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History of Native Americans

History | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod, Interactive

Who are Native Americans?

Christopher Columbus discovered America, but people lived in America long before his discovery. These people who lived before the arrival of Europeans to America were known as the Native Americans. They lived in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean islands.

Who are Red Indians and Why they are called so?

One theory states that Christopher Columbus was travelling to the West. He thought he was going to India. Instead he landed in America and thus Native Americans are sometimes referred to as Indians. Though, calling them Red Indian is wrong, since that is a name of a specific tribe who used to paint their face and bodies with red ochre colour.

Another study states that long before the ice age happened, the Indians journeyed from Asia into Alaska. They came across the west coast of North America and settled there. As early as 1000 B.C the Indians covered almost the entire continent and their descendants were known as the first Americans who arrived and settled in America. They are also known as indigenous people as they were the first people to live in America.

Native Americans lived throughout North and South America. They inhabited Alaska, Hawaii and there came into existence different tribes and cultures across America. From one coast to another there were hundreds of Native American cultures.

Native American Tribes and Culture

The Native Americans were grouped into tribes and groups on the basis of the areas they lived, their culture, the language they spoke and their customs. Sometimes smaller tribes were part of a bigger tribe or they merged into a bigger tribe. When Columbus arrived, there were hundreds of tribes spread across America. Some well known of the tribes were Apache, Cherokee and Navajo. All Native American tribes had one thing in common- they lived off the land by gathering food during their early stages and later by cultivating food. Once the tribes began cultivating, they thrived into villages. The tribes hunted and domesticated animals. Meat, fur and skin of animals were used. Bones were used to make weapons. Corn or maize was the most common Native American food crop. Squash, potato, rice, pumpkin, avocados were also grown. Most Native Americans preferred to eat their food fresh, without adding lot of spices.

Spirituality and religious customs were an integral part of Native Americans. They had many Gods. They believed in a relationship with nature and so worshipped the Sun as God. They also had a rain God. Most elements of Nature were worshipped as God and every tribe had a medicine man called ‘Shaman’.

Native American Fall

The Native American tribes began to diminish when settlers from other countries, mostly Europeans, tried to capture their land. Slowly they were moved away from their own lands into what was called reservations. Many died during epidemics and diseases like smallpox and measles brought by Europeans and unknown to Americans. Europeans started colonizing Americans. They also had horses and guns which overpowered the bows and arrows of the Native American tribes. These times were terrible for these early settlers and one would have believed that they might disappear.

Native Americans Today

Today many descendants of the original Native Americans still live on reservations. The reservations are areas specifically assigned for Native Americans, to protect their culture and heritage. But only 30% of Native Americans live on reservations. The rest can be found all around America and around the world, earning their livelihood like any other citizen.