Native American History Formative Period

Beginning around 4,000 – 5,000 years ago new features of subsistence, technology, and society began to appear at somewhat different times in different parts of North America. Settlements became larger, and there were more of them.

Many settlements were located in ecotones, areas where two or more environments came together. By settling in such prime locations, people could exploit a wider variety of resources without having to relocate their homes.

Over time, smaller camps were established in other areas, forming satellite communities. Eventually, each major community was surrounded by peripheral settlements and new forms of social and political relationships emerged, especially non-egalitarian political systems. Accompanying these changes were marked differences in wealth as well as access to goods and services, both within and between communities, resulting in some societies becoming highly stratified, with elites, nobles, commoners, poor, and vagabonds, and in some communities, occupational specialist guilds arose.

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