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Native Americans , also known as American Indians , Indigenous Americans and other terms , are the indigenous peoples of the United States , except Hawaii. There are over federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The ancestors of modern Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15, years ago, possibly much earlier, from Asia via Beringia.

A vast variety of peoples, societies and cultures subsequently developed. Native Americans were greatly affected by the European colonization of the Americas , which began in , and their population declined precipitously due to introduced diseases , warfare and slavery. After the founding of the United States, many Native American peoples were subjected to warfare, removals and one-sided treaties , and they continued to suffer from discriminatory government policies into the 20th century.

Since the s, Native American self-determination movements have resulted in changes to the lives of Native Americans, though there are still many contemporary issues faced by Native Americans. When the United States was created, established Native American tribes were generally considered semi-independent nations, as they generally lived in communities separate from British settlers.

The federal government signed treaties at a government-to-government level until the Indian Appropriations Act of ended recognition of independent native nations, and started treating them as "domestic dependent nations" subject to federal law. This law did preserve the rights and privileges agreed to under the treaties, including a large degree of tribal sovereignty.

For this reason, many but not all Native American reservations are still independent of state law for this reason, and actions of tribal citizens on these reservations are subject only to tribal courts and federal law. The Indian Citizenship Act of granted U. This emptied the "Indians not taxed" category established by the United States Constitution , allowed natives to vote in state and federal elections, and extended the Fourteenth Amendment protections granted to people "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States.

Bill of Rights protections do not apply to tribal governments, except for those mandated by the Indian Civil Rights Act of Since the end of the 15th century, the migration of Europeans to the Americas has led to centuries of population, cultural, and agricultural transfer and adjustment between Old and New World societies, a process known as the Columbian exchange. As most Native American groups had historically preserved their histories by oral traditions and artwork, the first written sources of the conflict were written by Europeans.

Ethnographers commonly classify the indigenous peoples of North America into ten geographical regions with shared cultural traits, called cultural areas. The ten cultural areas are as follows:. At the time of the first contact, the indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-industrial and mostly Christian immigrants. Some Northeastern and Southwestern cultures, in particular, were matrilineal and operated on a more collective basis than the Europeans were familiar with.

The majority of Indigenous American tribes maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for use of the entire tribe. Europeans at that time had patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights with respect to land that were extremely different.

The differences in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant Europeans, as well as shifting alliances among different nations in times of war, caused extensive political tension, ethnic violence, and social disruption. Even before the European settlement of what is now the United States, Native Americans suffered high fatalities from contact with new European diseases , to which they had not yet acquired immunity ; the diseases were endemic to the Spanish and other Europeans, and spread by direct contact and likely through pigs that escaped from expeditions.

The Landscape of the Americas in "; "The decline of native American populations was rapid and severe, probably the greatest demographic disaster ever. Old World diseases were the primary killer. In many regions, particularly the tropical lowlands, populations fell by 90 percent or more in the first century after the contact.

Estimates of the pre-Columbian population of what today constitutes the U. After the thirteen colonies revolted against Great Britain and established the United States, President George Washington and Henry Knox conceived of the idea of "civilizing" Native Americans in preparation for assimilation as U. During the 19th century, the ideology of manifest destiny became integral to the American nationalist movement. Expansion of European-American populations to the west after the American Revolution resulted in increasing pressure on Native American lands, warfare between the groups, and rising tensions.

In , the U. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act , authorizing the government to relocate Native Americans from their homelands within established states to lands west of the Mississippi River , accommodating European-American expansion. This resulted in the ethnic cleansing of many tribes, with the brutal, forced marches coming to be known as The Trail of Tears. As American expansion reached into the West , settler and miner migrants came into increasing conflict with the Great Basin , Great Plains , and other Western tribes.

