Ancient American Civilizations

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Ancient American Civilizations

Vocabulary c:\users\lescamilla\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\temporary internet files\content.ie5\ibwur4md\nativo[1].jpg

  1. Migrate

  2. Culture

  3. Hunter-gather

  4. Agriculture

  5. Civilization

  6. Irrigation

  7. Adapt

  8. Economy

  9. Nomads

  10. Government

  11. Council

  12. League

Lesson One

People Arrive in the Americas

  • Most experts think that the first people to cross into North America from Asia was over what is today called the Bering Strait.

  • Continued…

  • Experts think that the first Americans may have been hunters who tracked animals across this land bridge. In this way, people were able to migrate, or travel, from Asia to North America.

  • Once here in America, they followed the animals south and east across North America. Eventually moving into Central and South America.


Which of the following best describes how humans came to live all across North America?

A Farming communities started in the far North and expanded. All of the early settlers in North America were farmers.

B Settlers arrived from both Asia and Europe. They moved inland from both coasts, creating new settlements across the continent.

C Small bands of people from South America slowly migrated northward until they lived across all of North America.

D Hunter-gatherers followed wild animals across the continent because they depended on them for food.

Learning to Use the Land

  • Settling the Americas took thousands of years, as they slowly pushed into new areas new geographical challenges arose.

  • They had to learn to modify their environment.

    • To make shelter

    • Clothing

    • Continued

  • Because they adapted to different environments their cultures changed.

  • Culture – is a set of beliefs and way of life that is special to a certain group.

  • Hunter – gathers

  • Around 10, 000 years ago, people in what is now Mexico took a big step and began to practice agriculture.

    • Agriculture - which means they planted and raised their own food.


The people who first came to the Americas hunted wild animals and gathered wild plants

for food. These activities are examples of —

A adopting the culture of a place

B developing a system of agriculture

C adapting to the land where they lived

D settling in places with few geographical challenges


About 10,000 years ago, people took a major step that allowed them to live in larger, permanent settlements. What was that step?

A They invented the wheel.

B They developed language.

C They developed the spear.

D They began to practice agriculture.

Mayan and Aztec Worlds

  • Growing settlements needed rules for living together and making decisions that affected everyone…so they formed governments.

  • They developed religions and systems for learning and passing knowledge.

  • Continued…

  • Cultures with these complex ways of life are called Civilizations.

The Mayans

  • Rose 4000 years ago

  • In Central America

  • Created systems for writing and advance math

  • Watched the skies

    • Charted movements of the sun, moon, and stars.

    • Made highly accurate calendars.


Which of the following was an achievement of the Mayan civilization?

F They conquered the Aztecs.

G They built the city of Tenochtitlán.

H They built irrigation systems for bringing water to fields.

J They charted the movements of the sun, moon, and stars.

The Aztec

  • By A.D. 1200 the Mayans began to fade, the Aztec began to flourish.

  • Known as the Mexica

  • Controlled an area from southern Mexico through Central America.

  • Capital – Tenochitilan

  • Aztecs modified their environment.

    • They built systems for bringing water to dry fields, called irrigation.

    • Invented a system for growing crops on large reed mats that were placed in the watery swamps.

Other North American Cultures


  • Developed the kayak, for hunting whales, seals, and other sea animals.

  • Built winter homes out of blocks of snow.

Mound Builders

  • Developed 3000 years ago, across a wide area around the Mississippi River.

  • Huge earthen structures.

  • Active traders , using local river they set up a network in which goods were traded all over.


  • First appeared 2000 years ago.

  • Lived in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.

  • Farmers, growing corn, beans and squash.

  • Used irrigation

  • Skillful builders

  • On the flat tops of high hills, called mesas, they built settlements that could be described as large apartment style houses.

    • They would build them under shelter of cliffs.

  • Question

Which early North American culture adapted to their environment by building dwellings under the shelter of cliffs?

F The Inuit

G The Mayas

H The Mound Builders

J The Ancient Puebloans

Adapting to Different Places

  • Lesson Two

  • The American Indians of North America

  • Native Americans lived in camps, villages, and towns all across the continent. Many of them traveled long distances to hunt, trade, and make war.

  • They land they lived in shaped the way they lived. In turn, they shaped the land. They adapted.

  • Powhatans

  • Lived in what is now Virginia, streams and rivers run through there.

  • Traveled by water, they learned to build canoes.

  • Made sharp tools from animal bones.

  • Depended on the rivers for food, made traps nets and other tools to catch fish.

American Indian Economies

  • An economy is they system by which a group makes, shares, and uses goods.

  • Iroquois

  • Combined farming with hunting and gathering

  • Housing style varied

    • Longhouses

    • Wigwams

      • Made from small trees, animal skins, and bark.

Makah and Nootka

  • Settled near the sea

  • Experts at catching fish, whales and seals

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