Traditionally,the very beginning of the United States’ history is considered from the timeof European exploration and settlement, starting in the 16th century, to the present. But people had been living in America forover 30,000 years before the first Europeancolonists arrived.
When Columbus landed on the island ofSan Salvador in 1492 he was welcomed by a brown-skinned people whose physicalappearance confirmed him in his opinion that he had at last reached India, andwhom, therefore, he called Indios,Indians, a name which, however mistaken in its first application continued tohold its own, and has long since won general acceptance, except in strictlyscientific writing, where the more exact term American is commonly used. Asexploration was extended north and south it was found that the same race wasspread over the whole continent, from the Arctic shores to Cape Horn, everywhere alike in the main physical characteristics, withthe exception of the Eskimo in the extreme North (whose features suggest theMongolian).


Origin and Antiquity

Variousorigins have been assigned to the Indian race. The more or less beleivableexplanation is following. At the height of the Ice Age, between 34,000 and30,000 B.C., much of the world’s water was contained in vast continental icesheets. As a result, the Bering Sea was hundreds of meters below its currentlevel, and a land bridge, known as Beringia, emerged between Asia and North America. At its peak, Beringia is thought to havebeen some 1,500 kilometers wide. A moist and treeless tundra, it was coveredwith grasses and plant life, attracting the large animals that early humanshunted for their survival. The first people to reach North America almost certainly did so without knowing they had crossedinto a new continent. They would have been following game, as their ancestorshad for thousands of years, along the Siberian coast and then across the landbridge.

Race Type

The most marked physicalcharacteristics of the Indian race type are brown skin, dark brown eyes,prominent cheek bones, straight black hair, and scantiness of beard. The coloris not red, as is popularly supposed, but varies from very light in sometribes, as the Cheyenne,to almost black in others, as the Caddo and Tarimari. In a few tribes, as theFlatheads, the skin has a distinct yellowish cast. The hair is brown inchildhood, but always black in the adult until it turns grey with age. Baldnessis almost unknown. The eye is not held so open as in the Caucasian andseems better adapted to distance than to close work. The nose is usuallystraight and well shaped, and in some tribes strongly aquiline. Their handsand feet are comparatively small. Height and weight varyas among Europeans, the Pueblos averaging butlittle more than five feet, while the Cheyenneand Arapaho are exceptionally tall, and the Tehuelche of Patagonia almostmassive in build. As a rule, the desert Indians, as the Apache, are spare andmuscular in build, while those of the timbered regions are heavier, althoughnot proportionately stronger. The beard is always scanty, but increaseswith the admixture of white blood. The mistaken idea that the Indian hasnaturally no beard is due to the fact that in most tribes it is plucked out asfast as it grows, the eyebrows being treated in the same way. There is no tribeof «white Indians», but albinos with blond skin, weak pink eyes andalmost white hair are occasionally found, especially among the Pueblos.


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Traditionally,the very beginning of the United States’ history is considered from the timeof European exploration and settlement, starting in the 16th century, to the present. But people had been living in America forover 30,000 years before the first Europeancolonists arrived.
When Columbus landed on the island ofSan Salvador in 1492 he was welcomed by a brown-skinned people whose physicalappearance confirmed him in his opinion that he had at last reached India, andwhom, therefore, he called Indios,Indians, a name which, however mistaken in its first application continued tohold its own, and has long since won general acceptance, except in strictlyscientific writing, where the more exact term American is commonly used. Asexploration was extended north and south it was found that the same race wasspread over the whole continent, from the Arctic shores to Cape Horn, everywhere alike in the main physical characteristics, withthe exception of the Eskimo in the extreme North (whose features suggest theMongolian).


Origin and Antiquity

Variousorigins have been assigned to the Indian race. The more or less beleivableexplanation is following. At the height of the Ice Age, between 34,000 and30,000 B.C., much of the world’s water was contained in vast continental icesheets. As a result, the Bering Sea was hundreds of meters below its currentlevel, and a land bridge, known as Beringia, emerged between Asia and North America. At its peak, Beringia is thought to havebeen some 1,500 kilometers wide. A moist and treeless tundra, it was coveredwith grasses and plant life, attracting the large animals that early humanshunted for their survival. The first people to reach North America almost certainly did so without knowing they had crossedinto a new continent. They would have been following game, as their ancestorshad for thousands of years, along the Siberian coast and then across the landbridge.

Race Type

The most marked physicalcharacteristics of the Indian race type are brown skin, dark brown eyes,prominent cheek bones, straight black hair, and scantiness of beard. The coloris not red, as is popularly supposed, but varies from very light in sometribes, as the Cheyenne,to almost black in others, as the Caddo and Tarimari. In a few tribes, as theFlatheads, the skin has a distinct yellowish cast. The hair is brown inchildhood, but always black in the adult until it turns grey with age. Baldnessis almost unknown. The eye is not held so open as in the Caucasian andseems better adapted to distance than to close work. The nose is usuallystraight and well shaped, and in some tribes strongly aquiline. Their handsand feet are comparatively small. Height and weight varyas among Europeans, the Pueblos averaging butlittle more than five feet, while the Cheyenneand Arapaho are exceptionally tall, and the Tehuelche of Patagonia almostmassive in build. As a rule, the desert Indians, as the Apache, are spare andmuscular in build, while those of the timbered regions are heavier, althoughnot proportionately stronger. The beard is always scanty, but increaseswith the admixture of white blood. The mistaken idea that the Indian hasnaturally no beard is due to the fact that in most tribes it is plucked out asfast as it grows, the eyebrows being treated in the same way. There is no tribeof «white Indians», but albinos with blond skin, weak pink eyes andalmost white hair are occasionally found, especially among the Pueblos.

Major Cultural Areas

Fromprehistoric times until recent historic times there were roughly six majorcultural areas, excluding that of the Arctic (seeEskimo), i.e., Northwest Coast, Plains, Plateau,Eastern Woodlands, Northern, and Southwest.

· The Northwest Coast Area

The Northwest Coast area extended along the Pacific coast fromSouth Alaska to North California. The mainlanguage families in this area were the Nadene in the north and the Wakashan (asubdivision of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock) and the Tsimshian (asubdivision of the Penutian linguistic stock) in the central area. Typicaltribes were the Kwakiutl, the Haida, the Tsimshian, and the Nootka. Thicklywooded, with a temperate climate and heavy rainfall, the area had longsupported a large Native American population. Salmon was the staple food,supplemented by sea mammals (seals and sea lions) and land mammals (deer, elk,and bears) as well as berries and other wild fruit. The Native Americans ofthis area used wood to build their houses and had cedar-planked canoes and carveddugouts. In their permanent winter villages some of the groups had totem poles,which were elaborately carved and covered with symbolic animal decoration.Their art work, for which they are famed, also included the making ofceremonial items, such as rattles and masks; weaving; and basketry. They had ahighly stratified society with chiefs, nobles, commoners, and slaves. Publicdisplay and disposal of wealth were basic features of the society. They hadwoven robes, furs, and basket hats as well as wooden armor and helmets forbattle. This distinctive culture, which included cannibalistic rituals, was notgreatly affected by European influences until after the late 18th cent., whenthe white fur traders and hunters came to the area.
TRIBES: Abenaki, Algonkin, Beothuk, Delaware, Erie, Fox, Huron, Illinois, Iroquois, Kickapoo, Mahican, Mascouten, Massachuset, Mattabesic, Menominee, Metoac, Miami, Micmac, Mohegan, Montagnais, Narragansett, Nauset, Neutrals, Niantic, Nipissing,Nipmuc, Ojibwe, Ottawa, Pennacook, Pequot, Pocumtuck, Potawatomi, Sauk, Shawnee, Susquehannock, Tionontati, Wampanoag, Wappinger, Wenro, Winnebago.

· The Plains Area
The Plains area extended from just North of the Canadian border,South to Texas and included the grasslandsarea between the Mississippi River and thefoothills of the Rocky Mts. The main language families in this area werethe Algonquian-Wakashan, the Aztec-Tanoan, and the Hokan-Siouan. Inpre-Columbian times there were two distinct types of Native Americans there:sedentary and nomadic. The sedentary tribes, who had migrated from neighbor ingregions and had initally settled along the great river valleys, were farmersand lived in permanent villages of dome-shaped earth lodges surrounded byearthen walls. They raised corn, squash, and beans. The foot nomads, on the other hand, moved about withtheir goods on dog-drawn travois and eked out a precarious existence by huntingthe vast herds of buffalo (bison) — usually by driving them into enclosures orrounding them up by setting grass fires. They supplemented their diet byexchanging meat and hides for the corn of the agricultural Native Americans.
The horse, first introduced by the Spanish of the Southwest, appeared inthe Plains about the beginning of the 18th cent. and revolutionized the life ofthe Plains Indians. Many Native Americans left their villages and joined thenomads. Mounted and armed with bow and arrow, they ranged the grasslandshunting buffalo. The other Native Americans remained farmers (e.g., theArikara, the Hidatsa, and the Mandan).Native Americans from surrounding areas came into the Plains (e.g., the Siouxfrom the Great Lakes, the Comanche and theKiowa from the west and northwest, and the Navajo and the Apache from thesouthwest). A universal sign language developed among the perpetually wanderingand often warring Native Americans. Living on horseback and in the portabletepee, they preserved food by pounding and drying lean meat and made theirclothes from buffalo hides and deerskins. The system of coup was a characteristicfeature of their society. Other features were rites of fasting in quest of avision, warrior clans, bead and feather art work, and decorated hides. ThesePlains Indians were among the last to engage in a serious struggle with thewhite settlers in the United States.
TRIBES: Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Bidai, Blackfoot,Caddo, Cheyenne, Comanche,Cree, Crow, Dakota (Sioux), Gros Ventre, Hidatsa, Iowa, Kansa, Kiowa,Kiowa-Apache, Kitsai, Lakota (Sioux), Mandan, Metis, Missouri, Nakota (Sioux),Omaha, Osage, Otoe, Pawnee, Ponca, Sarsi, Sutai, Tonkawa, Wichita.

