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August 17, 2007


Niki Chen

I'm guessing that it took the Amerindians about 100 years after their arrival in the new world to spread out and cover the entire two continents of the Americas. I have no idea if this is correct but I think hunter-gatherers probably spread out very fast, even though a mile a week doesn't seem that much to me. I just assume that human beings are good at spreading and covering land.

The implications this has for how we think about the human history of the Americas from 12000 BC to 1492 is that the Americas were not isolated and undiscovered territory devoid of humans. Rather the Americas were already populated by diverse groups of people with their own languages, cultures, ways of living, religions, and forms of communication depending on different environmental regions. This question has implications for studying the socieites and cultures of the Americas before Columbus arrived as it becomes apparent that there must have been quite a lot of change and large populations living here.

Robert Chomik

Taking into account that the distance between today's Bering Strait (or the Bering Land Bridge) is approximately 19500 miles and our assumption that these hunting-gathering peoples are traveling about a mile a week or roughly 50 miles in a year (on average), we can conclude that it would take at least 390 years, rounding out 400 years to cover, as in express presence in the two continents of the Americas. This is assuming that they are traveling in a straight line and aren't held back by some difficulties (seasons, diseases, etc.). This is also assuming that they were migrating in N-S relation. Maybe people disbursed in North America first and a few groups decided to migrate south at some other point in time, not at the very beginning of the great migrations. This would, of course, need further examination to solve. The point being is that humans and human activity might have been across the Americas relatively soon (as quickly as 400 years). One could assume that by 12000 B.C., 2000 years after the first migrants appeared, humans may have reached most accessible places in the Americas. This means that between 12000 B.C. and 1492 these "ancient settlers" had more than enough time to develop and adapt to new circumstances, as well as grow in numbers and create vast populations and cities (ex. Tenochtitlan).

Evan Caso

Based on some minimal internet searching, the square mileage of the North and South American continents amounts to about 1 million. If one person could walk a mile per week, then he could cover 52 miles in one year. With thousands of people, the entire land mass would have been covered in 100-200 years, approximately. However, if permanent settlements were formed, then less territory would be discovered as people would explore a lot less. Any way you look at it, it is inconceivable that the Amerindians were sparsely populated and that they inhabited only small parts of the land. It is more likely that there were perhaps millions of people in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus arrived in 1492. This has important implications for how we study American history. The amount of Amerindians who died is much larger than we previously thought. Do we bear moral responsibility for these actions? Do Amerindians deserve reparations? It also forces us to consider the European conquest of the Americas as much more violent than previously thought.

Sheena Mathew

After doing some quick research, I found that North and South America span approximately 16.24 million square miles total. However, since all land is not really livable we can assume that there are 16 million square miles to cover. With time, populations will increase so it would not take too long to cover the seemingly large area. I would guess 200-300 years, since many people may have been reluctant to move around and explore once they found suitable land, while others may have been capable of traveling more than 1 mile a week. Also, traveling down a continent one has to face lots of different climates, which slows the process of expanding and subsequent spread of ideas once cities were established. However, even if it took 500 years to spread all over the continent there was ample time for the residents of the Americas to set complex societies and cities before Columbus arrived. Then, there must have been some single instance or ongoing problem, which accounts for why the Europeans discovered the Americas, and why it is not the other way around.

Wei Li

Assuming that the Amerindians all started off in a single general area (eg. the Bering Straight area) and traversed the land in all directions, it is sufficient to say that they would have taken very little time, comparatively to discover all of the Americas. Taken in account that the distance from the Bering Straight to Cape Hope is roughly 5300 miles and the average Amerindian can travel 52 miles per year, it would take about 1000 or so years to discover the entirety of the Americas. Though as the populations grew, chances are that the pace of discovery would increase, but since they are moving away from a single point, no one set of people can travel from the start to the last in less than 1000 years, at the rate of 1 mile per week. Suffice it to say, that the Amerindians had discovered the land at least 13,000 years before Columbus had even set foot in the Americas. In the scheme of things, the New World was actually not so new by the time Columbus had landed on it.

Lara Palanjian

The term “spread out” is general and can mean a number of different things. The Amerindians may very well have discovered and simply passed through most areas of the Americas within several hundred years at the stated rate, yet they may not have “spread out” in the concrete sense of establishing permanent settlements all over the Americas. It would be interesting to learn about archaeological discoveries on this subject, for the length of time that these peoples dwelled in the Americas has great implications for human history, especially viewed through the lens of the European conquest. The fact that the Amerindians arrived in 12000 BC illuminates the long length of time in which these indigenous civilizations lived in America prior to the European conquest. Such civilizations no doubt had unique characteristics, with the people maintaining their own cultural identity and religious and environmental traditions. What kind of music and art did these people create, and what religious forms did they worship? What motivated their sense of life and being? Most importantly, how did they view the Europeans who arrived in the supposed “new world” which was not new to them at all? These are all important questions that bear significance on the 1492 arrival of Columbus. The answers to these questions ultimately complicate the moral implications surrounding the discussion of the European conquest.

Tushar Kumar

My guess is that it took them about 100-125 years to cover the land. This gives time mathematically for them to cover the distance but also time for people to settle down in desirable areas. Land would be covered faster as population grew. This could have ultimately led to why our current population distribution is the way it is. The implications that this study has are many. We can look at population distribution, migration patterns, rights for the Amerindian, and much more. The most controversial issue is probably the white man's taking over of the land, but I'll leave that part open for further discussion.

Chris Guarini

The Amerindians, after their arrival in the new world ca. 14000 years ago and traveling at 1 mile per week would have covered the entire Americas in about 500 years. However, they were able to multiply their population and split of groups so, this number could be reduced to about 350 years. The implications that this has on the way we view human history of the Americas is that the entire Americas were discovered nearly 14000 years before Columbus even thought of setting sail. Maybe we should have an Amerindians Day instead of a Christopher Columbus Day…

Chris Schoeneborn

I agree with some of the previous estimates on the length of time it took the Amerindians to spread across the two continents. Roughly 100 to 500 years seems plausible. It is also clear that the spread across the lands did not occur in any uniform pattern. Due to the theory that animals more easily migrate in an east/west pattern because of slightly varying climatic conditions make it difficult to conceive of a fast spread of movement down to South America. Because the Bering Strait was located at the northern part of the Americas, the migrating peoples likely created full settlements in that area before the Amerindians were able to settle in South America. At the same time, the weather is much colder, which probably caused a majority of the migrating population to venture south. The amount of time that passed before Europeans came to the Americans in the 15th century likely allowed for large population growth. While European diseases killed off a significant proportion of natives in the Americas, it would be interesting to analyze the estimated population reduction of Inuits or other natives located in Alaska. Maybe their secluded location in the northern most part of the Americas allowed less contact between the two peoples, leaving them less affected by the diseases.

Ed Lam

Mathematically, most of the previous estimates seem reasonable but I think that it may have taken over a thousand years for Amerindians to cover the America continents. Constantly trying to subsist, Amerindians do not have the luxury to explore and are bounded by areas that provide the necessary nourishment. In addition, geographical boundaries such as deserts and glaciers would have been unaccommodating to the people and prevented them from advancing. Only over population growth over hundreds if not thousands of years will force the indigenous people to spread across the continent in search for additional necessary resources to survive.

