We are the people of the Caribbean lands. To the north and south of us lie two large continents where men of every race live and where the climate and landscape vary from icy tundra to large, dry desert. There are mighty rivers and lakes, forests, mountain ranges and wide grassy plains. These continents and all the islands which surround them are known as the ‘Americas’. North and South America are separated from other continents of the World by two from oceans: the Atlantic and the Pacific.
When and how did mankind first come to the Americas and the Caribbean? Over the years this has puzzled scientists, but most of them agree that man first came to the Americas by way of Asia. If we look at a map of the world we will see a narrow stretch of water, called the Bering Strait, separating Alaska from the coast of Siberia in north-eastern Asia. This was the Mongolians path across the ‘land-and-ice bridge’.
The land and the people
Thirty thousand years ago the cold ice-cap of the world spread much further south than the Arctic does today. This cold period, or Ice Age, lasted for thousands of years, after which the ice melted and withdrew once more. The last Ice Age was over 10,000 years ago, when men were able to walk across the Bering Strait. Scientists are not agreed on when the first men came to America.
The human race had lived in other continents of the world for thousands of years before they came to America. Rough, short, hairy men roamed across Africa, Europe and Asia, following herds of wild animals which they killed for food. Bare stone caves or the crotches of trees were the only homes and shelter they had, for they did not know how to build. Meat was almost all they had to eat, for they did not know much about food. They collected fruit but did not know how to grow the plants they wanted. To keep warm they wrapped themselves in the skins of beasts they slaughtered. Hunters followed mammoths and other animals as they moved from one grazing ground to another.
Man learned to chip bits of stones to make the sharp. These points could pierce, scrape and cut, and so he used these stones as tools for killing animals and cleaning skins. He tied the stones to sticks and slowly developed axes and spears in this way. Because no one was able to record the events of these humans, they are known as ‘prehistoric’ men, and the only way we can find out about them is to study the bones and tools which they left behind. Examples of tools and instruments made from bones include: harpoons, needles, beads,, fishhooks and gouges made of shell and bone.
Man was a late-comer to the Americas. In those times men followed the wild beast for food and some tribes followed wandering herds up the length of Asia and across the land-and-ice bridge at the Bering Strait.
Over the hundreds of years various groups came to North America in this way and found themselves in a new land. These people were of the Mongolian race. The people of eastern Asia are Mongolians.
The Ice Age mammals had come east from Siberia into Alaska I search of food in greener pastures. Their wanderings led them further south of into the grasslands of North America. The Mongolians followed. They were the first people in an empty land which spread itself eastwards to the Atlantic shores of Canada, southwards across the deserts, through tropical South America and Along the Andes range mountains to the tip of Chile.
The societies which developed across this vast land, beginning with those first Mongolian wanders, were amazing. There were societies that dwelt in permanent settlement: some were democratic, in which everyone had a say in running affairs of the tribe; some had very strict class systems, based on property and wealth. Some were ruled by human gods carried about on litters; some had systematic justice, while others punished by torture. there were tribes ruled by warriors and tribes ruled by women, by...