· The Plateau Area
The Plateau area extended from above the Canadian border through theplateau and mountain area of the Rocky Mts. to the Southwest and included muchof California.Typical tribes were the Spokan, the Paiute, the Nez Perce, and the Shoshone.This was an area of great linguistic diversity. Because of the inhospitableenvironment the cultural development was generally low. The Native Americans inthe Central Valley of California and on the California coast, notably the Pomo, weresedentary peoples who gathered edible plants, roots, and fruit and also huntedsmall game. Their acorn bread, made by pounding acorns into meal and thenleaching it with hot water, was distinctive, and they cooked in baskets filledwith water and heated by hot stones. Living in brush shelters or moresubstantial lean-tos, they had partly buried earth lodges for ceremonies andritual sweat baths. Basketry, coiled and twined, was highly developed. To thenorth, between the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mts.,the social, political, and religious systems were simple, and art wasnonexistent. The Native Americans there underwent (since 1730) a great culturalchange when they obtained from the Plains Indians the horse, the tepee, a formof the sun dance, and deerskin clothes. They continued, however, to fish forsalmon with nets and spears and to gather camas bulbs. They also gathered antsand other insects and hunted small game and, in later times, buffalo. Theirpermanent winter villages on waterways had semisubterranean lodges with conicalroofs; a few Native Americans lived in bark-covered long houses.
TRIBES: Carrier,Cayuse, Coeur D’Alene, Colville, Dock-Spus, Eneeshur, Flathead, Kalispel,Kawachkin, Kittitas, Klamath, Klickitat, Kosith, Kutenai, Lakes, Lillooet,Methow, Modac, Nez Perce, Okanogan, Palouse, Sanpoil, Shushwap, Sinkiuse,Spokane, Tenino, Thompson, Tyigh, Umatilla, Wallawalla, Wasco, Wauyukma,Wenatchee, Wishram, Wyampum, Yakima. Californian: Achomawi, Atsugewi,Cahuilla, Chimariko, Chumash, Costanoan, Esselen, Hupa, Karuk, Kawaiisu, Maidu,Mission Indians, Miwok, Mono, Patwin, Pomo, Serrano, Shasta, Tolowa,Tubatulabal, Wailaki, Wintu, Wiyot, Yaha, Yokuts, Yuki, Yuman (California).

· The Eastern Woodlands Area
The Eastern Woodlands area covered the eastern part of the UnitedStates, roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, and includedthe Great Lakes. The Natchez,the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek were typical inhabitants. Thenortheastern part of this area extended from Canadato Kentucky and Virginia. The people of the area (speakinglanguages of the Algonquian-Wakashan stock) were largely deer hunters and farmers;the women tended small plots of corn, squash, and beans. The birchbark canoegained wide usage in this area. The general pattern of existence of theseAlgonquian peoples and their neighbors, who spoke languages belonging to theIroquoian branch of the Hokan-Siouan stock (enemies who had probably invadedfrom the south), was quite complex. Their diet of deer meat was supplemented byother game (e.g., bear), fish (caught with hook, spear, and net), andshellfish. Cooking was done in vessels of wood and bark or simple blackpottery. The dome-shaped wigwam and the longhouse of the Iroquois characterizedtheir housing. The deerskin clothing, the painting of the face and (in the caseof the men) body, and the scalp lock of the men (left when hair was shaved onboth sides of the head), were typical. The myths of Manitou (often calledManibozho or Manabaus), the hero who remade the world from mud after a deluge,are also widely known.
The region from the Ohio River South to the Gulf of Mexico, with its forests and fertile soil, was the heart of the southeasternpart of the Eastern Woodlands cultural area. There before c.500 the inhabitantswere seminomads who hunted, fished, and gathered roots and seeds. Between 500and 900 they adopted agriculture, tobacco smoking, pottery making, and burialmounds. By c.1300 the agricultural economy was well established, and artifactsfound in the mounds show that trade was widespread. Long before the Europeansarrived, the peoples of the Natchez and Muskogean branches of the Hokan-Siouanlinguistic family were farmers who used hoes with stone, bone, or shell blades.They hunted with bow and arrow and blowgun, caught fish by poisoning streams,and gathered berries, fruit, and shellfish. They had excellent pottery,sometimes decorated with abstract figures of animals or humans. Since warfarewas frequent and intense, the villages were enclosed by wooden palisadesreinforced with earth. Some of the large villages, usually ceremonial centers,dominated the smaller settlements of the surrounding countryside. There weretemples for sun worship; rites were elaborate and featured an altar withperpetual fire, extinguished and rekindled each year in a “new fire” ceremony.The society was commonly divided into classes, with a chief, his children,nobles, and commoners making up the hierarchy. For a discussion of the earliestWoodland groups, see the separate article Eastern Woodlands culture.
TRIBES: Acolapissa,Asis, Alibamu, Apalachee, Atakapa, Bayougoula,Biloxi, Calusa, Catawba,Chakchiuma, Cherokee,Chesapeake Algonquin, Chickasaw,Chitamacha, Choctaw,Coushatta, Creek, Cusabo, Gaucata, Guale, Hitchiti, Houma, Jeags, Karankawa, Lumbee,Miccosukee, Mobile, Napochi, Nappissa, Natchez, Ofo, Powhatan, Quapaw,Seminole, Southeastern Siouan, Tekesta, Tidewater Algonquin, Timucua, Tunica,Tuscarora, Yamasee, Yuchi. Bannock, Paiute (Northern), Paiute (Southern),Sheepeater, Shoshone (Northern), Shoshone (Western), Ute, Washo.
· The Northern Area
The Northern area covered most of Canada, also known as theSubarctic, in the belt of semiarctic land from the Rocky Mts. to Hudson Bay.The main languages in this area were those of the Algonquian-Wakashan and theNadene stocks. Typical of the people there were the Chipewyan. Limitingenvironmental conditions prevented farming, but hunting, gathering, andactivities such as trapping and fishing were carried on. Nomadic hunters movedwith the season from forest to tundra, killing the caribou in semiannualdrives. Other food was provided by small game, berries, and edible roots. Notonly food but clothing and even some shelter (caribou-skin tents) came from thecaribou, and with caribou leather thongs the Indians laced their snowshoes andmade nets and bags. The snowshoe was one of the most important items ofmaterial culture. The shaman featured in the religion of many of these people.
TRIBES: Calapuya, Cathlamet, Chehalis, Chemakum, Chetco,Chilluckkittequaw, Chinook, Clackamas, Clatskani, Clatsop, Cowich, Cowlitz,Haida, Hoh, Klallam, Kwalhioqua, Lushootseed, Makah, Molala, Multomah, Oynut,Ozette, Queets, Quileute, Quinault, Rogue River, Siletz, Taidhapam, Tillamook,Tutuni, Yakonan.

· The Southwest Area
The Southwest area generally extended over Arizona, New Mexico, andparts of Colorado and Utah. The Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoanlinguistic stock was the main language group of the area. Here a seminomadicpeople called the Basket Makers, who hunted with a spear thrower, or atlatl,acquired (c.1000 B.C.) the art of cultivating beans and squash, probably fromtheir southern neighbors. They also learned to make unfired pottery. They wovebaskets, sandals, and bags. By c.700 B.C. they had initiated intensiveagriculture, made true pottery, and hunted with bow and arrow. They lived inpit dwellings, which were partly underground and were lined with slabs of stone- the so-called slab houses. A new people came into the area some two centurieslater; these were the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians. They lived in large,terraced community houses set on ledges of cliffs or canyons for protection anddeveloped a ceremonial chamber (the kiva) out of what had been the living roomof the pit dwellings. This period of development ended c.1300, after a severedrought and the beginnings of the invasions from the north by theAthabascan-speaking Navajo and Apache. The known historic Pueblo cultures ofsuch sedentary farming peoples as the Hopi and the Zuni then came into being.They cultivated corn, beans, squash, cotton, and tobacco, killed rabbits with awooden throwing stick, and traded cotton textiles and corn for buffalo meatfrom nomadic tribes. The men wove cotton textiles and cultivated the fields, whilewomen made fine polychrome pottery. The mythology and religious ceremonies werecomplex.
TRIBES: Apache (Eastern), Apache (Western), Chemehuevi,Coahuiltec, Hopi, Jano, Manso, Maricopa, Mohave, Navaho, Pai, Papago, Pima,Pueblo (breaking into: Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque,Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, SantoDomingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia), Yaqui, Yavapai, Yuman, Zuni. Am strongly thinking about


Social Organization

Among most of the tribes east of the Mississippi, among the Pueblos,Navahos, and others of the South-West, and among the Tlingit and Haida of thenorth-west coast, society was based upon the clan system, under whichthe tribe was divided into a number of large family groups, the members ofwhich were considered as closely related and prohibited from intermarrying. Thechildren usually followed the clan of the mother. The clans themselves weresometimes grouped into larger bodies of related kindred, to which the name of phratries has been applied. The clanswere usually, but not always, named from animals, and each clan paid specialreverence to its tutelary animal. Thus the Cherokee had seven clans, Wolf,Deer, Bird, Paint, and three others with names not readily translated. A Wolfman could not marry a Wolf woman, but might marry a Deer woman, or one of anyof the other clans, and his children were of the Deer clan or other clanaccordingly. In some tribes the name of the individual indicated the clan, as»Round Foot» in the wolf clan and «Crawler» in the Turtleclan. Certain functions of war, peace, or ceremonial were usually hereditary inspecial clans, and revenge for injuries with the tribe devolved upon the clanrelatives of the person injured. The tribal council was made up of thehereditary or elected chiefs, and any alien taken into the tribe had to be specificallyadopted into a family and clan. The clan system was by no means universal butis now known to have been limited to particular regions and seems to have beenoriginally an artificial contrivance to protect land and other tribal descent.It was absent almost everywhere west of the Missouri, excepting in theSouth-West, and appears to have been unknown throughout the geater portion ofBritish America, the interior of Alaska, and probably among the Eskimos. Amongthe plains tribes, the unit was the band, whose members camped together undertheir own chief, in an appointed place in the tribal camp circle, and weresubject to no marriage prohibition, but usually married among themselves.
With a few notable exceptions, there was very little idea of tribalsolidarity or supreme authority, and where a chief appears in history astribal dictator, as in the case of Powhatan in Virginia, it was usually due tohis own strong personality. The real authority was with the council asinterpreters of ancient tribal customs. Even such well-known tribes as theCreeks and Cherokee were really only aggregations of closely cognate villages,each acting independently or in cooperation with the others as suited itsimmediate convenience. Even in the smaller and more compact tribes there wasseldom any provision for coercing the individual to secure common action, butthose of the same clan or band usually acted together. In this lack ofsolidarity is the secret of Indian military weakness. In no Indian war in thehistory of the United States has a single large tribe ever united in solidresistance, while on the other hand other tribes have always been found to joinagainst the hostiles. Among the Natchez, Tinucua, and some other southerntribes, there is more indication of a central authority, resting probably witha dominant clan.
The Iroquois of New York had progressed beyond any other native peoplenorth of Mexico in the elaboration of a state and empire. Through acarefully planned system of confederations, originating about 1570, the fiveallied tribes had secured internal peace and unity, by which they had been ableto acquire dominant control over most of the tribes from Hudson Bay toCarolina, and if not prematurely checked by the advent of the whites, might intime have founded a northern empire to rival that of the Aztec.
Land was usually held in common, except among thePueblos, where it was apportioned among the clans, and in some tribes innorthern California, where individual right is said to have existed. Timber andother natural products were free, and hospitality was carried to such a degreethat no man kept what his neighbour wanted. While this prevented extremes ofpoverty, on the other hand it paralyzed individual industry and economy, andwas an effectual barrier to progress. The accumulation of property was furtherdiscouraged by the fact that in most tribes it was customary to destroy all thebelongings of the owner at his death. The word for «brave» and»generous» was frequently the same, and along the north-west coastthere existed the curious custom known as potlatch,under which a man saved for half a lifetime in order to acquire the rank ofchief by finally giving away his entire hoard at a grand public feast.
Enslavement of captives was more orless common throughout the country, especially in the southern states, wherethe captives were sometimes crippled to prevent their escape. Along thenorth-west coast and as far south as California, not only the captives buttheir children and later descendants were slaves and might be abused orslaughtered at the will of the master, being frequently burned alive with theirdeceased owner, or butchered to provide a ceremonial cannibal feast. In theSouthern slave states, before the Civil War, the Indians were frequent ownersof negro slaves.
Men and women, and sometimes even the older children, were organizedinto societies for military, religious, working, and social purposes, many ofthese being secret, especially those concerned with medicine and women’s work.In some tribes there was also a custom by which two young men became»brothers» through a public exchange of names.
The erroneous opinion that the Indian man was an idler, and that theIndian woman was a drudge and slave, is founded upon a misconception of thenative system of division of labour, under which it was the man’sbusiness to defend the home and to provide food by hunting and fishing,assuming all the risks and hardships of battle and the wilderness, while thewoman attended to the domestic duties including the bringing of wood and water,and, with the nomad tribes, the setting up of the tipis. The children, however,required little care after they were able to run about, and the housekeepingwas of the simplest, and, as the women usually worked in groups, with songs andgossip, while the children played about, the work had much of pleasure mixedwith it. In all that chiefly concerned the home, the woman was the mistress,and in many tribes the women’s council gave the final decision upon importantmatters of public policy. Among the more agricultural tribes, as the Pueblos,men and women worked the fields together. In the far north, on the other hand,the harsh environment seems to have brought all the savagery of the man’snature, and the woman was in fact a slave, subject to every whim of cruelty,excepting among the Kutchin of the Upper Yukon, noted for their kind treatmentof their women. Polygamy existed in nearly all tribes excepting the Pueblos.