Evelina Gulbinas

I think it took the Amerindians roughly 500-600 years to spread over the two Americas. Although they can travel a mile a week, surely they encountered terrains and weather conditions that significantly slowed them down. This being the case, by the time Columbus showed up, these people had already raised numerous generations on the land that he "discovered". After spending so much time in the America's I'm sure the Amerindians adapted comfortably to their living conditions and population growth was booming. This means that theres a whole chunk of history including the culture and lifestyle of these people that is summarized up in history books as the brief Native American story we teach today. In addition, this fact puts into perspective what kind of horrors the natives were put through and gives us a possibly more accurate idea of how high their fatality numbers must have been once the Europeans invaded.

Carson Le

Just because the Amerindians could walk a mile a week doesn't mean they would cover the continent at that pace. If the America's are ~16 million square miles, then "covering" the land mass would require at least 16 million people if 1 person per square mile counts. This makes the population size rather than speed of travel more of a limiting factor for covering the continents, at least for the first few hundred years. Also, the Amerindians exploration would be hindered by natural obstacles (climate, disease, lack of resources) so the 1 mile a week probably wouldn't be kept up consistently. There would be little incentive to move from an accommodating area to an increasingly hostile one.

I would guess it took at least 1000 years for all the desirable locations on the continents to be covered.

Still, this leaves ~13000 years for Amerindian societies to develop. The potential growth given that much time is huge, making the Amerindian findings once thought to be incredible all the more reasonable.

Monica Shih

I agree with Carson; just because hunter-gatherers had the ability to walk a mile a week doesn't mean that they actually did it when they were finding areas to live. Typically, settlers only explore until they find land suitable for their purposes (whether they are looking for land to fish, grow agriculture, mine gold, etc.) My rough estimate is that it took around 300 years to cover the two continents of the Americas. I based this number by factoring in the mileage, and also by looking at how long it took for Europeans to explore the continent after Columbus "discovered" America in 1492.

This implies that the Amerindians were very well settled and very adapted to their lives. They must have left their mark on what is now the United States. After all, the current "Americans" have only been here for little over 500 years. They have been here roughly 40 times as long as we have, so it stands to reason that they must have developed diverse, full cultures and they must have a rich history.

Yen-Ju Lai

I agree with the previous posts that pointed out that just because they were physically capable of walking a mile a week, without any consistent incentives, this rate should not be accepted as the average rate of expansion during that time. My estimate would be around 700 to 800 years.

Yen-Ju Lai

PART 2 of the answer:
The implication of this information is that the Americas were already populated well before the European settlers took notice. This also gives the scopes of how fast the plague traveled that wiped out the Native inhabitants for the later European settlers to find empty and depopulated areas along their routes of exploration.

Anna Romanowska

One can approach this question from a purely mathematical perspective. Knowing that the Amerindians could potentially travel up to 1mi per week one can assume that it took the Amerindians approximately 350-400 years to cross the two continents of the Americas. But this only seem to be true if we assume that their maing goal was to move accross as quickly as they could. We know that the process of migration doesn't really work like that. People move and settle down thinking that the land and area they chose will become their home for as long as possible. Therefore one can assume that the hunters or herders remain in one place for at least couple of years before they decide to migrate south. It takes quite a while to domesticate a given area. Migrants want to take advantage of their hard work and stay in their settlement as long as the land is fertile and the woods and waters are populated with animals. Moving large distances in a relatively short period of time is impossible because of the changes in climate and environment. The Amerindians needed time to adjust to new conditions and these adaptation factors alone required them to stay longer in one place. Therefore my guess is that because of the different factors the migration from the North to the South took more than a 1000 years. Given the vast terriry they had to cross and the fact that they probably were not going in a straight line, they definitely moved slover than 1 mile per week.
Usually we don't even think about the significance of the Amerindiance presence in the Americas. Looking at the migration as a more than 1000-years-long, very complex process has many implications. One of the most important ones is probably the fact how eurocentric we're used to think. The "new world" discovered by Columbus was not that new at all. The Amerindians must have enough time to develop impressive civilization and cultures characteristic for particular regions of the Americas.

Grace Park

This question can be answered through intuition. I believe that the Amerindians could have covered the Americas within 1000 years. Traveling at the pace of one mile a week, and considering that just North America itself is 9.5 million square miles, it would have taken one person over 180,000 years. However, with hundreds of people traveling in all different directions, and allowing the Amerindians to be able to adapt to their environment, it would have taken hundreds and hundreds of years. This implies that these people could not have done very much damage to nature, because it seems as though technology is adding to the destruction of nature, such as pollution, etc. Thus, at this period in time, the environmnet after they arrived, should not have been drastically changed from how it was before.

Christina Chander

I would say that it took anywhere from 100-300 years for the Amerindians to spread out and discover the two continents of the America’s. However it could’ve been faster or slower depending on a number of factors. If the hunter-gatherer’s found places with plenty of food to survive on, they wouldn’t need to keep exploring so this would slow some of the migration. It also depends on how many of them there were because large numbers of people can’t settle in small areas so that would be reason to keep moving. This has many implications on American history because obviously in that large amount of time, the Amerindians were probably able to discover a good amount of America on their own and therefore Columbus should not be so famed for his discovery of the new world. It also has implications as to the morality of the Europeans who drove the Amerindians off their lands.

Huinan Zhang

I believe roughly 1,000 years is a reasonable answers to the questions. When Ameridians spread out throughout the two continents, they go both longitudely and latitudely. And none of them will keep walking. So consider the time they need to travel, the condition of weather, and settling down, they cannot spread out the entire America with several hundreds years. Also, the migration took several generations to finish and people may go back and forth from one single point.

Ian Ebert

After some research, I found that North America is approximately 9,300,000 square miles, and South America is about 6,858,673 square miles, for a grand total of about 16.2 square miles. On average, the Amerindians can walk 52 miles a year, which means it would take one Amerindian 156,000 years to travel every part of the two continents by their self. The number of years would greatly be reduced considering the number of people that crossed the straight was roughly 1000 people. Because most people would remain in areas where they could find ample amounts of food and water, the exploring would be minimal once there people found their ideal spots. Over time with population grow; I would estimate that it would take the Amerindians at least 400-700 years to explore the entire area of North and South America. Even though it would have taken a long time for the Amerindians to explore all of North and South America, they would still have been here 12,000-13,000 years before Columbus in 1492. This clearly shows that the new world was not so new. Columbus may have been the first European to discover the Americas, but it is clear that a large number of people have been living in all different parts of the Americas for many years.

Yu (Ray) Zhao

While many individuals feel the Amerindians only took a 100-200 years time period to spread out and cover the entire two continents of the Americas, I think the process took approximately 700-800 years. Even thought the Bearing Strait which connected the Amerindians into the American continents was feasible to populate within 100-200 years given the distance, individuals must also consider other factors associated with hunter-gatherers. For example, many current and former Native Indian tribes which descended from these hunter gatherers were classified as being rather sedentary in their nature. So while it was essential for these individuals to move to new areas in search of food, the distance traveled may not have been significant as Amerindians who found success in certain areas were prone to staying in a certain distance radius. Another factor that must be taken into account is the fact that the Amerindians were traveling from a North to South path. If Diamond’s article listed in web assignment 1 were to hold true, the populating of the American continents will take longer since the traveling from North to South results in climate and geographical changes. Such changes, especially given the primitive state of the Amerindians, would not be easy for the Amerindians to adopt and therefore, traveling would be stalled.