These were complex nomadic cultures based on introduced horse culture and seasonal bison hunting. They carried out resistance against United States incursion in the decades after the end of the Civil War and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in a series of Indian Wars , which were frequent up until the s and continued into the 20th century. Over time, the United States forced a series of treaties and land cessions by the tribes and established reservations for them in many western states.

Indian agents encouraged Native Americans to adopt European-style farming and similar pursuits, but European-American agricultural technology of the time was inadequate for the often dry reservation lands, leading to mass starvation.

In , Native Americans who were not already U. Contemporary Native Americans have a unique relationship with the United States because they may be members of nations, tribes, or bands with sovereignty and treaty rights. Cultural activism since the late s has increased political participation and led to an expansion of efforts to teach and preserve indigenous languages for younger generations and to establish a greater cultural infrastructure: Native Americans have founded independent newspapers and online media, recently including First Nations Experience , the first Native American television channel; [18] established Native American studies programs, tribal schools, and universities , and museums and language programs; and have increasingly been published as authors in numerous genres.

The terms used to refer to Native Americans have at times been controversial. The ways Native Americans refer to themselves vary by region and generation, with many older Native Americans self-identifying as "Indians" or "American Indians", while younger Native Americans often identify as "Indigenous" or "Aboriginal". By comparison, the indigenous peoples of Canada are generally known as First Nations. It is not definitively known how or when the Native Americans first settled the Americas and the present-day United States.

The prevailing theory proposes that people migrated from Eurasia across Beringia , a land bridge that connected Siberia to present-day Alaska during the Ice Age , and then spread southward throughout the Americas over the subsequent generations.

Genetic evidence suggests at least three waves of migrants arrived from Asia, with the first occurring at least 15 thousand years ago. The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period. While technically referring to the era before Christopher Columbus ' voyages of to , in practice the term usually includes the history of American indigenous cultures until they were conquered or significantly influenced by Europeans, even if this happened decades or even centuries after Columbus' initial landing.

Native American cultures are not normally included in characterizations of advanced stone age cultures as " Neolithic ," which is a category that more often includes only the cultures in Eurasia, Africa, and other regions. They divided the archaeological record in the Americas into five phases; [23] see Archaeology of the Americas.

According to the oral histories of many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, they have been living on this continent since their genesis, described by a wide range of traditional creation stories.

Other tribes have stories that recount migrations across long tracts of land and a great river, believed to be the Mississippi River. Archeological and linguistic data has enabled scholars to discover some of the migrations within the Americas. The Clovis culture , a megafauna hunting culture, is primarily identified by the use of fluted spear points. Artifacts from this culture were first excavated in near Clovis, New Mexico. The culture is identified by the distinctive Clovis point , a flaked flint spear-point with a notched flute, by which it was inserted into a shaft.

Dating of Clovis materials has been by association with animal bones and by the use of carbon dating methods. Recent reexaminations of Clovis materials using improved carbon-dating methods produced results of 11, and 10, radiocarbon years B.

The Folsom Tradition was characterized by the use of Folsom points as projectile tips and activities known from kill sites, where slaughter and butchering of bison took place. Linguists, anthropologists, and archaeologists believe their ancestors comprised a separate migration into North America, later than the first Paleo-Indians.

They constructed large multi-family dwellings in their villages, which were used seasonally. People did not live there year-round, but for the summer to hunt and fish, and to gather food supplies for the winter. Since the s, archeologists have explored and dated eleven Middle Archaic sites in present-day Louisiana and Florida at which early cultures built complexes with multiple earthwork mounds ; they were societies of hunter-gatherers rather than the settled agriculturalists believed necessary according to the theory of Neolithic Revolution to sustain such large villages over long periods.

The Oshara Tradition people lived from B. Poverty Point culture is a Late Archaic archaeological culture that inhabited the area of the lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf Coast. The Formative, Classic and post-Classic stages are sometimes incorporated together as the Post-archaic period, which runs from BCE onward.

