- Learning Goal: Students will understand why Europeans explored and colonized the Americas in the 15th - 16th centuries and the impact of their settlement on Native American societies.
- 1 - Vocab and CardsDirections (Part 1):
For each of the following words, complete a graphic organizer that includes the information below. Use the template shown here as a guide.2 - THE FIRST AMERICANSDirections:
Use the map, reading and video below to answer the following questions:
Learning About the First Americans: Let's get some historical perspective: The American Civil War ended about 150 years ago, the Declaration of Independence was signed about 240 years ago, and Christopher Columbus "discovered" America about 520 years ago. That might all seem like a long time ago, but American History goes back more than 10,000 years, to when the first Americans made their way to the North and South American continents. These early people left very few written records, so researchers study other items they left behind, kind of like detectives studying clues .
- Where do most anthropologists/archaeologists believe that the first Americans came from, and how did they get here?
- Why do you think these very early Native Americans would want to migrate through North and South America over the course of a few thousand years? (What reason might they have had to travel so far?)
- How might the different groups adjust their lifestyles to fit the different conditions? (What would you need to change about your lifestyle if you lived in Alaska or Oklahoma? What if it was also thousands of years ago?)
Today, scientists are still trying to find out more about the first Americans, but it is widely believed that they migrated on foot from Siberia, in Asia, to present-day Alaska. Today, a strip of ocean called the Bering Strait separates Alaska and Asia. But there was a time when a land bridge connected them.
Much of what we've learned about early Native Americans is due to discoveries by anthropologists and archaeologists, but as these scientists continue to research and explore, we are learning more and more about these early people.
Across a Land Bridge: About 30,000 years ago, the most recent Ice Age began. As temperatures fell, much of Earth was covered by glaciers, sheets of ice up to a mile thick. With water locked up in the glaciers, the level of the oceans dropped 200 feet. This exposed a wide bridge of land between Asia and North America that scientists call Beringia (bear-IN-jee-uh). Over thousands of years, the Siberian nomads made their way across the bridge to populate North and South America.3 - CULTURAL REGIONSDirections (Part 1)
Read the passage below to learn how American Indians Cultural Regions formed.The First Americans Adapt: American Indians lived in a variety of places, from snowy forests to dry deserts and vast grasslands. Each of these kinds of places is an environment. An environment includes everything that surrounds us—land, water, animals, and plants. Each environment also has a climate, or longterm weather pattern. Groups of American Indians survived by adapting, or changing, their style of living to suit each environment, its climate, and its natural resources.
Using Natural Resources: American Indians learned to use the natural resources in their environments for food, clothing, and shelter. In the frigid regions of the far north, early Americans survived by hunting caribou in the summer and sea mammals in the winter. They fashioned warm, hooded clothing from animal skins. To avoid being blinded by the glare of the sun shining on snow, they made goggles out of bone with slits to see through. The people of the north lived most of the year in houses made from driftwood and animal skins. In winter, hunters built temporary shelters called iglus (IG-looz) out of blocks of snow.American Indian Cultural Regions: Over generations, groups of American Indians developed their own cultures, or ways of life. Many became part of larger groupings that were loosely organized under common leaders. Groups living in the same type of environment often adapted in similar ways. Forest dwellers often lived in houses covered with tree bark, while many desert peoples made shelters out of branches covered with brush.
Using such artifacts (items made by people), historians have grouped American Indian peoples into cultural regions. A cultural region is made up of people who share a similar language and way of life. By the 1400s, between 1 and 2 million American Indians lived in ten major cultural regions north of Mexico.Directions (part 2):
Choose one of the cultural regions below to research. As you learn about your group, create a graphic organizer that outlines the following information. Use the template shown here as a guide.
- Column 1: Geography - What was the geography like in this region (climate, terrain, etc.)?
- Column 2: Adaptation - How did the tribes in this region adapt to their environment (How did they use their natural resources to survive?)?
- Column 3: Current States - What present day countries and/or U.S. states make up this cultural region (Try to see how many you can identify in your region)?