Thirteenth-Century Life on the Mississippi

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Great Plains, United States Pages: 10 (3117 words) Published: October 3, 2012
Reading Notes
Chapter 1

Cahokia: Thirteenth-century Life on the Mississippi
Cahokia, a city on the Mississippi River across from present day Saint Louis, was bustling with industry and farming around the mid 1200’s. It had almost 30,000 residents at its peak. People went to work in the various industries such as the manufacturing of pottery, tools, jewelry, and the fashioning of metals. Hundreds of acres of farms grew pumpkins, corns, and beans, all crops native to America, among other things. The textbook states, “Mississippian farmers constructed ingenious raised plots of land on which they heaped compost in wide ridges for improved drainage and protection from unseasonable frosts”. The Mississippians also raised domesticated turkeys in pens attached to their square wood-and-mud houses. There is also evidence that deer was also kept for slaughter. A huge temple rose above any other building in the city, and on top lived the priests and chiefs of Cahokia. They dressed in headdresses made from the plumage of birds. The city flourished from the 10th to the 14th century. By the 14th century, Cahokia was abandoned. When the Europeans arrived, they thought that these were the remains of a much greater, lost society than the Native Americans, since Europeans considered them to be unable to build structures to this magnitude, and also to be “…adverse to labor…” and only engage in hunting in small bands. Settling the Continent

This section deals with the origins, individuality, and identity of the Native American peoples. It traces the genetic origin of the Native American people. The prevalent theme is that the Native Americans are a race phenotypically different from any other race, but also different among themselves. They possess the skills and knowledge of any other race. When Europeans arrived, they puzzled over how the Native Americans arrived in the New World. Many thought that the Native Americans were a degenerate society cast off from a superior Old World (Europe and Asia) society. Current belief is that the first setters came about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago, about the time that Japan and Scandinavia was being settled. Supporting evidence comes in the form of similar dental patterns and the rarity of some blood types, especially type B (most Asian populations exhibit all three blood types, so the early Native Americans must have left before the “B” gene evolved). Studies suggest it took 20,000 years for Native Americans to exhibit current traits, and about 25,000 to develop from a common language the nearly 500 different Native American dialects. At the estimated time of migration, the world was experiencing an ice age, so there was a bridge between Asian and the Americas that could have been crossed. The general area of the bridge was called Beringia. The climate there, being warm in the summer and cold, dry, and relatively snow-free in the winter, was perfect for large mammals animals such as bison, mammoths, and mastodons. These animals attracted hunters, who are entirely dependent on them for food and shelter. Archaeologists found evidence of human tool making and rock painting dating at least 12,000 years ago in Chile.

About 25,000 years ago hunting bands crossed from a seasonal land corridor south of the Rockies into the northern Great Plains.
Clovis: The First American Technology
Earliest tools found in North American archaeological sites are crude bone or stone choppers and scrapers that are similar to ones found in Asia. Clovis is a new, revolutionary technology allowing users to easily kill animals such as mammoths.

Clovis is named after Clovis, New Mexico, a dig site. Clovis artifacts found throughout N. America. Dated within 1-2 thousand years of each other.
Clovis users were mobile people who traveled in communities from 30-50 people in a group of interrelated families. They returned to the same hunting camps every year, and migrated through several hundred square miles every year.

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