In and north of the United States there were some twentywell-defined types of native dwellings, varying from the mere brushshelter to the five-storied pueblo.
Inthe Northwest, Native American cultures lived in a shelter known as the plank house. The plank house varied in shapeand design according to the tribe who was building it. It varied from a simpleshed-like building to a partly underground shelter like the Mogollon shelter.The plank house was made primarily from wood pieces found along the woodedareas near the sea or water body. Each house was built by placing the wood onpoles imbedded in the ground. Eventually the roof was placed on top in aupside-down V shape. These houses were considered very durable to theenvironment, especially dampness and rain. The villages of the Northwestrevolved around the environment which enveloped them. Large structures ofenormous logs notched and fitted together became the primary housing for mostof the peoples of this region. Each of these houses had a central living areaand distinct, private sections for sleeping areas for the many families whichlived there. Other wo oden structures were used for ceremonial purposes as well as forbirthing mothers and burial sites.
In the eastern United States and adjacent parts of Canada the prevailingtype was that commonly known under the Algonkian name of wigwam. The wigwam was a roundshelter used by many different Native American cultures in the east and thesoutheast. It is considered one of the best shelters made. It was as safe andwarm as the best houses of early colonists. The wigwam has a curved surfacewhich can hold up against the worst weather in any region.
The Native Americans of the Plains lived in one of the most well knownshelters, the tepee( also Tipi or Teepee). The tipi (the Sioux name for house) or conicaltent-dwelling of the upper lake and plains region was of poles set lightly inthe ground, bound together near the top, and covered with bark or mats in thelake country, and with dressed buffalo skins on the plains. These skins wereoften painted in bright colors to show the personalities of the people dwellingthere. It was easily portable, and two women could set it up or take in downwithin an hour. On ceremonial occasions the tipi camp was arranged in a greatcircle, with the ceremonial «medicine lodge» in the centre.
The Native Americans of the Southwest such as the Anasazi and thePueblo, lived in pueblos constructed by stacking large adobe blocks, sun-dried and made from clayand water, usually measuring 8 by 16 inches (20 by 40 centimetres) and 4 to 6in. (10 to 15 cm) thick. These blocks form the walls of the building, up tofive stories tall, and were built around a central courtyard. Usually eachfloor is set back from the floor below, so that the whole building resembles azigzag pyramid. The method also provides terraces on those levels made from theroof tops of the level below. These unique and amazing apartment-likestructures were often built along cliff faces; the most famous, the «cliffpalace» of Mesa Verde, Colorado, had over 200 rooms. Another site, thePueblo Bonito ruins along New Mexico’s Chaco River, once contained more than800 rooms. Each pueblo had at least two,and often more kivas, or ceremonial rooms.
The semi-sedentary Pawnee Mandan, and other tribes along the Missouribuilt solid circular structures of logs, covered with earth, capable sometimesof housing a dozen families.
The Wichita and other tribes of the Texas border built large circularhouses of grass thatch laid over a framework of poles.
The living shelters of the Northeast Native Americans are called LongHouses. The longhouse was favored more in the winter months than in the summer ones.The long house was a one story apartment house, with many people of the tribesharing the warmth and space. In an average long house, there would be three orfour fireplaces, usually lined with small fieldstones. With this manyfireplaces, smoke would fill up the house, so the house would be built withsmoke holes in the roof. The typical long house was estimated to be about 50feet long.
The Navaho hogan, was a smaller counterpart of the Pawnee»earth lodge». The communal pueblo structure of the Rio Grande regionconsisted of a number—sometimes hundreds — of square-built rooms of varioussizes, of stone or adobe laid in clay mortar, with flat roof, court-yards, andintricate passage ways, suggestive of oriental things.
The Piute wikiup of Nevada was only one degree above the brush shelterof the Apache. California, with its long stretch from north to south, and itsextremes from warm plain to snowclad sierra, had a variety of types, includingthe semi-subterranean.
Along the whole north-west coast, from the Columbia to the Eskimoborder, the prevailing type was the rectangular board structure, painted withsymbolic designs, and with the great totem pole carved with the heraldic crestsof the owner, towering above the doorway.
Not even pueblo architecture had evolved a chimney.

Food and its Procurement

In the timbered regions of the eastern and southern states and theadjacent portions of Canada, along the Missouri and among the Pueblos, Pima,and other tribes of the south-west, the chief dependence was upon agriculture,the principal crops being corn, beans, and squashes, besides a native tobacco.The New England tribes understood the principal of manuring, while those of thearid south-west built canals and practiced irrigation. Along the wholeocean-coast, in the lake region and on the Columbia, fishing was an importantsource of subsistence. On the south Atlantic seaboard elaborate weirs were inuse, but elsewhere the hook and line, the seine or the harpoon, were morecommon. Clams and oysters were consumed in such quantities along the Atlanticcoast that in some favourable gathering-places empty shells were piled intomounds ten feet high. From central California northward along the whole westcoast, the salmon was the principle, and on the Columbia, almost the entire,food dependence. The northwest-coast tribes, as well as the Eskimo, werefearless whalers. Everywhere the wild game, of course, was an important factorin the food supply, particularly the deer in the timber region and the buffaloon the plains. The nomad tribes of the plains, in fact, lived by the buffalo,which, in one way or another, furnished them with food, clothing, shelter, householdequipment, and fuel.
In this connection there were many curious tribal and personal taboosfounded upon clan traditions, dreams, or other religious reasons. Thus theNavajo and the Apache, so far from eating the meat of a bear, refuse even totouch the skin of one, believing the bear to be of human kinship. For asomewhat similar reason some tribes ofthe plains and the arid South-West avoid a fish, while considering the dog adelicacy.
Besides the cultivated staples, nuts, roots, and wild fruits were in usewherever procurable. The Indians of the Sierras lived largely upon acorns and pinons.Those of Oregon and the Columbia region gathered large stores of camass andother roots, in addition to other species of berries. The Apache and othersouth-western tribes gathered the cactus fruit and toasted the root of themaguey. The tribes of the upper lake region made great use of wild rice, whilethose of the Ohio Valley made sugar from the sap of the maple, and those of thesouthern states extracted a nourishing oil from the hickory nut. Pemmican andhominy are Indian names as well as Indian inventions, and maple sugar is alsoan aboriginal discovery. Salt was used by many tribes, especially on the plainsand in the South-West, but in the Gulf states lye was used instead. Cannibalismsimply for the sake of food could hardly be said to exist, but, as a warceremony or sacrifice following a savage triumph, the custom was very general,particularly on the Texas coast and among the Iroquoian and Algonquian tribesof the east. The Tonkawa of Texas were know to all their neighbours as the»Man-Eaters». Apparently the only native intoxicant was tiswin, a sort of mild beer fermentedfrom corn by the Apache and neighbouring tribes.

Domesticated Animals

Thedog was practically the only domesticated animal before the advent of thewhites and was found in nearly all tribes, being used as a beast of burden byday and as a constant sentinel by night, while with some tribes the flesh wasalso a favourite dish. He was seldom, if ever, trained to hunting. There wereno wild horses, cows, pigs, or chickens. Therefore, the Indians knew nothingabout these animals. In Massachusetts, they began to domesticate the turkey.Eagles and other birds were occasionally kept for their feathers, and thechildren sometimes had other pets than puppies. The horse, believed to havebeen introduced by the Spaniards, speedily became as important a factor in thelife of the plains tribes as the buffalo itself. In the same way the sheep andgoats, introduced by the early Franciscans, have become the chief source ofwealth to the Navajo, numbering now half a million animals from which theyderive an annual income of over a million dollars.

