PDF version  

  Previous lesson  

  Next lesson  

  Main menu  

  RLA home  


Part 3: North Carolina's First Peoples
INTRODUCTION


Soapstone bowl from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, 3000-1000 BC.


Artifacts can be thought of as shadows of people projected into the earth. They are more than just things; they create a path to a people's legacy.

--Janet Spector, What this Awl Means



The following four chapters present tidbits of North Carolina's Native American history from the time ancient people migrated across the now submerged land bridge connecting Siberia to Alaska during the last Ice Age until European contact. This spans at least 12,000 years, which we break down into four periods called (from oldest to most recent) Paleoindian, Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian.

Each chapter features one of these periods. The main text highlights some of what archaeologists have learned about Indian history during each time. As much as possible, it is written in layman's language for the adult reader, yet some of the techno-speak archaeologists use creeps in. Where it does, there is explanation.

Reading the text will help you in several ways. You will gain information and context that complements many of the lesson backgrounds in Parts 1 and 2. Especially, you will be better prepared to teach Part 4; these advanced lessons relate to information presented in this part. You will gain a greater understanding of what archaeology can and can't say about the past, both in terms of the kinds of evidence that survives and the limits of interpretation. You will see how archaeologists build knowledge about the past.

While each chapter's main text is geared to you, your time and your students are not forgotten. In the ideal world, you have time to read and digest the text before you begin the lessons, flagging parts that you know will add to whatever background you want to present. In the real world, you may need a quicker fix or a ready-built way to remember key points the chapter presents. With this in mind, each chapter ends with a Quick Study where the key characteristics of the cultural period are highlighted in bullet form.

Backgrounds to lessons in Intrigue of the Past are enhanced by information contained within this part. However, to give a sneak preview, lessons in Part 4 are specifically designed to teach some aspect about past North Carolina Indian life that developed during one of the major periods. But note: the lessons build on concepts presented in Parts 1 and 2, and students should be familiar with these concepts before attempting Part 4's activities. Thus, it is important to sequence Part 4's lessons after students have worked through those presented in prior parts.

The exception to this sequence is Lesson 4.1: "Shadows of North Carolina's Past." This hands-on activity introduces students to the four cultural periods and the characteristics archaeologists use to distinguish them. You can use Lesson 4.1 in two ways. Complemented by the Quick Studies, use it to summarize Part 3 and launch into Part 4. It grounds students so they can better understand the context of the history they will learn in Part 4's lessons. Another way to use Lesson 4.1 is to do so before beginning lessons in Part 1. With this approach, "Shadows of North Carolina's Past" acts as a springboard from which students can dive into archaeology's fundamental scientific quest: How do we know what we know about the past?



Sources

Spector, Janet D. 1993. What this Awl Means. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society.

Ward, H. Trawick, and R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. 1999. Time Before History: The Archaeology of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. [The image in this chapter's main heading is taken from Figure 3.11.]


  PDF version  

  Previous lesson  

  Next lesson  

  Main menu  

  RLA home