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Native Americans in NE Missouri

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Over 12,000 years ago, when huge sheets of thick glacial ice covered large portions of the North American continent, small nomadic groups of people wandered over the landscape. Today, archeologists refer to these early American people as PaleoIndians, which means "ancient Indians" or oldest inhabitants. However, we know very little about them. We don't know what they called themselves and we don't know what language they spoke. Paleo Indians

We know that they were experts at working stone to make spear points for thrusting into their prey, they lived by hunting animals which are now extinct and gathering plants, and part of their time was spent hunting megafauna such as bison, giant ground sloth, and mastodons. The PaleoIndians were a transient people, moving frequently and over long distances to follow animal herds, and collect nuts, berries, and other foods that ripened with the seasons. Because they moved so often and traveled in small groups, there have been few opportunities to locate the places where they camped.

Archaic Indians

Archaic Indians - (8000-6000 B.C.) Over time, temperatures warmed, glaciers retreated to the north, megafauna became extinct, and the local environment changed from a forest dominated by pine, spruce, and fir to a forest of mixed hardwoods containing oak and hickory. The population of the Indians also increased. With these environmental changes came changes in the way Native Americans lived. Instead of hunting megafauna, they hunted smaller animals such as deer, turkey, and raccoon. They continued to make fine stone tools, but they made them in different shapes and sizes, reflecting the new hunting methods developed to more efficiently capture smaller animals. Because these descendants of PaleoIndian practiced a different way of life from their ancestors, archeologists have given them a different name, the Archaic Indians. The earliest archaic peoples continued a foraging way of life similar to that of their PaleoIndian ancestors. Small groups of related peoples, called "bands," frequently moved within their hunting territories, collecting various plants and animals as they became seasonally available. Middle Archaic Period - (6000-3000 B.C.) As the numbers of Archaic people grew, the number of bands grew, and the hunting territory of each band shrank in size. The smaller territories and the differences in local environments between territories led to the development of more and more differences between groups. Members of each band adapted to the conditions, developing new tools and modifying seasonal movements, and hunting and gathering strategies to take advantage of the resources within their own territory. Bands did not live in isolation, they came in contact with other bands, and they exchanged goods and marriage partners. Late Archaic Period - (3000-1000 B.C.) During the Late Archaic period the numbers of people in this region continued to grow. During the later portion of the Archaic period, the Indians began making pottery, cultivating gardens, and growing domesticated plants. It was near the end of the Late Archaic period that Indians began exploring caves, collecting minerals they found.

Woodland Indians

Woodland Indians - (1000 B.C. to 900 A.D.) the adoption of gardening and pottery making signaled the beginning of fundamental changes in the way Indians lived. No longer did they have to rely solely upon wild animals and plants for their subsistence. Now, they could increase their food supply by growing some of their food in gardens. In recognition of these and other changes that occurred in the lives of the Indians, archeologists have called the period following the adoption of pottery making and gardening the Woodland period. The Woodland period, like the archaic period, has been subdivided into Early, Middle, and Late Woodland periods. During the Woodland period, populations grew and aggregated in larger and larger groups. Groups moved less often and formed small semi-permanent villages. Along with the population increase and a more settled lifestyle, Indian social organization changed from the loosely organized hunter/gatherer band organization characteristic of the Archaic period to more complex tribal-like social organization where village and lineage elders exercised some controls over the actions of their followers. Along with this increasing social complexity came changes in technology, economy, religion, and mortuary ceremonialism.




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