LANDS OF THE AMERICAS The Americas make up an enormous land area, stretching about 9,000 miles from the Arctic Ocean in the north to Cape Horn at the tip of South America. The Americas encompass many landscapes: desert, mountains, forests, river valleys, coastal regions, and more. Two major mountain ranges extend through the western Americas: the Rocky Mountains of North America and the Andes in the South. On the eastern coasts run the Appalachian Mountains in North America and the Brazilian Highlands in the South. Great river valleys exist in both North and South America; the Mississippi in the North and the Amazon in South America.
Between 100,000 and 8,000 years ago, the last Ice AgeFIRST AMERICANS produced low sea levels that in turn created a land bridge in the Bering Strait between the Asian and North American continents. Small communities of people from Asia crossed this land bridge; most likely they were hunters who were pursuing the herds of bison and caribou that moved in search of grazing. These people became the first Americans. They were hunter- gatherers who eventually spread throughout North and South America.
PEOPLES OF NORTH AMERICA
ARCTIC & NORTHWEST: THE INUIT About 3,000 BCE, a group of people called the Inuit moved into North America from Asia. They settled along the coasts of the tundra region, the treeless land south of the Arctic (in present-day Alaska). The Inuit made harpoons and spears from antlers or tusks and were skilled hunters of seal, caribou, and fish. They built homes of stones and turf. The igloo was used as a temporary shelter during traveling.
EASTERN WOODLANDS: THE MOUND BUILDERSAround 1,000 BCE, farming villagesappeared in the Eastern Woodlands, theland in eastern North America from theGreat Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.The best known people of this region werethe Hopewell people in the Ohio Rivervalley. The Hopewell culture extended alongthe Mississippi River. They are known forthe elaborate earth mounds they built fortombs or ceremonies. They came to beknown as the Mound Builders. The Mound Builders prospered and citiesBy 700 CE, most of these peoples had began to appear, some of them containingshifted to full-time farming, growing more than 10,000 citizens. Onecorn, squash, and beans. city, Cahokia, is located near present-day East St. Louis. It flourished from 850 to 1150, but collapsed in the 13th century for unknown reasons.
EASTERN WOODLANDS: THE IROQUOIS To the Northwest of the Mississippian culture were the people known as the Iroquois. The Iroquois lived in villages that consisted of longhouses surrounded by wooden fences for protection. Each longhouse housed about a dozen families. The Iroquois hunted deer, bear, caribou and small animals. They were also warriors who protected the community. Women owned the dwellings, planted the seeds and harvested crops – primarily corn, beans, and squash. Women also took care of the children.
IROQUOIS The Iroquois lived in modern-day Pennsylvania, New York, and parts of Southern Canada Wars were common among groups of Iroquois In the 1500s, the Iroquois were torn apart by war; Deganawida, an elder of the people appeared and preached the need for peace. Hiawatha, a member of the Onondaga group listened to Deganawida and helped negotiate the Great Peace, which created an alliance of five groups called the Iroquois League A council of representatives known as the Great Council met regularly to settle differences among the league members Each Iroquois group was made up of clans (related families); the women of each clan chose the most well-respected woman to be the clan mother; it was the clan mothers who chose the male members of the Grand Council The Grand Council was an experiment in democracy and helped the Iroquois to deal with their problems. Some scholars believe that in 1754, Benjamin Franklin used the Iroquois League as a model for a Plan of Union for the British Colonies.
PEOPLE OF THE GREAT PLAINS West of the Mississippi, the Plains Indians cultivated beans, corn, and squash. Every summer, the men left their villages to hunt buffalo, an important animal in Plains Indian culture. The Plains Indians are known for their teepees made of buffalo hide that provided shelter for their tribes.
PEOPLES OF THE SOUTHWEST:ANASAZI The Southwest covers the territory of present-day New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. The Anasazi people established an extensive farming society in the Southwest. Between 500 and 1200 CE, the Anasazi used canals and earthen dams to turn parts of the desert into fertile gardens They were skilled at making baskets and pottery They used adobe to build pueblos, multi-storied structures that could house many people The Anasazi people created Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, the heart of the Anasazi culture. They also built Mesa Verde, in Colorado.
MESOAMERICA: OLMEC Mesoamerica is the areas of Mexico and Central America that were civilized before the Spanish arrived. The Olmec peoples began around 1200 BCE, living in the swampy lowlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in southern Mexico. The Olmecs farmed along the muddy riverbanks in Mesoamerica. The Olmec built large cities that were centers for their religious rituals. One of these was La Venta, which had a pyramid that towered above the city. Colossal stone heads, probably representing their gods, were found at their religious sites. The Olmec civilization collapsed around 400 BCE.
