Who Were the First Americans?
Early history books will tell you that Christopher Columbus sailing under a Spanish flag, discovered North America in 1492. Later, textbooks taught that a Viking, Leif Ericson, was the first person to come to North America around A.D. 1000. Really, at the time Christopher Columbus stepped ashore, hundreds of Indian Nations lived in North America speaking their own languages.
It wasn’t until the 1930’s that archaeologists working in southern Colorado and New Mexico found spear points with the bones of extinct animals. This discovery challenged both ideas of the New World being discovered by European explorers and proved that ancient peoples were here near the end of the last Ice Age over 12,000 years ago.
Like the discoveries of spear points in New Mexico and Colorado and those made at Idaho’s Wilson Butte Cave, the research of today’s archaeologists has helped us learn more about the first Americans. They were hunting-and-gathering peoples who moved from Asia eastward into North America and arrived thousands of years before European explorers set foot in the “New World.”
Next page: What is Archaeology?