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First Inhabitants Of The Great Lakes Region

3883 words - 16 pages

The First Inhabitants of the Great Lakes Region in North America

As archeological discoveries of bone fragments and fossils continue to support the existence of homo-sapiens
in North America prior to the arrival of Indo-European explorers in the 15th century, this paper will attempt to
explain chronologically, which Native American inhabitants lived or migrated throughout what is known today as the
Great Lakes Region. This region includes lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario, & Erie as well as surrounding
U.S. state territories including Michigan, a significant portion of Wisconsin, small portions of Minnesota & Indiana, a
small part of Illinois and the Canadian providence of Ontario toward the north. In terms of chronological dates, this
paper will analyze the quaternary period, specifically the “Holocene epoch from 8000 B.C. to Present; the last 10,000
years ” (Quimby 2), since this epoch involved the fundamental evolution of mankind to the present. It is important to
realize that the late Pleistocene epoch had a dramatic affect on the migration patterns of homo-sapiens reaching “the
Americas by 14,000 ago” (O’Brien 12), after large portions of North America encountered the last ice age, which
through glaciation and glacial retreat affected the date of arrival and presence of indigenous people throughout the
Great Lakes Region.
Shortly following the glacial retreat of the upper Great Lakes region around 11,000 B.C., the flora and fauna
in the region began to develop prior to and upon the arrival of the “Paleo-Indian tribe, circa 7000 B.C. to 4500 B.C.”
(Quimby 6). Between this time period, in 6000 B.C., the basins of the upper Great Lakes became entirely ice free
and moraines and depressions began forming the shapes of the lakes when water from glacial retreat eventually filled
the lakes due to rapid climate alterations. Although the first generations of spruce and fir trees began to grow
abundantly, the Paleo-Indian tribe “used fluted points of chipped stone surrounding the lakes for the spearing of large
animals including mastodons as a primary source of food.” (Quimby 6) The fact that no actual dwelling sites nor
artifacts other than fluted points have been discovered; historians and archaeologists strongly believe that the Paleo-
Indians were a nomadic tribe, constantly on the move as land and environmental conditions changed. Archaeologists
have also speculated that the Paleo-Indians may have been “direct descendants from the early Archaic and Mongoloid
culture, perceived to be the first homo-sapiens to set foot in North America by crossing the Bering Strait in the early
Holocene epoch.” (Kubiak 12) Because the oldest fluted points have been found along the western shores of Lake
Superior and more recent points along the southern banks of Lake Huron, historians have theorized that the Paleo-
Indian group may have gone through a “transitional phase, moving from the northwest toward a southeastward
direction”...

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