Vinit Sukhija

Mathematically and theoretically, it would take roughly 300 years to explore all of the Americas, north and south. However, this number is merely a theoretical model; due to a number of deleterious factors, the Amerindians probably had many more hardships than one would speculate. The first and most salient hardship that comes to mind is the climate's effect on population growth. Ultimately, more ground could be covered if more people were living to cover that ground. It would take extensive analysis of birth and death rates to figure out exactly how much time it took. Also, we have to understand that these men were some of the first human beings to walk the earth. Their technological prowess was limited at best. I highly doubt it was even possible for a hunter-gatherer to walk one mile in a week; it would take an excessive amount of resources. Just these two factors lead me to estimate a time period of about 800 years for the Amerindians to explore and settle the Americas where they best saw fit. This number brings up a myriad of suggestions regarding humans in the Americas between 12000 BC and 1492. In that great span of time, the Americans were unable to sufficiently stay ahead of the Western Europeans. When in 1521 Cortes conquered the Aztecs in Mexico, European technology was much more developed than that of the indigenous. This really goes back to Diamond's article which asked why history unfolded differently in different areas. I can only blame it on the fact that Europeans fell into a bout of luck. The Americans had much more land to traverse, so it was inherently more difficult for them to build up a technologically advanced civilization.

Yaoyao Wang

I think it would take the Amerindians at least 1,000 years to cover both continents of the Americas. North and South Americas together measure around 16 million square miles. Since hunter-gatherers are able to walk approximately 52 miles per year, mathematically speaking they should be able to cover the two continents in roughly 300 to 400 years. Of course the Amerindian population probably doubles every 25 to 50 years, so if everyone continued to migrate across the Americas, they probably would have spread out across the continents much sooner.

However, we are assuming that everyone's a hunter-gatherer. In reality many of the Amerindians practiced aquaculture and agriculture, which means that once settled, they would not want to move at our estimated rate. Since Amerindians did not have enough modern technology to deplete the lands, their lands should have been able to sustain them for years. Amerindians had numerous tribes, and tribes usally settled in certain areas for generations. I don't think that the Amerindians had many motivations to continue to travel South, though issues of resources and population may have driven them to migrate slowly to new areas. Therefore I think the process of migration took at least 1,000 years if not 1,500 years.

For the 14,000 years that Amerindians lived in the Americas, hundreds of languages and cultures must had been established. If Columbus did not discover the Americas in 1492, today we would be witnessing the Amerindians as the oldest living civilization, much older than China and Egypt. When history teaches us about indigenous people of the Americas, we often think of them as one unity and one race. Imagine what 14,000 years could do to bring changes to these indigenous people, and how many different religions and other beliefs could have been established. When the Europeans conquered the Americas, majority of the history was lost. I feel that the discovery of the Americas really destroyed some of the most colorful human histories that we now will never have a chance to study.

Breana Pennington

I agree with many of the above statements that there were numerous limiting factors that prevented the Amerindians from traveling 1 mile a week. Unlike the Europeans, not only were there geographical and climate difficulties but also no large animals abundantly available to be used to help the Amerindians travel long distances. I would guess that it took roughly 1000 years for the people to spread. Whether it was 100 years or 1000 years, the important point is that they were settled in the Americas long, long before Columbus "discovered" the continent.

There were many complex societies, such as the Aztecs, that were settled in 1492. These societies are often often looked down upon because their advances were different from the Europeans. Yet, in reality, their culture gave them a different lifestyle in comparison to the Europeans, which has caused many to falsely claim that they were "uncivilized." I would actually argue that the Amerindians had a vast population that would have made the same technological advances as other societies across the ocean if they were given more time to develope their knowledge and skill. If the Americas had been discovered centuries later than it had it is possible that different, more advanced native societies would have been discovered.

Donovan Rose

Much of this question depends on how exactly the Amerindians traveled. Assuming that there were a couple hundred of them, we can assume that they split up into different factions. So if they split up into 2 or 3 tribes, each tribe traveled 52 miles in one year. They would traverse the continent in a longitudinal direction as well as in a latitudal direction. So with that in mind, the Amerindians traveled 150 miles cummulatively in one year. One would assume that it then took them only a few hundred years to cover two continents. However, it probably took twice as long, because there are many extenuating circumstances, such as cold or dry spells, that could have sent them back decades.

As far as its implications towards human history prior to 1492, this shows just how much the advent of technology accelerated human and economic developpment. With boats and other transportation, people in 1492 could travel hundreds of times faster than the Amerindians, making development that much faster.

Matthew Cohen

I am of similar beliefs of those students who believe that the expansion of the Amerindians could have taken at LEAST hundreds of years. Under the assumption that hunter-gatherers have the tendency to linger where there is an abundance of resources, they may not have expanded as quickly as originally imagined; perhaps only three quarters of a mile per week. By this estimate of speed, I'd guess that it took between 500-850 years.

Eric Ritter

Just crunching the numbers, it would probably take the early hunter gathers a couple hundred years to reach the other end of the continent, but I would guess (1) they weren't in a particular hurry and (2) they encountered way different conditions as they continued to travel South. Taking all of that into account, I'd say it took about 1000 years for the original hunter gatherers to spread across the two continents. There are a number of implications this has on the development of these early societies. First of all, it was probably to their advantage to spread as far away from other human groups as possible since there was a lot of room to do that. Second of all, once they adapted to the particular living situation within their geographic region, there wouldn't be much motivation to trade along the North/South axis because they require different living styles.

Shuwen (Shirley) Liu

While everybody is using the daily traveling rate and the size of America to calculate the time for Amerindians to spread out the entire two continents of the Americas, there are still so many random varies reason that might cause Amerindians to travel faster or slower. As other human beings, Amerindians also like settlement. If they choose settle down on certain part of the area on continents, they have to take more hundreds years to spread out the entire Americas.
This question seems to imply us that there are so many factors to determine about history; there are no exactly standard answer towards such question. New evidence appears everyday and our history also changes everyday.

Ryan Smrekar

Based on my assumption that hunter-gatherers don't move in a straight line and are not traveling long distances every day, I would guess that it took hundreds of years to cover the two continents. They likely traveled at season's end or when food ran out in a certain area. It would be unrealistic to assume that they were always traveling along a consistent path as well, therefore the time it would take them to cover the entire two continents would increase.

As far as the implications this has for how we think about the human history of the Americas between ca. 12000 BC and 1492 is that we must keep in mind how far this distance was, what minimal technology they had, and the migration pattern of the Amerindians. It is always interesting to think about what caused populations to shift and certain geographic areas to become inhabited. These results created the history that we now study today, and laid the foundation for the infrastructure of the world today.

Aseem Padukone

Contrary to many of the other estimates which hover in the 500 year area, I would surmise that it took at the very least 1500-2000 years, if not more, to cover the Americas. Even though they could have mathematically settled all the lands at a much earlier time, I don't envision the Amerindians strolling across the Americas at every opportunity that they had. In spite of their lifestyle, I would imagine that many generations still settled down in particular areas and that it took some sort of shock (e.g. population boom or scarcity of resources) to force them to migrate even further down.

The main implication of this is that people don't often comprehend the static nature of the Amerindians. We focus a lot on the Columbus era, but prior to that, it took a large movement to settle the Americas, one that took a very long time. Along with the diffusion of Amerindians comes the diffusion of ideologies. These natives all originated from one place, but as they spread across the lands, each culture probably evolved into a life of its own. Therefore while we like to group the Amerindians togther, it is important to understand the effects that a migration can have on shaping ones culture.

Krista Seiden

If hunter-gathers can travel approx. 1 mile per week, then that is about 50 miles per year. However, as populations grew, tribes probably split into many smaller tribes traveling in different directions. Thus, the time it would take to span the two continents would depend on the number of tribes and the direction they traveled, where they settled, and for how long they stayed in one place. Taking the vastness of the Americas into account, I estimate that it would take roughly 300-500 years for the Amerindians to spread out across the Americas. However, this could be off by several hundred years in each direction depending on how the tribes split and the directions they traveled and settled. However, I agree with Breana above when she said that regardless if it took 100 or 1000 years for them to spread, they were there far before Columbus inhabiting the land.

