The human history of the Americas extends at least 12,000 years into the past, to the time of the last Ice Age, when an ice sheet up to 2.5 miles high covered much of North America, and mammoth and saber-toothed tigers roamed the land.
During this vast period of time, Native people have not only survived but thrived, developing sophisticated cultures for understanding their world and technologies for utilizing it's resources. Prehistoric Native societies have at times maintained living standards enviable in many ways, even when compared to modern times.
The scale of Native American civilization was also comparable to contemporary civilizations in other parts of the world. The Mississippian culture, named for the Mississippi River valley where it probably originated around 1,100 years ago, spread over much of eastern North America. Cahokia, the largest known Mississippian city, was larger than the city of London in 1250 AD.
Native history has also significantly influenced the history of the United States of America. For example, some historians credit the Chickasaw for making the U.S. an English-speaking country due to their opposition to the French and their alliance with the English prior to and during the French and Indian War, and some say that if the federal government had dealt differently with the state's rights issues leading up to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Civil War might have been avoided.
Follow the links below to learn more about this fascinating part of America's heritage.