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Ch 4: Early American Civilizations

About This Chapter

Review these video lessons to learn the history of early civilizations in the Americas. This chapter will describe the stories of Native Americans and the impact of European colonization throughout North, Central, and South America.

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.

7 Lessons in Chapter 4: Early American Civilizations
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Native American History: Origins of Early People in the Americas

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.

Mesoamerican Civilizations: The Olmecs to Cortes

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.

The Inca Civilization and Pizarro: Pre-Columbian South America

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.

Pre-Columbian Civilization: North American Indians Before Europeans

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.

Effects of European Colonization: Christopher Columbus and Native Americans

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.

New Spain: Spanish Explorers and Spanish Colonies

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.

The Columbian Exchange

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.

Chapter Practice Exam
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Practice Final Exam
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