Mark Wes

I would guess that it took the Amerindians 600-1000 years to cover the Americas. Under ideal conditions, a hunter-gatherer can travel up to a mile a week. However, the climate in the Americas varies greatly from north to south and east to west. In addition, natural barriers such as mountains, deserts, snow, disease etc. probably slowed their migration considerably. In addition, I don’t think that all of the hunter-gatherers remained migrant forever—some of them probably settled in an area rich with food and water. There are so many variables to consider when making this estimate, so it is hard to say an exact number.

Kristin Rose

Like several other students, I found that the square mileage of the North and South American continents is roughly 16 million square milles. So assuming that a hunter-gatherer exploring an unsettled frontier can walk up to a mile a week, I will estimate that each one of these individuals can cover 50 miles in a year, since they could have stopped or slowed due to weather. Also, if they were establishing settlements, they would have traveled at a much slower rate, rather than a purely nomadic society. At any rate, my estimate is in line with that of several other students: it took the Amerindians approximately 400 years to cover the entire territory of the Americas. This implies that the Americas were much more densely populated upon Columbus' arrival than is traditionally thought. Hence, the way in which we as Americans traditionally view the history of the European conquest of the New World is challenged, rather than an empty frontier, the Americas had a large population with an established way of life.

Jennifer Lee

I think that it would've taken the Amerindians around 800 to 1000 years to span both continents of the Americas. Although it may seem like they could've traveled across the continents in a few hundred years, the Amerindians probably settled in various parts of the land along the way, establishing settlements and expanding their population as well. Plus, they would've had to adjust to different geographical traits during their trek, including hunting different types of animals and gathering different types of vegetation that were native to the various places they traveled to. Many students above have commented that this rough estimate of how long it took the Amerindians to spread out across the different continents reiterate the notion that Amerindians had plenty of time to have matched the Old World in their level of cultural advancement in terms of the establishment of cities, government, infrastructure, and technology, but that also goes back to Diamond's reasoning behind the unequal advancement of nations. Whereas in Europe's case, the European nations traded goods and technology amongst each other, which were easily applied to each country because they were generally located along the same latitude, thereby having similar climates and geographical terrain. Therefore, it was a lot easier for those European nations to cultivate different crops (thereby advancing themselves from the status of hunter-gatherers because they could now have surplus) and domesticate animals (from which they developed "germs"). However, whereas in the Americas, the Amerindians could only rely on themselves for their own advancement, so it doesn't actually seem to me like the Amerindians were all that "backwards," because they were able to cultivate some crops and form big cities like Tenochtitlan.

Tiffany Tam

The total area of North and South America is 16,290,000 square miles. Given the assumption that hunter-gatherers can travel a mile a week, this gives us the total distance traveled of 52 miles a year. Taking all this into account, an “ideal” hunter-gatherer would be able to cover North and South America in about 77 years. When I say “ideal”, it would mean that hunter-gatherers would be traveling non-stop in perfect conditions. However, this is never the case because there are always constraints that affect their traveling plans. Some of these constraints may include weather, diseases, geographical settings, and etc. Taking into account of all of these restrictions, I would estimate the hunter-gatherers to take about 100-500 years to cover both continents of America. The implication that this has for how we think about human history of the Americas is that the New World was not technically “new” when Columbus arrived. The Amerindians have long discovered the New World before Columbus even stepped foot onto it.

Kimberly Wong

I agree with Yaoyao Wang’s answer that it would take the Ameridians at least 1,000 years to cover both continents of the Americas. North and South America is about 16 million square miles. Hunter-gathers are able to walk about 52 miles a year and that would roughly come out to about 300 to 400 years. However, one must take into consideration that migration to different parts of America would take some time. There might be issues with resources, different weather conditions that could set them back. Also the hunter-gatherers are likely to settle in a certain area and not travel constantly. The hunter-gathers are not going to migrate to different areas unless the area they are settled in is overpopulated or conflicts arise between the people there. Thus it would take more than 300 to 400 years for the hunter-gathers to spread out and cover the entire two continents. The implication that this have for how we think about human history of the Americas between ca. 12000 BC and 1492, is that Americas was probably all populated before Columbus’ “discovery”, but what he saw was a result of plagues and diseases that might have wiped a majority of the population.

Dwight Upshaw

Based on the ideas of migration and the limits by which population is held. I believe that although this is a vast amount of space to cover, it was probably done in just under 200 years. This is a rapid number because I believe that with migration and no overcrowding or competition for resources, population would be growing on an exponential curve rather than a linear curve that held on some slow slope.
The implications were brought up in one of the readings about this as to what the population dynamic was before columbus and I believe that this offers a view that the new world was far from being new and their were perhaps tribes in any majo region that had resources. All other areas were probably left deserted as the Amerindians moved towards the more plentiful plains and towards water.

Lauren Frasch

Even if the early Amerindians could travel 1 mile per week, it is unlikely that they would be living a constantly nomadic existence for 200 years (what I came to assuming that the two continents sum up to an approximate 16 million square feet). Villages would probably be established, grow and colonize, then become over populated, at which point the “excess” population would leave and search for a new home. This process would take at least two generations. Furthermore, difficult terrain and seasonal weather would affect the rate at which exploration took place. This leads me to conclude that it would take at least 500 years for the Amerindians to survey the America’s. The way American history is talked about, it is often assumed that “civilized life” did not exist until after 1492. In fact, a myriad of evolved cultures and societies had already developed before Columbus arrived.

Edris Boey

I agree with fellow classmate Evan Caso's logical thinking of how much area the Amerindians could have covered, especially the fact of settlement creation which would slow down the rate of exploration of new land tremendously as the Amerindians sought to stabilise their bare essentials and families. Also, based on my little knowledge of native tribes, it is very seldom that the tribes will shift, unless there was a war or disaster or possibly looking for newer greens. This is added by the fact that there were usually dangerous wild animals in unfamiliar territory that might make exploration discouraging. Hence, Caso's estimation was "With thousands of people, the entire land mass would have been covered in 100-200 years". Considering all the other factors mentioned, I would say it might have taken almost a millennium to cover two continents of the Americas.

I believe this will help us discover the route that the Amerindians possibly explored and settled, and will also help us to understand how the Europeans managed to spread to both the continents far more rapidly. In my opinion, this study of settlement pattern will help form the history of man in the Americas between ca. 12000 BC and 1492.

Min Ru Jiang

I think that large proportion of Amerindians are hunter-gathers 14,000 years ago. If the hunter-gathers can walk one mile per week,I believe that it may take approximately 300-500 years for Amerindians to discover the North and South America. Although there were diseases,climates,live conditions..etc could destroy the population, Amerindians were good at mobilizing(because they were more likely to be hunters in order to survive).They were probably willing to mobilize to other places in the hopes of getting better live conditions and better future.
One question that comes to my mind: who was the first one that explore America? Amerindians?

Athena Ullah

The first human imprint on the Americas dates back to the unearthing of the Bering Land Bridge some 10,000 to 30,000 years ago, as hunters and gatherers searched for subsistence. The events during this period holds huge implications for the evolution of human historical migration patterns into the Americas. Expanding probably the duration of some 2,000 years did the Amerindians grow to reach every part of the American continent. However, the growth/expansion rate of these Amerindians could have not developed on a consistent projectile. Climate, social, and economic changes had to curtail the pace in which the early settlers could migrate and develop.
Lastly, it is undeniable how much a resourceful geography played into the rise of concentrated settlements studded along the southwest and northeast American territories. It then is critical to look at how geographical and economic variables lends into the viability of a certain human thriving human history of the Amerindians.

