Michigan's First People
Paleo-Indian peoples probably came into North America from Asia by crossing
the Bering Straits from Asia to Alaska. Although few in number,
Paleo-Indians traveled widely. They followed the herd animals that they
depended upon for food and for skins and hides to make clothing.
They first arrived in Michigan about 12,000 years ago. Archaeologists call
these people "Paleo-Indians," which means "ancient
Indians." Paleo-Indians in Michigan hunted big game animals like caribou.
They may have hunted mammoths and mastodons, too. They were able to kill
these large animals using spears. They made distinctive, beautifully-shaped
stone points from stone to tip their spears.
They were skilled at making stone tools. They made stone knives for
butchering, scrapers for preparing hides and wedges for splitting bone and
wood. A certain type of stone called chert, used in making tools, was obtained
from outcrops throughout the Great Lakes region, either by trading or by
visiting the quarries.
They made bone and antler tools, such as needles and awls. They used these
to make clothing from the skins of the animals. The Paleo hunters (above,
right) are wearing clothing
made from caribou skins.
They also gathered many different kinds of plants they found growing wild.
They ate blueberries, cranberries, cattails and the inner bark of certain
trees. They brewed vitamin-rich teas from leaves of junipers, hemlock trees
and other plants. They used their skills at hunting animals and gathering food
to feed and clothe their families.