Paleo-Indians soon spreads throughout the Americas, diversifying
into many hundreds of culturally distinct tribes. Paleo-Indian
adaptation across North America is likely characterized by
small, highly mobile bands consisting of approximately 20 to 50
members of an extended family. These groups move from place to
place as preferred resources are depleted and new supplies are
sought. Paleo-Indian groups are efficient hunters and carried a
variety of tools. These include highly efficient projectile
points/knives, as well as less distinctive implements used for
butchering and hide processing. During much of the Paleo-Indian
period, bands are thought to have subsisted primarily through
hunting now-extinct megafauna such as mastodon and bison
The North American climate finally stabilizes
by 8000 BCE; climatic conditions are very similar to today's.
This leads to widespread migration, cultivation and subsequently
a dramatic rise in population all over the Americas. Over the
course of thousands of years, American indigenous peoples
domesticated, bred and cultivated a large array of plant
species. These species now constitute 50–60% of all crops in
After the migration or migrations,
it is several thousand years before the first complex
civilizations arises, at the earliest emerging 5000 BCE.
Paleo-Indian inhabitants of the Americas are hunter-gatherers.
Many Arctic, Subarctic, and coastal peoples hunt and gather,
while agriculture is adopted in appropriate regions. Within this
timeframe, roughly pertaining to the Archaic Period, numerous
archaeological cultures have been identified.
Due to the
vastness and variety of the climates, ecology, vegetation,
fauna, and landforms, ancient peoples migrated and coalesced
separately into numerous separate peoples of distinct linguistic
and cultural groups. According to the oral histories of many of
the indigenous peoples of the Americas, they have been living
there since their genesis, described by a wide range of
traditional creation stories.
Middle Archaic period
Late Archaic period