Information

Native Americans


Tecumseh

Tecumseh was a Shawnee warrior chief who organized a Native American confederacy in an effort to create an autonomous Indian state and stop white settlement in the Northwest Territory (modern-day Great Lakes region). He firmly believed that all Indian tribes must settle their ...read more

American-Indian Wars

From the moment English colonists arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, they shared an uneasy relationship with the Native Americans (or Indians) who had thrived on the land for thousands of years. At the time, millions of indigenous people were scattered across North America ...read more

King Philip’s War

King Philip’s War—also known as the First Indian War, the Great Narragansett War or Metacom’s Rebellion—took place in southern New England from 1675 to 1676. It was the Native Americans' last-ditch effort to avoid recognizing English authority and stop English settlement on ...read more

Geronimo

Geronimo (1829-1909) was an Apache leader and medicine man best known for his fearlessness in resisting anyone–Mexican or American—who attempted to remove his people from their tribal lands. He repeatedly evaded capture and life on a reservation, and during his final escape, a ...read more

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull (c. 1831-1890) was a Teton Dakota Native American chief who united the Sioux tribes of the American Great Plains against the white settlers taking their tribal land. The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty granted the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota to the Sioux, but when ...read more

Poor leadership leads to Cherry Valley Massacre

On November 11, 1778, Patriot Colonel Ichabod Alden refuses to believe intelligence about an approaching hostile force. As a result, a combined force of Loyalists and Native Americans, attacking in the snow, killed more than 40 Patriots, including Alden, and took at least an ...read more

Sam Mason survives Native American attack

Samuel Mason, a Patriot captain in command of Fort Henry on the Ohio frontier, survives a devastating Native American attack on August 31, 1777. The son of a distinguished Virginia family, Samuel Mason became a militia officer and was assigned to the western frontier post of Fort ...read more

Sioux military leader Crazy Horse is killed

Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse is fatally bayoneted by a U.S. soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. A year earlier, Crazy Horse was among the Sioux leaders who defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little ...read more

Native American History Timeline

Years before Christopher Columbus stepped foot on what would come to be known as the Americas, the expansive territory was inhabited by Native Americans. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, as more explorers sought to colonize their land, Native Americans responded in various ...read more

DNA Identifies Origins of World's Oldest Natural Mummy

Scientists discovered the ancient human skeleton known as the “Spirit Cave Mummy” back in 1940, hidden in a small rocky cave in the Great Basin Desert in northwest Nevada. But it wouldn’t be until the 1990s that radiocarbon dating techniques revealed the skeleton was some 10,600 ...read more

What Was Life Like in Jamestown?

The first settlers at the English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia hoped to forge new lives away from England―but life in the early 1600s at Jamestown consisted mainly of danger, hardship, disease and death. All of the early settlers in 1607 were men and boys, including ...read more

Why Andrew Jackson’s Legacy is So Controversial

Should Andrew Jackson be revered or reviled? The question of how to grapple with the seventh president’s tarnished reputation has persisted since Old Hickory’s lifetime. Known as a strong-willed, argumentative and combative personality, Jackson, who served as president from 1829 ...read more

Erie Canal

The Erie Canal is a 363-mile waterway that connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River in upstate New York. The channel, which traverses New York state from Albany to Buffalo on Lake Erie, was considered an engineering marvel when it first opened in ...read more


Native American History: Changing the Narrative

(Image: Sogno Lucido/Shutterstock)
This article is the second in a series on Native American peoples. Read the first part here.

Native American History as an Epilogue

In early historical works, Indigenous people were portrayed as supporting actors in the story of America, bit players in a master narrative that celebrated the founding and expansion of the United States. At worst, Indians were cast as treacherous villains and bloodthirsty savages at best, as co-conspirators in their own undoing or tragic heroes who valiantly resisted before accepting the inevitability of their demise.

This is a transcript from the video series Native Peoples of North America. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

Either way, Indians exited stage left eventually. History, thus conceived, served as a handmaiden of conquest, and a powerful one at that. By writing Indians out of the past, this version of America’s origin story denied Native people a present and a future.

Frederick Jackson Turner (November 14, 1861 – March 14, 1932) American historian in the early 20th century. (Iage: Unknown/Public domain)

Perhaps the single most emblematic work in this tradition is historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” First presented before an august body of non-Indian historians in 1893, Jackson’s essay defined the frontier as “the meeting point between savagery and civilization” and the source of the unique—and decidedly white—American character.

Turner bemoaned the fact that 400 years after discovery, the frontier had finally closed—and with it, he surmised, came the end of Indian history. Soon, Turner believed, the savage Indians who had done so much to inspire the unique American spirit would be gone. Truth be told, Turner didn’t create this narrative so much as he canonized it. Indeed, as the scholar Philip Deloria notes, “This spatial reading of Indian history as a contest between the savage and the civilized has origins as old as European colonization itself.”

History That Ends in Physical Conquest

So, too, did the assumption that the narrative must end in physical conquest. Through the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, non-Native historians wrote and rewrote the same history of inevitable conquest, though locating it in different times and places, involving different Native people. Such history writing resulted in deeply internalized ideas about the impossibility of Indians having a present, much less a future.

Charles Sprague (October 26, 1791 – January 22, 1875) An early American poet, often referred to as the “Banker Poet of Boston”. (Image: By Southworth & Hawes/Public domain)

Consider one example, the words of Charles Sprague, the so-called banker poet of Boston. In an oration delivered to commemorate American independence on July 4, 1825, this is how he eulogized what he called the unhappy fate visited upon Indigenous people:

Two hundred years have changed the character of a great continent, and blotted forever from its face, a whole, peculiar people. Here and there a stricken few remain but how unlike their bold untamed, untamable progenitors! His degraded offspring crawl upon the soil to remind us how miserable is man, when the foot of the conqueror is on his neck. As a race, they have withered from the land. They will live only in the songs and chronicles of their exterminators.

Throughout the 19th century, excerpts from Sprague’s oration were reprinted in multiple editions of McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers, which Native and non-Native children used to learn how to read. Consider how these passages may have shaped their impressionable minds, what they communicated about Indians and Indian history.

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these messages about Indians and the end of Indian history were ubiquitous, appearing in academic writings, dime novels, sculptures, paintings, musical scores, plays, and moving pictures.

Challenging the Historical Narrative

Now, however, we need to balance the construction of this oppressive historical narrative with the creation of counter-narratives that challenge it. Let me begin by observing that there has never been a time when Native people weren’t the authors of their own histories.

The oral traditions and oral histories found across Indigenous cultures, for instance, have always been means of recording the past. “And,” the scholar Philip Deloria writes, “Native people have reshaped it in order to meet social, cultural, and political challenges. In this, they have been no different from any group of people in the world.”

The Iroquois in the Northeast, as well as other peoples, created belts fashioned from clamshell beads called wampum belts, intended for reading. Wampum belts narrate complex histories, record laws, and tell of the forging of relationships with others. The Western Apache in present-day Arizona recorded histories in the names and stories that they attached to places, or that places conveyed to them, still done to this day.

Winter counts long served as history books for Plains people, such as the Lakota and Kiowa. Lakota pictographic calendars feature a single glyph for each year, referred to as a winter. The Kiowa pictographic calendars feature two glyphs for each year. For the Lakota, each glyph refers to the name of a winter and serves as a mnemonic device from which the keeper of the count tells a much longer history of their people.

During the 19th and into the 20th centuries, Plains Indian graphic art served as a way for Native people to record personal narratives. Ledger art, for instance, takes its name from the ledger or account books on which Native people drew or painted. Ledger art, however, actually continued a tradition of recording history and narratives through images inscribed on everything from rock walls and buffalo hides to teepees and articles of clothing.