The Hopewell tradition was not a single culture or society, but a widely dispersed set of related populations. They were connected by a common network of trade routes, [34] [35] This period is considered a developmental stage without any massive changes in a short period, but instead having a continuous development in stone and bone tools, leather working, textile manufacture, tool production, cultivation, and shelter construction.

The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast were of many nations and tribal affiliations, each with distinctive cultural and political identities, but they shared certain beliefs, traditions, and practices, such as the centrality of salmon as a resource and spiritual symbol.

Their gift-giving feast, potlatch , is a highly complex event where people gather in order to commemorate special events. These events include the raising of a Totem pole or the appointment or election of a new chief. The most famous artistic feature of the culture is the Totem pole, with carvings of animals and other characters to commemorate cultural beliefs, legends, and notable events. The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American civilization archeologists date from approximately CE to CE, varying regionally.

The civilization flourished from the southern shores of the Great Lakes at Western New York and Western Pennsylvania in what is now the Eastern Midwest , extending south-southwest into the lower Mississippi Valley and wrapping easterly around the southern foot of the Appalachians barrier range into what is now the Southeastern United States.

Numerous pre-Columbian societies were sedentary, such as the Pueblo peoples , Mandan , Hidatsa and others, and some established large settlements, even cities, such as Cahokia , in what is now Illinois. The Iroquois League of Nations or "People of the Long House" was a politically advanced, democratic society, which is thought by some historians to have influenced the United States Constitution , [38] [39] with the Senate passing a resolution to this effect in After , European exploration and colonization of the Americas revolutionized how the Old and New Worlds perceived themselves.

Many of the first major contacts were in Florida and the Gulf coast by Spanish explorers. From the 16th through the 19th centuries, the population of Indians sharply declined. There are a number of documented cases where diseases were deliberately spread among Native Americans as a form of biological warfare.

The most well-known example occurred in , when Sir Jeffery Amherst , Commander-in-Chief of the Forces of the British Army , wrote praising the use of smallpox-infected blankets to "extirpate" the Indian race. Blankets infected with smallpox were given to Native Americans besieging Fort Pitt. The effectiveness of the attempt is unclear.

Andrew White of the Society of Jesus established a mission in what is now the state of Maryland , and the purpose of the mission, stated through an interpreter to the chief of an Indian tribe there, was "to extend civilization and instruction to his ignorant race, and show them the way to heaven.

Andrew's diaries report that by , a community had been founded which they named St. Mary's, and the Indians were sending their children there "to be educated among the English. The same records report that in , "a school for humanities was opened by our Society in the centre of [Maryland], directed by two of the Fathers; and the native youth, applying themselves assiduously to study, made good progress.

Maryland and the recently established school sent two boys to St. Omer who yielded in abilities to few Europeans, when competing for the honor of being first in their class. So that not gold, nor silver, nor the other products of the earth alone, but men also are gathered from thence to bring those regions, which foreigners have unjustly called ferocious, to a higher state of virtue and cultivation. Through the midth century the Beaver Wars were fought over the fur trade between the Iroquois and the Hurons , the northern Algonquians , and their French allies.

During the war the Iroquois destroyed several large tribal confederacies, including the Huron , Neutral , Erie , Susquehannock , and Shawnee , and became dominant in the region and enlarged their territory. In , the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula founded Ursuline Academy in New Orleans , which is currently the oldest continuously operating school for girls and the oldest Catholic school in the United States.

From the time of its foundation, it offered the first classes for Native American girls, and would later offer classes for female African-American slaves and free women of color. Those involved in the fur trade tended to ally with French forces against British colonial militias.

The British had made fewer allies, but it was joined by some tribes that wanted to prove assimilation and loyalty in support of treaties to preserve their territories.

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Native Americans in the United States - Wikipedia

The game is played with one or two rackets or sticks and one ball. The object of the game is to land the ball in the opposing team's goal either a single post or net to score and to prevent the opposing team from scoring on your goal. The game involves as few as 20 or as many as players with no height or weight restrictions and no protective gear.

