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America's History in the Making

Mapping Initial Encounters

Theme 2

Initial encounters occurred over three centuries and a vast geographic region.

More and more Europeans and Africans came to North America beginning in the sixteenth century. Africans—sometimes free, but often enslaved—continued to form a significant minority of many exploration parties. Portugal, France, England, and the Netherlands joined Spain in the western hemisphere.

The indigenous tribes that these Europeans encountered were extremely diverse. Most were hunters and gatherers, but some practiced intensive agriculture. Some traded extensively, while others were more isolated.

Primary Sources


Text Artifact

How We Followed the Corn Route

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca,La Relación, the narrative of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1555),Chapter 31. Courtesy of the Southwestern Writers Collection, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos.

Text Artifact

Marquette Journal

Father Jacques Marquette, "Unfinished Journal Addressed to the Reverend Father Claude Dablon, Superior of the Missions," In The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. Edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. Originally published 1675. (New York:Pagent). www.archive.org/details/jesuits42jesuuoft.

Text Artifact

Ruling Chiefs of Hawai'i

Samuel Kamakau, Ruling Chiefs of Hawai'i. (Translated by Mary Kawena Pukui, Thomas G. Thrum, Lahilahi Webb, Emma Davidson Taylor, and John Wise. (Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1961), 91-93.


Zuni Tsa'Kwayna Katsina Doll

Shannon L. Parker, ZUNI TSA'KWAYNA KATSINA DOLL (n.d. [collected in 1890]). Courtesy of the School of American Research, catalogue number SAR.1999-9-512

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