Industries and Arts

In the fabrication of domestic instruments, weapons, ornaments,ceremonial objects, boats, seines, and traps, in house-building and in themaking of pottery and baskets, the Indian showed considerable ingenuity indesign and infinite patience of execution. In the division of labour, themaking of weapons, hunting and fishing requirements, boats, pipes, and mostceremonial objects fell to the men, while the domestic arts of pottery andbasket-making, weaving and dressing of skins, the fashioning of clothing andthe preparation and preservation of food commonly devolved upon the women.
Among the sedentary or semi-sedentary tribes house-building belongedusually to the men, although the women sometimes assisted. On the plains theentire making and keeping of the tipi were appointed to the women. In manytribes the man cut, sewed, and decorated his own buckskin suit, and in some ofthe Pueblo villages the men were the basket-weavers.
While the house, in certain tribes, evinced considerable architectureskill, its prime purpo se was always utilitarian, and there was usually but little attempt atdecorative effect, excepting the Haida, Tlingit, and others of the north-westcoast, where the great carved and painted totem poles, sometimes sixty feet inheight, set up in front of every dwelling, were a striking feature of thevillage picture. The same tribes were notable for their great sea-goingcanoes, hollowed out from a single cedar trunk, elaborately carved andpainted, and sometimes large enough to accommodate forty men. The skin boat or kaiak of the Eskimo was a marvel oflightness and buoyancy, being practically unsinkable. The birch-bark canoe ofthe eastern tribes was especially well-adapted to its purposes of inlandnavigation. In the southern states we find the smaller «dug-out» logcanoe. On the plains the boat was virtually unknown, except for the tub-shapedskin boat of the Mandan and associated tribes of the upper Missouri.
The Eskimo were noted for their artistic carvings of bones andwalrus ivory; the Pueblo for their turquoise-inlaid work and their woodcarving, especially mythologic figurines, and the Atlantic and California coasttribes for their work in shell. The wampum, or shell beads, made chieflyfrom the shells of various clams found along the Atlantic coast have becomehistoric, having been extensively used not only for dress ornamentation,but also on treaty belts, as tribal tribute, and as a standard of valueanswering the purpose of money. The ordinary stone hammer or club, found innearly every tribe, represented much patient labour, while the whole skill ofthe artist was frequently expended upon the stone-carved pipe. The blackstone pipes of the Cherokee were famous in the southern states, and the redstone pipe of catlinite from a single quarry in Minnesota was reputed sacredand was smoked at the ratification of all solemn tribal engagements throughoutthe plains and the lake-region. Knives, lance-blades, and arrow-heads were alsousually of stone, preferably flint or obsidian. Along the Gulf Coast,keen-edged knives fashioned from split canes were in use. Corn mortars andbowls were usually of wood in the timber region and of stone in the aridcountry. Hide-scrapers were of bone, and spoons of wood or horn. Metal-work waslimited chiefly to the fashioning of gorgets and other ornaments hammered outfrom native copper, found in the southern Alleghenies, about Lake Superior, andabout Copper River in Alaska. The art of smelting was apparently unknown. UnderFranciscan and later Mexican teaching the Navahos have developed a silver-workingart which compares in importance with their celebrated basket-weaving,the material used being silver coins melted down in stone molds of their owncarving. Mica was mined in the Carolina mountains by the local tribes andfashioned into gorgets and mirrors, which found their way by trade as far asthe western prairies, All of these arts belonged to the men.
Basket-weaving in wood splits, cane,rushes, yucca- or bark-fibre, and various grasses was practiced by the sametribes which made pottery, and excepting in a few tribes, was likewise awomen’s work. The basket was stained in various designs with vegetable dyes.The Cherokee made a double-walled basket. Those of the Choctaw, Pueblo tribes,Jicarillo, and Piute were noted for beauty of design and execution, but thePomo and other tribes of California excelled in all closeness and delicacy ofweaving and richness of decoration, many of their grass baskets beingwater-tight and almost hidden under an inter-weaving of bright-colouredplumage, and further decorated around the top with pendants of shiningmother-of-pearl. The weaving of grass or rush mats for covering beds or wigwamsmay be considered as a variant of the basket-weaving process, as likewise thedelicate porcupine quill appliquework of the northern plains and upper-Mississippi tribes.
Silver jewelry is probably the bestknown form of Native American art. It isnot an ancient art. Southwest Native Americans began working in silver around1850. Jewelry was the way many Native Americans showed their wealth. Coins wereused for silver in the early days. Navajo silverwork can be made many ways. One way is to carve a stone with aknife and pour the silver into the shape. This is called sandcasting. Anotherway is to cut the shape out of silver anduse a stamp to make a design. Stamps were made from any bit of scrap iron, includingspikes, old chisels and broken files.
Turquoise is used in jewelry. This didn’t starthappening until 1880’s. Turquoise is found in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and NewMexico.The color of turquoise is from a pale chalky blue -almost white- to a very deep green.
The making of pottery belonged to the women and was practiced in nearlyall tribes, excepting those in the plains and interior basin, and the coldnorth. The Eastern pottery is usually decorated with stamped patterns. That ofthe Pueblo and other south-western tribes was smooth and painted over withsymbolic designs. A few specimens of glazed ware have been found in the sameregion, but it is doubtful if the process is of native origin. The Catawba andsome other tribes produced a beautiful black ware by burning the vessel undercover, so that the smoke permeated the pores of the clay. The simple hand processby coiling was universally used.
The useful art of skin-dressing also belonged exclusively to the women,excepting along the Arctic coasts, where furs, instead of denuded skins, wereworn by the Eskimo, while the entrails of the larger sea animals were alsoutilized for waterproof garments. The skins in most general use were those ofthe buffalo, elk, and deer, which were prepared by scraping, stretching, andanointing with various softening or preservative mixtures, of which the liveror brains of the animal were commonly a part. The timber tribes generallysmoked the skins, a process unknown on the plains. A limited use was made of birdskins with the feathers intact.
The weaving art proper was also almost exclusively in the hands of thewomen. In the east, aside from basket- and mat-making it was confined almostentirely to the twisting of ropes or bowstrings, and the making of belts, theskin fabric taking the place of the textile. In the South-West the Pueblotribes wove native cotton upon looms of their own device, and, since theintroduction of sheep by the Franciscan missionaries in the sixteenth century,the Navaho, enlarging upon their Pueblo teaching have developed a weaving artwhich has made the Navaho blanket famous throughout the country, the stripping,spinning, weaving, and dyeing of the wool all being their own. The Piute ofNevada and others of that region wore blankets woven from strips of rabbit-fur.Some early writers mention feather-woven cloaks among the gulf tribes, but itis possible that the feathers were simply overlaid upon the skin garment.
It is notable that the Indian worker, man or woman, used no pattern, carryingthe design in the head. Certain designs, however, were standardized andhereditary in particular tribes and societies.
Accordingto Navajo beliefs, the Universe is a balanced place. Illness and other disastershappen if the balance is upset. It is believed only Humans can upset thisbalance, not animals or plants! To make the person healthly again a ceremony is performed. Thesandpaintings, called ikaah, used in these ceremonies are made between sunriseand sunset of the same day.

Games and Amusements

Naturally careless of the future, the Indian gave himself up to pleasurewhen not under immediate necessity or danger, and his leisure time at home wasfilled with a constant round of feasting, dancing, story-telling, athleticcontests, and gambling games.
The principal athletic game everywhere east of the Missouri, aswell as with some tribes of the Pacific coast, was the ballplay adopted by theFrench of Canada under the name lacrosseand in Louisiana as racquette. Inthis game the ball was caught, not with the hand, but with a netted ball-sticksomewhat resembling a tennis racket.
A special dance and secret ceremonial preceded the contest. Next intribal favour in the eastern region was the game known to the early tradersunder the corrupted Creek name of chunkee,in which one player rolled a stone wheel along the ground, while his competitorslid after it a stick curved at one end like an umbrella handle with the designof having the spent wheel fall within the curve at the end of its course. Thisgame, which necessitated much hard running, was sometimes kept up for hours. Asomewhat similar game played with a netted wheel and a straight stick was foundupon the plains, the object being to dart the stick through the certain nettedholes in the wheel, known as the buffalo, bull, calf, etc.(remember ‘to catchthe bull’s eye’).
Foot races were very popular with certain tribes, as the Pueblo, Apache.Wichita and Crows, being frequently a part of great ceremonial functions. Onthe plains horse-racing furnished exciting amusement. There were numerousgambling games, somewhat of the dice order, played with marked sticks, plumstones, carved bones, etc., these being in special favour with the women.Target shooting with bow and arrow, and various forms of dart shooting werealso popular.
Among distinctly women’s games were football and shinny, the former,however, being merely the bouncing of the ball from the toes with the purposeof keeping in the air as long as possible. Hand games, in which a number ofplayers arranged themselves in two opposing lines and alternately endeavouredto guess the whereabouts of a small object shifted rapidly from hand to hand,were a favourite tipi pastime with both sexes in the winter evenings, to theaccompaniment of songs fitted to the rapid movement of the hands.
Story-telling and songs, usuallyto the accompaniment of the rattle or small hand-drum, filled in the evening.The Indian was essentially musical, his instruments being the drum, rattle,flute, or flageolet, eagle-bone whistle and other more crude devices. Each hadits special religious significance and ceremonial purposes, particularly therattle, of which there were many varieties. Besides the athletic and gamblinggames, there were games of diversion played only on rare occasions of tribalnecessity with sacred paraphernalia in keeping of sacred guardians. The Indianwas fond also of singing and had songs for every occasion — love, war, hunting,gaming, medicine, satire, children’s songs, and lullabies.
The children played with tops, whips, dolls, and other toys, or imitatedtheir elders in shooting, riding, and «playing house».


As war is the normal condition of savagery, so to the Indian warlikeglory was the goal of his ambition, the theme of his oratory, and the purposeof his most elaborate ceremonial. His weapons were the knife, bow, club, lance,and tomahawk, or stone axe, which last was very soon superseded by the lightsteel hatchet supplied by the trader. To these, certain tribes added defensivearmour, as the body-armour of rawhides or wooden rods in use along thenorthwest coast and some other sections, and the shield more particularly usedby the equestrian tribes of the plains. As a rule, the lance and shield weremore common in the open country, and the tomahawk in the woods. The bow wasusually of some tough and flexible wood with twisted sinew cord, but wassometimes of bone or horn backed with sinew rapping. It is extremely doubtfulif poisoned arrows were found north of Mexico, notwithstanding many assertionsto the contrary.
Where the clan system prevailed the general conduct of war matters wasoften in the keeping of special clans, and in some tribes, such as the Creeks,war and peace negotiations and ceremonials belonged to certain towns designatedas «red» or «white». With the Iroquois and probably withother tribes, the final decision on war or peace rested with a council of themarried women. On the plains the warriors of the tribes were organized intomilitary societies of differing degrees of rank, from the boys in training tothe old men who had passed their active period. Military service was entirelyvoluntary with the individual who, among the eastern tribes, signified hisacceptance in some public manner, as by striking the red-painted war-post, or,on the plains, by smoking the pipe sent round by the organizers of theexpeditions. Contrary to European practice, the command usually rested withseveral leaders of equal rank, who were not necessarily recognized as chiefs onother occasions. The departure and the return were made according to the fixedceremonial forms, with solemn chants of defiance, victory, or grief at defeat.In some tribes there were small societies of chosen warriors pledged never toturn or flee from an enemy except by express permission of their fellows, butin general the Indian warrior chose not to take large risks, although braveenough in desperate circumstance.
To the savage every member of a hostile tribe was equally an enemy, andhe gloried as much in the death of an infant as in that of the warrior father.Victory meant indiscriminate massacre, with most revolting mutilation of thedead, followed in the early period in nearly every portion of the East andSouth by a cannibal feast. The custom of scalping the dead, so general in laterIndian wars, has been shown by Frederici to have been confined originally to alimited area east of the Mississippi, gradually superseding the earlier customof beheading. In many western tribes, the warrior’s prowess was measured not bythe number of his scalp trophies, but by the number of his coups (French term), or strokes upon the enemy, for which there wasa regular scale according to kind, the highest honour being accorded not to oneone who secured the scalp, but to the warrior who struck the first blow uponthe enemy, even though with no more than a willow rod. The scalp dance wasperformed, not by the warriors, but by the women, who thus rejoiced over thesuccess of their husbands and brothers. There was no distinctive «wardance».
Captives among the eastern tribes were either condemned to death withevery horrible form of torture or ceremonially adopted into the tribe, thedecision usually resting with the women. If adopted, he at once became a memberof a family, usually as representative of a deceased member, and at onceacquired full tribal rights. In the Huron wars whole towns of the defeatednation voluntarily submitted and were adopted into the Iroquois tribes. On theplains torture was not common. Adults were seldom spared, but children werefrequently spared and either regularly adopted or brought up in a mild sort ofslavery. Along the north-west coast, and as far south as California slavery prevailedin its harshest form and was the usual fate of the captive.


