History 2201E Midterm Notes.docx

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15 Apr 2012
Pre-Contact North America September 14
History vs. the past
Lake Agassiz
Clovis, New Mexico/ Monte Verde, Chile
Megafauna extinction
1534- Cartier makes first contact with first nations in the St. Lawrence region
theories of migration
When and how did people first come into the western hemisphere?
Bering Strait Theory:
10 000 BC- theory that people crossed a land bridge during the last ice age
creation of glaciers dropped ice levels creating the bridge over which people migrated by
at the end of the ice age water levels rose cutting off contact between Asia and the
theory that mankind emerged in Africa and migrated across the world
we still don’t know for sure, still discovering evidence of early man (Chile, Peru…)
bones don’t preserve as well in western hemisphere, may effect findings
some claim people first arrived on this continent as many as 50 000 years ago though the
Bering strait theory is the most widely accepted
archaeological evidence of oldest civilization being found in South America. How is this
argument states that there was an ice free route that brought migrants down the coast to
south America (they would have followed the resources, a.k.a animals)
after the ice age ends the people begin to move back up into North America, resulting in the
Arctic regions populated last
Ocean Theory
Some argue that people arrived via the sea to
Lacks validity because of the issue of technology (in1534 it took two months to cross the
Atlantic, the likelihood of anyone traveling from Asia to South America is unlikely)
Both theories could possibly be correct, easier to believe they came form the Pacific
because the Atlantic is more difficult to sail (wind moves west to east, makes trip much
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There have been animals and plants found in the Americas that are known to be native to
Many first nations groups believe that they originated in North America, disagree with other
theories because it delegitimizes their claims to the land and heritage, challenges what they
have been taught for generations
The Classification of First Nations
First Nations
In national terms:
o Mik’maq, Iroquois, Huron, Algonkin, Odawa, Ojibwa, Dakota, Cree, Blackfoot,
Haida, Dene, Inuit, etc.
o Pros- group of people acting together as a political unit (not a nation state,
though, with distinct borders, etc.)
o Cons- First Nations bonds within political units not very strong; also, end up
with too many potential nations to remember
In linguistic terms
o Algonquian, Iroquoian, Salish, etc.
o Examining language base shows trade routes, migration, etc. (traditional
categorization scheme used by anthropologists)
o West areas are more complex culturally and linguistically because that was
the point of origin for the spread across America (more time to diversify),
also had plentiful resources, no need to move and follow resources
o Pros- have to learn language to study a people (anthropologists)
o Cons- links groups that have little in common except language (ex. North
American Dene includes Dene and Navajo); 11 language groups, 50 distinct
languages in Canada
In cultural terms
o Northwest Coastal, Plateau, Plains, Northeast (Eastern Woodlands, Subarctic,
o Pros- classifies according to way of life; since this is dependent on
environmental/geographic factors, separate neatly into geographic areas;
leaves us with 6 manageable groups
o Cons- blurs the linguistic and political boundaries that tell us a lot
Dangerous to make generalizations when it comes to the First Nations, they have developed
very different cultures, economies, religions, and political systems
This is why it has been difficult for the first nations to be organize politically
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Very intricate trade routes all across the Western Hemisphere, when Europeans arrived this
contributed to the rapid spread of disease as natives began dying before ever encountering
1000 A.D- Vikings first true Europeans to reach North America
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