See our Yankee migration pages.

Beginning at least 14,000 years before European contact, people had been shaping the landscapes of North America and naming their major features. English and European settlers at first added, then largely superimposed, their own agriculture, houses, towns and villages. See:

By the time of the American Revolution, the Eastern seaboard colonies had developed into three main regional cultures: New England, Mid-Atlantic and Southern. The migration streams pouring west out of these population centers (geographers call them "cultural hearths") were initially quite distinct. There was considerable mixing of cultures among emigrants on the road, but people still tended to settle among their own and initially to recreate on the frontier something like the homes and towns they had known in the East. Eventually, however, there was so much mingling that regional influences became too diffuse to map. Still, immigrant groups settling together created distinctive local landscapes and urban neighborhoods, as they continue to do today.

During the same years when pioneer settlers were "moving on," native people were also migrating west - sometimes as families, sometimes as tribes. In the beginning of European contact, their movement was often negotiated and voluntary, but as time and tension increased, more often was motivated by war and finally by official U.S. policies of removal and relocation. Many tribes moved west in stages, resettling several times.

We're constructing animated maps of the major North American migrations. Take a look at the prototype Yankee migration map, showing where New England people settled. And check back often to see new maps of "people on the move."

Migrations and culture areas are subjects of considerable interesting debate today. Here is some background material you can read on the WWW: