American Indians

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The first “Americans,” nomadic hunters from Asia, crossed a land bridge from Siberia to Alaska in search of food. Eventually, as the climate changed and animals upon which they depended became extinct, those hunters became “hunter-gatherers” and then, eventually, “farmers.” Those earliest settlers are now generally referred to as American Indians.

This transition to farming was necessitated by the extinction of the large animals they hunted. They began to observe that plants grew from seeds and roots. When they began planting their own food supply, this was the beginning of agriculture. Agriculture freed them from the constant search for food and allowed them to settle permanently.

They tended to build their family settlements where animals migrated or wild plants could be harvested. By 1500, when the Europeans arrived, there were a variety of different cultures, from simple hunters to advanced civilizations. Archeological sites in the United States have exposed evidence of these early American peoples. Poverty Point, in north Louisiana, is a major national archaeological site.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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