Samson Occom (1723 – July 14, 1792) was the first Native American to publish his writings in English. (Image: Unknown/Public domain)

Through the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, too, Native writers, including Samson Occom, William Apess, Christal Quintasket, and D’Arcy McNickle, to name just a few, fashioned first-person narratives, novels, and histories on terms of their own making. None of them told the story that Frederick Jackson Turner had in mind.

It would be negligent not to mention that on July 4, 1827—two years to the day after Charles Sprague characterized Indians as degraded offspring who would live only in the songs and chronicles of their exterminators—leaders of the Cherokee Nation opened a convention that led to the adoption of a constitution.

Modeled on the US and other state constitutions, it reflected Cherokee values and was meant to protect Cherokee sovereignty. The foot of the oppressor certainly wasn’t on the necks of the Cherokees who made this full-throated proclamation of continuing independence.

New Indian History

Moving forward in time, Native and non-Native scholars transformed history from within colleges and universities during the second half of the 20th century. During the 1960s, the so-called New Indian History turned a critical eye toward celebratory conquest narratives and, if haltingly, began to craft Indian-centered stories that recorded Native history from Native points of view.

While many of the New Indian Historians rarely went beyond the archival sources generated by non-Natives, other scholars developed innovative approaches through American Indian Studies and ethnohistory, a blend of history and anthropology.

American Indian Studies grew out of demands made by Native faculty and students for culturally relevant curricula. The number of Indian faculty and students on college and university campuses was small but it was growing considerably during the 1950s: By 1969, Minnesota the University of California, Berkeley UCLA and UC Davis had all started American Indian Studies programs, and many others followed.

By 1969, Minnesota the University of California, Berkeley UCLA and UC Davis had all started American Indian Studies programs, and many others followed.

Among the founders of American Indian Studies were the Crow Creek Sioux writer Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, the Powhatan-Renapé and Lenape scholar Jack Forbes, and the Standing Rock Sioux intellectual Vine Deloria, Jr. A number of these scholars came together in March 1970 for the First Convocation of American Indian Scholars at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. Their goal, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn later recalled, was to “bring about a change in the way Native life in America was studied.” She continued:

The main aim of these discussions was to assert that Indians were not just the inheritors of trauma but were also the heirs to vast legacies of knowledge about this continent and the universe that had been ignored in the larger picture of European invasion and education.

The creation of new historical narratives based on these principles developed unevenly, particularly in terms of the periods on which they were focused. Most of the revisionist work from the 1970s through the 1990s, for instance, covered the 400 years between initial contact between Natives and newcomers and the end of the 19th century.

Around the Columbian Quincentenary in 1992, a new interpretive framework focused on encounters emerged. The historian James Axtell richly described encounters as mutual, reciprocal—two-way rather than one-way streets, generally capacious, and temporally and spatially fluid.

Histories modeled on encounters supplanted worn-out narratives of discovery and conquest by emphasizing diplomacy, negotiation, and exchange.

Histories modeled on encounters supplanted worn-out narratives of discovery and conquest by emphasizing diplomacy, negotiation, and exchange. In so doing, the problematic concept of a rigid, racially defined frontier gave way to dynamic conceptions of middle grounds, contact zones, edges, and borderlands.

Distinguishing Past and Present

Strangely, though, few scholars had much to say about encounters that took place after 1900. Instead, historians typically imagined 20th-century American Indian history as being fundamentally different from the more distant past. In recent years, scholars have challenged the drawing of sharp distinctions between the distant and more recent past. Yes, the balance of power shifted dramatically through the 19th and 20th centuries.

But this shift amounted primarily to a change in the context of encounters between Natives and newcomers it didn’t bring an end to the encounters themselves. If 20th- and 21st-century encounters have remained as mutual and reciprocal, as temporally and spatially fluid, and generally capacious as they ever were, then we can imagine the last two centuries as a seamless part of one grand narrative, one story. We return to the relationship between history and contemporary Native America.

Charles Sprague, Frederick Jackson Turner, and the frontier historians who came before and after them wanted people to believe that American Indian history had ended, that Native people would vanish, and that tribal sovereignty would disappear right along with them. They turned the past into a history that served as a weapon of conquest in the 19th century, and that serves as a roadblock to recovery and renaissance in Native America today.

But the creation of new historical narratives can help remove that roadblock. Indeed, recalling the words of Lumbee legal scholar David Wilkins, we can now add the rewriting of the old master narrative as yet another way that tribal sovereignty is manifested in the purposeful actions taken by individuals and groups. This reassertion of sovereignty through the reclaiming of history is especially poignant in the context of the books and articles authored by Native scholars, such as Malinda Maynor Lowery, Joshua Reid, and Philip Deloria, all of whom offer historical perspectives on their own families, communities, and nations. Why does this matter?

Because, as Denetdale explains, for her and many other Native scholars, studying and critiquing history plays a vital role in what she calls “the recovery and revitalization of our community, family, language, and traditions.” It’s about translating the events of the past into a different history, a history of Indigenous survival through more than 500 years of colonialism, one of the most extraordinary stories in human history.

Common Questions About Native American History

Native American history generally shows Native Americans to have entered North America from the Beringia land bridge at least 15,000 years ago.

The European genocide of Native Americans is believed by scholars to have killed, at the very least, 130 million.

It is commonly believed that in 1492 when the Caribbean was reached by Columbus , there were over 10 million Native Americans living in the United States territory alone.

Native American history shows the Comanche Nation to be one of the most dangerous and dominant tribes during the 18th century.


NATIVE AMERICANS

Description: This section includes a comprehensive narrative on the typical diet of a Cherokee family.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This article describes the fascinating culture of the Cherokee people. Learn all about Booger Masks, Little People, and more!

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This articles describes a typical Cherokee dwelling.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This article describes the wars between the United States Government and the Cherokee people.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Chinook land, diet, homes, art, and culture. Perfect for reports or research.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Chinook plankhouses.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Chinook culture and spiritual beliefs.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on the Chinook potlatch ceremony.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section provides a complete description of the Inuit people. There are several associated activities.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section provides a complete description of the Inuit homes.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section discusses the diet of Inuit people.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section discusses the role that dogs played in Inuit life and culture.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section discusses the spiritual life of the Inuit people.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section provides a complete description of the Irqouois people. There are several associated activities.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section provides a complete description of the Iroquois diet.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section provides a complete description of the Iroquois longhouse.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section provides a complete description of the spiritual beliefs and customs of the Iroquois.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section provides a complete description of the wars and battles waged between the Iroquois and the United States Government.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Navajo land, diet, homes, culture, and wars with the U.S. Government. Perfect for reports or research.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Navajo diet.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on the homes built by the Navajo People.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on the customs, beliefs, and ceremonies of the Navajo People.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on the wars and battles waged between the U.S. Government and the Navajo People.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Pueblo land, diet, homes, art, and culture. Perfect for reports or research.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information about cliff dwellings and other Pueblo homes.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information about the famous Pueblo Kachina dolls.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on the typical Pueblo diet.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information about Pueblo pottery.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Pequot land, diet, homes, art, and culture. Perfect for reports or research.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Lenni Lenape Nation Profile

Description: This section contains detailed information on Lenni Lenape land, diet, homes, art, and culture. Perfect for reports or research.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Powhatan land, diet, homes, art, and culture. Perfect for reports or research.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This section contains detailed information on Wampanoag land, diet, homes, art, and culture. Perfect for reports or research.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

United States Government - Indian Wars

Description: This interactive map provides details of each of twelve major engagements pitting the United States military against the Native Americans. It includes the Comanche Wars, Sioux Wars, the Long Walk, Red Cloud's War, Cayuse War, Whitman's Massacre, Chickamauga Wars, and many more.

Type: Interactive Map or Tour

Description: This fun activity allows students to make their own totem poles with associated meanings. Each totem pole has five symbols. These print out beautifully with the totem pole and symbolism descriptions. These take students less than five minutes to complete.

