Why was there such a huge cultural gap between the American Natives and the Aztecs?

Jake10

Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
11,960
Canada
I'm talking prior to the arrival of the Europeans. When we consider the tribes of the north and their nomadic ways with no domesticated animals, no form of writing, metal forging technology, buildings, and limited tools, we have to wonder about the difference. The Aztecs must have had contact with them, yet nothing seems to have been shared.
 

tjadams

Ad Honoris
Mar 2009
25,362
Texas
Different environments, the nomadic tribes had plenty to eat, no reason to travel
so far south. Perhaps given enough time, and without the European equation, they
would have met up eventually.
 

Jake10

Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
11,960
Canada
Surely there must have been some contact. The Aztec technology would have made life easier to say the least, and anyone hearing of the great cities would have spread the word, arousing curiosity. At least that's what I imagine being the natural process.
 

tjadams

Ad Honoris
Mar 2009
25,362
Texas
The Aztecs hit their stride around 1500 C.E.
That leaves little time for the two native peoples to hook up before
the Europeans arrived.
 

oshron

Ad Honorem
Jun 2009
3,690
western Terranova
there's also the deserts of northern mexico to take into account. if there's plenty of food right where you are, would you want to bother crossing an expanse of wasteland that, for all you knew, just led to more wasteland? there was almost certainly occasional contact, or maybe indirect contact (maybe the ancestors of the navajo occasionally met up with the chichimeca, who would tell them stories about the aztecs further south--assuming they all spoke the same language; the chichimeca were known to the aztecs, iirc, and were basically the barbarians to the aztecs' romans)
 
Mar 2010
400
Remember that, for most of their existence, the Aztecs were little more than a city-state. Their expansion only really started to get going shortly before the arrival of Cortes.
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
My (extremely imprecise) knowledge of Mesoamerica tells me that the "Aztecs"/Mexica were in fact descended from the nomad tribes of the American southwest, an extension of the Chichimec "Dog Tribes" who served Toltec warlords as mercenaries before establishing their own regime at Tenochtitlan.

Didn't the Aztecs have a faint familiarity with the desert tribes to their north anyways, regarding them as "barbarians" in a manner remniscent of ancient Rome and her Germanic and Celtic neighbors?
 
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unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
It could also be pointed out that the Maya also had large sophisticated cities with writing, metallurgy etc. centuries before the appearance of the Aztecs.
The eastern tribes of N.America had large communal buildings and large villages. Wood was the building material of choice, due to the many thick forests of large-trunked trees. Also large earthen mounds, walls and courts.
 

oshron

Ad Honorem
Jun 2009
3,690
western Terranova
My (extremely imprecise) knowledge of Mesoamerica tells me that the "Aztecs"/Mexica were in fact descended from the nomad tribes of the American southwest, an extension of the Chichimec "Dog Tribes" who served Toltec warlords as mercenaries before establishing their own regime at Tenochtitlan.

Didn't the Aztecs have a faint familiarity with the desert tribes to their north anyways, regarding them as "barbarians" in a manner remniscent of ancient Rome and her Germanic and Celtic neighbors?
yes, as i wrote earlier :p