paleo-Indian period. During the Paleo-Indian period, all the people in North America were nomads and got their food by hunting and gathering, and especially by fishing. Some of these people stayed in Alaska.

Other people gradually went south and east, looking for warmer weather, little by little. They hunted the mammoth as they went, so many that they killed all of them, and most of the other big mammals. As the mammoth became extinct, the Paleo-Indians began to hunt buffalo instead. They used spears and atlatls to hunt. Slowly, some people reached Central America and then South America, while other people reached the east coast of North America. By 12,500 BC, there were people living in Florida. Here there were still mammoths, but they didn't last long. All up and down the East Coast, like other Stone Age people, the Native Americans ate a lot of fish and shellfish.

By the time Native Americans had covered the whole country, people in North America had developed different languages, and couldn't understand each other talking anymore.

The cold snap we call the "Younger Dryas," which started about 11,000 BC and ended about 9,500 BC when warmer weather came back, created a good environment for Native Americans to live in, with plenty of variety.

Learn by doing: make and use an atlatl
Go on to the Archaic period

Bibliography and further reading about the Paleo-Indian period:

The Archaic period
More about Native Americans
South America and Central America
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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Now that the weather's nice, try some of these outdoor activities! How about bicycle polo, or archery for a Medieval Islam day? Or kite flying or making a compass for a day in Medieval China? How about making a shaduf for a day in Ancient Egypt? Holding an Ancient Greek Olympic Games or a medieval European tournament? Building a Native American wickiup?