Native American History Introduction

History is the discovery of knowledge, experience, events, and
information. History is discovered by selecting certain events that
could be included in the narrative, which in
turn help building meaningful events. These
narratives structure the myths of the culture-myths that keep on
taking new changes all the time. Native Americans are people who used
to live in America before the coming of Europeans. It also refers the
ancestors of those original inhabitants. This paper explores the long
history of the native people of North America, which reaches more than
10,000 years back, and the myriad cultures and languages that emerged
over time (Luebering, 11). It examines the consequences of contact
between Native Americans and European settlers, who began
their conquest of the Americas in the 15th century, with the arrival
of Christopher Columbus in the so-called New World closely. Native
American History is made additionally complicated by
the addition of widespread geographic and cultural backgrounds of
the people involved. Indigenous American farmers who were living in
stratified societies, such as the Natchez, engaged with Europeans
differently as compared to those who focused on hunting and gathering,
such as the Apache. Similarly, Spanish conquistadors were involved in
a fundamentally different colonial entity than their counterparts from
France or England. Some Native people take issue with being called an
“Indian” or “American Indian” for a lot of valid reasons. First,
“Indians” was a misnomer, a product of
Christopher Columbus’s mistaken belief that he had reached the East
Indies. Second, people from India are also called “Indians”.
“American Indian” does not help much, as a person from India who
lives in the United States could well be termed an “American
Indian” (Nies, 1).
Indigenous people of North America:
Paleo-Indian is the earliest ancestors of Native Americans. They shared
certain cultural traits with their Asian counterparts, such as the use
of fire and domesticated dogs. They did not use any other Old World
technologies such as grazing animals, domesticated plants, and
the wheel. Paleo-Indian groups demonstrated formidable adaptability
in Northern Hemisphere. In addition to this, those that drifted
northwards developed hunting and gathering skills suited to the
environment extremes of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Archeological
evidence suggests that Native Americans were experimenting
with agriculture during the Archaic Period, perhaps as early as 6000
BC. Early Southwest Indians started planting corn (maize) in that
semiarid region by about 1200 BC. Over the next 200
years, several European powers established footholds in the Americas,
vying to expand their empires. Spain, whose monarchs
sponsored Columbus’s explorations, led the way with waves of
military expeditions seeking whatever wealth they could find,
especially gold, to prop up the country’s struggling economy.
Native American History grew out of the paradigm shift that resulted
from the celebration of Columbus’ arrival in 1492 in the Western
Hemisphere. People expected a lively celebration
of Columbus’s heroism, courage, and mythic vision, but
the imagination was captured instead by the “view from the
shore” the point of view presented by indigenous people was one of
extraordinary native contributions and influential European
injustices. Their perspective changed the sequence of events and
challenged the conventional myths of the Americas.
In colorful contradiction to centuries of national Columbus holidays
and mainstream history texts, indigenous people demonstrated
historical authenticity of the Arawak Indians
and Columbus’s genocidal hunt for gold throughout the hemisphere.
At the time, Columbus landed on the island he dubbed Hispaniola in 1492
where there were an estimated 30 million people in The Caribbean Islands
and Mexico while another 50 million in the U.S., Canada, and South
America and many of them lived in highly complex cultures with advanced
knowledge of agriculture, astronomy, weaving, metalworking, geography,
and measurement of time (Nies, 1).
America has been notably uninterested in the people who lived here
before the European invasions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The history of the Americas and American Indians did not commence with
the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean in 1492. The
ancestors of the people encountered by Columbus and later European
explorers had lived in the Americas for up to 30,000 years. Countless
generations of American Indian peoples settled the land, built
communities, raised families, and discovered new ways to utilize the
environment and improve their standards of living. The “New World”
was as much an “Old Word” made up of diverse peoples with different
languages and cultures, much like Europe or Asia.
The question of where Native American ancestors came from and when is
equally controversial. There is confirmed evidence of a settlement at
Monte Verde in Southern Chile dating to just over 12,000 years ago.
Numerous other archaeological sites suggest pushing the date of the
earliest settlements back as far as 40,000 years ago. Intertwined with
trying to understand the length of time that Indian people have lived in
the Americas are theories about how they got there. The standard
scientific theory suggests that people from Northeast Asia migrated over
the Bering Land Bridge that became exposed during the Ice Age from c.