Description: This is a biography about the Powhatan princess Pocahontas

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This is a complete biography on Squanto.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Sacagawea Biography - Lewis and Clark

Description: This is a biography about Sacagawea.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This is a complete biography on Sequoyah.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This is a complete biography on Crazy Horse.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This is a complete biography on Sitting Bull.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This is a great article that describes the northwestern tradition of potlatch.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Description: This activity allows students to scroll over the parts of the buffalo to see how the natives of the Great Plains used each part.

Type: Interactive Map or Tour

Capital, Human, and Natural Resources

Description: This is an engaging article that describes how Native Americans used each of the three resource types. It gives numerous examples of each.

Type: Historical Profile or Biography Narrative

Categorizing Natural, Human, and Capital Resources

Description: This "containers" exercise requires students to drag and drop the resources to different containers depending on their type. It gives immediate feedback.

Cherokee Nation Reading Comprehension - Online

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.

Type: Reading comprehension

Cherokee Nation Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions.

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Crazy Horse Reading Comprehension - Online

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text. PASSAGE LENGTH: 378 Words LEXILE: 910

Type: Reading comprehension

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Crazy Horse Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. 378 Words LEXILE: 910

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Iroquois Nation Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a detailed historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. PASSAGE LENGTH: 521 Words LEXILE: 1110

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Pontiac's Rebellion Reading Comprehension - Online

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text. ARTICLE LENGTH: 456 Words LEXILE: 1010

Type: Reading comprehension

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Pontiac's Rebellion Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. ARTICLE LENGTH: 456 Words LEXILE: 1010

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Iroquois Nation Reading Comprehension - Online

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. PASSAGE LENGTH: 521 Words LEXILE: 1110

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Sacagawea Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions.

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Sacagawea Reading Comprehension - Online

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.

Type: Reading comprehension

The Long Lost Drawing of Sacagawea - Lewis and Clark

Description: Did you know that there are no known drawings of depictions of Sacagawea? All of the images you see of her today are simply guesses. This activity shows three different depictions of Sacagawea and challenges students to author their own "authentic" sketch of Sacagawea.

Format: Printable Activity

Sacagawea United States Postage Stamp Coloring Page

Description: This is a coloring page that features a United States postage stamp honoring Sacagawea.

Format: Printable Activity

Sitting Bull Reading Comprehension - Online

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text. PASSAGE LENGTH: 610 LEXILE: 1110

Type: Reading comprehension

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Sitting Bull Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. PASSAGE LENGTH: 610 LEXILE: 1110

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Sequoyah Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a biographical passage and ten multiple choice questions. PASSAGE LENGTH: 199 Words LEXILE: 750

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Sequoyah Reading Comprehension - Online

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text. PASSAGE LENGTH: 199 Words LEXILE: 750

Type: Reading comprehension

Use as Assessment on Google Classroom.

Tecumseh Reading Comprehension

Description: This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions.

Type: Reading comprehension

Format: Printable Activity

Inuit Printable Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt is designed for use with the Inuit profile. It includes an answer sheet.

Format: Printable Activity

Navajo Nation Interactive Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage and eight questions. It gives immediate feedback.

Chinook Nation Interactive Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage and eight questions. It gives immediate feedback.

Chinook Nation Printable Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage and ten questions.

Format: Printable Activity

Inuit Sentence Surgeons - Online

Description: This innovative activity requires students to correct the flawed spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The online versions show the numbers and types of errors. As students check their answers, they can see how many of each type of error still need to be corrected.

Iroquois Sentence Surgeons - Online

Description: This innovative activity requires students to correct the flawed spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The online versions show the numbers and types of errors. As students check their answers, they can see how many of each type of error still need to be corrected.

Inuit Online Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage on the Inuit. It has eight questions and gives immediate feedback.

Iroquois Printable Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage and eight questions on the Inuit.

Format: Printable Activity

Iroquois Online Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage on the Inuit. It has eight questions and gives immediate feedback.

Navajo Nation Printable Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage and ten questions.

Format: Printable Activity

Sioux (Lakota) Nation Printable Scavenger Hunt

Description: This scavenger hunt includes a reading passage and ten questions.

Format: Printable Activity

Categorizing Sioux (Lakota) vs Iroquois

Description: This "containers" exercise requires students to drag and drop the different terms to either the "Iroquois" container or the Sioux (Lakota) container. It gives immediate feedback.


Ghost Hunting Theories

If you consider America in the latter half of the 1800s and early 1900s, Christian agenda was important to uphold and any evidence to disprove the Bible would be shunned. Not only that, but it would validate Native American legends that incorporate their encounters with the giants, making their beliefs justifiable and valid, not "heathen nonsense." Then, there's the whole popular Darwin Theory backing of the time and "science" as the new force driving politics and culture. How would they possibly explain a giant civilization of other beings when man was supposed to have superbly and singularly evolved from primates as the soul "intelligent" winner?

The concept that these beings interacted with Natives is probably beyond the thinking of the times. If even one Native legend has truth (Paiutes and red-haired giants, for example), then the Natives' faith was based on truth and their record-keeping was meticulous. That would make them on "even ground" intellectually with the Europeans arriving in elaborate boats with guns and books and other "modern devices." They were not a superstitious heathen bunch as was assumed by the arrogant newcomers, but a cautious people who lived alongside beings with exceptional skills and ruthless carnivorous tendencies. The Native People had this isolated relationship with the Tall Ones and the newcomers had not learned from the past as their people had. These Native People were keenly more aware of the country and its history.

The Paiute Tribe - a classic example of a humble tribe giving detailed legends of their origins and their trials and victories in which the stories prove over time their accuracy in history keeping.

Numa Titucca - "Man Eaters" were described in their legends. A tribe of unknown origins that was very tall, with red hair all over their bodies, and carnivorous cannibals. This horrifying tribe of tall cannibals came from somewhere in the California territory, as best as could be assumed, and came into the lands of the Paiute around Lake Lohantan. The Paiutes fought them off, finally trapping the last Man Eaters (who had constructed a reed boat and were living on the lake) inside of a cave where they burned the last of them and won the war with these outsiders.

Who were these red-haired giants? They were a people who likely fled a Mt. Shasta eruption. In the day, Pyramid Lake and Lake Lohantan were joined. The journey would likely be water, these giants all over the world being water-oriented from their first launch into the South Pacific and onward to Peru's coast.

In the early 1900s, guano farmers found these giants' remains inside Lovelock Cave, verifying the legends so meticulously carried by the proud Paiute people.

(Lenni-Lenape legend) The Mississippi River Valley was lush and fertile, and was looked upon by the Lenni-Lenape as a good place to establish a permanent settlement. They followed it downstream to its junction with the Missouri River where they came face to face with the mighty *Talega The Moundbuilders. Highly sophisticated and intellectual, the center of Talega land was the walled city of Cahokia located near our present East St. Louis. Cahokia was the commercial, political and religious center of the Moundbuilder culture, and has been described as “a cross between New York, Washington, D.C. and the Vatican”.

A message was sent to the Talega leader asking permission for the Lenni-Lenape to settle in their area as friends and allies. Permission for a settlement was denied, but safe passage across their territory was granted. A peaceful crossing was begun, but trouble soon reared its head. Over the generations, the numbers of the Lenni-Lenape had swelled greatly. When the Talega leader saw the thousands of people preparing to cross his land, he panicked. Fearing an invasion, the Talega warriors were ordered to attack, killing those who had already crossed the river. Enraged by this deception, the Lenni-Lenape swore to “Conquer or die”, and called upon the Iroquois (with whom they had established a strong bond) for help. Help was granted.

What followed has been described as one of the largest wars ever fought on the ancient continent. One stronghold, called Fort Ancient, had pallisaded walls 13 feet high and 5 miles long, and could shelter 10,000 people. The war raged over the lifetimes of 4 Lenni-Lenape chiefs before they were finally victorious, driving the Talegas south forever (down the Mississippi by accounts). The Natchez are the descendants of the final remnants of the defeated Talega.