A Jesuit priest [ who? Currently in the WNBA, there are 2 women who are of Native ancestry and enrolled in federally recognized tribes. In , she was picked up on waivers by the Seattle Storm. The disk would roll down the corridor, and players would throw wooden shafts at the moving disk. The object of the game was to strike the disk or prevent your opponents from hitting it.

Jim Thorpe , a Sauk and Fox Native American, was an all-round athlete playing football and baseball in the early 20th century. Future President Dwight Eisenhower injured his knee while trying to tackle the young Thorpe. In a speech, Eisenhower recalled Thorpe: My memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He never practiced in his life, and he could do anything better than any other football player I ever saw.

In the Olympics, Thorpe could run the yard dash in 10 seconds flat, the in Olympic trials for the pentathlon and the decathlon. Louis Tewanima , Hopi people , was an American two-time Olympic distance runner and silver medalist in the 10, meter run in His silver medal in remained the best U.

Tewanima also competed at the Olympics, where he finished in ninth place in the marathon. He was the only American ever to win the Olympic gold in this event.

An unknown before the Olympics, Mills finished second in the U. Billy Kidd , part Abenaki from Vermont , became the first American male to medal in alpine skiing in the Olympics, taking silver at age 20 in the slalom in the Winter Olympics at Innsbruck , Austria. Six years later at the World Championships, Kidd won the gold medal in the combined event and took the bronze medal in the slalom. Traditional Native American music is almost entirely monophonic , but there are notable exceptions.

Native American music often includes drumming or the playing of rattles or other percussion instruments but little other instrumentation. Flutes and whistles made of wood, cane, or bone are also played, generally by individuals, but in former times also by large ensembles as noted by Spanish conquistador de Soto.

The tuning of modern flutes is typically pentatonic. Some, such as John Trudell , have used music to comment on life in Native America. Other musicians such as R. Carlos Nakai , Joanne Shenandoah and Robert "Tree" Cody integrate traditional sounds with modern sounds in instrumental recordings, whereas the music by artist Charles Littleleaf is derived from ancestral heritage as well as nature.

A variety of small and medium-sized recording companies offer an abundance of recent music by Native American performers young and old, ranging from pow-wow drum music to hard-driving rock-and-roll and rap. In the International world of ballet dancing Maria Tallchief was considered America's first major prima ballerina , [] and was the first person of Native American descent to hold the rank.

The most widely practiced public musical form among Native Americans in the United States is that of the pow-wow. At pow-wows, such as the annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico , members of drum groups sit in a circle around a large drum. Drum groups play in unison while they sing in a native language and dancers in colorful regalia dance clockwise around the drum groups in the center.

Familiar pow-wow songs include honor songs, intertribal songs, crow-hops, sneak-up songs, grass-dances, two-steps, welcome songs, going-home songs, and war songs. Most indigenous communities in the United States also maintain traditional songs and ceremonies, some of which are shared and practiced exclusively within the community.

The Iroquois , living around the Great Lakes and extending east and north, used strings or belts called wampum that served a dual function: The keepers of the articles were seen as tribal dignitaries. Pueblo peoples crafted impressive items associated with their religious ceremonies.

Kachina dancers wore elaborately painted and decorated masks as they ritually impersonated various ancestral spirits. Superior weaving, embroidered decorations, and rich dyes characterized the textile arts.

Both turquoise and shell jewelry were created, as were formalized pictorial arts. Navajo spirituality focused on the maintenance of a harmonious relationship with the spirit world, often achieved by ceremonial acts, usually incorporating sandpainting. For the Navajo the sand painting is not merely a representational object, but a dynamic spiritual entity with a life of its own, which helped the patient at the centre of the ceremony re-establish a connection with the life force.

These vivid, intricate, and colorful sand creations were erased at the end of the healing ceremony. The Native American arts and crafts industry brings in more than a billion in gross sales annually.