One of the remarkable facts in American ethnology is the great diversityof languages. Nearly two hundred major languages, besides minor dialects, werespoken north of Mexico, classified in fifty-one distinct linguistic stocks, asgiven below, of which nearly one-half were represented in California. Thosemarked with an asterisk are extinct, while several others are now reduced toless than a dozen individuals keeping the language: Algonquian, Athapascan (Dene), Attacapan, *Beothukan, Caddoan,Chimakuan, *Chimarikan, Chimmesyan, Chinookan, Chitimachan, *Chumashan,*Coahuiltecan (Pakawa), Copehan (Wintun), Costanoan, Eskimauan, *Esselenian,Iroquoian, Kalapooian, *Karankawan, Keresan, Kiowan, Kitunahan, Kaluschan(Tlingit), Kulanapan (Pomo), *Kusan, Mariposan (Yokuts), Moquelumnan (Miwok),Muskogean, Pujunan (Maidu), Quoratean (Karok), *Salinan, Salishan, Shahaptian,Shoshonean, Siouan, Skittagetan (Haida), Takilman, *Timucuan, *Tonikan,Tonkawan, Uchean, *Waiilatpuan (Cayuse), Wakashan (Nootka), Washoan, Weitspekan(Yurok), Wishoskan, Yakonan, *Yanan (Nosi), Yukian, Yuman, Zunian.
The number of languages and well-marked dialects may well have reachedone thousand, constituting some 150 separate linguistic stocks, each stock asdistinct from all the others as the Aryan languages are distinct from theTuranian or the Bantu. Of these stocks, approximately seventy were in thenorthern, and eighty in the southern continent. They were all in nearly thesame primitive stage of development, characterized by minute exactness ofdescription with almost entire absence of broad classification. Thus theCherokee, living in a country abounding in wild fruits, had no word for grape,but had instead a distinct descriptive term for each of the three varietieswith which he was acquainted. In the same way, he could not simply say «Iam here», but must qualify the condition as standing, sitting, etc.
The earliest attempt at a classification of the Indian languages of theUnited States and British America was made by Albert Gallatin in 1836. Thebeginning of systematic investigation dates from the establishment of theBureau of American Ethnology under Major J.W. Powell in 1879. For the languagesof Mexico and Central America, the basis is the «Geografia» of Orozcoy Berra, of 1864, supplemented by the later work of Brinton, in his»American Race» (1891), and corrected and brought up to the latest resultsin the linguistic map by Thomas and Swanton now in preparation by the Bureau ofEthnology. For South America, we have the «Catalogo» of Hervas(1784), which covers also the whole field of languages throughout the world;Brinton’s work just noted, containing the summary of all known up to that time,and Chamberlain’s comprehensive summary, published in 1907.
To facilitate intertribal communication, we frequently find thelanguages of the more important tribes utilized by smaller tribes throughoutthe same region, as Comanche in the southern plains and Navajo (Apache) in theSouth-West. From the same necessity have developed certain notable tradejargons, based upon some dominant language, with incorporations from manyothers, including European, all smoothed down and assimilated to a commonstandard. Chief among these were the «Mobilian» of the Gulf statesbased upon Choctaw; the «Chinook jargon» of the Columbia and adjacentterritories of the Pacific coast, a remarkable conglomerate based upon theextinct Chinook language; and the lingoageral of Brazil and the Parana region, based upon Tupi-Guarani. To thesemust be added the noted «sign language» of the plains, a gesturecode, which answered every purpose of ordinary intertribal intercourse fromCanada to the Rio Grande.

Religion and Mythology

The Indian was an animist, to whom every animal, plant, and object innature contained a spirit to be propitiated or feared. Some of these, such asthe sun, the buffalo, and the peyote plant, the eagle and the rattlesnake, weremore powerful or more frequently helpful than others, but there was nooverruling «Great Spirit» as so frequently represented.
Certain numbers, particularly four and seven, were heldsacred. Colours were symbolic and had abiding place, and sometimes sex. Thuswith the Cherokee the red spirits of power and victory live in the Sun Land, orthe East, while the black spirits of death dwell in the Twilight Land of theWest. Certain tribes had palladiums around which centered their most elaborateritual. Each man had also his secret personal «medicine». The priestwas likewise the doctor, and medicine and religious ritual were closely interwoven.Secret societies were in every tribe, claiming powers of prophecy, hypnotism,and clairvoyance. Dreams were in great repute, and implicitly trusted andobeyed, while witches, fairies, and supernatural monsters were as common as inmedieval Europe. Human sacrifices, either of infants or adults, were foundamong the Timucua of Florida, the Natchez of Mississippi, the Pawnee of theplains, and some tribes of California and the north-west coast, the sacrificein the last-mentioned region being frequently followed by a cannibal feast.From time to time, as among more civilized nations, prophets arose to purifythe old religion or to preach a new ritual. Each tribe had its genesis,tradition, and mythical hero, with a whole body of mythologic belief andfolklore, and one or more great tribal ceremonials. Among the latter may benoted the Green-Corn Dance thanksgiving festival of the eastern and southerntribes, the Sun-Dance of the plains, the celebrated snake dance of theHopi and the Salmon Dance of theColumbia tribes.
The method of disposing of the dead varied according to the tribe andthe environment, inhumation being probably the most widespread. The Hurons andthe Iroquois allowed the bodies to decay upon scaffolds, after which the boneswere gathered up and deposited with much ceremony in the common tribalsepulchre. The Nanticoke and Choctaw scraped the flesh from the bones, whichwere then wrapped in a bundle, and kept in a box within the dwelling. Tree, scaffold,and cave burial were common on the plains and in the mountains, while cremationwas the rule in the arid regions father to the west and south-west. Northwardfrom the Columbia the body was deposited in a canoe raised upon posts, whilecave burial reappeared among the Aleut of Alaska, and earth burial among theEskimo. The dread of mentioning the name of the dead was as universal asdestroying the property of the deceased, even to the killing of his horse ordog, while the custom of placing food near the grave for the spirit during thejourney to the other world was almost as common, Laceration of the body,cutting off of the hair, general neglect of the person, and ceremonial wailing,morning and evening, sometimes for weeks, were also parts of their funeral customs.
Beyondthe directly inherited traditional Native American religions, a wide body ofmodified sects abounds.The Native American Church claims a membership of250,000, which would constitute the largest of the Native America religiousorganizations. Though the church traces the sacramental use ofthe peyote cactusback ten thousand years, the Native American Сhurch was only founded in 1918.Well into the reservation era, thisorganization was achieved with the help of a Smithsonian Institute anthropologist.The church incorporates generic Native American religious rites, Christianity,and the use of the peyote plant. The modern peyote ritual is comprised of fourparts: praying, singing, eating peyote, and quietly contemplating.
TheNative American Church, or Peyote Church illustrates a trend of modifying andmanipulating traditional Native American spirituality. The Native AmericanChurch incorporates Christianity, as well as moving away from tribal specificreligion. Christianity has routinely penetrated Native American spirituality inthe last century. And in the last few decades, New Age spirituality hascontinued the trend.

All of the American Native cultures had incommon a deep spiritual relationship with the land and the life forms itsupported. According to First Nations spiritual beliefs, human beings areparticipants in a world of interrelated spiritual forms. First Nations maintaingreat respect for all living things. With the arrival of European newcomers,this delicate balance of life forms was disrupted. In the 18th and 19thcenturies, contact with Europeans began to change traditional ways of life forever.

Chapter IV. Native americans and the newcomers

The formulation of public policy toward the Indians wasof concern to the major European colonizing powers.

