1492: An Ongoing Voyage
HOME - What Came To Be Called "America" - Mediterranean World - Christopher Columbus
Inventing America - Europe Claims America - Epilogue
Exhibition Overview - Suggested Readings - Online Exhibit Credits
WHAT CAME TO BE CALLED "AMERICA"
THE CARIBBEAN -- ISLAND SOCIETY
The indians sleep in a bed they call an 'hamaca' which looks like a piece of cloth with both an open and tight weave, like a net ... made of cotton ... about 2.5 or 3 yards long, with many henequen twine strings at either end which can be hung at any height. They are good beds, and clean ... and since the weather is warm they require no covers at all ... and they are portable so a child can carry it over the arm.
MIDDLE ATLANTIC CULTURES
THE ANDES -- LIFE IN THE HIGHLANDS
This magnificent center of Incan culture, high in the Andes, is testimony to the extraordinary construction capability of Andean peoples (i.e., intricate stone construction without the aid of mortar) before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century.
SOUTH ATLANTIC PEOPLES
The coastal areas of eastern South America and the interior of the Amazon basin were home to several million people at the end of the 15th century. This enormous area, bordering the Andes mountains on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, extends from present-day Argentina to the Guianas.
Socio-political structures were usually not highly developed in this area. The Tupí-speaking groups lived in villages in which related families resided together in large houses. They practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, and hunted and fished using blow guns and poison-tipped arrows. Manioc, a tuber, was their staple crop. They engaged in warfare and some groups practiced ritual cannibalism. Tupí groups eventually overcame the Tapuyas, mobile hunters and gatherers.
NORTH AMERICA -- DIVERSE SOCIETIES
In the 16th century, North America -- occupied today by Canada and most of the United States -- was home to hundreds of groups speaking a striking variety of languages and dialects. They lived in diverse settings, from the Algonquian of the eastern woodlands, to the Caddo and Wichita of the grassy Midwestern plains, and the Taos of the arid southwest.
Some North American tribes, like the Iroquois, were organized into large political confederations. Extensive trade networks - sometimes operating over long distances - allowed for the exchange of products such as animal skins, copper, shells, pigments, pottery, and foodstuffs. Housing styles varied from covered wood to multilevel dwellings constructed of stone and mud, and transportable shelters made of poles and animal hides. Many tribes played games such as lacrosse and stickball. Religion was an integral part of daily life, tying them to the land, to other living things, and to the spirits that animated their world and provided order to social relations.
The people of Secotan lived in permanent villages near today's North Carolina Outer Banks. Like the northern Algonquians, they farmed collectively in the growing season and dispersed into family units to hunt during the colder months.
The engraving, based on a drawing made by John White in the 1580s, shows careful management and use of the land. Crops include tobacco and pumpkins, corn in three stages of growth, and sunflowers, while domesticated deer graze in the adjoining woods. The buildings include family units and storehouses for the surplus corn.
The Secotan traded with other groups like the powerful Mandoag of the Piedmont area of North Carolina, who acted as middlemen in the copper trade.