Native American art comprises a major category in the world art collection. Native American contributions include pottery , paintings , jewellery , weavings , sculpture , basketry , and carvings.

The integrity of certain Native American artworks is protected by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of , that prohibits representation of art as Native American when it is not the product of an enrolled Native American artist.

Attorney Gail Sheffield and others claim that this law has had "the unintended consequence of sanctioning discrimination against Native Americans whose tribal affiliation was not officially recognized.

The Inuit , or Eskimo , prepared and buried large amounts of dried meat and fish. Farmers in the Eastern Woodlands tended fields of maize with hoes and digging sticks, while their neighbors in the Southeast grew tobacco as well as food crops.

On the Plains, some tribes engaged in agriculture but also planned buffalo hunts in which herds were driven over bluffs. Dwellers of the Southwest deserts hunted small animals and gathered acorns to grind into flour with which they baked wafer-thin bread on top of heated stones. Some groups on the region's mesas developed irrigation techniques, and filled storehouses with grain as protection against the area's frequent droughts.

In the early years, as these native peoples encountered European explorers and settlers and engaged in trade, they exchanged food, crafts, and furs for blankets, iron and steel implements, horses, trinkets, firearms, and alcoholic beverages.

Interracial relations between Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans is a complex issue that has been mostly neglected with "few in-depth studies on interracial relationships". One case is that of Gonzalo Guerrero , a European from Spain , who was shipwrecked along the Yucatan Peninsula , and fathered three Mestizo children with a Mayan noblewoman.

European impact was immediate, widespread, and profound already during the early years of colonization and nationhood. Europeans living among Native Americans were often called "white indians". They "lived in native communities for years, learned native languages fluently, attended native councils, and often fought alongside their native companions".

Early contact was often charged with tension and emotion, but also had moments of friendship, cooperation, and intimacy. Given the preponderance of men among the colonists in the early years, generally European men married or had relationships with Native American women. There was fear on both sides, as the different peoples realized how different their societies were. They were suspicious of cultures which they did not understand.

Blackbird, wrote in his History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan , that white settlers introduced some immoralities into Native American tribes. Many Indians suffered because the Europeans introduced alcohol and the whiskey trade resulted in alcoholism among the people, who were alcohol-intolerant.

The Ottawas and Chippewas were quite virtuous in their primitive state, as there were no illegitimate children reported in our old traditions. But very lately this evil came to exist among the Ottawas-so lately that the second case among the Ottawas of 'Arbor Croche' is yet living in And from that time this evil came to be quite frequent, for immorality has been introduced among these people by evil white persons who bring their vices into the tribes.

For a Native American man to marry a white woman, he had to get consent of her parents, as long as "he can prove to support her as a white woman in a good home".

In the late 19th century, three European-American middle-class women teachers at Hampton Institute married Native American men whom they had met as students. As European-American women started working independently at missions and Indian schools in the western states, there were more opportunities for their meeting and developing relationships with Native American men.

For instance, Charles Eastman , a man of European and Lakota descent whose father sent both his sons to Dartmouth College , got his medical degree at Boston University and returned to the West to practice. He married Elaine Goodale , whom he met in South Dakota. He was the grandson of Seth Eastman , a military officer from Maine, and a chief's daughter.

Goodale was a young European-American teacher from Massachusetts and a reformer, who was appointed as the U. They had six children together. The majority of Native American tribes did practice some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America, but none exploited slave labor on a large scale. Most Native American tribes did not barter captives in the pre-colonial era, although they sometimes exchanged enslaved individuals with other tribes in peace gestures or in exchange for their own members.

Native Americans began selling war captives to Europeans rather than integrating them into their own societies as they had done before. As the demand for labor in the West Indies grew with the cultivation of sugar cane , Europeans enslaved Native Americans for the Thirteen Colonies , and some were exported to the "sugar islands".

