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America's History in the Making

Mapping Initial Encounters

Theme 2

Initial encounters occurred over three centuries and a vast geographic region.

More and more Europeans and Africans came to North America beginning in the sixteenth century. Africans—sometimes free, but often enslaved—continued to form a significant minority of many exploration parties. Portugal, France, England, and the Netherlands joined Spain in the western hemisphere.

The indigenous tribes that these Europeans encountered were extremely diverse. Most were hunters and gatherers, but some practiced intensive agriculture. Some traded extensively, while others were more isolated.

Primary Sources