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The First Alabamians

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This podcast is part of the series: ArchiTreats: Food for Thought


Craig Sheldon


Alabama Department of Archives and History


ArchiTreats: Food for Thought will celebrate the Year of Alabama History through a series of sequential lectures in Alabama history by leading experts in the field. Join us for the second presentation in the series at noon on Thursday, February 19 as Craig Sheldon presents The First Alabamians. This presentation will be held at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. For the past 12,000 years, the land now known as Alabama has been occupied by a series of Indian cultures. Beginning in the Pliestocene, or Late Ice Age, these groups evolved from small hunting and gathering societies in numerous small tribes to powerful agricultural chiefdoms supporting the mostly highly developed American Indian cultures north of Mexico. Severely devastated by early 16th century Spanish expeditions, Indian cultures reconstructed themselves to become the historic Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee Indians. This presentation briefly outlines the six major archaeological periods of Alabama prehistory and early history with emphasis upon some of the pivotal cultural innovations such as pottery, architecture, trade, agriculture, and ceremonialism.

Born in Fairhope, Alabama, Craig Sheldon was educated at the University of Alabama and the University of Oregon where he received a Ph.D. in Anthropology. His fields of interest include archaeology, ethnohistory and architecture of the southeastern United States and Mesoamerica, and subsistence technology. He has concentrated upon the culture, history, archaeology, and architecture of the historic Creeks of Alabama and Georgia. He has presented over 30 papers and written over 20 articles, reports, and books. He is a member of the Alabama Historical Commission and the Council for Alabama Archaeology.

This ArchiTreats presentation is made possible by the Friends of the Alabama Archives and a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Length: 40:39

Content Areas: Social Studies

Alabama Course of Study Alignments and/or Professional Development Standard Alignments:

SS2010 (3) Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
13. Describe prehistoric and historic American Indian cultures, governments, and economics in Alabama. (Alabama)
Examples: prehistoric—Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian
historic—Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek (Alabama)
  • Identifying roles of archaeologists and paleontologists
    SS2010 (5) United States Studies: Beginnings to the Industrial Revolution
    3. Distinguish differences among major American Indian cultures in North America according to geographic region, natural resources, community organization, economy, and belief systems.
  • Locating on a map American Indian nations according to geographic region
    SS2010 (5) United States Studies: Beginnings to the Industrial Revolution
    4. Determine the economic and cultural impact of European exploration during the Age of Discovery upon European society and American Indians.
  • Identifying significant early European patrons, explorers, and their countries of origin, including early settlements in the New World
  • Examples: patrons—King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
    explorers—Christopher Columbus
    early settlements—St. Augustine, Quebec, Jamestown
  • Tracing the development and impact of the Columbian Exchange
    SS2010 (10) United States History I: Beginnings to the Industrial Revolution
    1. Compare effects of economic, geographic, social, and political conditions before and after European explorations of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries on Europeans, American colonists, Africans, and indigenous Americans. [A.1.a., A.1.b., A. 1.d., A.1.g., A.1.i.]
  • Describing the influence of the Crusades, Renaissance, and Reformation on European exploration
  • Comparing European motives for establishing colonies, including mercantilism, religious persecution, poverty, oppression, and new opportunities
  • Analyzing the course of the Columbian Exchange for its impact on the global economy
  • Explaining triangular trade and the development of slavery in the colonies


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