"Prehistoric" days in North Carolina
North Carolina's history can be divided into two parts -- prehistoric and historic. Prehistoric refers to the time before history was written. Historic refers to the times where we have written records. People have been living in the area we now call North Carolina for 12,000 years. However, we only have written records to tell us about the last 500 years of North Carolina events.

 




 

 

Native Americans and the newcomers
Native Americans called North Carolina home thousands of years before explorers ever began looking for a "new world." When European explorers arrived in the 1600s, Native Americans were organized into many groups. The largest groups were the Cherokee, the Catawba, and the Tuscarora. There were a number of smaller groups but many of these died out after European contact.

 

 

Native American craft traditions
Native Americans learned to use the natural resources of the state to create things that made life better. No matter where they lived, the Coastal Plains, the Piedmont, or the Mountains, Native Americans used plants, clay, and minerals to craft useful items. Studying these items and native crafts made today can give us a glimpse into the way people lived thousands of years ago.

Cherokee baskets
The Cherokee made baskets to store food and grain. They were even able to weave baskets to hold water!

Today, Cherokee artists still make baskets the traditional way. They use split oak, cane, and honeysuckle vine grown in the North Carolina mountains. The colors in the baskets come from natural dyes made from nuts, roots and berries.

 

 
 

Catawba pottery
When Native Americans learned to use clay to make pots it changed their way of life. They could use pottery items to cook and to store food in.

Catawba potters are still making pottery today in the same way Native Americans did thousands of years ago. The objects they create are collected by people all over the United States.