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Paleo-Indians

Ethnic group
GroupPaleo-Indians
(18,000 BCE 8,000 BCE)

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Paleo-Indians (Paleoindians) or Paleoamericans is a classification term given to the first peoples who entered, and subsequently inhabited, the American continent during the final glacial episodes of the late Pleistocene period. The prefix "paleo" comes from the Greek adjective palaios (παλαιός) meaning "old." The term Paleo-Indians applies specifically to the lithic period in the Western Hemisphere and is distinct from the term Paleolithic.

Evidence suggests big-game hunters crossed the Bering Strait from Asia (Eurasia) into North America over a land bridge (Beringia), that existed between 45,000 BCE 12,000 BCE (47,000 14,000 years ago). Small isolated groups of hunter-gatherers migrated alongside herds of large herbivores far into Alaska. From 16,500 BCE 13,500 BCE (18,500 15,500 years ago), ice-free corridors developed along the Pacific coast and valleys of North America. This allowed animals, followed by humans, to migrate south into the interior. The people went on foot or used primitive boats along the coastline. The precise dates and routes of the peopling of the New World are subject to ongoing debate.

Stone tools, particularly projectile points and scrapers, are the primary evidence of the earliest human activity in the Americas. Crafted lithic flaked tools are used by archaeologists and anthropologists to classify cultural periods. Scientific evidence links indigenous Americans to Asian peoples, specifically eastern Siberian populations. Indigenous peoples of the Americas have been linked to North Asian populations by linguistic factors, the distribution of blood types, and in genetic composition as reflected by molecular data, such as DNA. Between 8000 BCE 7000 BCE (10,000 9,000 years ago) the climate stabilized, leading to a rise in population and lithic technology advances, resulting in a more sedentary lifestyle.


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