When we refer to the indigenous cultures that inhabited what today is Nicaragua, the general tendency is to restrict our vision to those groups encountered by the westerners on the pacific coast at their moment of contact in the XVI century. That is, the Chorotegas, Nicaraos, and Maribios; Matagalpas or Chontales in the central part of the country; and Miskitos, Sumos, and Ramas on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua.
This has resulted in the erroneous conception that only those groups were always the indigenous inhabitants of the country; when, in reality, Nicaraguan territory has been inhabited since remote times, undergoing long eras, and processes of social development.
In 1960, scientific investigations in Nicaragua allowed us to go deeper into these processes through time, though there are still some unanswered issues due to lack of further investigations. At least in a very general way, we can outline some of our initial history.
Period I (-8000 B.C.) Paleo-Indian Period
This period is associated to the first human groups who came to America from Asia through the Bering Strait. They gathered in small nomadic clusters and survived on hunting, fruits, and seeds, and had absolutely no knowledge of agriculture or pottery.
There is no trustworthy information concerning the first settlers. It is suggested that in 1976, a place known as “El Bosque”, near a town called Pueblo Nuevo, in the department of Estelí, was the place used for killing large animals, which were found in reservations and later hunted by man.
The origin of the artifacts found on the site is still a matter of controversy, since the majority of the specialists still cannot agree on their authenticity. (Lange, 1984: p. 169).
Period II (8000- 4000 AC)
The period known as “Arcaico Tropical” (Tropical Archaic) is the era between the Paleo-Indian period and the first agricultural settlements. This period is well identified in many areas of Central America, but there is very little information in Nicaragua.
The “Arcaico Tropical” era is characterized by strategic changes made by the indigenous population to guarantee their survival. It is possible that the climate changes that occurred approximately 8000 years ago, was one of main reasons why big animals such as Mammoths, Saber tooth Tigers and others became extinct.
Studies made in other areas of Central America suggest that, as the hunting decreased, the inhabitants continued to survive on fruit and seeds. In some privileged areas, natural resources were continuously exploited giving birth to a more sedentary population that, consequently, begins to manipulate certain vegetable species, giving rise to crops such as maize, beans, and pumpkins.
Only one place has been located in Nicaragua, which we can identify as “Arcaico Tropical” and it is a place known as “Huellas de Acahualinca” (Acahualinca Footprints) near Lake Xolotlan.
(Taken from the website of the Nicaraguan Cultural Institute) See more.
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