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LOOKING FOR LANDMARKS >> NEW VIEWS PROFILE OF THE FIRST PEOPLE A LASTING DEBT
   

Most scholars think America’s first people arrived before 15,000 years ago, likely from northeast Asia, but there is a lively debate about exactly when, how, and from where in northeast Asia. They were modern biologically; there is no evidence for earlier humans like Neanderthals in the New World.

It’s a misconception to think of the first people as noble hunters in harmony with the environment. This obscures the complex realities of life in ancient North America. They were tough, resilient, and ingenious, and survived by exploiting their surroundings.

The first people were nomadic. Many archeologists think they traveled in small groups, following game, harvesting what they needed from the land, and moving on. As groups moved into areas, they likely established a pattern of cyclic movement linked to the seasonal availability of resources. When an area filled to capacity, some groups moved on to colonize new regions. 

  (photo) Woman in excavation pit with plumb bob.
(photo) Closeup of trowel.   Trowels are commonly used tools in the search for the earliest Americans.

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(photo) Clipboard and pencil.

Field work at Virginia’s Thunderbird site.

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