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The Earliest AmericansEarliest Americans home >> Print text

To preserve the legacy of the earliest Americans, the National Park Service asked the Society for American Archaeology to lead an initiative to nominate archeological sites as National Historic Landmarks. In 1995, that effort evolved into a study called “The Earliest Americans.” Advised by over 30 prominent archeologists—and a broad array of public and private sector colleagues—we set the study goals shown opposite.

This website highlights historic contexts related to Early American archeological sites for regions east of the Mississippi. The contexts—which synthesize the latest science in ways that can be quickly grasped by nonspecialists—are consensus statements rigorously reviewed by scholars, avocationalists, preservationists, and public land managers. NPS and SAA invite archeologists, avocationalists, and others to use the theme study's contexts as guides for nominating new landmarks and properties for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

(photo) The Shenandoah River near Virginia's Thunderbird site.

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*  about the study

  nominating a landmark

(photo) The Shenandoah River near Virginia's Thunderbird site.
  • Gather multi-discipli-
    nary evidence on the largest scale possible
  • Organize it into frameworks (“historic contexts”) that aid in identifying, evaluating, and nominating sites as National Historic Landmarks
  • Clarify boundaries of properties already designated
  • Develop and refine data for use by public agencies and others to preserve and commemorate sites
  • Make the findings widely available