(*Talega tribe have been referred to as giants from the "Hopewell" mounds)


History of Native Americans

History of Native Americans
A comprehensive and illustrated guide to History of Native Americans and the culture of the Native American and the history of the indigenous people of North America. All of our articles are accompanied by pictures, paintings and - all bringing the life of History of Native Americans to life and enabling a better understanding of the history of each state in America.

History of Native Americans
The history of the Native Americans include interesting information and facts about the indigenous people of North America including the cliff dwellers and Mound Builders. Read about the history of Native Americans and the tribes who lived in various states of America.

Articles on the History of the Native Americans
Indian Timeline Indian Wars & Battles Native American History
Trail of Tears Poem Trail of Tears Facts Five Civilised Tribes
Trail of Tears Trail of Tears Map Native Americans Timeline
The Cliff Dwellers Native American Wars The Mound Builders
History of Alabama Indians Alaska Indians Arizona Indians
History of Arkansas Indians California Indians Colorado Indians
History of Connecticut Indians Delaware Indians History of Florida Indians
History of Georgia Indians Idaho Indians Illinois Indians
History of Indiana Indians Iowa Indians Kansas Indians
History of Kentucky Indians Louisiana Indians Maine Indians
History of Maryland Indians Massachusetts Indians Michigan Indians
History of Minnesota Indians Mississippi Indians Missouri Indians
History of Montana Indians Nebraska Indians Nevada Indians
History of New Hampshire Indians New Jersey Indians New Mexico Indians
History of New York Indians North Carolina Indians North Dakota Indians
History of Ohio Indians Oklahoma Indians Oregon Indians
History of Pennsylvania Indians Rhode Island Indians South Carolina Indians
Tennessee Indians Texas Indians History of Utah Indians
Vermont Indians Virginia Indians West Virginia Indians
History of Washington Indians Wisconsin Indians History of Wyoming Indians
History of the Native Americans

History of Native Americans by each State
The history of Native American Indians by each state provides facts and information about the natural resources and raw materials available to the Indian tribes and the food they ate, their lifestyle, the types of Houses, Shelters and Homes each tribe in each state would live in. The names of the indigenous tribes of Indians who lived in each state are listed and profoundly affected by newcomers to the area. The indigenous people of America had occupied the land thousands of years before the first European explorers and white settlers arrived. The history of Native Indians by each state provides information about the effect of the Europeans on their lifestyles. The Europeans brought with them new ideas, customs, religions, weapons, transport (the horse and the wheel), livestock (cattle and sheep) and disease which profoundly affected the history of the Native Indians. The history of the State and of its Native American Indians is detailed in a simple History Timeline.


In the Beginning: Native Americans

North America has a long, rich history in ultrarunning, one that stretches back thousands of years. For much of that time, walking and running were the only means of travel and communication to bridge the
huge, open spaces of the American continent.

The migration route to the Americas was through the steppes and tundra of Siberia and Alaska, via the Bering land bridge, which was exposed by vast quantities of water locked up in the huge ice caps of the
last Ice Age. Sometime between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago, humans followed mammoth, musk ox and caribou through a gap in the ice sheet that dominated North America, to emerge upon the great plains.
These earliest inhabitants of the continent probably marched in small groups, most of their meager possessions perhaps carried by women using head straps (loads of as much as 150 pounds were reported
in the pre-equine era among plains Indians). From the great plains the way was then open for their descendants to walk across mountain and desert, through jungle to the far reaches of Patagonia, a journey
that may have taken less than a thousand years.

Without the horse for transportation (until the Spanish introduced it in the sixteenth century), these Native Americans evolved a lifestyle delineated by their abilities as walkers and runners. Surprisingly, however,
the first recorded ultra distance performers in the Americas were not born in the Western Hemisphere, but came from across the sea.

By 1000 A.D., the Vikings from Norway had established colonies in Greenland, and in the year 1009 Thorfinn Karlsefni set out to explore a new land that had been discovered to the West, Vinland. He had been
given two Scottish runners, a man named Haki and a woman Hekja, both reputedly fleeter than deer. When Karlsefni arrived in this new land, he put ashore the Scots, ordering them to run south, to discover the
nature of the land and to come back before three days had passed. The runners wore only a bjafal or kjafal, a hooded poncho, which fastened between the legs. It is likely that the Scots explored what later
became known as Newfoundland. They returned three days later carrying grapes and self-sewn wheat, which may sound surprising today, but 1,000 years ago the province had a warmer climate than at present.

Native Americans that the Scots may have met would have been part of the running culture that permeated the entire continent. There were, in fact, extensive trading routes throughout pre-Columbian America,
used by traders and their porters traveling on foot. Within this wider context, early European settlers were to record networks of runners that tied tribes together. In the Northeast, in what was to become New York
state, the Iroquois Confederacy was held together by running messengers who could cover the 240-mile Iroquois Trail within three days. In the far South, Aztec relay runners brought their king, Montezuma, news
of the Spaniard Cortez’ landing at Chianiztlan, covering the 260 miles in relay fashion within 24 hours. In 1680, a network of Hopi and Zuni runners coordinated a revolt against their Spanish conquerors among
some 70 pueblos or villages, covering over 300 miles in what is now Arizona and New Mexico.

Without horses, using only dogs as pack animals, Native Americans were conditioned to cover great distances on foot from an early age. It was recorded that Apache Indians, who were renowned for their
toughness, at the age of 15 or 16 had to undertake a long run over rough country carrying a load on their back. Young men would be expected to go without sleep in a vigil that could last 48 hours. They then were
required to go out into the wilds for two weeks, living through their own skill and toughness. An adult Apache could travel on foot over the roughest terrain from fifty to seventy-five miles a day, keeping this up for
several days at a stretch.

Outstanding runners in such a culture would become key figures in holding together widespread associations, such as the Iroquois Confederacy, or even loose groupings of proximal tribes, by carrying news and
other urgent messages. A typical example of the role such runners played is recorded in Peter Nobokov’s excellent book “Indian Running.” In the 1860s a messenger runner of the Mesquakie tribe in his mid-fifties
ran 400 miles from Green Bay, Wisconsin to warn Sauk Indians along the Missouri River of an enemy attack. Such messenger runners were probably part of the culture of the Sauk, Creek, Omaha, Kickapoo,
Osage, and Menominee tribes, and possibly many others. Such runners dedicated their lives to this endeavor, following a strict diet and often practicing celibacy. On their runs they would carry a dried buffalo heart.

We can get some idea of the kind of distances such runners covered from the journals of early settlers. As early as 1794, James Emlen wrote that Sharp Shins, one of the Iroquois Confederacy messengers, ran
90 miles from Canandaigua to Niagara between sunrise and sunset.

In 1835, a correspondent to The Spirit of the Times newspaper told of a Native American who had run 100 miles in a day carrying a sixty-pound bar of lead. Another wrote of a member of the Osage tribe to skeptical
members of the Indian Commission. Seeking to prove his veracity, he proposed a wager. An Indian was to take a message to Fort Gibson at sunrise and return with an answer before sunset, a round-trip journey
of some 80 miles. The wager was won.

In 1876 Big Hawk Chief ran from the Pawnee Agency to the Wichitas, a distance of 120 miles, inside 24 hours. His claim to have run such a distance was not believed. The Wichita chief arranged to ride back with
him, sending a relay horse to the 60-mile point so that he could change horses there. Before the 60-mile point, the Wichita chief’s horse was forced to stop and rest, but Big Hawk went on. The Wichita chief
eventually reached the Pawnee village before sunrise, less than 24 hours after their start, and found Big Hawk asleep. He had come in around midnight, covering the 120 miles across mountains, hills, and streams
in about 20 hours.

