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01_ Ch16: Peoples and Empires in the Americas: An Overview

FQ: What contributed to the development of civilizations in the Americas?

Timeline: 10th C. BCE - 15th C. CE

Main Idea: Often, secondary school history courses and textbooks in the United States reect a world view similar in values to that
of Europe. When we study non-European societies, there may be the notion lurking in our mind that these societies were not equal
to Europe in creativity, innovation, complexity, and scientic achievement. This is unfortunate and inaccurate.
Complex North American societies were linked to each other through culture and economics. Native America's great societies
and civilizations exploited these links to build and create as well as peoples of the "Old World". Some of these American societies
are well known, while others remain little more than legendary.


I. Vocabulary
A. Indian vs. Native American: Which is academically appropriate and why?
B. "Old" World: Asia, Africa, & Europe
C. "New" World: North & South America
D. Pre-Columbian: Prior to the 1492 arrival date of Columbus in the Americas.
II. Theories Regarding Origins & Development
A. Migrations: Via the Berings Strait Land Bridge ~50000 BP. This may be the leading theory in
this eld today, but not the only one.
B. Pre-Columbian Contact with Old World Civilizations
1. Vikings
2. Polynesian
3. Speculative theories lacking signicant physical & literary evidence.
III. Native America's Nurturing Geography
A. Great Plains (eg. ancestors of Sioux, Blackfoot, etc.)
B. Mississippi River Valley (eg. ancestors of Mississippian Culture=> Mound Builders)
C. Woodland (eg. ancestors of The Iroquois, etc.)
D. American South-West (eg. ancestors of Anazasi, Pueblo)
E. Pacic North-West (eg. ancestors of Sea-dependent cultures=> Tlingit)
F. Central Mexican Valley (eg. ancestors of Olmec, Teotihuacan)
IV. History-Altering Impact
A. Crops: Corn, Beans, Squash, Potato
B. Medicine: Advanced Pharmacopoeias
C. Science & Technology: Architecture, Food Preservation, Agriculture, Metallurgy#

V. Summary: Why it matters now.

Traditions and ideas from these cultures became part of the cultures of North America since then.

Materials/Sources: Refer to the course calendar for additional materials, assignments and pertinent due dates.
! Maps of Americas
! Millennium Video Series, CNN Productions, Inc. 1999.
! Slide presentation
! World History: Patterns of Interaction
Listen to a podcast sponsored by The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History (GLI). Learn the latest about Pre-Columbian
America from one of nations important historians.
Charles C. Manns America Before Columbus
Brown University, July 22, 2008
Running Time: 45:00
Recent research on the Mound Builders of the famous Cahokia site can be accessed from the GLI website. Timothy R. Pauketats
Cahokia: A Pre-Columbian American Indian City
Read recent ndings on a great Native American society by accessing GLIs Matthew Denniss The League of the Iroquois.