Paleo-Indians were the earliest inhabitants of the American Southwest and Mexico. There are very minimal records of these Paleo Indians, and many historians rely on quite speculative theories about how these ancient people lived.
The Paleo Indians were not settled in one place, but were nomadic, traveling constantly with their family groups and animals. They took shelter wherever they could find it, in caves, under trees, and sometimes they made makeshift huts. They wore animal skins and plant fibers. Many of these Paleo Indians, like Europeans, practiced the ritual of sprinkling dead bodies with ochre-colored iron ore before burying them.
Many of these Paleo-Indians were hunters, yet they would kill animals without spears or arrows. Animals were trapped and bludgeoned and sometimes driven over cliffs. The Paleo-Indians would often eat sick, old or newborn animals which were easier to capture. They also ate insects and larvae. Paleo-Indians in later ages invented simple stone tools and made arrowheads out of flint. Archeologists have found these arrowheads next to skeletons of ancient animals.
One of the reasons the Paleo-Indians were nomadic is that they were often on the move tracking animals for a long time before they were killed. Slaughtering a buffalo or bison was a major occasion for the Paleo-Indians, who ate every part of the animal and made use of the hides and the bones. It is believed that the Paleo-Indians traveled in definite circuits year after year rather than wandering randomly.
Historians have a very incomplete picture of the religion and daily life of these Paleo-Indians. However, there is some archeological evidence about tools, food and dwelling of these ancient people. There is much to learn about the Paleo-Indians, and there area always opportunities for archeologist to find new evidence about these ancient people. While little of the art and crafts remain, we have a clearer idea of what weapons they used and what kind of food they ate.
Joseph Paige © 2006