Week 7- North American Indians

As with the Mesoamerican civilizations, the peoples who inhabited North America were just as mysterious and awe-inspiring. In the American South East, Native Americans built massive mounds and other structures. In the American South West Native Americans built precariously placed pit houses among the mountain tops. Besides similarities in building preferences and techniques, all of these civilizations relied heavily on corn. It was a main staple of their diets and was an integral part of their lives.

The Freemont people, as archaeologists named them, relied on a combination of hunting gathering and agriculture, with the latter being most important, and in habited  a place known today as Range Creek Canyon in Utah over 1.000 years ago. (The Secret Canyon) Range Creek is chock full of sites that have not been touched for centuries. In preliminary searches, archaeologists have found numerous artifacts that give us clues and tell us how the Freemont people lived their daily lives. For example, as mentioned above, corn was an integral part of Freemont life. They laboriously constructed granaries made of mud, stone and timber throughout the canyon, some in quite inaccessible places, to store their grain and keep it safe. In the towns on the mountain peaks, grinding stones and plentiful numbers of corn cobs have also been found. Trade between Mesoamerican civilizations and Southwestern Indians is not an outlandish thought. We know that corn was first domesticated 5.ooo years ago in Mexico. (The Secret Canyon) This new technology then spread up from Mexico into the Southwest and out from there. For this to happen, people had to be in contact with each other, talking and trading information. Anasazi pottery found at Range creek is another indication that trade was occurring between different peoples.

Unfortunately, unlike Range Creek Canyon, many of the great mounds left by the Moundbuilders of the Southeast, are no longer standing or intact because of modern building projects. In spite of that though, some amazing sites have been found. The Mississippians, as the Moundbuilders are also called, are not just one tribe, they are many. (Cahokia: America’s Lost City) Cahokia was the largest city they established during the height of their existence at around 1050 A.D. covering about six square miles with roughly 120 mounds. (Cahokia: America’s Lost City) The city is located in the very fertile Mississippi River Delta. At Cahokia is the largest mound in America, Monks Mound. It is a massive complex at the city center. The way it was built reminded me of Machu Picchu, in that it was meant to last forever. It was intensively constructed with specific materials in a specific way; dirt, clay sand, and newly discovered stone, layered on top of each other. In regards to trade, it is also obvious that Cahokians were in contact and traded with outside peoples. Evidence of this can be found in burial mounds of the more elite where precious metals like copper and mica from the Great Lakes region, and beautifully carved marine shells from the Gulf Coast were discovered. (Cahokia: America’s Lost City)