Jessica Li

According to the mathematical calculations, it has been estimated to take several hundreds of years for the Amerindians to cover the entire two continents of the Americas. It seems to be a reasonable estimate, however, there could have been other factors contributing to the increase in the number of years it took for them to travel and spread out. Perhaps groups of them preferred certain areas and decided to settle down permanently. Or the lack of equipment or technology, which would facilitate their needs for long journeys, prohibited and delayed them from traveling far. Therefore, I think it took at least a thousand years, or maybe more, for them to spread out and inhabit the lands of the Americas.

This suggests that these ancient and "original" settlers, had already brought their rich cultures and civilization to the continents long before the European explorers and colonists did. The Europeans did not in fact discover the New World, but rather, they invaded an existing civilization.

Kenneth Salas

North American and South America together consist of a total area of 16,340,000 square miles. Considering that hunter-gathers can move one mile a week implies they can travel approximately 52 miles each year. In order to explore the entire continent it would have taken these hunter-gathers roughly 350 years. This calculation is based on the assumption that hunter-gathers are able to continue traveling at the same rate despite the terrain or season. The slow rate at which hunter-gathers traveled inhibited the expansion of technology throughout the Americas. In addition, this allowed many societies in America to isolate themselves from one another; hence, adopt their own technologies without sharing them with other societies. This theory helps explain why European societies were able to advance at a faster rate than American societies considering the former’s facility to adopt technologies from neighboring communities.

Sumana Maitra

I believe that it took at least 1000 years. If a group of people came together, they would probably stay together until some kind of dispute arose, which caused a group of people to separate from its previous group. This must have happened gradually, over many generations, so I would estimate at least 1000 years.

Since there is so many land mass in the America's, the natives did not have to settle relatively close to another tribe. Since the natives were primarily hunters and gatherers, they were not forced to invent new technology in order to compete for food supply and power. This made natives less technologically advanced, and made it easier for Europeans to take over.

Timothy Wong

I think it took these Amerindians somewhere around 1000 years at least to spread out and eventually cover both continents of the Americas. They would have faced various weather conditions and terrains that would have slowed down their explorations. Moreover, most of these Amerindians would have settled down and developed civilizations before expanding to the other parts of the Americas. Taking this into account, the information we have about human history between 12000 B.C. and 1492 is barely any. We are missing huge chunks of information of the people who settled in the Americas between that time period.

Richard Park

Similar to many of the previous posts, I agree that if you approach the question purely mathematically, it would have taken the hunters and gathers about 300-400 years to spread out in the Americas. Therefore, if you take into account the many different ways in which travel could have been deterred throughout history, I would say 1000 years is a safe estimate for the Amerindians exploration of the two continents. This means that human history of the Americas between 12000bc and 1492 was already very established. By that range of dates in history, most of the Americas had already been established, so it implies that there was already a deep tradition and culture before the colonists even arrived at the so called “New World.”

Anshul Shah

While it may be true that hunter-gatherers could cover one mile a week, I think that in reality this number depends on the conditions they experienced on that certain area. My reasoning is as follows- if the group of hunter-gatherers found an area of land with plenty of resources for shelter, as well as animals and food for survival, why would they waste time exploring further when they can live on this area of land for some time? On the other hand, if they came across a patch of land without animals or trees for shelter, then they would be motivated to move on and find a more suitable area. Thus one factor is the sustainability of the land they first found. In addition, as population grew it would automatically become necessary to expand into previously unknown territory. I would think that it took more than 200 years for them to cover all the land of the 2 continents. Things such as weather/seasonality would also affect the rates of travel, etc. It is also important to note that these hunter-gatherers did not have the same mentality as the Europeans of "conquering" land. I don't even know if they had any such concept of that idea. Thus it seems logical to me that they only moved when it was necessary or beneficial to their population's survival.

Tanya Malik

If the Amerindians covered one mile per week, it probably took approximately 500-700 years to cover the Americas. However, because there are no precise migration patterns of hunter-gatherers, it probably took them a longer rather than shorter time to span the continents. Also, other factors may have hindered the pace of migration, such as geographical and medical, as well as the fact that some groups may have settled in certain places for longer periods of time depending on the amount of resources available. These implications may lead to the conclusion that Columbus was not in fact the one to discover the Americans, and that in actuality there were already established civilizations. Therefore leading us to believe that American history did not start at Plymouth rock, but long before that.

Andrew Grosshans

Considering that the Americas span sixteen million square miles in surface area, the Amerindians could spread out and essentially cover the entire two continents of the Americas in a few hundred years, depending on the number of Amerindians and rate at which they dispersed to form separate groups and tribes. Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas in 1492 did not mark the beginning of the continents’ settlement, something that should not be forgotten in the study of American history. In considering the spread of the Amerindians across the continents over fourteen thousand years, questions surrounding the social structure of their societies and the reasons motivating their migration and ultimate settlements undoubtedly arise. Whether or not such questions may adequately be answered, the fact remains that the Amerindians were a diverse people with unique cultures, not simply a group of thousands waiting idly for Europeans to civilize their continent.

Hanwen Chang

By assuming that all of the Amerindians are hunter-gatherers and that they can travel by the rate of one mile per week, I’d estimate that it took roughly about 400 to 600 years for them to spread out and cover the two America continents. However, no one knows for certain how long it actually took for these Native Americans to travel through the lands. When taking other considerations into the calculation, such as the weather, barriers, and games, it is likely that we come up with a different estimation. This implies that our current knowledge of history before 1492 is vague and there are no “correct” data to account for the years and events that took place before the European settlement. We are only interpreting the data and “facts” that we are given and making biased beliefs, theories, and assumptions. For us, there are still yet much to learn.

Hanwen Chang

By assuming that all of the Amerindians are hunter-gatherers and that they can travel by the rate of one mile per week, I’d estimate that it took roughly about 400 to 600 years for them to spread out and cover the two America continents. However, no one knows for certain how long it actually took for these Native Americans to travel through the lands. When taking other considerations into the calculation, such as the weather, barriers, and games, it is likely that we come up with a different estimation. This implies that our current knowledge of history before 1492 is vague and there are no “correct” data to account for the years and events that took place before the European settlement. We are only interpreting the data and “facts” that we are given and making biased beliefs, theories, and assumptions. For us, there are still yet much to learn.

Roxanne Chiu

Reading the responses from my fellow classmates, it seems a majority agreed number of years the Amerindians took to travel the Americas is 300-400 years. My calculations of using 52 miles/year and Americas’ land span to be 16 million square miles yields approximately 310 years. However, I would spread the range to 600-1000 years. There are many exogenous factors that would induce a longer period of time to form civilizations in the two continents.

Like many classmates stated, spreading throughout the land was not a main goal of the Amerindians. Homes are places that take time to develop. Exploring the land and retreating back to the familiar camp grounds may deter people from spreading out.

The assumption that Amerindians moved at the speed of 52 miles per year discounts the effects of birth rates, death rates, and illnesses. With a high birth rate, this not only implies that there are more persons; it also entails an obligation to take care of the youth. With a high death rate, people would be in mourning and dedicating some time to properly rest their loved ones. With illnesses, it stagnates the “mission” to expand outwards. Overall, extra resources and time used to cater to the human aspect of life would delay their arrival date at the two Americas.

