The Peopling of North America c. 16,000–10,000 BCE


Map Code: Ax01373

The classic theory of Paleoindian colonization of the Americas proposed migration from a heartland in Siberia across the then existing Beringian landbridge c. 15000 BP. Thereafter, according to this model, the early Paleoindians exploited an ice-free corridor in western Canada before fanning out when reaching the present day United States. The ‘Clovis’ culture, marked by their trademark fluted spearpoints, seems to have been ubiquitous by c. 12,000 BP. Highly nomadic, the Clovis hunted then widespread megafauna (as evidenced by the Naco Mammoth-kill site). Over about 2,000 years, as many of the prey animals became extinct, a more diverse range of cultures, using stemmed points, the ‘Folsom’ appeared. ‘Folsom’ peoples combined bison-hunting, with foraging and small game hunting: sites include Lindenmeier, Lind Coulee and Russell Cave. Problematically, increasing numbers of pre-Clovis sites have been discovered (Cactus Hill, Meadowcroft Rockshelter), popularizing alternative migration theories, including a ‘Kelp Highway’ along the Pacific Coast.

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