· Colonization

The Spanish tried assiduously to Christianize the natives andto remake their living patterns. Orders were issued to congregate scatteredIndian villages in orderly, well-placed centers, assuring the Indians at thesame time that by moving to such centers they would not lose their outlyinglands. This was the first attempt to create Indian reservations. The promisefailed to protect Indian land, according to the Franciscan monk and historianof Mexico, Juan Torquemada, who reported about 1599 that there was hardly»a palm of land» that the Spaniards had not taken. Many Indians whodid not join the congregations for fear of losing what they owned fled tomountain places and lost their lands anyway.
The Russians never seriously undertook colonization in the NewWorld. When Peter I the Great sent Vitus Jonassen Bering into the northern seathat bears his name, interest was in scientific discovery, not overseasterritory. Later, when the problem of protecting and perhaps expanding Russianoccupation was placed before Catherine II the Great, she declared (1769): It is for traders to traffic where theyplease. I will furnish neither men, nor ships, nor money, and I renounceforever all lands and possessions in the East Indies and in America.
The Swedish and Dutchattempts at colonization were so brief that neither left a strong imprint onNew World practices. The Dutch government, however, was probably the first(1645) of the European powers to enter into a formal treaty with an Indiantribe, the Mohawk. Thus began a relationship, inherited by the British, that contributedto the ascendancy of the English over the French in North America.
France handicapped its colonial venture by transportingto the New World a modified feudal system of land tenure that discouragedpermanent settlement. Throughout the period of French occupation, emphasis wason trade rather than on land acquisition and development, and thus Frenchadministrators, in dealing with the various tribes, tried primarily only toestablish trade relations with them. The French instituted the custom ofinviting the headmen of all tribes with which they carried on trade to comeonce a year to Montreal, where the governor of Canada gave out presents andtalked of friendship. The governor of Louisiana met southern Indians at Mobile.
The English, reluctantly, found themselves competing on thesame basis with annual gifts. Still later, United States peace commissionerswere to offer permanent annuities in exchange for tribal concessions of land orother interests. In contrast to the French, the English were primarilyinterested in land and permanent settlements; beginning quite early intheir occupation, they felt an obligation to bargain with the Indians and toconclude formal agreements with compensation to presumed Indian landowners. ThePlymouth settlers, coming without royal sanction, thought it incumbent uponthem to make terms with the Massachuset Indians. Cecilius Calvert (the 2ndBaron Baltimore) and William Penn, while possessing royal grants in Marylandand Pennsylvania respectively, nevertheless took pains to purchase occupancyrights from the Indians. It became the practice of most of the colonies toprohibit indiscriminate and unauthorized appropriation of Indian land. Theusual requirement was that purchases could be consummated only by agreementwith the tribal headman, followed by approval of the governor or other officialof the colony. At an early date also, specific areas were set aside forexclusive Indian use. Virginia in 1656 and commissioners for the UnitedColonies of New England in 1658 agreed to the creation of such reserved areas. PlymouthColony in 1685 designated for individual Indians separate tracts that could notbe alienated without their consent.
In spite of these official efforts to protect Indianlands, unauthorized entry and use caused constant friction through the colonialperiod. Rivalry with the French, who lost no opportunity to point out to theIndians how their lands were being encroached upon by the English; the activityof land speculators, who succeeded in obtaining large grants beyond the settledfrontiers; and, finally, the startling success of the Ottawa chief Pontiac incapturing English strongholds in the old Northwest (the Great Lakes region) asa protest against this westward movement, together prompted King GeorgeIII’s ministers to issue a proclamation (1763) that formalized the concept ofIndian land titles for the first time in the history of European colonizationin the New World. The document prohibited issuance of patents to any landsclaimed by a tribe unless the Indian title had first been extinguished bypurchase or treaty. The proclamation reserved for the use of the tribes»all the Lands and Territories lying to the Westward of the sources of theRivers which fall into the Sea from the West and Northwest. ”Land west of the Appalachians might not bepurchased or entered upon by private persons, but purchases might be made inthe name of the king or one of the colonies at a council meeting of the Indians”.
This policy continued up to the termination of Britishrule and was adopted by the United States. The Appalachian barrier was soonpassed — thousands of settlers crossed the mountains during the AmericanRevolution — but both the Articles of Confederation and the federalConstitution reserved either to the president or to Congress sole authority inIndian affairs, including authority to extinguish Indian title by treaty. WhenFrench dominion in Canada capitulated in 1760, the English announced that «the Savages or Indian Allies of hismost Christian Majesty, shall be maintained in the lands they inhabit, if theychoose to remain there.» Thereafter, the proclamation of 1763applied in Canada and was embodied in the practices of the dominion government.(The British North America Act of 1867, which created modern Canada, providedthat the parliament of Canada should have exclusive legislative authority withrespect to «Indians, and lands reserved for the Indians.» Thus, bothNorth American countries made control over Indian matters a national concern.)
· UnitedStates policy: the late 18th and 19th centuries
The first full declaration of U.S. policy was embodied inthe Northwest Ordinance (1787): Theutmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians, their lands andproperty shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in theirproperty, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unlessin just and lawful wars authorized by congress; but laws founded in justice andhumanity shall from time to time be made, for preventing wrongs being done tothem, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.This doctrine wasembodied in the act of August 7, 1789, as one of the first declarationsof the U.S. Congress under the Constitution.The final shaping of the legal andpolitical rights of the Indian tribes is found in the opinions of Chief JusticeJohn Marshall, notably in decision in the case of Worcester v. Georgia: The Indian nations had always beenconsidered as distinct, independent, political communities, retaining theiroriginal natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the land, from timeimmemorial. . . . The settled doctrine of the law of nations is, that aweaker power does not surrender its independence — its right to self-government- by associating with a stronger, and taking its protection. A weak state, inorder to provide for its safety, may place itself under the protection of onemore powerful, without stripping itself of the right of government, and ceasingto be a state.The first major departure from the policy of respecting Indianrights came with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. For the first time theUnited States resorted to coercion, particularly in the cases of the Cherokeeand Seminole tribes, as a means of securing compliance. The Removal Act was notin itself coercive, since it authorized the president only to negotiate withtribes east of the Mississippi on a basis of payment for their lands; it calledfor improvements in the east and a grant of land west of the river, to whichperpetual title would be attached. In carrying out the law, however, resistancewas met with military force. In the decade following, almost the entirepopulation of perhaps 100,000 Indians was moved westward. The episode movedAlexis de Tocqueville to remark in 1831: The Europeans continued to surround[the Indians] on every side, and to confine them within narrower limits . . .and the Indians have been ruined by a competition which they had not the meansof sustaining. They were isolated in their own country, and their race onlyconstituted a little colony of troublesome strangers in the midst of a numerousand dominant people.
The territory west of the Mississippi, it turned out, wasnot so remote as had been supposed. The discovery of gold in California(1848) started a new sequence of treaties, designed to extinguish Indian titleto lands lying in the path of the overland routes to the Pacific. The suddensurge of thousands of wagon trains through the last of the Indian country andthe consequent slaughtering of prairie and mountain game that providedsubsistence for the Indians brought on the most serious Indian wars the countryhad experienced. For three decades, beginning in the 1850s, raids and sporadicpitched fighting took place up and down the western Plains, highlighted by suchincidents as the Custer massacre by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians (1876),the Nez Perce chief Joseph’s running battle in1877 against superior U.S. army forces, and the Chiricahua Geronimo’s long duel with authorities in the Southwest, resulting inhis capture and imprisonment in 1886. Toward the close of that period, theGhost Dance religion, arising out of the dream revelations of a young PaiuteIndian, Wovoka, promised theIndians a return to the old life and reunion with their departed kinsmen. Thesongs and ceremonies born of this revelation swept across the northern Plains.The movement came to an abrupt end December 29, 1890, at Wounded Knee Creek,South Dakota. Believing that the Ghost Dance was disturbing an uneasy peace,government agents moved to arrest ringleaders. SittingBull was killed (December 15) while beingtaken into custody, and two weeks later units of the U.S. 7th Cavalry atWounded Knee massacred more than 200 men, women, and children who had alreadyagreed to return to their homes. A further major shift of policy had occurredin 1871 after congressional discussions lasting several years. U.S. presidents,with the advice and consent of the Senate, had continued to make treaties withthe Indian tribes and commit the United States to the payment of sums of money.The House of Representatives protested, since a number of congressmen had cometo the view that treaties with Indian tribes were an absurdity (a view earlierheld by Andrew Jackson). The Senate yielded, and the act of March 3, 1871, declaredthat «hereafter no Indian nation or tribe» would be recognized»as an independent power with whom the United States may contract bytreaty.» Indian affairs were brought under the legislative control of theCongress to an extent that had not been attempted previously. Tribal authoritywith respect to criminal offenses committed by members within the tribe wasreduced to the extent that murder and other major crimes were placed under thejurisdiction of the federal courts. The most radical undertaking of the newlegislative policy was the Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887. By that timethe Indian tribes had been moved out of the mainstreams of traffic and weresettled on lands that they had chosen out of the larger areas that they hadformerly occupied. Their choice in most cases had been confirmed by treaty,agreement, act of Congress, or executive order of the president. The tribesthat lived by hunting over wide areas found reservation confinement a threat totheir existence. Generally, they had insisted on annuity payments or rations,or both, and the U.S. peace commissioners had been willing to offer such aprice in return for important land cessions. In time the view came to be heldthat reservation life fostered indolence and perpetuated customs and attitudesthat held Indians back from assimilation. The strategy offered by proponents ofthis theory was the Allotment Act authorizing the president to divide thereservations into individual parcels and to give every Indian, whether hewanted it or not, a particular piece of the tribally owned land. In order notto make the transition too abrupt, the land would be held in trust for a periodof 25 years, after which ownership would devolve upon the individual. With itwould go all the rights and duties of citizenship. Reservation land remainingafter all living members of the tribes had been provided with allotments wasdeclared surplus, and the president was authorized to open it for entry bynon-Indian homesteaders, the Indians being paid the homestead price. A total of118 reservations was allotted in this manner, but the result was not what hadbeen anticipated. Through the alienation of surplus lands (making no allowancefor children yet unborn) and through patenting of individual holdings, theIndians lost 86,000,000 acres (34,800,000 hectares), or 62 percent, of a totalof 138,000,000 acres in Indian ownership prior to 1887. A generation oflandless Indians resulted, with no vocational training to relieve them of dependenceupon land. The strategy also failed in that ownership of land did not effect anautomatic acculturation in those Indians who received individual parcels.Through scattering of individuals and families, moreover, social cohesivenesstended to break down. The result was a weakening of native institutions andcultural practices with nothing offered in substitution. What was intended astransition proved to be a blind alley. The Indian population had been dwindlingthrough the decades after the mid-19th century. The California Indians alone, itwas estimated, dropped from 100,000 in 1853 to not more than 30,000 in 1864 and19,000 in 1906. Cholera in the central Plains in 1849 struck the Pawnee. Aslate as 1870-71 an epidemic of smallpox brought disaster to the Blackfeet,Assiniboin, and Cree. These events gave currency to the concept of the Indianas «the vanishing American.» The decision of 1871 todiscontinue treaty making and the passage of the Allotment Act of 1887 wereboth founded in the belief that the Indians would not survive, and hence it didnot much matter whether their views were sought in advance of legislation orwhether lands were provided for coming generations. When it became obviousafter about 1920 that the Indians, whose numbers had remained static forseveral years, were surely increasing, the United States was without a policyfor advancing the interests of a living people.

