The Paleo-Indians of the western Great Plains and eastern North America had similar economic activities despite different circumstances. In the western United States — from Oregon to northern Mexico, from the Pacific Coast to the eastern Rockies — there are scattered desert Indians who live as hunter-gatherers but have developed primitive agricultural techniques.
In the late archaic period there were advances in tool technology, such as grooved stone axes and hammers, and a system of trade between tribes in different geographical areas. As the climate warmed between 3000 and 2000 BC, some Indians followed the grazing bison into the Saskatchewan River and Alberta, and further north into the Arctic tundra.
Around 2000, Native Americans in the southwestern United States began growing corn. From 200 to 700 AD, there was a cold period, which hindered the development of agriculture. From 700 to 1200, a village-based culture developed in the Mississippi Valley, characterized by progressive farming methods and complex religious rituals. The indigenous peoples scattered throughout the southwest during this period, such as the Anasazi, Mogollon and Hohokam, belonged to pre-Pueblo societies. Mogolon’s farming techniques were modified by Anasazi, using rainwater and channelled rivers to water crops; The Hohokam culture of southern Arizona relied on irrigation to sustain its agricultural economy. During the first 1,000 years AD, the Pueblo culture developed techniques for building houses out of stone and made significant advances in pottery. During the retrogressive Pueblo period from 1300 to 1700, many stone houses were abandoned as residents moved east and south. The modern Pueblo period began with the Spanish settlement in the late 16th century. Some features of Pueblo culture and farming methods remain.
During the colonial era, European countries adopted different policies toward North American Indians. The Spanish assimilated the natives as Christians and settled them in designated areas. The French established trade relations with the Indians. The British granted the land west of the Appalachian Mountains to the Natives in 1763, until the end of British rule, and then to the United States. After the discovery of gold in California in 1848, many whites moved west, sparking a long war between white Europeans and Native Americans over land, including the Custer Massacre of the Sioux and Cheyenne in 1876. The majority of Indian migration to reservations in 1887 resulted from the loss of nearly 348,100 square kilometers (134,400 square miles) of Indian land through the Dawes General Allotment Act of that year. The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 implemented measures to improve the lives of indigenous people. Since the 1950s, as a result of new policies and social concern for civil rights, Indians have formed many organizations and brought their problems to national attention.

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