North Carolina History Digital Textbook Project

Two worlds: Educator's guide

By Pauline S. Johnson


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As students read the article Peoples of the Mountains, this graphic organizer will help them develop an understanding of the cultures that existed in North Carolina’s mountains hundreds of years ago.

Mountain cultures

  Pisgah Qualla
Time period    
Culture (including burial practices    

Mountain cultures (teacher guide)

  Pisgah Qualla
Time period
  • 1000-1450 CE
  • Around 1400
  • Villages:
    • Some had earthen mounds
    • Some were small spread out villages
    • Some were larger villages of clustered houses
  • Platform mounds
  • Stockades
  • Houses were rectangular
  • Large townhouses on mound summits
  • Rectangular houses
  • Villages were like Pisgah villages
  • houses were clustered around a central plaza
  • Stockades
  • Corn agriculture
  • Probably half their food came from fields of maize, beans, squash, and marsh elder.
  • The rest came from wild foods:
    • Deer and bear provided meat
    • Nuts and berries
  • Hunting:
    • Deer and black bear
  • Farming:
    • Corn, beans, squash, pumpkin, and gourds
  • Gathering:
    • Seasonal nuts and fruits
  • Deer skins made into containers
  • Bones made into tools
  • We can assume they made pottery based on the statement in the Qualla section about Pisgah potters.
  • Pottery reflecting a change in style from Pisgah pottery
Culture (including burial practices
  • Graves were next to or in their homes
  • Some graves had burial offerings
  • It appears that the society may have had ranking — some higher than others.
  • There were shamans or religious leaders.
  • Chiefs who inherited their power.
  • Community decisions made in large townhouses
  • Burials were in house floors near hearths
  • Grave offerings
  • A few people were buried in front of townhouses — most likely important people

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 8

  • Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
    • Objective 1.02: Identify and describe American Indians who inhabited the regions that became Carolina and assess their impact on the colony.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 8

        • 8.C.1 Understand how different cultures influenced North Carolina and the United States. 8.C.1.1 Explain how exploration and colonization influenced Africa, Europe and the Americas (e.g. Columbian exchange, slavery and the decline of the American Indian populations)....