• A World Apart

    A World Apart

  • 1

ADA Text Version

Since part of American identity is based on place, geography is an integral part of our studies. Six regions, chosen for the richness of their history as well as their ethnic, economic, and geographic diversity, have been selected to play a recurring role in the videos for this course. These locations help us connect with the diverse cultures and resources that continually shape American identity.

  • Pacific Northwest: Portland, Oregon
  • California Coast: San Francisco, California
  • Southwest: Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Mississippi Valley: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Southeast: Charleston, South Carolina
  • Northeast: Albany, New York and New York City

In the videos for "First Americans," we visit these six regions as they existed before 1492, exploring the variety of natural environments supporting diverse native populations across the land. By describing Native American cultures in various regions of what eventually became the continental United States, we can examine how indigenous peoples shaped their societies and use what we learn to enhance our understanding of them.

The Pacific Northwest

Salmon fishing, artwork, and clans played an important role in the Native American societies that developed in the Pacific Northwest before European contact.

Look for the answer to this question when watching the video:

  • What roles did the salmon, totems, and kin groups play in the pre-Columbian Indian cultures of the Pacific Northwest?

Download the transcript of The Pacific Northwest.


The California Coast

The California Coast was well populated by Native American tribes prior to European contact. Focusing on the largest of these tribes, the Chumash, this video highlights their unique culture known for planked canoes, astronomical knowledge, and a dependency on trade.

Look for the answer to this question when watching the video:

  • What were the characteristics of the Chumash culture along the California coast?

Download the transcript of The California Coast.


The Pueblo People

Native Americans living in the Southwest before European contact, known as "Anasazi," were farming people. Their complex society and mastery of village life is epitomized by Pueblo Bonito. Today, this impressive architectural accomplishment, along with other multi-storied structures can be seen in Chaco Canyon National Historical Park near the Four Corners area.

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • How did the ancestral pueblo peoples of the Southwest adapt to their environment? What characterized their social organization and village life?

Download the transcript of The Pueblo People.


The Mississippi Valley

Cahokia was the largest urban community in the United States prior to the nineteenth century and was characterized by large man-made mounds. This fascinating and complex Native American society had disappeared by the time Europeans arrived.

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • What characterized the culture that developed at Cahokia? How is this culture similar to that found at Adena and Hopewell? What purposes did mounds serve?

Download the transcript of The Mississippi Valley.


The Southeast

The varying landscapes in the Southeast meant that the Native American tribes who lived there were very diverse. The result was a region of unique lifestyles and overall political complexity.

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • How did the environment affect pre-Columbian Indian cultures in the Southeast? What characterized these groups?

Download the transcript of The Southeast.


The Northeast

The Native American tribes in the Northeast were well-known for both their long houses and the formation of the Iroquois League, an early form of democracy that would make a deep impression on European settlers.

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • Why did indigenous peoples of the Northeast often inhabit villages that were seasonal sites? What else characterized these people?

Download the transcript of The Northeast.


Download the transcript of Check Your Understanding.

Explore Cultures

Location has always played a key role in shaping the identity of local communities. Evidence of this can be seen in the way that prehistoric peoples lived. The abundance of natural resources and unique geographical features of an area determined what materials people used to build houses, what foods they ate, how they dressed, what arts and crafts they developed, and how they organized themselves into larger communities. As you review cultural differences among indigenous peoples in North America, think about influences that have shaped these same things in your community.

Download the transcript of Explore Cultures.

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