Pre History: Before 1491

Teaching ourselves about Native American history on Cape Cod

The history of Native Americans is a long, complex and fascinating story. The history is a mixture of geology, science, archaelology, theory and evidence. What is most lacking is written evidence. That is because Native Americans did not use a written language until the colonial period.

One thing a student of Native American history must be mindful of is that Native Americans have their own theories on their origins. The explanations on how the original people can to the Americas are vastly different than western historians. It is importnat not to dismiss these beliefs.

  1. Origins: Historians, botanists, archaelogists theorize that Native Americans originaated in northeastern Asia, today's Siberia. There is DNA evidence that ties Native Americans to Asia.

  2. When: Probably about 14,000 years ago.

  3. How: During the last Ice Age, sea levels dropped significantly (about 300-400 feet). This enabled people to migrate between Asia and North America, in the regions of Northwest Canada and Alaska. Migration took place in the Bering Starit region; historians call this Beringea or the Bering Land Bridge.

    This type of migrtion is known as "pull migration" meaning that something "pulled" migrants. The theory is mega fauna such as Moose, wooly mammoths and other large animals were followed for prey. Migartion went is both directions, as evidenced by gene swapping, until sea levels rose.

  4. Where: This