75,000 BC to c. 8,000 BC. The general consensus by those who favor
this theory is that enormous migration occurred 12,000 to 14,000 years
Following large game herds, so the theory argues, these people
migrated South and East over generations to inhabit all of the
Americans eventually. However, the Monte Verde site in Chile suggests
that people arrived in the far Northwestern reaches of North America
well in advance of 12,000 years ago-long enough to have established a
permanent settlement at the Southern end of Southern America. An
alternative theory supported by recent archaeological work suggests by
recent archaeological work suggests that people traveled by small boats
down the Pacific coast of the Americas, stopping off at various points
to travel inland in Central and South America. It could have occurred
simultaneously where many American Indian groups uphold that their
origins are within the Americas. History in the Americas began for the
Iroquois when their ancestors fell from the sky for the Pueblos,
Mandans, Navajos, and Choctaws, it began when their ancestors emerged
from under the ground for the Kiowas, it began when their ancestors
emerged from a hollow log. Native traditions being almost
invariably place them in the Americas rather than in some distant
continent. Supporters of the Bering Land Bridge theory suggest that such
oral traditions are quaint legends. Besides this, the migrations
occurred so long ago as to be forgotten by contemporary Indians.
However, Native people are sincere about being native to the Americas.
The Miami chief Little Turtle famously told Thomas Jefferson that if
American Indians appeared to be physically related to Asian people, then
it would be because Asians had migrated from the Americas to Asia. It is
also possible that all of these theories may have elements of truth
Native people know they have always existed and that their ancestors
have been in the Americas for countless generations.
Whether Indians have occupied the Americas for 12,000 years or longer,
they originated in the Americas are arguments with profound
implications. Both Canada and the United States like to describe
themselves as a “nation of immigrants” to highlight the experiences
and histories that all Canadians and Americans have in common. In
addition to this, to emphasize that no one group has any
more inherent claim to the territory of North America than another.
This denies Indians their unique status in American history and the
longevity of that history, and it glosses over the realities of how
American Indians have been treated by European colonial powers and the
succeeding American and Canadian governments.
Earliest Americans:
The farther we look for indications of human habitation in North
America, the earliest the phase of American Indian history is
seen which is called Paleo-Indian (ancient Indian) period dates
back from, c. 13,000 BC to c. 8000 BC. These early stages are named as
“Clovis” after the Clovis, New Mexico, archaeological site where
the stage type was first recognized. By around 10,000 BC, the
Paleo-Indians have conquered most of the areas of North American
continent. Since the main evidence for these ancient people is
their durable stone spearheads, archaeologists have long described
Paleo-Indians as big-game hunters. Paleo-Indians hunted large mammals
such as mammoths, and they must have played a part in the extinction
of mammoths and other mega fauna of the Late Pleistocene. However,
climate change is more likely to have played the determinative role in
these extinctions. What the Paleo-Indian archaeological evidence does
not tell us with much certainty is how these people lived.
12 Oct 1492, Columbus Arrives:
Columbus went on a trip to India by 3 ships, which were named as The
Nina, The Pints and The Santa Maria. He tried an alternate route by
going straight west and entered into the Americas which he thought is
1st Apr 1620, Wampanoag made friend:
The Wampanoag became friends and partners of the English Colony on the
convincing of the Chief Massasoit during a meeting with English. The
Wampanoag was the first and favored ally of the newly arrived Pilgrims.
1st Dec 1620, The Mayflower arrived:
A group of 102 Englishmen and Women arrived by the ship called the
MayFlower at the Wampanoag village. The Wampanoag could have decided
to kill them easily even in their weakened state but did not do it.
1st Sep 1621, The First Thanksgiving:
The Great Summer Feast was celebrated at Plymouth for the first
thanksgiving. This depicts that the knot of friendship between the
Pilgrims and Native Americans was enhanced at this time.
1st Feb 1623, English paid respect to Massasoit:
Massasoit was desperately ill, and Winslow (second, to be the leader
of Plymouth) entered to provide his guidance. This further boosted
their friendship bond and alliance.
1st April 1623, First English Raid:
The English raid a tribe to demonstrate their power to the
Indians, which would in turn, scare of any planned stacks, but Massasoit
still kept their friendship, which would prosper for the time
being through trade.
