Friday, June 11, 2010

Unit 1: Geography and Pre-Columbian America

Geography: Geography is the study of landforms and the way that natural landforms affect the way people live. These are examples of landforms:
Peninsula—land surrounded by water on three sides
Strait—narrow body of water that connects two larger bodies of water (e.g. Bering Strait)
Mountain—tall, peaked landform (e.g. Rockies in the West, Appalachians in the East)
Plains—large area of flat, non-hilly land (e.g. Great Plains in the Midwest)

Culture: a way of life shared by members of a society
Religion, art, architecture, music, and food are all part of a society’s culture.

Archaeologists are scientists who dig to find evidence of past civilizations. They find artifacts, which are manmade objects that give clues about the way people lived. For example, a spear and sharpened stones would be evidence that a cultural group used simple tools to hunt animals.

Primary and Secondary Sources:
Historians study primary and secondary sources to learn about the past. Primary sources are produced by people who experienced a historical event (e.g. newspaper articles and videos made at the time of an event, autobiographies. Secondary sources are produced after an event by people who did not experience it (e.g. encyclopedias, books).

The Land Bridge Theory:
• The first people arrived in America 30,000 years ago during the Ice Age.
• They probably crossed a land bridge from Asia to Alaska across the Bering Strait.
• They were nomadic hunter-gatherers, probably hunting mastodons and other animals.
• They gradually migrated south, following animals across North and South America.
• About 12,000 years ago, the Ice Age ended, the climate became similar to the way it is today, and the first Americans adapted to their environments.
• About 5,000 years ago, they began practicing agriculture, or farming.

Pre-Columbian Civilizations:
• When Native Americans discovered agriculture, they settled in towns and created civilization.
• A civilization is an advanced way of life developed by a particular group of people.
• The Mayas were a civilization in Central America. The Incas were a civilization in South America. The Aztecs were a civilization in what is now Mexico.
• The Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs developed religion, built strong roads, invented calendars, created mathematics, and more.

Native Americans in North America:
• Native Americans adapted to their environments, using natural resources to create what they needed to survive (e.g. fur coats in cold areas, longhouses made of wood in forests)

Examples of Native American adaptations to environments:

• The Iroquois lived in what is now New York State. They lived in longhouses made of wood and hunted and farmed.
• When Europeans attacked the Iroquois, they created the League of Five Nations to cooperate in defending themselves. Each tribe was represented in the league.

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