Were the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas different from the North American Indians ?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The native American people of Central and South America tended to be more advanced than those of North America, although they both have been classified as "Native Americans," or "Indians."

The early inhabitants of Central and South America often built large cites and had highly developed civilizations.  They had a complex social structure and the Maya even had a system of writing consisting of hieroglyphs.  They had highly advanced calendars which in many respects were more accurate than the Gregorian Calendar used today.  The Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was described by Hernan Cortes as more magnificent than Constantinople.  They also had a very highly developed religious structure which differed from one group to another.  The Aztec were the most notorious for their practice of human sacrifice.

The Indians of North America never developed large cities, but tended to live and function within small communities.  Their social structure was much simpler, normally consisting of a tribal council and a number of chiefs who were chosen by he council.  Although they practiced some form of religion, they did not erect temples and monuments as were found in the Southern areas.

Two important elements were found in both groups:  No people in the Americas developed the use of metals for tools and weapons; and none developed the use of the wheel except as a toy.