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America was a vast wilderness prior to the arrival of the Europeans
Use of Fire
Proof of Civility
Tribes had governing bodies
such as the Powhatan Confederacy
informally, know to some as "Aboriginal Education"
passed down knowledge, values, skills, attitudes, and dispositions
By: Anna Bueno, Catherine Peng, and Clara Wang
Native American Population Density At Time of First Contact
-50 million people (Western Hemisphere), about 35 million in North America
- Population of Western Hemisphere was similar to that of Europe's at the time
- Cahokia (700 A.D.) had a population of about 30,000.
* Remained the largest city north of the Rio Grande in history until 1775 (New York).
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Out of Many (Textbook)
Humanized landscapes, 1491 A.D.
Cahokia was the largest pre-Columbian city North of Mexico
Mississippi Valley, present day Illinois
120 mounds covered nearly 4,000 acres
Built by piling hand hauled baskets of soil
100 ft. Monks Mound = largest earthwork in the Americas
14 million baskets of soil
14 acre base
Table Mountain pine
New England, Midwest, Southeast
Agricultural burning converted forests into meadows, prairies etc (grassy clearings)
Mature forests had open understories
Hunting/gathering made easier
Favorable conditions for food such as strawberries, blueberries, etc
Grassy openings in forests attracted grazing animals
Ex: white tailed deer, elk
Fire adapted Species
Ex: Southern Appalachian Table Mountain Pine
Domesticated several of the most important crops in the world
Ex: chocolate, tobacco etc.
Corn was genetically engineered from a Mexican grass (Teosinte)
Corn cannot grow by itself- must be planted, cultivated, harvested, shelled etc
Land needed to be tilled
Earth arranged in mounds/rows
Ex: 175 garden beds reported in Wisconsin
Several hundred acres each
Estimated to represent <25% of original
Anasazi- called Pueblos by Spanish in the 16th century
Constructed large, complex system of dams and canals that diverted water to terraced fields
ex: one irrigation ditch was 4 mi long
Built reservoirs in case of drought
Chaco Canyon, NM
Hopi (Anasazi descendants) Terraces
Some Hopi terraces have been in use since about 1200 A.D. Terraces conserve water
Wilderness: a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals
1st European contacts with Native Americans
The search for Cibola- Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (Mississippian Mounds)
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado encountered Pueblo towns by following "well-marked" Indian paths
Colonists were taught to plant corn by Native Americans.
Tobacco became a very important import to Europe from the New World
Europeans benefited/benefit from perception that America was a vast wilderness before their arrival
** One does not see what one does not expect/desire to see**