1st April 1630, Puritans Arrived:
A fleet of ships carrying 1000 Pilgrims were puritans, who wanted
to stage England in America. The King gave permission to set up a
new colony in Massachusetts Bay. They continued coming, and Native
Americans were getting rid off by the increasing number of small pox
1st April 1637, Pequot War:
Masschuttes Bay and Plymouth colonies were leading a force which had
destroyed the Pequot, the strongest tribe in the Indian Confederacy, in
the area. This caused tribes to strengthen their friendship with
English since they were scared of them.
1st February 1651, Start of Praying Towns:
Puritian Minister, John Elliot, established a praying town
in Natic Massachusetts, the first of a dozen of praying towns, which
forced Indians to convert into Christianity for Security and led
Massasoit to ban Christian missionaries from Wampanoag Territory.
1st January 1660, Massasoit Died:
Massasoit died in early 1660, making Philip Massasoit’s second son,
the chief of Wampanoag.
1st January 1671, Mistreatment of King Philip:
Philip was accused and forced to recognize that he was devising a
plan to attack the English by Jassai Winslow, making them give up
all their weapons.
1st January 1675, Betrayal inside the Wampanoag:
Philip’s personal secretary traveled to Plymouth to warn the
English that Philip was devising a plan to attack. The Indians killed
the secretary for betrayal and the men who killed him were
proven guilty by the English.
1st July 1675, Greedy Advise:
Since English was strong and powerful, The Deputy Governor of Rhode
Island invited Philip to advise him not to go to war against the
4 July 1675, King Philip War Started:
Philip’s retaliated starting what became known as the King Philip
War. This caused most Native American tribes to retaliate.
1st January 1676, Mohawks fought with the English:
The tribes were attacked by The Mohawks because they were an ally of
English which killed 500 people of Philip army. In the year, 5000,
Native Americans were dead and the survivors shipped to the West
Indies for slavery.
12 August 1676, King Philip Died:
Philip was caught and cut into pieces. His head was hanged with
a stick for twenty years in Plymouth. They sent his son and
a wife to the West Indies for slavery.
In the 19th century, a pattern of Indian removal began in earnest, in
the United States and Canada. In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the
Indian Removal Act in response to the discovery of gold on
Cherokee land in Georgia. Under pressure from President Andrew
Jackson, legislation was passed that allowed the president
to divest American Indian tribes of land in exchange for land, almost
always inferior, in the West. In 1831, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that indigenous people on American soil
were dependent rather than independent nations. The ruling took away
many of the legal avenues tribes might have used to fight these
expropriations (Fleming).
The fate of most North American Indian now entered a
new phase featuring the struggle between assimilation into dominant
white, American culture and the pursuit of sovereignty, or
self-determination. Tribes were sequestered on reservations, many of
which had been carved out of lands that were infertile and
essentially valueless. Another devastating policy, termination, decreed
that indigenous individuals in Canada and tribes, in the United States,
could be stripped of their aboriginal status, which freed governments
from promised support.
Native Americans, however, refused to vanish, as some of the observers
had predicted vice versa. Gradually, the pursuit
of sovereignty gained momentum. A significant shift came n 1934 with
the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act by the U.S. Congress.
This law included prohibitions against the allotment of tribal lands,
the right of tribes to compose written constitutions and charters to
manage their affairs, and federal programs to help improve tribal
economies health care, and education.
In the 21st century poverty, underdevelopment, substance abuse, and
other economic and social ills still plague many of North
America’s native people. If tribes on reservation lands were
considered their own country, it would qualify them for “developing
nations” status based on per capita income, by the World Bank.
However, the pursuit of self-determination continues
to return power and resources to indigenous people. The right
of sovereignty has progressively restored or established such
prerogatives as local control of the school curriculum, resource
development on tribal lands, and gaining rights. These
advances offer the means for the tribes and their members
to cultivate and pass on cultural traditions, including tribal
languages, while helping them participate in and influence the
broader society on which they live. This shows that the society can
become a developed one after incorporating all such changes starting
from the culture, civilization, language, traditions, lifestyle and all
other social conditions. The society can be called a civilized society.
Fleming, Walter C. Native American History. First Edition. New York.
Marie Butler-Knight. 2003. Print.
Luebering, J.E. Native American History. First Edition, New York,
Britannica Education Publishing, 2011. Print.
Leory O., Michael. Native America A History. First Edition. United
Kingdom, Blackwell Publishing, 2010. Print.
Nies, Judith. Native American History-A Chronology of a Culture’s Vast
Achievements and Their Links to World Events. First Edition. New York.
Ballantine Publishing Group. 1996. Print.