Although these people are hunters and gathers, it still does not eliminate the human emotion that some people are scared and reluctant of change. The population of Amerindians who expand out to the wilderness would decrease. With less people, less motivation, and weaker unity; the expansion into the Americas would be a long dreaded journey – unless a depletion of resources in their areas forces a movement.

The range 300 to 400 years gives us a reference point. Though many economists use the term “ceteris paribus”, many of us all know its relevance to real world applications is a flawed.

I believe this exercise allowed me realized that Amerindians chartered the land much earlier than my dubious high school history textbook stated. The Amerindians’ ability to groom the Amazon into a garden already proves their early inhabitation. About 10,000 odd years later, America was “founded”. Was it really? There is a gap of information, and it could be due to the Americas being excluded from the Neolithic Revolution loop.

Ji Y Lee

I would think that it took less than 200 years for the Amerindians to cover the American continent. The Amerindians, with the vast amounts of natural resources available in the Americas, would have multiplied at a fast rate. Which would mean that there are many groups of Amerindians spreading along the Americas in many directions. I think it took the Amerindians very little time to cover the American continents.

Robert M Lee

The Americas are some approximate 16 million square miles area wise. Given that these hunters and gatherers were traveling at about 1 mile per week they could technically sprawl across America in just a few hundred years. However, being that most people dislike being nomadic i would predict that most would settle along the west coast. Only when finally pressed for land and resources would they probably brave crossing the Rockies, deserts, and rough terrains in the Midwest and south. A lot of fighting and wars would probably ensue before groups would consider exploring the unknown. I would predict that it could have taken at least a few thousand years. Many exogenous factors exist that would hinder the expansion of these Amerindians such as conflict, disease, new environments(new vegetation/animals), birth+death rates, geography, and climate.

This tells us that between 12000BC and the time of European contact in 1492AD, these Amerindians had thousands of years to settle and claim land that they were first to come in contact with. They developed their own culture, way of living, and even massive civilizations such as the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas. Therefore, i believe many people feel uncomfortable to address the morality of European contact and essentially the termination of the Amerindians. It's pretty hard to deny which group of people were first to make American their own.

Alex Zhong

Although it is possible for the early hunter-gatherers to have covered the entire land mass of the American continents in roughly 200 years, it is not likely they explored such a vast amount of land mass in such a short amount of time. Through some quick internet searching, the average life expectancy of the human race was about 20 to 30 years. 200 years in this case would only span 6 to 10 generations of the early hunter gatherers. It is doubtful that the Amerindians could have possibly covered the entire landmass in such few generations, especially when considering the geographic obstacles as well as the vast climate differences they had to endure in their trek across the continents. Covering both continents would take anywhere between 900 to 1000 years.

Still, even if the original Amerindians took that long to settle both of the continents, they had more than enough time to cultivate a civilization and culture before the first Europeans came into contact with them. What one then can realize is that the civilizations and society European conquistadors originally conquered may have been more advanced then given credit for.

Phat Richard Nguyen

Given that the Amerindians travel at a rate of 1 mile a week, I will guess that it took them hundreds of years, maybe thousands, to cover the entire two continents. The phrasing of the question is also a little vague. What does it mean to cover the Americas? Does it mean to have traveled through or does it to settle and have established primitive forms of communities. Like the question, my answer is not particularly clear.

As for implications of the way we think about human history, I think it shows that we can never have precise information. Our interpretations of the past are based on estimates from artifacts. Historians do not take into account factors such as climate, local vegetation at the time, predators, etc. It’s hard to pinpoint the specifics. Our perspective of human history is definitely skewed.

Kyle Jeffery

Given that the landscape and climate was much different in the year 12,000 B.C., it is difficult to imagine the experience of a group of Amerindians as they progressed across the American continents. A mile a week seems a fair average considering that they would encounter obstacles such as impassible mountains or deserts or be spurred to move on by lack of water, leaving vast areas unexplored. Following herds of animals, they most likely were led to more hospitable regions with vegetation and water, and probably followed the paths of rivers. Their population growth was most likely very low due in part to new diseases and predators. I guess that it took about 1500 years to completely spread out across all 16 million square miles.

Xing Zhen Wu

Indigenous people of Americans migrated from Asia and Siberia across the Bering Strait to reach North America in 12000 years ago. The total area of the United States is about 3.7 million square miles. Native Americans walked a mile a week, so approximately they had to spend more than a thousand of year to travel the entire two continents of Americas. This implied that it was difficult for Native Americans to survive at that time periods. Since they were nomadic hunter-gatherers, they followed the migrations of animals to camp. They travelled in small groups of people with their extend family to get support,and the one of major causes of their death was the threat of diseases. Also, lacking sufficienct evidence about Native Americans who lived in thousands of years ago, we do not know exactly how long Native Americans had taken to spread out. This tells us that the model of migration of Native Americans faces challenges.

Kristina Shen

Initially, hearing that hunter-gathers only walk a mile a week seems very rather little. Even with obstacles such as moutains, desserts, bodies of water or lack there of, I would think that they would still be able to travel faster. With this assumption, I feel that the Amerindians potentially could have spread out over the Americas fairly quickly, within 1000 years. But there are other obstacles to take into consideration such as disease, food locations, seasons, etc...Also, if there was for example a river that was the only water supply for miles, hunter-gatherers might backtrack back to a river and spend time building up their resources so that they could travel longer without easy excess to water.

Cam-Tu Nguyen

If using the approximation that hunter-gatherers can walk a mile a week and as seen above that many try to do the mathematical calculations to figure out how long it took the Amerindians to spread out to cover North and South Americas, I would probably guess anytime from 700-1000 years as well. Consider their given conditions, they would probably encountered many obstacles, hunger, sickness, and many more. In addition, to explore Americas meaning covering land and water as well, which might have required more or less time depends on where they set their foot. This implies and reaffirms that Amerindians already occupied the land even way before Columbus settled on this continent. It also showed that the Amerindians were not isolated and kept to themselves only, but instead they interacted with one another and their culture existed but just different than what we're used to acknowledge as culture and civilization. How do we really know how long it took for the Amerindians to explore the two continents since there aren't traceable records? Another question that I wonder is why do we still teach younger students that Columbus discovered Americas if the Amerindians were already on this continent when he arrived?

Alice Kousoum

The migration of Amerindians across all of North and South America according to one mile a week rule would have taken well over 1,000 years. The calculations for this problem are difficult to formulate because there is missing information as to what types of technology was available for every generation, how long a person settled in a place before continuing to explore once again, and what obstacles that might have hindered their exploration. The question to this problem is much like moving checkers across a checker board, some stay, some continue to be aggressive, and others alternate between moving forward depending on conditions. I arrived at my number because I figured that from the Bering Strait to the end of South America it is about 20,000 miles. If a person spent approximately 6 months out of the year exploring that is approximately 25 miles. Therefore it would take approximately 800 years, and including over factors, well over a thousand. The implications brought about this question indicate that migration takes a tremendous amount of time, however with the right kind of technology in which the Europeans possessed, it is a long process.

Alice Kousoum

The migration of Amerindians across all of North and South America according to one mile a week rule would have taken well over 1,000 years. The calculations for this problem are difficult to formulate because there is missing information as to what types of technology was available for every generation, how long a person settled in a place before continuing to explore once again, and what obstacles that might have hindered their exploration. The question to this problem is much like moving checkers across a checker board, some stay, some continue to be aggressive, and others alternate between moving forward depending on conditions. I arrived at my number because I figured that from the Bering Strait to the end of South America it is about 20,000 miles. If a person spent approximately 6 months out of the year exploring that is approximately 25 miles. Therefore it would take approximately 800 years, and including over factors, well over a thousand. The implications brought about this question indicate that migration takes a tremendous amount of time, however with the right kind of technology in which the Europeans possessed, it is a long process.

