Monday, August 20, 2007

First Immigrants in North Carolina

First Immigrants: Native American Settlement of North Carolina
Prehistoric American Indians
Archaeologists can trace the ancestry of American Indians to at least twelve thousand years ago, to the time of the last Ice Age in the Pleistocene epoch. During the Ice Age, ocean levels dropped and revealed land that had previously been under the Bering Sea. American Indians ancestors walked on that land from present-day Siberia to Alaska. Evidence suggests that their population grew rapidly and that they settled throughout Canada, the Great Plains, and the Eastern Woodlands, which included the North Carolina area.
Conjectured migration routes of the first Americans. Courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Click on map for a larger image, or click here for a printable Adobe Acrobat version.
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The climate on the eastern seaboard was wetter and cooler twelve thousand years ago. Many species of animals roamed the forests and grasslands of our area, including now extinct examples of elephants (mastodons), wild horses, ground sloths, and giant bison. Other animals, now absent from the Southeast, included moose, caribou, elk, and porcupines.

Paleo-Indians, as archaeologists call those first people, hunted for these animals in groups using spears. They used the animals’ meat, skins, and remaining parts for food, clothing, and other needs. They also spent considerable time gathering wild plant foods and may have caught shellfish and fish. These first inhabitants of North Carolina were nomads, which means they moved frequently across the land in search of food and other resources.

Descendants of the Paleo-Indians are called Archaic Indians. They occupied eastern North America from about 9000 to 2000 B.C. As the Ice Age ended, the types of forests in the Southeast gradually changed and became more like those of today. Archaic Indians adapted their techniques of gathering, hunting, and fishing to the environments of this new Holocene epoch.

Archaic people, like their ancestors, were nomads. They traveled widely on foot to gather food, to obtain raw materials for making tools or shelters, and to visit and trade with neighbors. Some Archaic people may have used watercraft, particularly canoes made by digging out the centers of trees.

These Archaic Indians did not have three things that are commonly associated with prehistoric Indians—bows and arrows, pottery, or an agricultural economy. In fact, the gradual introduction of these items and activities into North Carolina’s Archaic cultures marks the transition to the Woodland culture, which began around 2000 B.C.Full Article