Ais 102 American Indians and the U. S. Political System Fall 2004

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Pre-Clovis ?; <15,000

unfluted blades;cores,flakes

general hunting & gathering

MonteVerde,Chile; Meadowcroft,PA

Clovis; 13,500-11,000

large fluted blades/points used with an atlatl or spear-thrower

Big-Game hunting mammoth/mastadon

Blackwater Draw, NM; Murray Springs.,AZ; Lehner,AZ

Folsom; 11,000-10,000

smaller, fully fluted points also used on an atlatl

Big-Game hunting ancient bison,ground sloth,horse

Folsom,NM; Lindenmeir,CO; Agate Basin & Hell Gap,WY

Plano 9,500 -7,000

non-fluted lancelate pts. used on an atlatl

Big-Game hunting modern bison

Casper,WY;Hell Gap,WY;Agate Basin,WY

Archaic 10,500-3,000

triangular,stemmed or notched pts. used on an atlatl

Small Game hunting and Wild Plant gathering

All areas: Eastern Woodlands example-Dalton (Hardaway)

C. Archaic: Pleistocene Extinction

The general shift to small game hunting and wild plant gathering is a world wide change due primarily to Pleistocene extinction of over 100 species in conjunction with global warming and increased aridity (altithermal). In the chart above it is important to view the changes as a overall reduction of big game hunting ending in the American Plains. In the the rest of the Americas, Native Americans survive like all humans by culturally changing to focus on smaller game and wild plants. The increased importance of seed/nut/bulb resources is reflected in the increase of grinding implements like mano/metates and pestle/mortars. Also, specialized subsistence strategies along coasts, lakes and rivers became more prevalent with increased fishing and gathering shellfish. The atlatl or spearthrower remained for a time, but was eventually replaced in most areas of the world by the bow and arrow about 5,000 years ago as evidenced by the considerable reduction of projectile point size.

This subsistence shift focused more attention to the gathering of plants and their ultimate domestication. In mountainous/arid areas human cultures manipulated the plants the most by bringing seeds back to settlements and eventually domesticated certain favored plants to improve various features such as taste, access and size. In the desert regions small seeds became important and led to the development of grains or grasses. In America Native Americans domesticated a grass that became huge and is known as American corn or maize. These plants developed throughout the Americas eventually led to the most dramatic lifestyle change- farming. Similar changes in the 'Old World' is referred to as the 'Neolithic Revolution'. These changes also occurred here in America and resulted in the development of sedentary cultures, civilization and empires.

Here are some of the plants developed/domesticated in America. These eventually had a tremendous effect on the entire world, but initially they were the building blocks or resources that provided the economic and subsistence base for civilization and empires in the 'New World'. American corn (Maize), beans, and squash (CBS) were the most important in terms of both agronomy and nutrition. Therefore, we refer to CBS as the American triad of food plants. All three initially came from Meso America and were developed in the Tehuacan Valley, Puebla, Mexico about 7,000 years ago. North and South America developed their own domestic plants/cultigens, but CBS use eventually spread from Mexico to the Andes, Brazilian Highlands, Caribbean, Southwest and Eastern Woodlands/Plains.


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