The earliest inhabitants of Michigan were Paleo-Indians, a nomadic people who appeared about 11,000 bc, during the last Ice Age. Evidence from archaeological sites indicates the Paleo-Indians hunted with spears, killing caribou and other large animals. They probably wandered in and out of the region, moving north as the glaciers retreated and the Great Lakes were formed from melting ice. Approximately 4000 bc the Archaic people inhabited the area, mining copper in the Lake Superior region and creating copper tools and other artifacts. Following the Archaic period was the Woodland culture, which began about 2500 bc and developed into the Native American culture that Europeans encountered when they arrived in the early 1600s.
The Woodland culture saw a number of changes: Its people produced pottery, began to cultivate crops such as corn about ad 700, and constructed large earthen burial mounds. The people of the Middle Woodland stage, known as the Hopewell or Mound Builders, entered the Upper Great Lakes area about 100 bc. They created elaborate ceremonial centers, such as one excavated near present-day Grand Rapids, where they buried their dead in mounds that held finely decorated pottery, tools, and copper and mica ornaments.
The Native American population in the early 1600s was estimated at about 15,000, of which 12,000 lived in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula. The three major groups were closely related Algonquian-speaking people, the Potawatomi, the Ottawa, and the Ojibwa or Chippewa.
Several smaller groups also occupied parts of the state at times, including the Miami, the Menominee, and the Iroquoian-speaking Wyandot, who settled near what is now Detroit. Tribal groups in southern Michigan relied more heavily on agriculture, while the Ojibwa in the harsher northern areas depended largely on fishing and hunting. The Ottawa, who lived between these two groups, were primarily traders. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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