T he 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking Possession of Louisiana and the River Mississippi, in the name of Louis XIVth, by Cavelier de la Salle by Bocquin, ca.1860, color lithograph, THNOC.1970.1 In 1682, René Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle claimed the lands drained by the Mississippi River for France. Photo of Mississippian pot found by Daniel Deroche in St. Charles Parish. Piece measures approximately nine inches in diameter. (Photo courtesy of Maureen Downey)

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Photo of Mississippian pot found by Daniel Deroche in St. Charles Parish. Piece measures approximately nine inches in diameter. (Photo courtesy of Maureen Downey)

Poverty Point
Around 1730 BC a great culture, named for the famous Poverty Point settlement in...

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