Other writers recorded similar feats. The Hopi Indians particularly have many stories told of their running prowess. Walter Hough described a Hopi Indian running 65 miles in eight hours, from Oraibi Pueblo to
Winslow, before turning around and running home. George Wharton James wrote in 1903 that on several occasions he had employed a young man to take a message to Oraibi to Keams Canyon, a distance of
72 miles, and that he had run the entire way and back within 36 hours. Another Hopi, Letayu, carried a note from Keams Canyon to Fort Wingate and returned, covering over 200 miles in three days.

The greatest feat attributed to an Indian runner was by Charlie Talawepi in the early 1900s, when reportedly he ran from Tuba City to Flagstaff and returned to Moenkapi, covering around 156 miles in about 24
hours. Charlie was apparently reduced to a walk by the finish, and took days to recover. For this feat he was given a twenty-dollar silver piece.

The most famous of the Hopi Indians was Louis Tewanima, who won the silver medal in the 10,000 meters in the 1912 Olympics, and finished ninth in the 1908 Olympic Marathon. In his younger days he would
reputedly run from his home to Winslow and back, some 120 miles, just to watch the trains pass.

In the Native American culture, the ability to cover great distances on foot was not limited to males. Around 1866 eight Tarahumara women contested a 100-mile race around an oblong mountain on a loop of
some 7.7 miles. Two villages had selected them as their fastest runners. Having started at 6:35 a.m., by 92 miles only three women were left. Wild betting was to be a feature of the contest over the last few miles.
It was two women from the village of Baconia who finished together, in a little over half a day. Like other Native American ultrarunners, they had eaten parched corn in the form of a gruel, sweetened with sugar.

Some of the early European settlers adapted to the Native American style of life and became adept at covering great distances on foot. In 1778, Daniel Boone was returning home from the depths of hostile
territory when his horse became exhausted and had to be turned loose. He was forced to cover 160 miles through the wilderness on foot in under four days, much of the time on limited or no rations.

A more remarkable feat was recorded for an earlier female settler escaping from the Shawnee. Mary Ingles, age 23, was abducted in July 1755 and carried far from any white settlement. She eventually escaped
with a Dutch woman. Living on nuts, roots, berries, and wild grapes, and wrapping their feet in strips of cloth torn from their clothing to replace their disintegrating moccasins, they began their long walk home
through the Appalachian Mountains. By mid-November, after walking more than 700 miles, the two women reached safety.

Life in the nineteenth century was a little easier for later immigrants, but they still needed considerable endurance. Although they may not have been used to covering great distances on foot within days, as the
Native Americans did, they generally came from cultures that were used to walking. Wagon trains from Kansas to California and Oregon carried the goods of the overlanders, as they were called. Many pioneers
had to walk alongside the wagons. One publication extolling the healthy virtues of the overland route described the immigrant as “fresh, vigorous, inured to exposure, able to walk his forty miles a day and thrive
on it.” Others walked all the way anyway, pushing a wheelbarrow or handcart carrying their meager belongings.

By the nineteenth century, white Americans were regularly recording feats of their contemporary native American runners, but by now the entire Native American ultra culture was in decline. The horse, introduced
by the Spanish to the New World, had meant that the ability to cover great distances on foot was no longer crucial to survival. Over very long distances, a runner could still outlast the horse, as shown by the exploits
of Big Hawk. But as Native American areas contracted under the pressure of white settlement, Indian running messengers became an occasional convenience for the thinly spread white settlers, instead of the
precious lifeline among Native American communities that they had once been.

In the first decades of the twentieth century, Native American runners were to feature in a series of well-publicized ultra distance races, and indeed they also made an impact on the early American marathon
scene. However gradually, the changing lifestyles of the Native American communities and access to motorized vehicles were to gradually eradicate the last remnants of the Native American ultra culture. The
lone exception seems to be the Tarahumara tribes of northern Mexico, who have managed to maintain their Native American ultra culture despite the challenges of the entire century, and have recently begun
to merge it with the modern American ultrarunning culture of today.

Like many present-day African runners, Native Americans had the “advantage” of lifelong conditioning. From childhood, running games, hunting, and often a nomadic lifestyle inured Native Americans to covering
long distances on foot. This ability to cover ground on foot was of paramount importance. Such were the pressures on the pedestrian nomads that no allowances could be made for anyone who could not keep up.
Sometimes cruel necessity forced tribes to abandon the aged and infirm, in order to reach areas where game could be found. It would be those individuals who would implore their families to leave them. One such
was reputed to have said, “I am old and too feeble to march my days are nearly all numbered, and I am a burden to my children. I cannot go and I wish to die.”

Such evolutionary pressures would ensure that only the strong, enduring individuals would survive. However, studies such as those on the cardiovascular systems of the Tarahumara Indians in the early 1970s
have shown that a significant part of the Native American’s great endurance capability was due to lifelong conditioning. Sedentary Tarahumaras have running capabilities little different from the average individual.
It is ironic that many modern-day American ultrarunners should seek to escape the pressures of everyday life, and to unconsciously emulate their Native American forerunners, following trails running across
mountains and rivers to reach distant destinations, viewing panoramas first revealed to tribal running messengers hundreds—even thousands—of years ago.


Native Americans - HISTORY

When you hear the word racism, most people think African American or Hispanic, but there is an entire other race in America who experiences racism on every level without a real sense of justice, it is the American Indian.

Racism far exceeds just Black and White or Hispanic and Asian. Often forgotten, the American Indian has experienced a great deal of racism in the U.S. Although many people overlook or excuse the behavior of the settlers, this was the home of the Indian person before Christopher Columbus. Contrary to popular belief, Columbus didn't discover America, the Indians already called this vast land home. And like any person defending their home or territory, the Indians fought to keep their land.

It seems a shame that Native Americans are subjected to racism in a country they called their own but they do. According to the United States Department of Justice Native Americans experience per capita more than twice the rates of violence as the average American citizen. American Indians are the victim of violence by those of other races more than 70 percent of the time. So why then is the public not aware of these statistics? The answer is horrifyingly simple the justice system in American does not tend to care for its native sons and daughters.

According to the US Department of Justice, by its own admission, crimes against Native Americans go unpunished. The DOJ states that some of the problem is reporting of crimes by Indians but they also admit that police officers nationwide are not equipped with the knowledge needed to fight crime within Native tribes. Many times because tribal members live on reservations local police are reluctant or discouraged from responding to crimes against natives. In affect this leaves many tribes policing themselves that can get difficult because of tribal ties.

Hundreds of native peoples made up of millions of individuals occupied the lands that would become the United States of America. During the colonial and independent periods, a long series of Indian Wars were fought with the primary objective of obtaining much of North America as territory of the U.S. Through wars, massacre, forced displacement (such as in the Trail of Tears), restriction of food rights, and the imposition of treaties, land was taken and numerous hardships imposed. Ideologies justifying the context included stereotypes of Native Americans as "merciless Indian savages" (as described in the United States Declaration of Independence) and the quasi-religious doctrine of Manifest Destiny which asserted divine blessing for U.S. conquest of all lands west of the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific. The most rapid invasion occurred in the California gold rush, the first two years of which saw the deaths of tens of thousands of Indians. Following the 1848 American invasion, Native Californians were enslaved in the new state from statehood in 1850 to 1867.

Military and civil resistance by Native Americans has been a constant feature of American history. So too have a variety of debates around issues of sovereignty, the upholding of treaty provisions, and the civil rights of Native Americans under U.S. law.

Once their territories were incorporated into the United States, surviving Native Americans were denied equality before the law and often treated as wards of the state. Many Native Americans were relegated to reservations--constituting just 4% of U.S. territory--and the treaties signed with them violated. Tens of thousands of American Indians and Alaska Natives were forced to attend a residential school system which sought to reeducate them in white settler American values, culture and economy--to "kill the Indian, saving the man."

