North America was a largely undeveloped continent inhabited by primitive people, who, in 1400s and 1500s, were mainly hunters and gatherers. They occupied what is today referred to as the United States and Canada. The arrival of European explorers opened up the hinterland, which was a largely remote part of the world.
The Inhabitants of the North America between 1400s and 1500s
The earliest Americans came from Asia and their main activity was hunting and gathering. They lived in minute groups and moved from one place to another, looking for temporary foods and games (Fraundorf). The groups embraced the state of affairs and the fiscal systems and later dispersed to the other parts of North America. By that time, six key regions which had numerous ethnic groups, whose beliefs differed, were there (Fraundorf). These regions were; PacificCoast, Basin Plateau, Plains, Southwest, Mississippi cultures and Eastern Woodlands (Fraundorf).
Where and How the North Americans Lived between 1400s and 1500s
The vast tribes hunted sluggish and infantile animals. They established sites with sheer rock faces where they put up walls that went to cliffs and corrals at the floor. In the cliffs they would shout and flutter blankets which could cause a stampede towards the cliff. This would lead to some animals plunging to their death at the floor, while others would be shocked and perplexed with the corrals. Consequently, the huntsmen could, without difficulty, draw near them to finish the slaughter.
The Cascades and the Sierra NevadaMountains were occupied by the Basin and Plateau tribes. Since the climate was not suitable for cultivation, the women collected seeds and insects, which they heated and pounded into flour (Fraundorf). On the other hand, the men set snares or used bows and arrows to kill the small animals.
The Southwest tribes were agricultural people, who relied extensively on the cultivation of corn, squash and beans (McCannon 171-172). They were unique because they domesticated the wild turkey for food. They also domesticated dogs. Cotton was also planted and woven into cloth.
As for the Eastern Woodlands, also known as the Algonquian, they cultivated their lands, whereby each family within the tribe had a piece of land. The men used fire to clear the land for cultivation, while the women scooped the soil into small hills (Fraundorf). They planted corns, beans and squash. Fruits, nuts and fish were also part of their diet.
The Impact of European Explorers Contact with North Americans
When European explorers came to the North American continent, they brought with them some diseases, the natives soon went down with. Some of these diseases were smallpox, influenza, measles, cholera and typhus. This led to high level of death, since neither the natives’ immune system was ready to fight those new diseases nor the traditional native medicines worked well against the diseases (Fraundorf). This led to the reduction of their population. Secondly, they were put on cruel systems of forced labor, which enslaved them to working in the infamous haciendas and mining industries (McCannon 171-172).
Additionally, the natives’ cultures and artifacts were also sought for the private collections. This led to a high demand of the artisan commodities in industrialized countries and to increase of the number of native artisans. As a result, art became a cottage industry which attracted tourist markets. The European explorers also brought horses to the natives. Some of these horses ran away and started to reproduce and boost their number in the wild, especially in the Great Plains of the North America.
By domesticating horses, some native tribes had great success making them expand their territories and exchanging goods with the neighboring tribes. Their way of life was also changed with the introduction of guns by the European explorers (Fraundorf). This made hunting easier, since they killed more animals for food and fur. Consequently, this led to the upset of the ecological unit.
The arrival of the European explorers forever altered the lifestyles of the native North Americans. People who were previously excluded from the other regions of the humankind had a taste of the lifestyle of the Europeans who brought with them such new things as horse breeding, trade and hunting by the use guns.