The Folsom culture is thought to have lasted from approximately 9000 to 8000 The long-standing belief that Clovis people were the first Americans was challenged in the late 20th century by the discovery of several sites antedating those of the Clovis culture.
Yet numerous sites, including Gault (Texas), Monte Verde (Chile), Paisley Caves (Oregon), Meadowcroft Rockshelter (Pennsylvania), Cactus Hill (Virginia), Miles Point (Maryland), and others, have established that people were in the Americas 5,000–8,000 years before the ice-free routes were available, establishing that initial migration had to have been along one or both coasts.
In studies of North American prehistory, these very early cultures are generally known as Paleo-Indians.
Archaic subsistence techniques were very efficient, and in a number of culture areas people sustained an essentially Archaic way of life until after European colonization.
By about 1000 a number of Native American peoples had become fully reliant upon agriculture for subsistence; their cultures were eventually characterized by relatively large, sedentary societies that included social or religious hierarchies.
Indigenous Americans had (and have) rich traditions concerning their origins, but until the late 19th century, most outsiders’ knowledge about the Native American past was speculative at best.