Further dispossession continued through concessions for industries such as oil, mining and timber and through division of land through legislation such as the Allotment Act. These concessions have raised problems of consent, exploitation of low royalty rates, environmental injustice, and gross mismanagement of funds held in trust, resulting in the loss of $10-40 billion. The World watch Institute notes that 317 reservations are threatened by environmental hazards, while Western Shoshone land has been subjected to more than 1,000 nuclear explosions.

While formal equality has been legally granted, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders remain among the most economically disadvantaged groups in the country, and suffer from high levels of alcoholism and suicide.

When Americans think of slavery, our minds create images of Africans inhumanely crowded aboard ships plying the middle passage from Africa, or of blacks stooped to pick cotton in Southern fields. We don't conjure images of American Indians chained in coffles and marched to ports like Boston and Charleston, and then shipped to other ports in the Atlantic world.

Yet Indian slavery and an Indian slave trade were ubiquitous in early America. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, tens of thousands of America's native peoples were enslaved, many of them transported to lands distant from their homes.

Our historical mythology posits that American Indians could not be enslaved in large numbers because they too readily succumbed to disease when exposed to Europeans and they were too wedded to freedom to allow anyone to own them. Yet many indigenous people developed resistance to European diseases after being exposed to the newcomers for well over a century. And it is a racist conception that "inferior" Africans accepted their debased position as slaves - a status that American Indians and Europeans presumably could never have accepted. This is a gross misconception of history.

We are just scratching the surface of what this all means. For the enslavement of Indians forces us to rethink not only the institution of slavery, but the evolution of racism and racist ideologies in America.

Scholars long have known about the Indian slave trade, but the scattered nature of the sources deterred a systematic examination. No one had any conception of the trade's massive extent and that it played such a central role in the lives of early Americans and in the colonial economy.

Indian slavery complicates the narrative we have created of a white-black world, with Indians residing outside on a vaguely defined frontier. The Indian slave trade connects native and European history, so that plantations and Indian communities become entwined. We find planters making more money from slave trading than planting, and if we look more closely we find Indians not only enslaved on plantations but working as police forces to maintain those plantations and receiving substantial rewards for returning runaway slaves.

We are also learning a great deal more about American-Indian peoples. Most importantly we can now tell the stories - the tragedies - that befell so many who were killed in slaving wars or spent their days as slaves far from their homes. They and their peoples have been largely forgotten. The Natchez, Westo, Yamasee, Euchee, Yazoo and Tawasa are among the dozens of Indian peoples who fell victims to the slaving wars, with the survivors forced to join other native communities. These are tales that Indians themselves have not told: Just as the story of Indian slavery was excluded from the European past, it was largely forgotten in American-Indian traditions.

Americans often wish the past would just go away, save for those symbols we celebrate: Pocahontas saving John Smith, the "noble savage," and the first Thanksgiving. The image of Pilgrims and Indians sharing a meal is one of the most cogent images we have of American Indians and of the colonization of this continent.


Teaching Native American History in a Polarized Age

When Pope Francis canonized the Franciscan monk Junípero Serra during his 2015 visit to the United States, he brought into the light of public debate the still precarious position of Native Americans in the collective historical consciousness of American people. The canonization of Serra, an eighteenth-century monk who used corporal punishment to evangelize California's indigenous peoples, exposes the ongoing historical tension between how we view the history of colonialism in the Americas and how we understand the place of Native Americans in our collective past.(1)

Native American history is rich and complex, replete with traditions thousands of years in the making it is also a history tainted by the exploitative excesses of settler colonialism. Getting American college students to grapple with the complexities of Native American history is one of the great challenges of teaching in twenty-first-century college classrooms. Thus, while Serra's canonization sparked controversy, it also presented college educators with an opportunity to challenge their students to rethink the place of indigenous people in American history.

The challenges involved in teaching a more nuanced Native American history are multifaceted and not confined to debate about Serra's 2015 canonization. We live in an age of social and political polarization, an era in which some of our leaders demand a "pro-American" history curriculum for K–12 students. Ours is also a time when violence is all too commonplace in our communities, and when serious intellectual debate over historical symbols causes deep anxieties everywhere from the op-ed pages of our newspapers to college classrooms.(2) Talking about the various social, political, and environmental issues that influenced Native American histories, and the role that Europeans like Serra played in those histories, can therefore be a stressful experience for some students.

In recent years I've discovered that many students find Native American history a mystery they're curious, but a lack of historical knowledge has them feeling reticent to engage in conversation. Many of these students express disappointment about the limitations of their K–12 history education. Others bring deep-seated cultural assumptions, clichés, and racial preconceptions about Native American people with them when they arrive at university.

While cultural stereotypes about Native Americans certainly present challenges to the cultivation of a more nuanced understanding of the place of indigenous people in American history, they also offer college educators teaching opportunities. Personally, I'm quite interested in the historical preconceptions that my students bring to the study of American Indian history. At the beginning of each semester I encourage students to give me a sense of what they know about Native American people and their history. Here's a sampling.

Several years ago a student in a class about Native Americans in the Southeast confidently informed me that "I'm related to Pocahontas and my family has the paperwork to prove it." I never saw that documentation.

Significantly, that student is not alone. In Virginia, where I teach, students often claim descent from Pocahontas. It's easy to be cynical about such claims, but the students who make these bold pronouncements tend to perceive the study of American Indian history in very personal terms, with many enrolling in indigenous history classes hoping to deepen not only their knowledge of Native America, but to gain a deeper understanding of themselves.

Other students express attitudes that range from the romantic to the dismissive. Some continue to perceive Native Americans as the ultimate ecologists living in "harmony" with nature. Still others give voice to divergent views about the media coverage of the "redskin" mascot controversy.(3) Students express either condemnation for what they perceive as a blatantly racist symbol, while others, often young men, offer dismissive comments about diversity, "political correctness," and racial sensitivity. As one of my students recently put it, "I don't see what's so offensive about [the "redskin" mascot]."

It's not hard to understand why students have such divergent, and occasionally offensive, perspectives. The purveyors of popular culture—from Hollywood filmmakers to professional sports franchises—continue to fall back on racial stereotypes of Native Americans, thereby naturalizing representations of indigenous people as racially different or even inferior.(4)

It is the case that doing justice to the panoply of human experiences that constitute American history requires a serious engagement with American Indian history.(5) But encouraging students to question cultural stereotypes about indigenous Americans is the most common challenge facing historians who teach Native American history at the college level. There are, however, other challenges.

For instance, I've lost count of the number of students who've graduated from public schools in Virginia and expressed frustration at how "standards of learning" rubrics and bureaucratic metrics narrowed their high school history education. From a young age, these students still learn that "in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue" and sit through simplistic lessons about Squanto and the origins of Thanksgiving. This might count as "patriotic history," but the dumbing down of Native American history in K–12 classrooms leaves students ill-prepared for the type of critical thinking skills needed in college classrooms and, in the long-term, imperils, rather than strengthens, American democracy.

So can college educators overcome these multifaceted challenges to teaching Native American history? I think we can. Most students are thirsting for a more inclusive history of the United States and want to grapple with the significance of an American history in which American Indians are woven into the brutal story of the nation's settler colonial past.

Starting with misconceptions and cultural stereotypes can be a useful entry point to encourage students to think about the political (and politicized) uses of history. Engaging with the legends of Pocahontas or Squanto, for instance, makes it possible to think about how Europeans and Euroamericans have represented Native Americans in the service of nation-building propaganda.

The college classroom should also be a space where students can analyze the often-brutal aspects of American history. Take, for instance, the history of colonial warfare and disease transfer. For some time historians such as Paul Kelton have exposed the limitations of Alfred Crosby's famous "virgin soil thesis." In my classes, I provide students with an opportunity to read and reflect on Crosby's famous thesis and to compare his analysis with primary sources—written and oral—of disease outbreaks among Native communities in Eastern North America. The result of such analysis is a much more complex history in which students begin to see the active ways indigenous people understood and treated illness.

