Native Americans The term Native Americans refers to those people who lived in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans. The term Native Americans also refers to the ancestors of the original inhabitants. In 1492 there was between 8-10 million Native Americans in North America. The Native Americans in North America had developed into 600 societies and 200 languages. It would be the Native Americans that kept the first Europeans in North America alive.
Indians The term “Indian” is attributed to Christopher Columbus who mistakenly believed that he had reached India. He named the native population “Los Indios,” which later became Indian.
Native Americans Unfortunately, the more Europeans that moved to the Americas the more conflict there was with the native population. Eventually racism was developed and used as a reason to wipe out the native populations. In the end, it was disease that caused the most damage to the Native Americans, wiping out 90% of the native population. Native populations did, however, begin to intermix with European explorers and settlers who arrived in the New World. This led to a new population group called the Métis. The Métis were children of native and non-native heritage.
Tribes In reference to Native Americans, a tribe is a social group that is bound by a common culture and history. The term tribe also means “peoples” and “nations.” A tribe is also a political organization, a group of Native Americans that have been recognized by the United States federal government as a political entity. The term sachem refers to a tribal leader or chief.
Bands A band is a political subdivision of a Native American tribe. In some Native American groups a band can translate to a residential subdivision, like a town. For mobile Native American tribes a band is a group of people who are traveling together in search of subsistence.
Language Family A language family is a group of languages that show a close historical connection among themselves. A language family may share a common ancestry and may have come from the same originating language, or mother tongue. Language families are not mutually intelligible.
Language Family The Native American language family includes the following groups: Algic (Algonquin) Iroquoian Muskogean Siouan Athabaskan Uto-Aztecan Salishan
Native American Cultures There are 8 major Native American cultures in the United States. They are as follows: Arctic and Subarctic Eastern Woodlands Southeast Plains Southwest Plateau and Great Basin Pacific Northwest California
Native American Women In Native American society men did not dominate or control the women in their tribes. Native American women had some influence over the political process within the tribe. In each of the 7 Cherokee clans women played an important role in the governing of the tribe. All 7 of the Cherokee clans were represented to the tribal council by an Honored Woman. The Honored Woman spoke for the entire clan. The Beloved Women was the spokeswomen for the Honored Women. The role of Beloved Woman was the highest status a Cherokee woman could aspire.
Apache “I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there was no enclosures.” Geronimo “I never do wrong, without a cause.” Geronimo, 1886 “The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the misdeeds of the Indians.” Geronimo “It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightening in the hand.” Apache
Cherokee “When we look into the history of our race, we see some green spots that are pleasing to us. We also find many things to make the heart sad.” John Ross, Cherokee Chief “Don’t let yesterday use up too much today.” Cherokee
Cherokee “They say the government wanted to put a man on the moon and it could be done alright, but nobody knew how to get the guy home again after he landed on the moon. These guys said that all the government had to do was put an Indian in that rocketship and tell him he was being relocated and then, after he got to the moon, that Indian would find his own way home again and the government wouldn’t have to figure that part out at all.” Watt Spade, Cherokee
Navajo “Rather than trying to control nature, one should try to achieve balance with it. White people deal with flooding on a river by building a dam, while a Navajo would simply move to higher ground.” Navajo Adage
United States/Indian Relations There were 7 ways the U.S. government used in “dealing with” the Indians. Treaties Removal Reservations Assimilation Reorganization Termination Self-Determination
Native Americans There were 5 distinct reasons for the rapid decline of the Native Americans. They are: Diseases from Contagions Diseases from Deliberate Infections (Smallpox infected blankets.) Warfare/Battle Losses Starvation/Exposure Extermination/Slaughter
Native Americans The Native American population was devastated by numerous diseases such as the following: Bubonic Plague Chicken Pox Cholera Diphtheria Dysentery Influenza Malaria Measles
Native American Proverbs “After dark, all cats are leopards.” Zuni “See how the boy is with his sister and you can know how the man will be with your daughter.” Plains Sioux “We stand somewhere between the mountain and the ant.” Onondaga “All who have died are equal.” Comanche “All dreams spin out from the same web.” Hopi