The Native Americans are the aboriginal people of North America, Middle America and South American. It is generally believed that the first settlers moved from Asia to America by crossing the Bering Strait region during the Pleistocene Epoch somewhere around 60,000 years ago. The earliest Paleo-Indian, Desert and far west cultures are placed at 10,000 to 8 thousand BC by radiocarbon dating. Due to the fact that settled agricultural practices only began developing in the few millennia preceding the birth of Chirst, the early hunter-gathering groups spread all over the continent.
A map of some of the sites we will be covering.
By 1 AD, maize, beans, squash and other crops were being planted and pottery making and urbanization was flourishing. When the Europeans arrived in the 16th century AD, distinct tribes that had their own unique cultural identities had been formed. With the Europeans came fur traders and missionaries, and the native peoples underwent a dynamic shift from the Stone Age into the Iron Age, and in the process several aspects of their cultures and history were lost.
While each tribe has its own individual identity, similar traits relating to their astronomical lore and beliefs exist among them. The patterns of celetial bodies' movements were observed by the ancient people and became integrated into their entire cultures. The 4 cardinal directions (North, South, East and West) were held sacred by the Native Americans and believed to be linked to the star gods in the sky. Many of their living structures were modelled as stellar representations, and had 4 symbolic poles to support the roofs. Although the people did not have a system of keeping systematic regular time, they tracked lunar cycles and celestial occurances and noted the passing of time by events such as strawberry harvests. Calendrical observations could have been be made at sun-watching stations or sunports by sun priests or shamans, allowing them to predict the dates of the summer and winter solstice. The winter solstice was particularly important to most Native American groups because it was a time when the sun reached the southernmost edge of the sky. The people would need to carry out rituals to encourage him to move northward again, as only then would order be restored to the world.