While we as college educators should not shy away from the more uncomfortable facets of American history, we also need to introduce students to the strength of indigenous communities and the significance of native cultures and traditions surviving and thriving in our current century. For example, recent media interest in Native American two-spirit people opens our classrooms to original discussions about gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ studies. Alternatively, exposing our students to both primary and secondary sources about indigenous concepts of kinship enables us to underscore the enduring significance of reciprocity in native cultures in ways that contrast it with the Western intellectual tradition of individualism and capitalistic accumulation.

The challenges to teaching Native American history in college classrooms are broad ranging they are cultural, institutional, and political in nature. But these challenges are not insurmountable. Indeed, a liberal education that views pedagogy as a means of engaging, intervening, and rethinking the place and roles of native people in American history constitutes an empowering educational experience for our students and cultivates a more open and democratic historical discourse. Such a broadening and deepening of our students' historical perspectives about Native American history may indeed be closer than we think.

Gregory Smithers teaches Native American history at Virginia Commonwealth University. His most recent book is The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity (2015).

NOTES
(1) Joshua Keating, "Why Is the Pope of the Poor Canonizing a Spanish Colonialist? Slate, September 23, 2015, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/09/23/junipero_serra_why_is_the_pope_of
_the_poor_canonizing_a_spanish_colonialist.html.

(2) Joseph Berger, "Confederate Symbols, Swastikas, and Student Sensibilities," New York Times, July 31, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/education/edlife/confederate-symbols-swastikas-and-student-sensibilities.html.

(3) Carol Spindel, Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots (2000).

(4) Shannon Speed, "'Pro-American' History Textbooks Hurt Native Americans," Huffington Post, November 21, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannon-speed/proamerican-history-textb_b_6199070.html.

(5) Susan Sleeper-Smith, Juliana Barr, Jean M. O'Brien, and Nancy Shoemaker, Scott Manning Stevens eds., Why You Can't Teach United States History without American Indians (2015).


Native American History

The human history of the Americas extends at least 12,000 years into the past, to the time of the last Ice Age, when an ice sheet up to 2.5 miles high covered much of North America, and mammoth and saber-toothed tigers roamed the land.

During this vast period of time, Native people have not only survived but thrived, developing sophisticated cultures for understanding their world and technologies for utilizing it's resources. Prehistoric Native societies have at times maintained living standards enviable in many ways, even when compared to modern times.

The scale of Native American civilization was also comparable to contemporary civilizations in other parts of the world. The Mississippian culture, named for the Mississippi River valley where it probably originated around 1,100 years ago, spread over much of eastern North America. Cahokia, the largest known Mississippian city, was larger than the city of London in 1250 AD.

Native history has also significantly influenced the history of the United States of America. For example, some historians credit the Chickasaw for making the U.S. an English-speaking country due to their opposition to the French and their alliance with the English prior to and during the French and Indian War, and some say that if the federal government had dealt differently with the state's rights issues leading up to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Civil War might have been avoided.

Follow the links below to learn more about this fascinating part of America's heritage.


The Legacy of Injustices Against Native Americans

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A Nation Built on Stolen Land

As we examine racism and recommit to racial justice this Lent, it is vital that we address the attempted systematic destruction of the Native peoples of North America by colonizers, both ancient and modern. The United States was built on a foundation of colonization, racism, and genocide. This is an original sin of our nation, but it is not just a sin of our past. Today, compared to the national population, Native Americans have significantly lower median incomes, lower homeownership, increasing health disparities, and twice the level of poverty. These outcomes are the effects of a system of white supremacy.

The Native experience is also one of rich tradition, faith, and resistance. Before colonizers landed on this continent, Native Americans organized themselves into tribal nations and powerful confederacies. The white reaction to the cultural and political power of Native Americans has been genocide legitimized by the creation of legal authority and institutional control. This system of white supremacy continues in the United States to this day.

From the first interactions with Native Americans to the modern day, white colonizers in North America have worked toward one thing: theft. Theft of land, theft of natural resources, theft of culture and identity. Racial justice demands that we recognize and remedy these thefts. This resource cannot comprehensively recount the entire history of Native Americans, but we hope that this will be a starting point to begin learning about the peoples our nation has attempted to make invisible.

White Supremacy Fuels the Destruction of Native Americans

Throughout history, white supremacy has demonstrated its power to reshape institutions and supersede legality. When President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, ordering the removal of all Native Americans from their tribal land to reservations, the Supreme Court initially attempted to side with the tribes, who had signed treaties that ensured their national sovereignty. President Jackson bypassed the courts, and bent the strength of federal institutions to further meet the needs of white supremacy. Between 1830 and 1850, President Jackson oversaw the forced relocation of 100,000 Native Americans at the hands of federal and local military forces, resulting in the loss of ancestral homelands and 15,000 deaths from exposure, disease, and starvation. [1] These death marches were white supremacy made manifest, and the legitimation of land theft was codified.

On December 26, 1862, six days before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the hanging of 38 Dakota men – the largest mass execution in U.S. history. These men had taken part in a Native uprising in response to broken treaties. This is just one example of the racist legal system created to suppress and remove Native Americans. The United States created treaties promising to end the theft of Native land, allowed the treaties to be violated, and punished resistance, all while pushing Native Americans out of their homes and into smaller areas of land. White settlers desired gold, timber, buffalo, and land, so the legal systems and institutions adapted to steal it all from the tribes that depended on the land’s resources for their survival.

White Supremacy Continues Harming Native Americans Today

Recently, NETWORK staff traveled to New Mexico and hosted a round table in Albuquerque to listen to Native American leaders and leaders in women’s health, childcare, rural dental care, food security, and immigration sectors share their experience working to mend the gaps. New Mexico has a complex history of interactions between Native American tribes, European colonizers, and Spanish settlers which continues to shape the state today. New Mexicans also deals with a massive nuclear and uranium mining industry.

In the 20 th Century, the U.S. government has repeatedly participated in and allowed the theft of Native land, resources, and identity. From the Manhattan Project through today, uranium is mined on or near tribal lands, often at the expense of the Navajo and Lakota peoples, leading to extensive uranium poisoning and land contamination.

New Mexico: Colonialism, the Nuclear Industry, and Hazardous Consequences

Today, New Mexico is the only state in the U.S. with what is considered a cradle-to-grave nuclear industry, meaning that every process of building nuclear weapons and sustaining nuclear energy occurs or has occurred in New Mexico. The New Mexico Environment Department lists 22 permitted hazardous waste sites in the state. This does not account for unpermitted sites, which also exist, including multiple hazardous waste sites related to uranium mining, milling, and processing. Many of the more recent siting decisions that have resulted in new sectors of the nuclear industrial complex in New Mexico have resulted because people in power have tempted poor communities overwhelmingly comprised of people of color with economic opportunities, many of which have resulted in death and disease, as was/is the case with uranium mining across indigenous communities in New Mexico. Eventually, New Mexicans, especially indigenous people, are blamed for this fate of willful participation, ultimately driving the status quo for expanding the nuclear industry in New Mexico, granting more federal funding to the state, thus making New Mexico more dependent on the federal government.

– Myrriah Gómez, Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium Steering Committee

Legal and Cultural Destruction of Native Americans

After several successful Native uprisings led by warriors such as Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, the federal government responded with a new method of legal theft. The Dawes Act of 1887 divided Native reservations into individual allotments and sold “excess” to white settlers. Tribes lost 90 million acres, nearly 2/3 of their land. [2] Native Americans were pressured to sell their land to white people, dividing community land into fragments. Later amendments to the law removed federal recognition of tribal governments. The legal destruction of Native tribes was complete, but white supremacy demanded the destruction of Native culture as well.