The British settlers, especially those in the southern colonies, purchased or captured Native Americans to use as forced labor in cultivating tobacco, rice, and indigo.

Accurate records of the numbers enslaved do not exist because vital statistics and census reports were at best infrequent. Scholars estimate tens to hundreds of thousands of Native Americans may have been enslaved by the Europeans, being sold by Native Americans themselves. The Virginia General Assembly defined some terms of slavery in All servants imported and brought into the Country All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion If any slave resists his master The slave trade of Native Americans lasted only until around It gave rise to a series of devastating wars among the tribes, including the Yamasee War.

The Indian Wars of the early 18th century, combined with the increasing importation of African slaves, effectively ended the Native American slave trade by Colonists found that Native American slaves could easily escape, as they knew the country.

The wars cost the lives of numerous colonial slave traders and disrupted their early societies. The remaining Native American groups banded together to face the Europeans from a position of strength. Many surviving Native American peoples of the southeast strengthened their loose coalitions of language groups and joined confederacies such as the Choctaw , the Creek , and the Catawba for protection.

Even after the Indian Slave Trade ended in the enslavement of Native Americans continued in the west, but also in the Southern states mostly through kidnappings. Native American women were at risk for rape whether they were enslaved or not; during the early colonial years, settlers were disproportionately male. They turned to Native women for sexual relationships. African and Native Americans have interacted for centuries. The earliest record of Native American and African contact occurred in April , when Spanish colonists transported the first Africans to Hispaniola to serve as slaves.

Sometimes Native Americans resented the presence of African Americans. The carrying of Negroes among the Indians has all along been thought detrimental, as an intimacy ought to be avoided. Europeans considered both races inferior and made efforts to make both Native Americans and Africans enemies.

They worked together, lived together in communal quarters, produced collective recipes for food, shared herbal remedies, myths and legends, and in the end they intermarried. In the 18th century, many Native American women married freed or runaway African men due to a decrease in the population of men in Native American villages. While numerous tribes used captive enemies as servants and slaves, they also often adopted younger captives into their tribes to replace members who had died.

In the Southeast, a few Native American tribes began to adopt a slavery system similar to that of the American colonists, buying African American slaves, especially the Cherokee , Choctaw , and Creek.

In the Census, nearly 3 million people indicated that their race was Native American including Alaska Native. This phenomenon has been dubbed the "Cherokee Syndrome". Many tribes, especially those in the Eastern United States , are primarily made up of individuals with an unambiguous Native American identity , despite being predominantly of European ancestry.

Historically, numerous Native Americans assimilated into colonial and later American society , e. In many cases, this process occurred through forced assimilation of children sent off to special boarding schools far from their families. Those who could pass for white had the advantage of white privilege [] Today, after generations of racial whitening through hypergamy , many Native Americans are visually indistinguishable from White Americans , unlike mestizos in the United States , who may in fact have little or no non-indigenous ancestry.

Native Americans are more likely than any other racial group to practice racial exogamy , resulting in an ever-declining proportion of indigenous blood among those who claim a Native American identity. Disenrollment has become a contentious issue in Native American reservation politics.

Intertribal mixing was common among many Native American tribes prior to European contact, as they would adopt captives taken in warfare. Individuals often had ancestry from more than one tribe, particularly after tribes lost so many members from disease in the colonial era and after.

A number of tribes traditionally adopted captives into their group to replace members who had been captured or killed in battle. Such captives were from rival tribes and later were taken from raids on European settlements. Some tribes also sheltered or adopted white traders and runaway slaves, and others owned slaves of their own. Tribes with long trading histories with Europeans show a higher rate of European admixture, reflecting years of intermarriage between Native American women and European men, often seen as advantageous to both sides.

In recent years, genetic genealogists have been able to determine the proportion of Native American ancestry carried by the African-American population. The literary and history scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. A greater percentage could have a smaller proportion of Indian ancestry, but their conclusions show that popular estimates of Native American admixture may have been too high.

