The First Americans (Prehistory

Name __________________________
Date __________________________
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The First Americans (Prehistory - 1600)
Objective: To examine how the first humans migrated to America, the purpose of
archaeology, and the culture of the Mound Builders.
Location of Beringia
Label and color the following:
Arctic Ocean (dark blue)
Bering Sea (light blue)
Bering Strait (blue dots)
Russia (red)
U.S.A ~ Alaska (purple)
Beringia (yellow)
The First Americans
• Approximately 30,000 years ago the
earth experienced an Ice Age.
Ice Age – a period of time in which
temperatures on earth were very cold and
North America was covered in glaciers.
Glaciers – large, slow moving sheets of
- As the oceans froze, the ocean floor became uncovered and dry.
- The first humans in North America crossed the land bridge.
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Land bridge (Beringia) – an area of land which humans crossed during
the Ice Age on their way to North America from Asia.
Archaeology - the study of evidence left by early peoples
Artifact – object made by humans and used by archaeologists to recreate a
picture of the past.
How has the earth changed since the Ice Age?
The earth is warmer now. Most of the glaciers have melted and the water level in
the ocean rose. Some of the land, like Beringia, is now covered with water. People
can’t walk between Asia to North America. The glaciers carved out the Great
Lakes, Niagara Falls and other geographic features in North America.
A. Migration Routes of the First Americans (red text pg.19)
a. Scientists agree: People migrated to North America from Asia during
the last Ice Age.
b. It happened 12,500 years ago during the last Ice Age.
i. Ice Age: began 1.6 million years ago and ended 10,000 years
ii. Land bridge: connected Asia and North America
1. called Beringia
2. it was almost 1,000 miles long
c. Most scientists believe the first Americans came from Siberia (Asia)
Critical Question: How did the people move across the land bridge from Asia to
North America? Why did the people migrate?
Critical Question: Why did the tribes of people that slowly migrated across the land
bridge eventually stay in the Americas?
B. Theories of how people came to America
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Two Theories
Land Bridge
1) people crossed the land bridge
between the continent of Asia &
North America
1) people sailed across the Pacific
Ocean or the Bering Sea
2) least popular theory
2) The land bridge was called
3) Most popular theory
Critical Question: Which of the two theories do you believe? Why?
C. American Indian Origin Stories (red text pg. 18)
1. Origin Stories
– Natives created stories about the earth and how its people came to be
– Part of their religion and culture
– First passed down by word of mouth or pictograph
1. Hopi Origin Story
• At the beginning of Earth, people lived happily inside the planet. Once it became
too crowded, the people began fighting and the chief decided that the people
needed to leave Earth’s dark inside. He sent a mockingbird out to fly around
outside and report what it found. When the mockingbird returned he reported
back that life above them was very different. The tribe grew strong plants that
could be used as ladders. The tribe climbed out of the earth. The people decided
to travel in many different directions and until they found good land to establish
villages and grow crops.
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D. Paleo-Indians (yellow text pg. 40)
1. the people who crossed into North America from Asia
a) these people are called Paleo-Indians
b) Paleo means past
2. these nomads migrated throughout North and South America
3. they were ancestors of modern Native Americans
a) ancestors are relatives who lived before you
b) indigenous people of the Americas
4. After the larger animals began to die out they adapted to the environment
and survived by:
a) hunting smaller animals
b) fishing
c) gathering wild plants
5. Eventually some Paleo-Indians began to use agriculture to feed themselves.
agriculture: is farming or growing plants
it changed the way people lived because
– it takes months to plant and raise crops, so Paleo-Indians began staying in
one place. Small villages grew into towns and cities. These changes led to
the growth of civilizations.
civilization: a group of people living together who have systems of government ,
religion, and culture.
E. A Closer Look at Early American Civilizations: Mound Builders
Great Serpent Mound, Ohio
• The Mound Builders, including
the Hopewell, Adena, and
Mississippian peoples, lived from
about 3,000 years ago to the 1700s.
• Early mounds were burial
grounds for important leaders
• The Mississippian people built the
city of Cahokia in present-day
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The largest mound of Cahokia was Monk’s Mound, which covered around 16
The fence built around the city served as a calendar.
The posts of the fence were viewed from the top of Monk’s Mound.
- shorter shadows meant the coming of spring
- longer shadows meant the coming of autumn
* This system allowed
farmers to know which
crops should be planted.
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Describe the Mound Builder civilizations. (Who? What? When? Where? Why?)
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