ca. 40,000–15,000 B.C.
People migrate to North America from Asia at irregular intervals by way of the Bering Land Bridge.
Paleo-Indian-period American Indians are nomadic and hunt large animals for food. They also eat small game and wild plants. They leave no evidence of permanent dwellings in North Carolina.
Archaic-period American Indians move from big-game hunting to small-game hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants. These people change their patterns of living because of the changing climate in North America.
ca. 8000 B.C.
Possibly this early, American Indians begin to use a site in present-day Wilson County for either permanent or seasonal habitation.
ca. 1200 B.C.
Southeastern Indians begin growing squash gourds.
1000 B.C.–A.D. 1550
Woodland-culture American Indians settle in permanent locations, usually beside streams, and practice a mixed subsistence lifestyle of hunting, gathering, and some agriculture. They create pottery and also develop elaborate funeral procedures, such as building mounds, to honor their dead.
ca. 200 B.C.
Southeastern Indians begin growing corn.
Mississippian-culture American Indians create large political units called chiefdoms, uniting people under stronger leadership than the Woodland cultures have. Towns become larger and last longer. People construct flat-topped, pyramidal mounds to serve as foundations for temples, mortuaries, chiefs’ houses, and other important buildings. Towns are usually situated beside streams and surrounded by defensive structures.
Many groups of American Indians live in the area now called North Carolina. These include the Chowanoke, Croatoan, Hatteras, Moratoc, Secotan, Weapemeoc, Machapunga, Pamlico, Coree, Neuse River, Tuscarora, Meherrin, Cherokee, Cape Fear, Catawba, Shakori, Sissipahaw, Sugeree, Waccamaw, Waxhaw, Woccon, Cheraw, Eno, Keyauwee, Occaneechi, Saponi, and Tutelo Indians.
Vikings from northern Europe, after establishing colonies on Iceland and Greenland, settle on the North American continent at Newfoundland. How far south and west they explore is unknown. After a few years, they abandon the Newfoundland colony.
Italian explorer Christopher Columbus leads expeditions for Spain to explore new trade routes in the western Atlantic Ocean. This results in European contact with native peoples in the Caribbean and South America, creating a continuing and devastating impact on their cultures.