About This Chapter
Early American Civilizations - Chapter Summary
This chapter will explain life in early American civilizations, European explorers, and the development of colonies. You will learn about the origins of Native American groups and the impact of Europe on these civilizations.
As you study these lessons, you will be given the opportunity to study each early American civilization individually, and gain a better understanding for the significance of the changes colonization brought. The following groups will be studied in these lessons:
- Native Americans
- Mesoamerican civilizations
- Spanish explorers
- Pre-Columbian civilizations
- The Columbian exchange
- Incan civilization
Our brief video lessons are guided by expert instructors who clearly and concisely convey the most significant information about early American civilizations. As you watch the videos, if you wish to jump to any specific point or subject, you may use the timeline feature to navigate. The lessons are accompanied by a full transcript that is accessible to you throughout your studies. After you finish each lesson, you may complete a short self-assessment quiz that will help you gauge how well you understand the content you've just reviewed. This chapter serves as an invaluable tool to help you review this topic.
1. Native American History: Origins of Early People in the Americas
Because the first humans and civilizations got their start in Africa and the Middle East, historians and anthropologists have had to figure out how Native Americans got to the Americas. In this lesson we look at the three prevailing theories of the earliest migration to the New World.
2. Mesoamerican Civilizations: The Olmecs to Cortes
This lesson focuses on the early cultures of Mesoamerica. The Olmec, Maya, and Aztecs developed great civilizations in Mesoamerica over millennia. Then, after all of this development and the building of a great empire, the Aztec were quickly defeated by Hernando Cortes.
3. The Inca Civilization and Pizarro: Pre-Columbian South America
The Incan Empire was an amazing empire of the early Americas. Their accomplishments rival those of many other great empires, but they were defeated by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in only a few years.
4. Pre-Columbian Civilization: North American Indians Before Europeans
Watch this video for an overview of the cultural groups of Native Americans as they lived at the time of first contact with Europeans. Some of these groupings, like the tribes of the plains, changed so much due to the addition of European influences, such as horses, that there is only conjecture as to how exactly they lived before European contact.
5. Effects of European Colonization: Christopher Columbus and Native Americans
The earliest explorers in the Western Hemisphere left a legacy that would shape the development of the Americas permanently. No matter what they came looking for, Europeans left behind death, horses, and metal.
6. New Spain: Spanish Explorers and Spanish Colonies
Who are the most well-known explorers and conquistadors of the New World? In this lesson, we'll look at some of the most infamous explorers. We'll discover the difference between explorers and conquistadors, and then learn about the encomienda system.
7. The Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange is a term used to denote the world-changing exchange of agricultural goods, slave labor, diseases, and ideas between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres that occurred after the year 1492 CE.
Earning College Credit
Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Transferring credit to the school of your choice
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Other chapters within the Praxis World & U.S. History - Content Knowledge (5941): Practice & Study Guide course
- Geographic and Environmental History
- Early Civilizations & The Ancient Near East
- Early River-Valley Civilizations
- Hellenism, Athens & Ancient Greece
- The Rise & Fall of Rome
- Ancient India & Persia
- Ancient China
- The Development of the Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, & Judeo-Christian Faiths
- The Emergence of Interregional Networks
- The Renaissance & The Age of Exploration
- The Age of Enlightenment & Industrialization
- Martin Luther & The Protestant Reformation in Europe
- North America & the 13 Colonies
- Important Events Leading to the American Revolution
- The American Revolution & The Second Great Awakening
- Building the United States After the American Revolution
- The Virginia Dynasty & Jacksonian America
- Everyday Life in Antebellum America
- Manifest Destiny & the American Civil War
- Reconstruction, Westward Expansion, Industrialization & Urbanization
- Progressive Politics & American Imperialism
- Fundamental Overview of World War I
- 1920's America and the Great Depression
- Introduction to World War II
- Post-WWII World Cultures & Politics (1946-1959)
- Western Civilization from 1945-1973
- Important Events in the US (1954-1980)
- Imperialism & International Relations in the 19th & 20th Centuries
- International Organizations in the 20th Century
- Historical Thinking Skills
- Praxis World and U.S. History: Content Knowledge Flashcards