MESOAMERICA: TEOTIHUACAN The first major city in Mesoamerica was Teotihuacan, the capital of an early kingdom that arose around 250 BCE and collapsed around 800 BCE. Teotihuacan was a busy trading center, although most of the residents were probably farmers. Located near Mexico City in a fertile valley, Teotihuacan had as many as 200,000 residents at its height. There were temples, palaces, and pyramids at Teotihuacan. The Pyramid of the Sun is the most famous landmark of this early civilization.
MAYANSThe Mayans lived on theYucatan Peninsula (inbrown, right). This civilizationflourished between 300 and900 CE.The Mayans had one of themost advanced civilizations inthe Americas. They builttemples and pyramids anddeveloped a calendar.Eventually Mayan civilizationdeclined, possibly due tonatural disasters or invasion.
MAYAN CIVILIZATIONMayan cities were built around acentral pyramid topped by a shrine tothe gods.Nearby were othertemples, palaces, and a sacred ballcourt.Some scholars believe that the largesturban centers had up to 200,000people.Mayan civilization was composed ofcity-states, each governed by ahereditary ruling class. The city-stateswere often at war with each other.Soldiers who were captured in battlebecame slaves. Captured nobles andwar leaders were used for humansacrifice.
MAYAN SOCIETY Rulers of the Mayan city-states claimed to be descended from gods Mayan society was build on a class structure: Rulers and Nobles were at the top Priests and scribes made up the next level Artists, merchants, and city officials were the next level Peasant farmers were near the bottom Slaves were at the bottom of the social classes Most of the Mayan people were peasant farmers, living on tiny plots of land in the terraced highlands The Mayans men did the fighting and hunting while women did the homemaking and raising of children
MAYAN RELIGION The Mayans believed that all life was in the hands of divine powers. Their supreme god was named Itzamna (Lizard House) Gods were ranked in order of importance and some gods were considered evil or good The Mayans practiced human sacrifice as a way to appease the gods Human sacrifices were part of some religious rituals Prisoners of war were used as sacrifices for some ceremonies
MAYAN INVENTIONS Mayans used hieroglyphic writing, like the Egyptians, they had pictures represent words and ideas When the Spanish invaded, they did not try to decipher Mayan language or writings Ignoring the native language helped bring about the downfall of Mayan civilization Mayans wrote on bark which they folded and then covered with plaster, they also carved onto clay, jade, bone, shells, and stone The Mayans also created a calendar called the Long Count. The calendar was based on the belief in cycles of creation and destruction The Mayans used two different systems for measuring time The solar calendar was 365 days, divided into 18 months of 20 days each, with an extra five days at the end The sacred calendar was 260 days, divided into 13 weeks of 20 days; only trained priests could read and use this calendar, which was used to foretell the future and know the omens associated with each day
TOLTEC CIVILIZATION The Toltec were located northwest of present-day Mexico City. The Toltec were a fierce and warlike people who extended their conquests into the Mayan lands The Toltec also built pyramids and palaces The Toltec controlled the upper Yucatan Peninsula from their capital at Chichen Itza from around 900 CE to 1200 CE
AZTEC CIVILIZATION The origins of the Aztec are unknown; they began a migration sometime during the 12th century and ended established their capital at Tenochtitlan, on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco, in what is now Mexico City According to legend, when the Aztec arrived, other people forced them to live in a snake-infested region. Their survival strengthened their belief in a sign that would come from their god of war and of the sun, Huitzilopochtli The god told them that when they saw an eagle perched on a cactus growing out of a rock, their journey would end In 1325, under attack by another people, they were driven into the swamps and islands of Lake Texcoco, where they saw an eagle standing on a prickly pear cactus on a rock. They built their city where they saw the eagle
AZTEC CIVILIZATION By 1500, as many as four million Aztecs lived in the Valley of Mexico and the surrounding valleys. The Aztecs were led by a monarch who claimed that he was descended from the gods. The ruler was assisted by a council of lords and government officials. Most of the population was comprised of commoners, indentured workers, and slaves Most commoners were farmers or engaged in trade Over half the population lived in cities
AZTEC SOCIETY Boys and girls in Aztec society were given different roles Boys were trained to be warriors Girls were trained to work in the home Women were allowed to own and inherit property and enter into contracts Some women became priestessess The Aztec believed in many gods Huitzilopochtli was the god of sun and war Quetzalcoatl was a feathered serpent god; because he was represented by an arrow protruding through a sapling, the Aztecs thought the Spanish, who carried crosses that looked like Quetzalcoatl’s symbol, were sent by him Aztecs believed religion was a struggle between the forces of good and evil throughout the universe They believed the struggle led to the creation of four worlds, or suns; they thought they were living in the time of the fifth sun Aztecs practiced human sacrifice because they believed it would delay the destruction of their world
AZTEC DECLINE & DESTRUCTIONThe Aztecs had some internal fighting amongtheir empire, especially in the east where thelocal lords wanted greater independence. Thisled to some decline, but their destruction cameat the hands of the Spanairds.The Spanish landed in Aztec territory in 1519.Led by Hernan Cortes, the Spanish marchedto Tenochtitlan, making alliances with the city-states that were tired of being ruled by theAztecs.Cortes initially received a friendly welcome fromthe Aztecs, especially theirmonarch, Montezuma, who believed theSpanish were sent by Quetzlcoatl.
