North Dakota Eclectics

Archaic Period (5,500 B.C. - 400 B.C.)

Just as changes in the climate allowed the migration of human beings into North America, climatic differences also forced a change in the lives of early big game hunters. As the climate warmed, the mammoths died out, and giant buffalo were replaced by smaller buffalo. Other than that, most of the same animals there inhabit North Dakota today were in existence during this time period.

As the Paleo-Indians adapted to the changes that were forced upon them, their descendants are known as Archaic people by modern archaeologists. The Archaic Native people lived in small bands, and spent much of their time looking for food. Their lifestyle was that of hunter-gatherers, which means that they traveled frequently, following herds of game animals, as well as seeking plants, roots and berries with which to supplement their diet. In the spring, they might camp in an area where edible roots could be found, moving to an area where berries grew in the fall, and following the buffalo during the winter.

It is believed that the Archaic Native people used tents covered with hides, or tipis, as least part of the time, as these homes were easily portable. Archaeologists have found circles of stones in various places, which are believed to have been tip rings. In archaeological digs, tools made from stone, as well as animal bones, have been found, serving a variety of purposes, including knives, dart points, scrapers, and hammers.

Another tool that has been found was a weapon, used during this period, which was called the atlatl, which were short sticks with a handle at one end and a hook at the other. A dart or light spear was placed onto the hook, then thrown in much the same way as a javelin is thrown. This allowed darts to be thrown longer distances than could be attained with a spear. Atlatl darts were fitted with triangular points of stone, with notches at the base that were used as a point of attachment.

It is believed that the Archaic people descended from the Paleo-Indians, and that they developed into the Woodlands people, but this is not known for certain.

Of Interest