· 20th-centuryreforms of U.S. policy

A survey in 1926 brought into clear focus the failings of theprevious 40 years. The investigators found most Indians «extremelypoor,» in bad health, without education, and lacking adjustment to the dominantculture around them. Under the impetus of these findings and other pressuresfor reform, Congress adopted the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934,which contemplated an orderly decrease of federal control and a concomitantincrease of Indian self-government and responsibility. The essentials of thenew law were as follows: (1) allotment of tribal lands was prohibited in thefuture, but tribes might assign use rights to individuals; (2) so-calledsurplus lands not pre-empted by homesteaders might be returned to the tribes;(3) tribes might adopt written constitutions and charters of incorporationembodying their continuing inherent powers to manage internal affairs; and (4)funds were authorized for the establishment of a revolving credit program, forland purchases, for educational assistance, and for aiding the tribes informing organizations. Moreover, the act could be rejected on any reservationby referendum.
The response to the 1934 act was indicative of theIndians’ ability to rise above adversity. About 160 tribes, bands, and Alaskavillages adopted written constitutions, some of which combined traditionalpractices with modern parliamentary methods. The revolving credit fund helpedIndians build up their herds and improve their economic position in other ways.Borrowers from the fund were tribal corporations, credit associations, andcooperatives that loaned to individual Indians and to group enterprises on amultimillion-dollar scale. Educational and health services were also improvedthrough federal aid.
Originally, the United States exercised no guardianship overthe person of the Indian; after 1871, when internal tribal matters became thesubject of national legislation, the number and variety of regulatory measuresmultiplied rapidly. In the same year that the Indian Reorganization Actwas passed, Congress significantly repealed 12 statutes that had made itpossible to hold Indians virtual prisoners on their reservations. Indians werethen able to come and go as freely as all other persons. The Snyder Act of1924, extending citizenship to all Indians born in the United States,opened the door to full participation. But few Indians took advantage of thelaw, and because of their lack of interest a number of states excluded Indiansfrom the franchise. Organization of tribal governments following theReorganization Act, however, seemed to awaken an interest in civic affairsbeyond tribal boundaries, and when Indians asked for the franchise, they weregenerally able to secure it eventually, though not until 1948 in Arizona andNew Mexico, after lengthy court action.
The federal courts consistently upheld the treaties made withIndian tribes and also held that property may not be taken from Indians,whether or not a treaty exists, «except in fair trade.» The latter contentionwas offered by the Hualapai Indians against the Santa Fe Railway. The companywas required by the courts in 1944 to relinquish about 500,000 acres it thoughthad been granted to it by the U.S. The lands had been occupied since prehistoryby the Indians, without benefit of treaty recognition, and the Supreme Courtheld that, if the occupancy could be proved, as it subsequently was, theIndians were entitled to have their lands restored. In 1950 the Ute Indianswere awarded a judgment against the United States of $31,750,000 for landstaken without adequate compensation. A special Indian Claims Commission,created by act of Congress on August 13, 1946, received many petitions for landclaims against the United States and awarded, for example, about $14,789,000 tothe Cherokee nation, $10,242,000 to the Crow tribe, $3,650,000 to theSnake-Paiute of Oregon, $3,000,000 to the Nez Perce, and $12,300,000 to theSeminole. The period from the early 1950s to the 1970s was one of increasingfederal attempts to establish new policies regarding the Indians, and it wasalso a period in which Indians themselves became increasingly vocal in theirquest for an equal measure of human rights and the correction of past wrongs.The first major shift in policy came in 1954, when the Department of theInterior began terminating federal control over those Indians and reservationsdeemed able to look after their own affairs. From 1954 to 1960, support to 61tribes and other Indian groups was ended by the withdrawal of federal servicesor trust supervision. The results, however, were unhappy. Some extremelyimpoverished Indian groups lost many acres of land to private exploitation oftheir land and water resources. Indians in certain states became subjectexclusively to state laws that were less liberal or sympathetic than federallaws. Finally the protests of Indians, anthropologists, and others became so insistentthat the program was decelerated in 1960. In 1961 a trained anthropologist wassworn in as commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first anthropologist ever tohold that position. Federal aid expanded greatly, and in the ensuing decadeIndians were brought into various federal programs for equal economicopportunity. Indian unemployment remained severe, however.
American Indians came more and more into public attention inthe late 20th century as they sought (along with other minorities) to achieve abetter life. Following the example set by black civil-rights activists of the1960s, Indian groups drew attention to their cause through mass demonstrationsand protests. Perhaps the most publicized of these actions were the 19-monthseizure (1970-71) of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay (California) bymembers of the militant American Indian Movement (AIM) and the February 1973occupation of a settlement at the Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge (South Dakota)reservation; the latter incident was the second conflict to occur at Wounded Knee.Representing an attempt to gain a more traditional political power base was theestablishment in 1971 of the National Tribal Chairman’s Association, whicheventually grew to include more than 100 tribes.
Indian leaders also expanded their sphere of influence intothe courts; fishing, mineral, forest, casino gambling, and other rightsinvolving tribal lands became the subject of litigation by the Puyallup (Washingtonstate), the Northern Cheyenne (Montana), and the Penobscot and thePassamaquoddy (Maine), among others. Although control of economic resources wasthe focus of most such cases, some groups sought to regain sovereignty overancient tribal lands of primarily ceremonial and religious significance.

Chapter V. facts about American Indians today

Source:Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior

Who isan Indian?

No single federal or tribal criterion establishes a person’s identity asan Indian. Tribal membership is determined by the enrollment criteria of thetribe from which Indian blood may be derived, and this varies with each tribe.Generally, if linkage to an identified tribal member is far removed, one wouldnot qualify for membership.
To be eligible for Bureau of Indian Affairs services, an Indian must (1)be a member of a tribe recognized by the federal government, (2) be of one-halfor more Indian blood of tribes indigenous to the United States; or (3) must,for some purposes, be of one-fourth or more Indian ancestry. By legislative andadministrative decision, the Aleuts, Eskimos and Indians of Alaska are eligiblefor BIA services. Most of the BIA’s services and programs, however, are limitedto Indians living on or near Indian reservations.
The Bureau of the Census counts anyone an Indian who declares himself orherself to be an Indian. In 1990 the Census figures showed there were 1,959,234American Indians and Alaska Natives living in the United States (1,878,285American Indians, 57,152 Eskimos, and 23,797 Aleuts). This is a 37.9 percentincrease over the 1980 recorded total of 1,420,000. The increase is attributedto improved census taking and more self- identification during the 1990 count.

Why areIndians sometimes referred to as Native Americans?

The term, “Native American,” came into usage in the 1960s to denote thegroups served by the Bureau of Indian Affairs: American Indians and AlaskaNatives (Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts of Alaska). Later the term also includedNative Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in some federal programs. It, therefore,came into disfavor among some Indian groups. The preferred term is AmericanIndian. The Eskimos and Aleuts in Alaska are two culturally distinct groups andare sensitive about being included under the “Indian” designation. They prefer“Alaska Native.”

Howdoes one trace Indian ancestry and become a member of a tribe?

The first step in tracing Indian ancestry is basic genealogical researchif one does not already have specific family information and documents thatidentify tribal ties. Some information to obtain is: names of ancestors; datesof birth; marriages and death; places where they lived; brothers and sisters,if any; and, most importantly, tribal affiliations. Among family documents tocheck are Bibles, wills, and other such papers. The next step is to determinewhether one’s ancestors are on an official tribal roll or census by contactingthe tribe.

What isa federally recognized tribe?

There are more than 550 federally recognized tribes in the UnitedStates, including 223 village groups in Alaska. “Federally recognized” meansthese tribes and groups have a special, legal relationship with the U.S.government. This relationship is referred to as a government-to-governmentrelationship.
A number of Indian tribes and groups in the U.S. do not have a federallyrecognized status, although some are state-recognized. This means they have norelations with the BIA or the programs it operates. A special program of theBIA, however, works with those groups seeking federal recognition status. Ofthe 150 petitions for federal recognition received by the BIA since 1978, 12have received acknowledgment through the BIA process, two groups had theirstatus clarified by the Department of the Interior through other means, andseven were restored or recognized by Congress.


In the U.S. there are only two kinds of reserved lands that arewell-known: military and Indian. An Indian reservation is land reserved for atribe when it relinquished its other land areas to the U.S. through treaties.More recently, Congressional acts, Executive Orders, and administrative actshave created reservations. Today some reservations have non-Indian residentsand land owners.
There are approximately 275 Indian land areas in the U.S. administeredas Indian reservations (reservations, pueblos, rancherias, communities, etc.).The largest is the Navajo Reservation of some 16 million acres of land inArizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Many of the smaller reservations are less than1,000 acres with the smallest less than 100 acres. On each reservation, thelocal governing authority is the tribal government.
Approximately 56.2 million acres of land are held in trust by the UnitedStates for various Indian tribes and individuals. Much of this is reservationland; however, not all reservation land is trust land. On behalf of the UnitedStates, the Secretary of the Interior serves as trustee for such lands withmany routine trustee responsibilities delegated to BIA officials.
The states in which reservations are located have limited powers overthem, and only as provided by federal law. On some reservations, however, ahigh percentage of the land is owned and occupied by non-Indians. Some 140reservations have entirely tribally owned land.


Indians pay the same taxes as other citizens with the followingexceptions: federal income taxes are not levied on income from trust lands heldfor them by the United States; state income taxes are not paid on income earnedon an Indian reservation; state sales taxes are not paid by Indians ontransactions made on an Indian reservation; and local property taxes are notpaid on reservation or trust land.


As U.S. citizens, Indians are generally subject to federal, state, andlocal laws. On Indian reservations, however, only federal and tribal laws applyto members of the tribe unless the Congress provides otherwise. In federal law,the Assimilative Crimes Act makes any violation of state criminal law a federaloffense on reservations. Most tribes now maintain tribal court systems andfacilities to detain tribal members convicted of certain offenses within theboundaries of the reservation.

Languageand Population

· AmericanIndian Languages
Spokenat Home by American Indian Persons 5 Years and Over in Households: 1990

Number of

All American Indian languages

Algonquian languages

Athapascan Eyak languages

Caddoan languages

Central and South American Indian languages


Hokan languages

Iroquoian languages


Muskogean languages

Penutian languages

Siouan languages

Tanoan languages



Uto-Aztecan languages

Wakashan and Salish languages


Unspecified American Indian languages

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.The American Indian languages shown above are the major languages.

Many American places have been named after Indian words. In fact, about half of the states got theirnames from Indian words. Here are some:

may come from Choctaw meaning “thicket-clearers” or “vegetation-gatherers.”
corruption of Aleut word meaning “great land” or “that which the sea breaks against.”
from the Indian “Arizonac,” meaning “little spring” or “young spring.”
from the Quapaw Indians
Chicago, Ill
Algonquian for «garlic field.»
Chesapeake (bay)
Algonquian name of a village
from an Indian word (Quinnehtukqut) meaning “beside the long tidal river.”
from the Sioux tribe, meaning “allies.”
Algonquin for “tribe of superior men.”
meaning “land of Indians.”
probably from an Indian word meaning “this is the place” or “the Beautiful Land.”
from a Sioux word meaning “people of the south wind.”
from an Iroquoian word “Ken-tah-ten” meaning “land of tomorrow.”
from Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, meaning “at or about the great hill.”
from Indian word “Michigana” meaning “great or large lake.”
from a Dakota Indian word meaning “sky-tinted water.”
from an Indian word meaning “Father of Waters.”
believed to come from the Chumash Indians.
Algonquian, believed to mean «isolated thing in water.»
Algonquian, believed to mean «a good spot or place.»
named after the Missouri Indian tribe. “Missouri” means “town of the large canoes.”
named after the Indian tribe
from an Oto Indian word meaning “flat water.”
named after an Iroquoian town, «Ongiaahra.»
from an Iroquoian word meaning “great river.”
from two Choctaw Indian words meaning “red people.”
Pensacola (Florida)
Choctaw for «hair» and «people.»
Roanoke (Virginia)
Algonquian for «shell money» (Indian tribes often used shells that were made into beads called wampum, as money).
Saratoga (New York)
believed to be Mohawk for «springs (of water) from the hillside.»
Sunapee (lake in New Hampshire)
Pennacook for «rocky pond.»

