Native Americans Indigenous Peoples The first people to live in a land are called indigenous peoples. This means they were the original settlers. The Native Americans are the indigenous peoples and cultures of the United States. American Indians Sometimes these peoples are referred to as Indians or American Indians. This is because when Columbus had first landed in America, he thought he had sailed all the way to the country of India. He called the locals Indians and the name stuck for some time. Where did they live? Native Americans lived throughout North and South America. In the United States there were Native Americans in Alaska, Hawaii, and the mainland of the United States. Different tribes and cultures lived in different areas. In the middle of the country lived the Plains Indians, including tribes such as the Comanche and Arapaho. In the Southeast area of the country lived tribes such as the Cherokee and the Seminole. Tribes The Native Americans were grouped into tribes or nations usually based on the area they lived in and their culture such as their religion, customs, and language. Sometimes smaller tribes were part of a bigger tribe or nation. As best as historians can tell, these tribes were fairly peaceful prior to the arrival of Columbus and the Europeans. There were hundreds of tribes throughout the United States when Columbus first arrived. Many of them are well known such as the Cherokee, Apache, and the Navajo. How do we know about their history? The Native Americans did not write down or record their history, so we have to find out about their history in other ways. Today archeologists are able to learn a lot about past cultures by digging up artifacts such as tools and weapons. Much of what we know comes from the recordings of the first Europeans to arrive. We can also learn from traditions and stories that have been passed down within the tribes from generation to generation. Native Americans Today Today, some of the descendants of the original American Indians live on reservations. These are areas of land set aside specifically for Native Americans. This helps to protect their heritage and culture. However, only around 30% live on reservations. The rest live outside the reservations just like anyone else. How did Native Americans get their food? Depending on the tribe and the area they lived in, Native Americans got their food by different methods including farming, hunting, fishing, and gathering. Most tribes used a combination of these four ways to get their food, but many specialized in one area such as farming or hunting. Native Americans in the Great Plains area of the country relied heavily on the buffalo, also called the bison. Not only did they eat the buffalo as food, but they also used much of the buffalo for other areas of their lives. They used the bones for tools. They used the hide for blankets, clothes, and to make the covers of their tepees. They even made rope from bison hair and used the tendons as thread when sewing. Almost every part of the buffalo was used. In the coastal areas or near large lakes, tribes would specialize in fishing. They often used spears or nets to catch fish. Fish could be smoked or dried to be stored for the winter. In the north, some Native Americans would ice fish. This is where they would cut a hole in the ice and fish using spears. Clothing The primary material used by Native Americans in their clothing was made from animal hides. All of their clothes were made by hand. The women would generally make the clothes. First they would tan the animal skin. Tanning is a process that would turn the animal skin into leather which would last a long time and not decompose. Then they would need to cut and sew the leather into a piece of clothing. The Native Americans would use feathers, animal fur such as ermine or rabbit, porcupine quills, and, after the Europeans arrived, glass beads to decorate their clothes. Most Native Americans wore some kind of footwear. This was usually a shoe made of soft leather called a moccasin. In the cold northern areas like Alaska, they wore a thick boot called a mukluk. Prior to the Europeans arriving, American Indians used wood, shells, and bone to make beads to decorate their clothing and make jewelry. Later they would start using the European's glass beads. The brain of the animal was sometimes used in the tanning process because of its chemical properties. Plains Indians sometimes wore breastplates made of bone for armor when going to war. The most popular kind of headdress was not the feathered one you see on TV a lot, but one called a roach. The roach was made from animal hair, generally stiff porcupine hair. Elaborate clothes, headdresses, and masks were often used in religious ceremonies. Famous Native Americans Squanto (1581-1622) Squanto (also called Tisquantum ) lived an interesting life. As a teenager he first met a group of Europeans led by Captain Weymouth. He learned the English language and traveled back to England with them. After a while he became homesick and eventually traveled