Ways of Life in North America c. 1515

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Map Code: Ax01348

The indigenous lifestyles of North America were primarily determined by climate. Where temperatures and/or rainfall were low, hunter-gatherers were the norm, elsewhere agriculture featured more prominently. There were, however, numerous exceptions. In the Northwest, the sheer abundance of natural resources underpinned the unparalleled development of a settled, hierarchical society based on pisciculture. In the Southwest, the Hohokam culture harvested the Sonoran desert through a sophisticated irrigation network. Around the Great Lakes, cultivation of maize and squash was supplemented by wild rice, berries and the hunting of fish and game. Moving southward, agriculture started to predominate, especially beans, squash and tobacco. Nomads dwelling in the tropical swamps of Florida and Alabama netted catfish and alligator, while harvesting plums and persimmons. The Great Plains Indians (beyond the river floodplains where cultivation occurred) developed a culture centred on the hunting of bison. In California, natural plenty encouraged a roaming, foraging subsistence.

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