Unit 1: Global Heritage of the American People Prior to 1500

Essential Questions

  • How do historians research the past?
  • What are primary and secondary sources?
  • How do anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology assist historians as they uncover the past, research the present and forecast the future?
  • How do maps provide information about people, places, and physical and cultural environments?
  • How does geography affect how and where people live?
  • How did geographic factors affect political, social, and economic aspects of life in the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cultures?
  • What are the political, social, and economic characteristics of each North American culture?
  • How did geography influence the development of each culture?
  • How did the North American world perspective differ from that of the Europeans?


A. History and the other social sciences provide a framework and methodology for a systematic study of human cultures

  1. The role of history and the historian
  2. The other social sciences including anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology

B. The social scientific method as a technique for problem solving and decision-making

C. Theories attempt to explain human settlement in the Americas

  1. Anthropologists theorize that Asians migrated across a landbridge between Asia and the Americas
  2. Native American Indians believe in indigenous development with migration patterns in both directions

D. Geographic factors affected the settlement patterns and living conditions of the earliest Americans

E. Major Native American civilizations in Central and South America

  1. The Aztecs
  2. The Mayas
  3. The Incas

F. Iroquois (Haudenosaunee—People of the Longhouse) and Algonquian People adapted to the environment in which they settled

  1. Geographic regions of New York
  2. Diversity of flora and fauna
  3. Seasons and weather patterns
  4. Kinds of settlements and settlement patterns

G. The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) developed cultural patterns that reflected their needs and values

  1. Creation and religious beliefs
  2. Importance of the laws of nature and the wise use of natural resources
  3. Patterns of time and space
  4. Family and kinship
  5. Education
  6. Government: Iroquois Confederacy and political organizations at the village level (tribal organization)
  7. Conceptions of land ownership and use
  8. Language

H. Algonquian Culture

  1. Spiritual beliefs
  2. Spatial Patterns