Katelynn Nguyen

Given the distance of the Americas and the 1 mile/week average, I would guesstimate that it would take the Amerindians about 200-300 years to get from the top to the bottom of the two continents. However, considering that at some point in time, these frontier men will travel from the west coast to the east coast of the continents, it would take a longer time (about 500 years) for the Amerindians to cover all the land. The estimate of the time may not be accurate since we have to take many implications in consideration.
Not all of these travelers settled in the same areas or the same regions due to their own likings. Also, many explorers may not know what is ahead of them, whether if there is more distance to travel or what kind of nature is ahead of them. Between 12000 BC and 1492, the Amerindians may have not had advanced education or developed technology that the Europeans may have had, hence leading to Columbus' expedition and discovery.

Sherry Wu

I really agree with Ji Y Lee's post; I do not know the exact figure for the size of both continents, but it makes sense that it would take at least a few hundred years to cover the area, perhaps even a thousand years (especially with difficult terrain such as the Rocky Mountains and Death Valley).

As the hunter-gatherers spread, not all of them would move up at once; some would stay behind and develop their own civilizations. Those that settled down earlier would have been more "advanced" by 1492, having had time to hone their technological, military, and bureaucratic skills. Because of the uneven rate of development, each civilization Old World explorers encountered would have differed greatly in their degree of resistance, and what they had to offer for trade or tribute.

Sung Rho

It is amazing how hunter-gathers could go through uncharted lands a mile a week, without any settlement. However, I believe that the Amerindians could have spread over the Americas within couple hundred years. This is why during our section, I couldn't help but to agree with the GSI when he said that there couldn't have been 5 million Indians during the time of Columbus. The 5 million came from past histories of people who have lived and wrote about the time when they were living in America. They said that they came to unpopulated tribes, and there were not that many Indians around. However, this is due to the disease that has affected them and has nearly wiped out the entire population. So, given this new information, it would not have taken them that long for Amerindians to spread because of the large numbers if they're population.

Dawn Oberlin

At first I believed that this movement in total would have taken around 500 years to be completed, but there are many factors that need to be considered in this discussion. The question of how much Amerindians decided to settle in different areas along the way plays a huge role in the amount of time it took. If the Amerindians stopped and settled in more places along the way as opposed to simply going straight to South America, more populations would begin evolving at the same time, which would lead to the Amerindians covering the two continents at a faster pace.

Eric Regan

Assuming that the total square milage of North and South America combined is 16,340,000 sq. mi. (6,890,000 sq. mi. in North America and 9,450,000 sq. mi. in South America), I would guess the time it took for Amerindians to cover this distance would be between 500-700 years. If hunter-gatherers could walk one mile a week, and 52 miles a year, then they could have covered a resonable distance and spread out their population over several hundred years. However, it needs to be taken into account that this land had never been settled and the Amerindians probably had to carve out paths through forests, make their way over mountains, and cross rivers while enduring the physical battles of disease, exhaustion, hunger, etc. The question is a fairly open-ended one because the definitions of "spreadng out" and "covering" are not concrete, and we know that the Amerindians could not possibly have walked over the entire land mass of the Americas. They most likely chose the routes which were easiest to manage, settle in places with the best climate and access to food/water, and did not travel all the way from one coast to another. So, the best we can do is hypothesize and estimate that it took several hundred, maybe even more than a thousand, years to cover the two continents of the Americas without more information of the technology the were using at the time and the difficulties they endured while traveling.

Erin Trimble

I agree with several of the posts above: just because the Amerindians had the ability to travel 1 mile/week on average does not mean than they spread out across the Americas at such a rapid pace. Climate, geography, availability of resources, and a range of other factors surely influenced their speed of migration. For this reason, I would guess that it took the Amerindians approximately 500 years to essentially cover the entire two continents of the Americas. This would leave a good 13,500 years for the widespread hunter-gatherer populations to establish permanent settlements and, ultimately, the ancient civilizations of the Americas.

In regards to how we think of the human history of the Americas, this rate of migration implies that the common view of Native Americans living for the most part in small, isolated groups with little impact on their environment may be far from the truth. Amerindians were most likely here far longer and in much greater numbers than was originally thought. Thus, when Columbus “discovered” the Americas in 1492, he did not find a sparsely populated expanse of land, but rather a landscape dominated by well-developed cultures, much more sophisticated than has been thought.

Yu C Xu

By the rate of one mile of traveling per week, if we do it totally by math(52 miles per year, covering approximately 20000 Miles), it would take almost 400 years for the early Amerindians to cover the entire American land. But the fact is that it would have taken much longer than that. First of all there is no group of any animal that will be traveling or migrating all the time; the early intentions of the Amerindians who migrated from eastern Asia was to find more resources in a new land and follow their preys; once they found a place with enough food and water for them to survive they would stay for a while until the resources are all drained or there were conflict between groups of people, then they would start migrating again. Besides that, diseases and weather could also be important factor that slows down their rate traveling, the cold winter and disease full summer made it impossible to move at full speed. So my guess is it took twice as long as we calculated, which is 800~900 years for the Amerindians to cover the entire American land.

Anita Wong

I would have to agree with some of the above statements that it would take the Amerindians several hundred years (approximately 2-6 hundred) to cover the vast majority of livable land in the Americas. This could be for several reasons such as climate changes, food availability, over populated areas and possibly being forced to leave. As far as I know, hunter-gatherers migrate to areas that allow them to have access to food and crops. For example, if it their agriculture is not compatible with the climate, they would be forced to move to another area thus allows some to constantly move from one place to another, as the seasons change. If some of the populated areas are somewhat developed they would probably have some type of “leader”. Often times, if residents disagreed with their leader, they would move and start their own community elsewhere.

As a child, I was taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the new world in 1492, but I have always believed that the Amerindians were the first to establish different ways of living, culture, language, and religion. However, through conquest, the Europeans were able to wipe out these indigenous people, take and tweak their ideas and call it their own discovery.

Min Park

This problem can be confronted in two different ways. If one were to ignore all the social and environmental factors that may be involved in exploring a foreign country and simply approach the problem mathematically it can be done in the following:

Assuming that the width of North America from coast to coast is 3000 miles and the assumed 'height' of both of the Americas is 4 times that number, so about 12,000 miles, we can use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate all the distances that we may need. Thus, depending on the direction that the settlers went, either straight across, straight down, or in a diagonal fashion, the answer will be equal to one of the sides of this triangle we have formed or the hypotenuse. Then, you will take the measure of the triangle and divide it by 52 weeks per year, and that number will be the number of years it took the settlers to explore these two continents.

If one were to factor in the socioeconomic problems of traveling in a foreign land such as misdirection, time to collect food, and stoppages for either sickness or pregnancy, it adds an undefined amount of time to the inital mathematical number that was previously mentioned.

I think the implications that this problem proposes during this era of history is that after 1492, the inclusion of advanced technologies such as metallurgic weapons and advanced techniques of preparation show that their progress across the Americas would be much quicker than that of these original 'immigrants'.

Kevin Chiu

Given that hunter-gatherers can walk a mile a week, I would assume that it took them about 200-350 years after their arrival in the new world to spread out.

