Tag Archives: 154-13

North America before Europeans

The first inhabitants of North America arrived via the Beringia land bridge approximately 20,000 years ago, although archaeological work on the earliest Americans is ongoing.  Widespread occupation of the Americas dates to around 13,000 to 16,000 years ago.
In North America, these peoples spread out, developing distinct but sometimes related languages and cultures (as shown in the map below).  Ways of life varied, from hunting and gathering societies to organizations of urban hubs and hinterlands (such as the Mississippian civilization centered on the city of Cahokia).

This image (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Langs_N.Amer.png) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

This image (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Langs_N.Amer.png) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

John Smith and Jamestown

John Smith (1580-1631) was one of the leaders of Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in North America. His background was in soldiering more than managing, but his imposition of strict discipline brought stability to Jamestown in its early years.

This excerpt from Smith’s account of the founding of Jamestown and the Virginia colony describes the “Starving Time” which occurred during the winter of 1609-1610.

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Spanish Treatment of the Natives

The Spaniard Bartolome de Las Casas was a Dominican monk and historian who wrote extensively about the condition of Indigenous peoples under the control of the Spanish. Later colonizing powers, such as the English, would use de Las Casas’s accusations and assertions as “evidence” that their own imperialism was more beneficial to natives than that of the Spanish This brief excerpt is from his best known work, A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies.

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