Crossroads, p.1

Dr. Frank Schambach and Leslie Newell's

Crossroads of the Past: 12,000 Years of Indian History in Arkansas (1990)

Introduction and Table of Contents

(9500 B.C. to 8000 B.C.)

The first people to reach North and South America are called the Paleo Indians. They came from northeast Asia at the end of the Ice Age (the Pleistocene Epoch) no later than 12,000 years ago, and perhaps thousands of years earlier. They were expert hunters who pursued the big game animals of the Ice Age, most of them now extinct, such as the huge elephant-like American mastodon.

(The American Mastodon, the largest Ice Age animal of the Eastern Woodlands of North America.)


The Paleo Indians possessed a very sophisticated culture consisting of tools, knowledge, and equipment that their ancestors, the Upper Paleolithic or "Late Stone Age" hunters of Europe and Northern Asia, had been developing for more than 30,000 years. Therefore they had fire, of course, and they must have been well dressed in windproof and watertight tailored skin clothing, including hooded parkas, trousers, mittens, and boots like those of the Eskimo. They must have known how to make skin tents and other kinds of shelters of wood and bone, and perhaps snow and ice.

(This mastodon skull,with its curving, razor sharp, 7 1/2 foot tusks was discovered in the Red River Valley in southwest Arkansas in 1986. Herschel Kitchens, far right, of Lewisville made the discovery. David Jeane, left, of Springhill, Louisiana, assisted with the excavation. There were no indications that Paleo Indians killed this animal, but there is evidence from other sites that mastodons were one of the animals they hunted.)











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