During the Pre-Columbian period of the New World the Incas, Aztecs, Mayans, and many more civilizations roamed the land of south North America and all of South America. They were far more advanced and unified. Their government able to substain large amounts of people. While the Native America tribes of the United States and Canada were loose bands of small groups with mostly a chief. Most of these tribes of Northern America were almost always at war with one another but their technology far less advanced. Now here is my Question

Q. Why were Native Americans much more under developed then their neighbors in the south. Was communication harder or was it the lack to develop due to always being at war?


Why were Native Americans much more under developed then their neighbors in the south.

Image depicting Monks Mound, which is part of the Cahokia Mounds complex in Illinois
Copyright Skubasteve834, source: Wikimedia Commons, usage via CC-BY-SA.

It's not quite fair to classify native North Americans as underdeveloped. The above image is of Monks Mound, a part of the Cahokia Mounds complex in southern Illinois. This mound was constructed over the period 900 to 1100 CE by a Mississippian culture. This cite is within the Eastern Agricultural Complex of North America, one of the ten or so cultures that independently developed agriculture several thousands of years ago. What is fair is that the Mississippian culture and its predecessors developed later than their counterparts in Mesoamerican and South American.

Their development was late and slow in part because they didn't have as good a base of plant life from which they could develop their agriculture as did their counterparts elsewhere. The plants domesticated in North America (marshelder, chenopod, North American squash, and sunflower) weren't as high quality as the beans, maize, and central American squash developed in Mesoamerica. Monks Mound was built shortly after the Mississippian culture had adopted key agricultural technologies that were developed in Mesoamerica.


Bruce Smith, "Eastern North America as an independent center of plant domestication," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103.33 (2006): 12223-12228.

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    FWIW: "Mound" is our quaint American word for "ruined city". They are all over the Mississippi valley. Here's one near where I live. – T.E.D. Jul 11 '16 at 15:52

I feel that another contributing factor is the high variability of weather during the seasons making it more ideal to be a nomadic tribe than a settled city in North America.

Also, First Nations North Americans perceived their continent as an Island, specifically Turtle Island.

However as others have mentioned there are traces of some city formation which indicates that the European Invasions interrupted Turtle Island development.

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