back to his homeland. However, he didn't stay in America long as he and 19 other members of his tribe were taken captive by Captain George Weymouth, brought back to Europe, and sold as slaves. Years later, Squanto once again found his way back to his homeland. However, when he finally got home, he found out that his entire village had died from disease. Squanto joined another tribe and lived with them. Around a year later, the Pilgrims arrived and settled in Plymouth near the Squanto's tribe. Since Squanto could speak English he helped establish a treaty between the local Native Americans and the Pilgrims. Squanto helped the Pilgrims learn how to catch fish, grow local crops, and survive through the winter. The Pilgrims would likely have not made it without Squanto's help. Despite all the bad things that had happened to Squanto, he still wanted peace and to help others. Pocahontas (1595-1617) Pocahontas was the daughter of the chief of the Powhatan tribe which lived near the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. She ended up saving the life of Jamestown leader Captain John Smith when he visited her village. She also helped to warn the settlers of an attack from her father and his warriors. Later, Pocahontas would be captured and held for ransom by the settlers. She was treated well, though, and soon fell in love with English settler John Rolfe. After marrying John Rolfe, Pocahontas traveled back to England with Rolfe and became a famous celebrity. Unfortunately, she died in England at the young age of 22. Sequoyah (1767-1843) Sequoyah was a member of the Cherokee tribe. He invented the Cherokee alphabet and a way to write down the Cherokee language. He did this amazing feat all on his own. Black Hawk (1767-1838) Black Hawk was a capable and fierce war Chief. He led the Sauk tribes in assisting the British in the War of 1812. Then he fought to save his people's land from the settlers. However, he eventually was captured and his people lost their lands. Geronimo (1829-1909) Geronimo was a leader of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. Geronimo led the Apache in stiff resistance for many years against both invaders from the west and from Mexico. His name means "one who yawns". Sacagawea (1788-1812) Sacagawea was a member of the Shoshone Indian tribe. When she was a girl her village was attacked and she became a slave. Later, she was sold to a French trapper named Charbonneau who married her. She was living with Charbonneau when the explorers Lewis and Clark arrived. They asked for Sacagawea to travel with them as she could help translate with the Shoshone. She joined their expedition and played a major role their successful journey to the Pacific Ocean. Sitting Bull (1831-1890)>>> Sitting Bull was a famous leader of the Lakota Sioux Plains Indians. He is most known for having a premonition that the Sioux would win a great battle against the white man. Then he led a combined group of warriors from the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe tribes into battle. This famous battle was called the Battle of Little Big Horn and was fought against General Custer. In this battle, sometimes called Custer's Last Stand, Sitting Bull completely destroyed Custer's army killing every last man. <<<<Jim Thorpe (1888 - 1953) Jim Thorpe grew up in the Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma. He is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. He played professional baseball, basketball, and football. He also won Olympic Gold Medals for the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympics. Native American Trail of Tears History What was the Trail of Tears? The Trail of Tears was when the United States government forced Native Americans to move from their homelands in the Southern United States to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Peoples from the Cherokee, Muscogee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole tribes were marched at gunpoint across hundreds of miles to reservations. The Trail of Tears can also refer to the specific forced march and path of the Cherokee Nation from North Carolina to Oklahoma. When did it take place? The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress in 1830. The actual removal of the Native American tribes from the South took several years. It began with the removal of the Choctaw in 1831 and ended with the removal of the Cherokee in 1838. Did they want to move? The people and leaders of the tribes were often divided on the issue. Some thought that they had no choice but to agree to move. Others wanted to stay and fight for their land. Few of them actually wanted to leave their homeland, but they knew they could not fight the United States government and win. Leading Up to the Cherokee March After the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830, the Cherokee peoples resisted moving to Oklahoma. Eventually, President Andrew Jackson convinced some Cherokee leaders to sign an agreement called the Treaty of New Echota. By signing the treaty they