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The earliest discovered human settlements in what eventually became North Carolina are found at the Hardaway Site near the town of Badin in the south-central part of the state.Radiocarbon dating of the site has not been possible. Spearpoints of the Dalton type continued to change and evolve slowly for the next 7000 years, suggesting a continuity of culture for most of that time. until the time of European settlement, the time period is known as the "Woodland period".
By 1640 some growth took place with colonists migrating from Virginia, who moved into the area of Albemarle Sound.
In 1663 the king granted a charter for a new colony named Carolina in honor of his father Charles I.
Sir Walter Raleigh (namesake of the city of Raleigh) began two small settlements in the late 1580s, but they failed.
Some mystery remains as to what happened to the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island, but most historians think a resupply ship was delayed.
The colony was a Patriot base during the American Revolution, and its legislature issued the Halifax Resolves, which authorized North Carolina delegates to the Second Continental Congress to vote for independence from Britain.
Loyalist elements were suppressed, and there was relatively little military activity until late in the war.
In the 500–700 years preceding European contact, the Mississippian culture built large, complex cities and maintained far-flung regional trading networks.
Historically documented tribes in the North Carolina region included the Carolina Algonquian-speaking tribes of the coastal areas, such as the Chowanoke, Roanoke, Pamlico, Machapunga, Core, Cape Fear Indians, and others, who were the first encountered by the English; Iroquoian-speaking Meherrin, Cherokee and Tuscarora of the interior; and Southeastern Siouan tribes, such as the Cheraw, Waxhaw, Saponi, Waccamaw, and Catawba.
Spanish attempts to settle the interior, with several forts built by the Jose Pardo expedition in the 1560s, ended when the Indians destroyed the forts and killed most of the garrisons.
Nearly two decades later, English colonists began to settle the coastal areas, starting with a charter in 1584.