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A few, such as the Mayan, Olmec, Mixtec, and Nahua peoples, had their own written languages and records.
However, the European colonists of the time worked to eliminate non-Christian beliefs, and burned many pre-Columbian written records.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian peoples of the Americas and their descendants.
Although some indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers—and many, especially in the Amazon basin, still are—many groups practiced aquaculture and agriculture.
Many later pre-Columbian civilizations achieved great complexity, with hallmarks that included permanent or urban settlements, agriculture, civic and monumental architecture, and complex societal hierarchies.
Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first significant European and African arrivals (ca.
Others were contemporary with the contact and colonization period, and were documented in historical accounts of the time.They also show that the basal northern and southern Native American branches, to which all other indigenous Americans belong, diverged around 16,000 years ago.The Pre-Columbian era refers to all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European and African influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original arrival in the Upper Paleolithic to European colonization during the early modern period.While technically referring to the era before Christopher Columbus' voyages of 1492 to 1504, in practice the term usually includes the history of American indigenous cultures until Europeans either conquered or significantly influenced them."Pre-Columbian" is used especially often in the context of discussing the pre-contact Mesoamerican indigenous societies: Olmec; Toltec; Teotihuacano' Zapotec; Mixtec; Aztec and Maya civilizations; and the complex cultures of the Andes: Inca Empire, Moche culture, Muisca Confederation, and Cañari.