How were Native American societies in North and South America different?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is somewhat difficult to answer because we do not know as much as we would like to know about Native American societies, particularly in North America.  However, it is generally correct to say that North American societies were not as urbanized and centralized as those in Central and South America.  

In Central and South America, there were many elaborate societies that left behind many traces of their existence or that were still in existence when the Europeans came.  For example, the Aztecs' capital city of Tenochtitlan was as big as any city in Europe at the time.  There is simply nothing like that in North America.  It is also true that North American societies (so far as we know) did not develop things like hieroglyphics and complicated astronomical calendars such as those of the Maya.

So far as we know, then, North American societies were less elaborate and developed in terms of their material society.  This is not to make value judgements about the societies, simply to say that they did not leave behind the ruins of large cities or writings that gave evidence of long-standing dynasties.