With this estimate I have provided, this implies that what we thought was unsettled and unhabitated land was actually being vacated by people who have already established a culture, environment, etc. even before Americans took over America and established its own history. It is important to re-think about how and who first discovered America.

Hoi Kwan

In my estimation it must have taken them well over a 1000 years to completely settle into the two continents. If we go by the pure math. The rough distance is around 20,000 miles (n-s) between the the tip of the two continents. Assuming hunter gatherers move 52 miles a year we have. 20000/52= 385 years. I believe this number woefully underestimates the actual time it took them. Primarily because they were not on a non stop trek. Non-only would they be up against natural boundaries posed by these new territories. With no knowledge of medicine, diseases would abound, at times it might even wipe out a significant number of them. In which they would probably need to wait for the next generation to travel those unchartered territories.
If this is true then it would imply that these people would have been well settled by 12000 BC and between that time and 1492. Which means that 13492 years were alloted to these hunter gatherers to develop their culture, live style, language and other social avenues. This in turn would mean that the European conquest of these lands and enslavement and mistreatment of the natives on ground that they were sub-human, would raise a lot of moral and ethical issues.

Anthony Samkian

I would guess it took the Amerindians somewhere in between 300 and 500 years to cover the two continents. Of course they had many natural obstacles to overcome and preferred to spread out in an east/west pattern. This could raise the number of years it took them to populate the entire Americas to around 1000 years. However, even 1000 years is a relatively short amount of time in compare to the 12500 years they had time to grow into a vast civilization and create many different cultures. This makes the arrival of the Europeans even more tragic for the Amerindians because it means that a much greater number of natives fell victims to European conquests and the deadly diseases they brought along. If it is really the case that the Amerindians were a much larger ancient civilization than it is usually assumed, then I think there is a lot more we can learn about them. Going back to Diamond's article we learned that the amount of people in a population is positively related to the amount of innovation, implying that the Amerindians might have been more advanced than we are assuming. Unfortunately it is very difficult to study this civilization because with the arrival of the white man it was not only the people themselves that died, but a lot of their culture, technology, and history died with them.

Stephanie Pai

I did some internet research and found that North America is approximately 9,300,000 square miles, and South America is about 6,858,673 square miles. The total area for the both Americas are approximately 16,158,673 square miles. Crossing not only the Bering Strait but also the other harsh terrain and climate conditions in both Americas, I think it would take several hundreds or even 1,000 years in order to completely occupy both Americas. These Amerindians didn't just set out to occupy the Americas. If they were to find a suitable area for living and survival, they would settle there for several years before packing up and finding another suitable area for settlement. As for the history between 12000 BC and 1492, when these Amerindians occupy a certain area, they built civilizations that consisted of a leader and several policies that governed everyone. By the year of 1492, the New World could not be considered as "New" since it has occupied for several thousands of years.

Alice Lin:19078943

I estimate that it will take the Amerindians roughly about 500-800 years to cover the entire two continents. Although the Amerindians could physically walk a mile a week, terrains and bad weather should slow them down than the actual mathematical estimations. The implication about human history of the Americas from 12000 BC to 1492 is that the two Americas were not undiscovered and isolated free lands. There were already many culturally diverse groups of people settled there before the arrival of Columbus.

Chung Leung

The one-mile-per-week estimate seems at best to serve as an upper limit to this discussion.

We know that there are possibly two points of entry into America; Bering Straits being the undisputed and perhaps the first. However, some archeologists have found artifacts, including very sturdy ships, on the coast of the southern tip of South America that dates back as far as the Bering Straits or even before. It appears that immigrants from the east sailed through the southern Pacific to the American continent, autonomously from the Bering Straits migration.

I was hoping to integrate this fact into the rest of the discussion but with 20 minutes on the clock it's probably too late.

Christopher Avedissian

When looking at the total square mileage of the North and South American continents, and imagining that the Amerindians could cover a mile a week, I believe it would take them around 400-500 years to cover the entire Americas. But due to climate restraints and creating settlements, I believe it would have taken near to 1000 years to extend their masses over the entire two continents. And still with that length of time to explore, they would have had another 12500 years to build their civilizations. The implications this has on how we think of human history, is that the Amerindian civilization is grander than we believed, and the losses they suffered even grander. Much more was lost with their takeover than their lives.

Regina Lin

Hunter-gatherers may be able to walk a mile a week, and we can make calculations based on the assumption that they continue walking at this pace. However, realistically, there are many factors that can delay their travels, such as change in climate, abundancy of food in their present location, sickness, etc. We also have to take into account that there were probably many tribes walking in various directions all at once. Considering all these factors, it's probable how the Amerindians would have taken hundreds of years to spread across. This has many implications on the beginning of our history. Children are taught how Columbus was the first to arrive in America and the history books take the perspective of him being the glorious discoverer. Books are biased in the sense that they glorify him so much that the existence of the Ameridians are usually downplayed. What we often neglect is the fact that if Columbus had not arrived and swept out the Ameridians through problems brought by European contact, a type of people and their cultural influence would be in existence today. This all leads us to question, "Who really discovered America?"

Alex Zaman

I agree with those who say it took the Amerindians approximately 150-200 years to traverse the continents. Assuming they started from the Bering Strait, there must have been an initial lag due to severe weather and seasonal conditions. We must allot a certain amount of time for the population to have regenerated. Following some minor setbacks when they began settling, there was most likely a constant rate at which the Amerindians traveled. While we do not know the extent to which the Amerindians settled (or their exact population), there was likely enough growth to maintain the population (and offset disease and other stoppages) and continue the migration. What this tells us about human history is that there are some gaping holes left by our common interpretations of Amerindian life between 12000 B.C. and 1492. Of course, we lack concrete evidence regarding most of their whereabouts during this time, but it would be remiss to ignore the ramifications their presence in the Americas had on the “discovery” of the Americas and their eventual exploitation.

Breann Gala

I agree with Regina that guessing a 100-300 years is far too little. Climate and food sources largeley shaped hunter gatherers movements and actions before settlements were formed so I would guess upward of 500 years. I think that this really changes our grade school, revisionist history that has been shoved at us since we were 5 years old. It makes us question the morals, values, and happenings of the Europeans and changes how view our country and its failures and successes today.

Patrick Traughber

While Google Maps wouldn't let me get driving directions from Alaska to the tip of Chile, I had to use Google Earth. They gave an approximate distance of 9,700 miles from one point to the other. Since this is a straight line, we can probably add another thousand miles to account for a more round-about path they must have taken. Also, we must add the distances to the settlements off of this main path. I would estimate that there are 100 main settlements off this track, each with an average distance of 500 miles (US is 3000 miles wide, while Central America is much narrower. This gives me a total of 60,700 total miles traveled to settle. At a mile a week, that is 1,167 years. Obviously this is an extremely rough approximation, but it seems plausible that in order to spread across both continents, it could have taken that long. Also, this assumes there were enough people to leave along the way and maintain a population to settle the new colony. For anyone who has played the game of Risk, you know how difficult that is. The implications of this are incredible, and contradict the incorrect way of thinking about the Americas (that it was discovered by the Europeans) because according to my estimations, it was settled 12,325 years before hand. This is especially impressive because the Amerindians spread across the continents without the tools that the Europeans had.

Alexis Geno

I agree with those who guessed that it took them about 300-500 years to spread out. There must be lagging that occurred due to extreme weather and terrains. Also, assuming that they would settle in one place for a while and only move when the environment makes it impossible for them to stay. There are so many factors that affect their travel but I think that one of the biggest obstacle that might prevent them from getting to their destination is the environment.

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