agreed to trade their homeland for land in Oklahoma and $5 million. However, many of the Cherokee leaders did not agree to the treaty. They petitioned to Congress begging them to let them stay on their land. Despite gaining some support in Congress, the Cherokee were told they must leave by May of 1838 or they would be forced from their land. When May arrived, only a few thousand Cherokee had left. President Jackson sent General Winfield Scott to remove the Cherokee by force. The March General Scott and his soldiers rounded up the Cherokee people into large prison camps called stockades. In many cases, the Cherokee were not allowed to gather up their possessions before being put into the camps. During the summer, some groups were forced to start marching to Oklahoma. However, many people died from the heat and diseases. The remainder of the people were held in camps until that Fall. In the Fall, the rest of the Cherokee headed out to Oklahoma. It took them several months to travel around 1,000 miles across mountains and wilderness terrain. The journey lasted into the winter months making it very difficult and dangerous. Along the way, thousands of Cherokee died from diseases, starvation, and the cold. Historians estimate that at least 4,000 Cherokee died on the Trail of Tears. Aftermath and Legacy The Trail of Tears is one of the darkest and most shameful events of American history. The famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of it at the time saying "the name of this nation...will stink to the world." Today, the path of the Cherokee is memorialized by the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Interesting Facts about the Trail of Tears The persecution of Native Americans didn't end with the removal to Oklahoma. Much of the land they were promised by law in Oklahoma was soon taken from them. The Cherokee were given money to buy food along the way. However, dishonest suppliers sold them bad food at high prices causing many of them to starve. John Ridge, a Cherokee leader who agreed with the removal treaty, was later assassinated by Cherokee men who survived the march. Around 17,000 Choctaw people were forced to march to Oklahoma. It is estimated at least 3,000 died on the journey. Native American Vocabulary Adobe - A sun-hardened clay building material made from straw, dirt, and water. Algonquian tribes - A large group of tribes in the northern United States that speak the Algonquian language. Buckskin - Soft leather usually made from the skin of a deer, elk, or moose. Canoe - A narrow boat with pointed ends that is propelled by paddles. Chickee - A dwelling built by the Seminole Indians with a raised floor, thatched roof, and open sides. Cradleboard - A frame which a baby is attached to by using blankets. It is used to protect the baby while it is being carried around. Ghost Dance - A religious movement that prophesied an end to the expansion of the white man. Hides - Animal skins. Hogan - A Navajo dwelling built with a log frame and covered with packed mud. Igloo - A home build by the Inuit of the Arctic built from blocks of ice and snow. Iroquois tribes - A league of several nations of Native Americans located in the northeastern USA. Kachina - A spirit of an ancestor or nature. They were often represented by dolls called kachina dolls. Kiva - An underground ceremonial room used by the Pueblo for religious ceremonies and meetings. Lacrosse - A team sport using sticks with nets on the end to pass around a ball. It was first played by Indians in North America. Maize - The main crop of many of the original tribes. Maize is a grain and is the Indian name for corn. Moccasins - Shoes made from soft leather. Medicine man - A religious or spiritual leader. Potlatch - A festival celebrated by Indians in the northwest United States and Canada where gifts were exchanged. Powwow - A ceremony or meeting among Native American Indians. Pueblo - A village of multistoried buildings made from stones covered with adobe clay. Sometimes they were built into the side of a cliff. Reservation - An area of land set aside by the United States government that is managed by a Native American tribe. Roach - A headdress worn by many Native American men made from stiff animal hair that stood strait up from the head. It was sometimes called a porcupine roach. Teepee - A home made from long polls covered with buffalo hide. It took the shape of an upside down cone. Teepees were portable homes used by the plains Indians. Tomahawk - A small axe similar to a hatchet used both as a tool and a weapon. Totem pole - A tall wooden post carved with symbols. Travois - A sled made from long poles that trailed behind dogs or horses used to carry belongings when moving. Tribe - A group of families that have a common language, culture, and religion. Vision quest - A rite of passage ceremony where the person seeks to find spiritual guidance and their life purpose. Wampum - Beads made from shells that were sometimes used as money. Wigwam - A dome shaped home made from wooden poles covered with bark.