The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History

By Carolyn Merchant | Go to book overview
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Part III
An Environmental History Timeline

13,000 B.P.–A.D. 1500: Settlement of North America

The Bering Land Bridge allowed people to cross from Eurasia to North America. Humans arrived in present-day Alaska at least by 13,000 B.P., and in the present-day lower United States by 11,500 B.P.

1492–1580: European exploration of North America

In 1492, following Viking voyages, Columbus began the exploration of the New World. He was followed by John and Sebastian Cabot's voyage from England to the present-day Canadian coast in 1497, the French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534–45, and by Giovanni da Verrazano's 1524 exploration of the Atlantic coast of the present-day United States. Between 1540 and 1542, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado explored the American Southwest, and from 1539 to 1542 Hernando DeSoto explored the Southeast. Sir Francis Drake sailed up the West Coast of North America between 1577 and 1580.

1580: Spanish settlement of Southwest

Between 1598 and 1605, Don Juan de Oñate explored New Mexico, with the desire to Christianize and “civilize” the Pueblo Indians. The Mission system and its Franciscan priests/friars attempted to establish Christianity as the Native Americans' new religion; they substituted the Virgin Mary for the Pueblos' Corn Mother.

1585–90: John White's depictions of Roanoke/Indians

John White was a member of the 1585–86 failed attempt to settle Roanoke


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The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History


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