Tahoe (the lake in California/Nevada)
is Washo for «big water.»
of Cherokee origin; the exact meaning is unknown.
from an Indian word meaning “friends.”
is from the Ute tribe, meaning “people of the mountains.”
French corruption of an Indian word whose meaning is disputed.
from the Delaware Indian word, meaning “mountains and valleys alternating”; the same as the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.

AmericanIndian Loan Words

From their earliest contact with traders and explorers, American Indiansborrowed foreign words, often to describe things not previously encountered.The language exchange went both ways. Today, thousands of place names acrossNorth America have Indian origins — as do hundreds of everyday English words.
Many of these «loan words» are nouns from the Algonquian languagesthat were once widespread along the Atlantic coast. English colonists,encountering unfamiliar plants and animals—among them moose, opossum, andskunk—borrowed Indian terms to name them. Pronunciations generally changed, andsometimes the newcomers shortened words they found difficult; for instance,»pocohiquara» became «hickory.»
Some U.S. English Words with Indian Origins:

anorak fromthe Greenlandic Inuit «annoraq»
bayou fromthe Choctaw «bayuk»
chipmunk fromthe Ojibwa «ajidamoon,» red squirrel
hickory fromthe Virginia Algonquian «pocohiquara»
hominy fromthe Virginia Algonquian «uskatahomen»
igloo fromthe Canadian Inuit «iglu,» house
kayak fromthe Alaskan Yupik «qayaq»
moccasin fromthe Virginia Algonquian
moose fromthe Eastern Abenaki «mos»
papoose fromthe Narragansett «papoos,» child
pecan fromthe Illinois «pakani»
powwow fromthe Narragansett «powwaw,» shaman
quahog fromthe Narragansett «poquauhock»
squash fromthe Narragansett «askutasquash»
succotash fromthe Narragansett «msickquatash,» boiled corn
tepee fromthe Sioux «tipi,» dwelling
toboggan fromthe Micmac «topaghan»
tomahawk fromthe Virginia Algonquian «tamahaac»
totem fromthe Ojibwa «nindoodem,» my totem
wampum fromthe Massachusett «wampumpeag»
wigwam fromthe Eastern Abenaki «wik’wom» Natives.

· Population

While the Indian population was never dense, the idea that the Indianhas held his own, or even actually increased in number, is a serious error,founded on the fact that most official estimates begin with the federal period,when the native race was already wasted by nearly three centuries of whitecontact and in many regions entirely extinct. An additional source of error isthat the law recognizes anyone of even remote Indian ancestry as entitled toIndian rights, including in this category, especially in the former «FiveCivilized Nations» of Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), several thousandindividuals whose claims have always been stoutly repudiated by the nativetribal courts. Moreover, the original Indian was a full-blood, while hispresent-day representative has often so little aboriginal blood as topractically a white man or a negro. Many broken tribes of today contain not asingle full-blood, and some few not even one of half Indian blood. The CherokeeNation, officially reported to number 36,000 persons of pure or mixed Cherokeeblood contains probably not 4000 of even fairly pure blood, the rest being alldegrees of admixture even down to one-sixty-fourth or less of Indian blood, besidessome 7000 claimants officially recognized, but repudiated by the former IndianGovernment. In Massachusetts an official census of 1860 reported a»Yartmouth tribe» of 105 persons, all descended from a single Indianwoman with a negro husband residing there in 1797. It is obvious that the term Indian cannot properly be applied tosuch diluted mixtures.
The entire aboriginal population of Florida, of the mission period,numbering perhaps 30,000, is long since extinct without descendants, theSeminole being a later emigrations from the Creeks. The aborigines of SouthCarolina, counting in 1700 some fifteen tribes of which the Catawba, thelargest tribe, numbered some six thousand souls, are represented today by abouta hundred mixed blood Catawba, together with some scattered mongrels, whoseoriginal ancestry is a matter of doubt.
The same holds good upon the plains, The celebrated Pawnee tribe of some10,000 souls in 1838 is now reduced to 650; the Kansas of 1500 within the sameperiod have now 200 souls, and the aborigines of Texas, numbering in 1700perhaps some 40,000 souls in many small tribes with distinct languages, isextinct except for some 900 Caddo, Wichita, and Tonkawa. The last-named,estimated at 1,000 in 1805, numbered 700 in 1849, 300 in 1861, 108 in 1882, and48 in 1908, including several aliens. In California the aboriginal populationhas decreased within the same period from perhaps a quarter of a million toperhaps 15,000, and nearly the same proportion of decrease holds good along thewhole Pacific coast into Alaska. Not only have tribes dwindled, but whole linguisticstocks have become extinct within the historic period. The only apparent exceptionsto the general rule of decay are the Iroquois, Sioux, and Navaho, the first twoof whom have kept up their number by wholesale adoptions, while the Navaho havebeen preserved by their isolation. The causes of decrease may be summarized as:(1) introduced diseases and dissipation, particularly smallpox, sexual disease,and whiskey; (2) wars, also hardship and general enfeeblement consequent uponfrequent removals and enforced change from accustomed habitat. The presentIndian population north of Mexico is approximately 400,000, or whomapproximately 265,000 are within the United States proper.

Chapter VI. other native Americans

The Eskimo (Inuit and Yupiit) and Aleuts arepeople of the treeless shores and tundra-covered coastal hinterlands ofnorthernmost North America and Greenland and the eastern tip of the Chukchi Peninsulaof Siberia. Custom alone designates them Eskimo and Aleuts rather than AmericanIndians like all other native Americans, from whom they are distinguishedprincipally by their language.

The Eskimo are an Asian peoplewho are distinguishable from the American Indians by their more Asian features,by the relative smallness of their hands and feet, and by a few less obvioustraits.
Eskimo culture was totally adapted to an extremelycold, snow- and icebound environment in which vegetable foods were almostnonexistent, trees were scarce, and caribou, seal, walrus, and whale meat,whale blubber, and fish were the major food sources. The Eskimo used harpoonsto kill seals, which they hunted either on the ice or from skin-covered,one-person canoes known as kayaks. Whales were hunted using larger boats calledumiaks. In the summer most Eskimo families hunted caribou and other landanimals with the help of bows and arrows. Dogsleds were the basic means oftransport on land. Eskimo clothing was fashioned of caribou furs, whichprovided protection against the extreme cold. Most Eskimo wintered in eithersnow-block houses called igloos or semisubterranean houses of stone or sod overwooden or whalebone frameworks. In summer many Eskimo lived in animal-skintents. Their b asic social and economic unit was the nuclearfamily, and their religion was animistic.
Eskimo life changed greatly in the 20th centuryowing to increased contacts with societies to the south. Snowmobiles havegenerally replaced dogs for land transport, and rifl eshave replaced harpoons for hunting purposes. Outboard motors, store-boughtclothing, and numerous other manufactured items have entered the culture, andmoney, unknown in traditional Eskimo economy, has become a necessity. ManyEskimo have abandoned their nomadic hunting pursuits to move into northerntowns and cities or to work in mines and oil fields. Others, particularly inCanada, have formed cooperatives to market their handicrafts, fish catches, andventures in tourism.
Aleut — a native of the Aleutian Islands and westernportion of the Alaska Peninsula of northwest North America. Aleuts speak threemutually intelligible dialects and are closely related to the Eskimo inlanguage, race, and culture. The earliest people, the Paleo-Aleuts, arrived inthe Aleutian Islands from the Alaskan mainland about 2000 BC. The Aleuts huntedseals, sea otters, whales, sea lions, sometimes walrus, and, in some areas,caribou and bears. Fish, birds, and mollusks were also taken. One-man andtwo-man skin boats known as bidarkas, or kayaks, and large, open, skin boats(Eskimo umiaks) were used. Aleut women wove fine grass basketry; stone, bone,and ivory were also worked. Ancient Aleut villages were situated on theseashore near fresh water, with a good landing for boats and in a position safefrom surprise attack from other Aleuts or neighbouring tribes. Villages wereusually composed of related families. A chief might govern several villages oran island, but there was no chief over all Aleuts or even over several islands.
Chapter VII. epilogue

A long time ago North America was very different from the way it istoday. There were no highways, cars, or cities. There were no schools, malls, or restaurants. Buteven long, long ago, there were still communities. People made their own homes, food, and clothing from the plants andanimals they found around them.
Americans today owe a great deal to the First Americans. Over half ofthe states and many of the cities, rivers and streets still have NativeAmericans names. Nearly 550 Indian words are part of everyday English. Manyfoods, such as potatoes, corn, peanuts, turkey, tomatoes, cocoa, beans wereborrowed by later settlers from the Native Americans. It was from the Indiansthat other Americans learned how to use rubber.
In fact without the help of the Native Americans many other earlysettlers might never have survived.
In conclusion I would like to cite the words ofGeorge W. Bush, today’s President of the U.S., which he said in National American Indian Heritage Month proclamation,dated November 19, 2001:
“As the early inhabitants of this great land, thenative peoples of North America played a unique role in the shaping of ourNation’s history and culture. During this month when we celebrate Thanksgiving,we especially celebrate their heritage and the contributions of American Indianand Alaska Native peoples to this Nation. [ …] American Indian and AlaskaNative cultures have made remarkable contributions to our national identity.Their unique spiritual, artistic, and literary contributions, together withtheir vibrant customs and celebrations, enliven and enrich our land.
As we move into the 21stcentury, American Indians and Alaska Natives will play a vital role inmaintaining our Nation’s strength and prosperity. Almost half of America’sNative American tribal leaders have served in the United States Armed Forces,following in the footsteps of their forebears who distinguished themselvesduring the World Wars and the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and the PersianGulf. […]
During National AmericanIndian Heritage Month, I call on all Americans to learn more about the historyand heritage of the Native peoples of this great land. Such actions reaffirmour appreciation and respect for their traditions and way of life and can helpto preserve an important part of our culture for generations yet to come. “


1. Encyclopaedia Britannica, electronic edition,1999
2. Gilbert Legay, Atlas of Indians of Northern America,Barrons Educ, 1995
3. Keith C. Wilbur, The New England Indians, The GlobePequot Press, 1978
4. Bryn O’Calladhan, An Illustrated Hystory of the USA,Longman, 1990
5. V.M. Pavlotsky, American studies, Karo, St.- Pt., 2000
6.– Russian Pages of American Indian Almanac
7. — Native American technologies andart
8.– electronic texts by and about American Indians
9.– very useful encyclopaedia
10.– tribe finder
11. – statistics and useful data


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