Focus Question
What were the important developments and cultural changes in the Americas?

The Western Hemisphere is diverse in its land and people. The diversity apparent in the environmental, cultural, economic, and political characteristics of the continents today is reflective of that same diversity in the past. Early American civilizations and societies reflected this diversity and the development of the hemisphere. The environmental diversity of North and South America includes tropical forest, grasslands, mid-latitude boreal forests, such as the conifer forests of Northern Michigan, deserts, mountains, and the tundra. These environments were home to people who developed the technology and skills to use the resources that were available. Cultural characteristics of early Americans included language, religion, technology, agriculture, and social structure such as gender and family roles. Agriculture included the planting of crops, nomadic hunting and gathering, as well as animal herding, and each was dependent upon a particular natural environment. In the Western Hemisphere the indigenous populations were introduced to and sometimes coerced to adopt the Christian religion. The introduction of Christianity was a change from the traditional religious beliefs. Economic characteristics of the Western Hemisphere were also diverse, and included agriculture, metallurgy, trade in gold, and salt. Because of extensive trade networks people were able to develop long range trade relationships throughout the hemisphere by both land and water. Political organizations included empires like the Olmec, Mayan, Inca, and Aztec; ethnic groups, such as the Pueblo and Eastern Woodland peoples; and tribes, such as the Anasazi and Iroquois. Trade among groups was responsible for transporting ideas and products across the continent, including language, technology, and knowledge of different trading practices.

We can use graphic organizers to compare the major aspects of the civilizations and societies of the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere.

*This section was covered previously in the beginning of the year. This is just a summary of what we already learned.