5.1 - Early Peoples of the Americas

From EngageNY

The first humans in the Western Hemisphere modified their physical environment as well as adapted to their environment. Their interactions with their environment led to various innovations and to the development of unique cultures.

Various forms of scientific evidence suggest that humans came to North America approximately 25,000 to 14,000 years ago and spread southward to South America.
  • Students will examine the various theories of the migration routes by which the first humans may have arrived, including the Beringia land bridge, using maps and archaeological evidence.
5.1b Human populations that settled along rivers, in rainforests, along oceans, in deserts, on plains, in mountains, and in cold climates adapted to and made use of the resources and environments around them in developing distinct ways of life.

5.1c Early peoples living together in settlements developed shared cultures with customs, beliefs, values, and languages that give identity to the group. These early peoples also developed patterns of organization and governance to manage their society.
  • Students will examine maps that show the variety of different Native American* groups located in the Western Hemisphere, noting that there are many different culture groups in many different types of physical, climate, and vegetative regions.
  • Students will select one Native American culture group from the United States, one from Canada, and one from the Caribbean region and compare and contrast them by examining how each of these groups adapted to and used the environment and its resources to meet their basic needs, and by examining elements of their culture, including customs, beliefs, values, languages, and patters of organization and governance.
* For this document, the term "Native American" is used with the understanding it could say "American Indian."

Supporting Materials


Human Migrations

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New World Archaeology

The National Gallery of Art strives to present exhibitions of art from times and cultures beyond its own collections. This DVD includes two programs on ancient Olmec and Maya cultures and includes live footage of major Olmec and Maya sites in Mesoamerica.

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Time Life's Lost Civilizations

This set of 4 DVD's contains a collection of 10 programs spanning seven thousand years of history. Below are a list of the titles included and a synopsis of each.

Mesopotamia: Return to Eden
The great world traditions of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths all trace the roots...

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