AZTEC DESTRUCTIONEventually tensions arose between theSpanish and Aztecs. The Spaniardstook Montezuma hostage and began topillage the city. In 1520, one year afterCortes arrived, the local populationrevolted and drove the Spanish from thecity.However, the Spanish had a long-lasting impact on the Aztec. Unable tofight off European diseases, many fellsick and died. Cortes leveled pyramids, destroyed temples and palaces and then usedCortes also got fresh soldiers and other the stones to build governmentcity-states provided soldiers. Cortes buildings for the Spanish.attacked again and after four months Eventually the Aztec werethe Aztec surrendered. completely destroyed.
SOUTH AMERICA The city of Caral is the oldest major city in the Americas. Believed to be 1000 years older than other ancient cities in the Western Hemisphere, Caral is located in the Supe River valley in Peru. Caral developed a system of irrigation, had apartment At Moche, a major urban center arose amid buildings, grand residences and irrigated fields in the valley of the Moche government buildings, all made River. of stone. Caral was abandoned sometime Farmers grew maize between 2000 and 1500 BCE. (corn), peanuts, potatoes, and cotton. In 200 BCE, another advanced civilization developed near Moche was the capital of a powerful state Ecuador. who practiced warfare and human sacrifice.
INCAN CIVILIZATION After the collapse of the Moche around 700 CE, South America was in a period of decline. This lasted until approximately the 1300s, when the Inca created an empire in South America. In the late 1300s, the Inca were a small community near Cuzco in southern Peru Under the leadership of Pachacuti in the 1400s, the Inca brought the entire region under their control, creating a vast empire. At its height, the Incan empire included 12 million people.
INCAN CIVILIZATION The Incan state was built on war and young men were required to serve in the army The army had over 200,000 members and was the largest and best-armed in the region Once the Incas took over a territory, the conquered people were required to learn Quechua, the Incan language New territories were tightly controlled and regulated, with a high-ranking Incan noble sent to rule the region Pachacuti divided the empire into four quarters, with each ruled by a governor, who divided the quarters into provinces, also ruled by a governor All the governors reported to the emperor, who was believed to be descended from the Inti, the sun god The Inca had no writing system, but instead kept records using a system of knotted strings called quipu. The Incans enacted plays and had poetry, which was handed down orally
INCA CIVILIZATION All Incan males were required to serve in the army All subjects in the Incan empire were responsible for “labor service” for several weeks a year, where they were expected to work on building projects for the Incan empire Forced laborers were used to build roads, temples, and other buildings The Incan empire had a vast road system throughout the empire, based on one north-south corridor and one east-west corridor Rest houses were built about a days walk apart, and stored with supplies for travelers Storage depots were placed on the roads to help travelers The Incans also built extensive bridges, including suspension and river bridges
INCAN SOCIETY Society was highly regimented, meaning people could not escape the pre-conceived society Men and women were required to select a marriage partner from within their own social group Women were expected to care for children and the home Some girls were chosen to become priestesses for the temples In rural areas, people were primarily farmers They used terraced farming in the mountains They grew corn, potatoes, and other crops
INCAN CULTURE The Incans were great builders; one set of ruins, at Machu Picchu, shows the architectural genius of the Inca Machu Picchu is a small city built on the side of a mountain near the Urubamba River Long stairways, an observatory, and religious structures are all included at Machu Picchu
INCAN DECLINE The Incan Empire was flourishing when the Spanish arrived In 1531, Francisco Pizarro arrived in South America with about 180 men The Spanish brought disease with them to South America Hundreds of Incans died of small pox The Emperor of the Incas died of the small pox After the death of the Emperor, his two sons fought for control of the empire, which led to civil war Pizarro took advantage of the civil war and captured, Atahuallpa, one of the brothers, who was executed by Pizarro By 1535, Pizarro had conquered the Inca and built a capital in Lima, Peru