Boarding schools for Native children, often run by Christian organizations, were created to remove Native identities. At one such school, the motto was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Native children were required to cut their hair, wear uniforms, speak only English, and take Anglicized names. Until 1978, Native children could legally be kidnapped from their families by the U.S. government and forced to attend these boarding schools. [3] During much of our nation’s history, the federal government outlawed Native American religious practices as well. When Native Americans refused to have their culture stolen from them, the federal government responded with violence, exemplified by the Wounded Knee Massacre.

The Impact of Generations of Injustice

My name is Yvette Pino. I am a Native American woman. I have lived on the Laguna Pueblo almost my entire life. I am a part of the Mescalero Apache tribe. Because I have lived on the reservation my entire life, I have seen the issues that affect Native Americans first-hand. These issues involve alcohol, education, and foster care. I have seen these issues play out in those close to me, as well as in the community. I have seen the never-ending cycle of alcoholic use, the cycle of foster care, and education. People aren’t challenged to pursue a higher education, because no one is there to do so. I love my community, it is a part of who I am but I cannot ignore these problems. I am an active participant in my parish community in Laguna, I have done volunteer work, I visited the nursing home often while my grandmother was alive and went to Mass with the residents. I feel the pain of my community, but I refuse to be a part of that cycle. I know God put me here for a reason. He has given me a strength to know that though these issues may seem like they cannot be overcome, that they will never go away, I know that with God, all things are possible.

I was put into foster care at a young age, for broken bones that could not easily be explained away. At sixteen months old I was put into my first, and only, foster home. I have been with the same family ever since, through the lows of court cases and lack of visits from my biological mom, to the highs of my graduating from a college preparatory high school and acceptance to Notre Dame. I know I am incredibly blessed to be where I am now, but though my story of being a foster kid is not a unique one, many children are not so lucky. They bounce from home to home, yearning for that love that every human being searches for. They do this until their parents are able to offer that support system, but if the parents make one mistake, back into foster care they go. They do this for years, sometimes until they come to the age of eighteen where they have very little resources to make the decision to go to college, and so the cycle continues. They may turn to alcohol to numb the pain and loneliness, have their own children but find because they were not shown love, they are unable to show love to their children. Then their children search for love outside of the home and may turn to drugs or alcohol.

Even though I am now going to college, and my brother is going to boarding school, my parents still struggle. This is all too common on the reservation and without the resources to send children to college, people on the reservation will remain here and feed the cycle of poverty.

– Yvette Pino, Mescalero Apache

Resistance and Hope

Native American resistance to the legal expression of white supremacy continues to this day. Much of modern Native resistance takes inspiration from the American Indian Movement of the 1970s, which temporarily repossessed the Native lands of Mount Rushmore, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and Alcatraz. In 2016, over 15,000 activists from the Standing Rock tribe and around the nation occupied tribal land that energy companies planned to use for the Dakota Access Pipeline. This group came together to protest the violation of treaties and the destruction of sacred land and resources. The federal government and corporate interests responded with beatings, attack dogs, and legal action. Once again, white supremacy overruled the concerns of Native peoples, but the #NoDAPL protest revitalized national focus on Native rights. The systems of white supremacy that damage Native Americans were revealed to the world.

In 2018, Representatives Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native American women elected to Congress. While a sign of hope, this historic step toward representation is only the first. Racism against the Native peoples of our nation is not an issue of the past. The legal and institutional systems of white supremacy have had devastating impacts on Native American tribes, and those systems continue to this day. We must all recommit to racial justice for Native Americans and work to dismantle the systems of white supremacy.

A Historic Time to be Engaged

As one of two Native American Women ever elected to Congress, I know it is a historic time to be engaged in politics regardless of background. We have been elected to lead during a time of divisiveness a time where white supremacy has been proliferated by the current administration, and, unfortunately, cited by some terrorists for their attacks. This has caused many issues, such as border security and those seeking asylum, to be blown out of proportion and grossly mischaracterized.

My colleagues and I took an oath on January 3rd and I did so solemnly with the understanding of what it means to stand up, speak out, and lead when others in elected office are abusing their power and not honoring their responsibilities to their constituents.

– Representative Deb Haaland (NM-01), Laguna Pueblo

We Pray

Great Spirit, Our Creator,

Your Love flared forth in brilliant galaxies, stars, planets, Sun, Moon and Earth, where life was born. In time, a unique multi-species, multicultural community of life emerged, encircling our Earth home.

Blessed are You, God of all Creation.

In your goodness, you have made us aware of our interwoven oneness in the human family, and our kinship with all creatures in your Creation.

Yet in America, we witness deep historic wounds and divisions that continue to separate us as peoples, that alienate us from one another and all Creation. We are mindful of deep national wounds in our relations with the First Peoples who inhabited America for thousands of years before the arrival of European Conquistadors in the 1500s and Pilgrims in 1607.

We lament present day dominant racist structures that render “invisible” the Indigenous peoples of America.
We pray for conversion of our hearts and minds, that we may be open to learn from the wisdom, cultures, traditions and spirituality of Indigenous peoples, which have always been their strength, teaching them how to live in harmony.

We lament the “Doctrine of Discovery,” Papal Bulls and treaties that denied and assaulted the God-given human dignity, rights, traditions and lands of Indigenous peoples in America and beyond.
We pray for honest admission of historic sins as Christian Church that will lead to forgiveness, healing, restitution, and reconciliation within the institutional Church and with Indigenous peoples in this country.

We lament the colonization, slavery and genocide of Indigenous peoples in America carried out by agents of the sword and cross.
We pray for the grace to become true disciples of Christ in the midst of opposing forces, to help heal the wounds inflicted by our sinful infidelities, by our betrayal of Jesus Christ, His life, teachings and example. As people of faith, may we voice and advocate for the moral, ethical, spiritual and environmental justice imperatives in all government policy-making and legislation.

We lament the policies of Manifest Destiny and military-enforced removal of Indigenous peoples from traditional homelands and their relocation to detention camps in designated “Indian Territory,” where thousands died from disease, exposure, and starvation, in the Trail of Tears, and the Long Walk.
We pray for honesty and courage to confront and renounce white supremacist ideology, propaganda, hate speech and actions in our nation and communities, as we live out the vision of our essential oneness with all people as God’s family.

We lament the U.S. government’s failure to honor hundreds of peace treaties with Indigenous nations in America, while pursuing policies to destroy their basic economic survival and cultural identity, by killing off the buffalo, controlling all commodities and removing children from families into boarding schools.
We pray for wisdom, guidance and perseverance to hold all elected officials accountable, to fulfill their responsibility to serve all people, especially the disadvantaged, to promote the common good in upholding democratic values, and to respect and care for God’s Creation.

We lament modern day forms of colonization through corporate and government disregard for tribal sovereignty, appropriating tribal lands and rights for private profit-driven extraction of natural resources, impacting health and devastating indigenous lands, water, air, plants and animals, as seen at Standing Rock and the Keystone Pipeline.
We pray for wisdom and guidance for elected officials, local communities and concerned citizens to respect the sacred nature of water, land, wildlife and air as God’s gifts to sustain all life, to enact strict national regulations and policies that protect all people’s rights to clean water, air and land, to address challenges of climate change and promote transition to 100% renewable energy, while preventing corporate profiteering from commodification of water and extraction of natural resources.

Great Spirit, Your Love allures us into the Circle Dance of Oneness, as co-creators of the evolving future. In this Circle, may we learn to respect, honor and celebrate our diversity and differences as human family, with deepening awareness of our fundamental oneness. “Our circle is timeless, flowing. It is new life emerging from death – life winning out over death.” (Lame Deer, Lakota)

Written by Sister Rose Marie Cecchini, MM, coordinator of the Office of Peace, Justice and Creative Stewardship of the Gallup, NM diocese


Watch the video: Native American Indian Flute. Destroy All The Negative Energy - Positive Calm Heal Relax Music (January 2022).