DNA testing is not sufficient to qualify a person for specific tribal membership, as it cannot distinguish among Native American tribes. Native American identity has historically been based on culture, not just biology, as many American Indian peoples adopted captives from their enemies and assimilated them into their tribes. While they occur more frequently among Native Americans, they are also found in people in other parts of the world.

Not all Native Americans have been tested; especially with the large number of deaths due to disease such as smallpox , it is unlikely that Native Americans only have the genetic markers they have identified [so far], even when their maternal or paternal bloodline does not include a [known] non-Native American.

To receive tribal services, a Native American must be a certified or enrolled member of a federally recognized tribal organization. Each tribal government makes its own rules for eligibility of citizens or tribal members. Among tribes, qualification for enrollment may be based upon a required percentage of Native American "blood" or the " blood quantum " of an individual seeking recognition, or documented descent from an ancestor on the Dawes Rolls or other registers.

But, the federal government has its own standards related to who qualifies for services available to certified Native Americans. For instance, federal scholarships for Native Americans require the student both to be enrolled in a federally recognized tribe and to be of at least one-quarter Native American descent equivalent to one grandparent , attested to by a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood CDIB card issued by the federal government.

Some tribes have begun requiring genealogical DNA testing of individuals' applying for membership, but this is usually related to an individual's proving parentage or direct descent from a certified member.

The Cherokee require documented direct genealogical descent from a Native American listed on the early Dawes Rolls. Tribal rules regarding recognition of members who have heritage from multiple tribes are equally diverse and complex. Tribal membership conflicts have led to a number of legal disputes, court cases, and the formation of activist groups.

One example of this are the Cherokee Freedmen. Today, they include descendants of African Americans once enslaved by the Cherokees, who were granted, by federal treaty, citizenship in the historic Cherokee Nation as freedmen after the Civil War. The modern Cherokee Nation , in the early s, passed a law to require that all members must prove descent from a Cherokee Native American not Cherokee Freedmen listed on the Dawes Rolls, resulting in the exclusion of some individuals and families who had been active in Cherokee culture for years.

Since the census of , people may identify as being of more than one race. Sociologists attribute this dramatic change to "ethnic shifting" or "ethnic shopping"; they believe that it reflects a willingness of people to question their birth identities and adopt new ethnicities which they find more compatible.

The reaction from lifelong Indians runs the gamut. It is easy to find Native Americans who denounce many of these new Indians as members of the wannabe tribe. But it is also easy to find Indians like Clem Iron Wing, an elder among the Lakota , who sees this flood of new ethnic claims as magnificent, a surge of Indians 'trying to come home. The journalist Mary Annette Pember notes that identifying with Native American culture may be a result of a person's increased interest in genealogy , the romanticization of the lifestyle, and a family tradition of Native American ancestors in the distant past.

There are different issues if a person wants to pursue enrollment as a member of a tribe. The subjects of genuine American Indian blood, cultural connection and recognition by the community are extremely contentious issues, hotly debated throughout Indian country and beyond. The whole situation, some say, is ripe for misinterpretation, confusion and, ultimately, exploitation. The genetic history of indigenous peoples of the Americas primarily focuses on human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups and human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups.

Neither recombines , and thus Y-DNA and mtDNA change only by chance mutation at each generation with no intermixture between parents' genetic material. The genetic pattern indicates Indigenous Americans experienced two very distinctive genetic episodes; first with the initial-peopling of the Americas, and secondly with European colonization of the Americas. Human settlement of the New World occurred in stages from the Bering sea coast line , with an initial 15, to 20,year layover on Beringia for the small founding population.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. History of Native Americans in the United States. Paleo-Indians and Settlement of the Americas. Archaic period in the Americas. Age of Discovery and European colonization of the Americas. Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas. Great Law of Peace. Native Americans in the American Civil War. Cultural assimilation of Native Americans. List of Indian reservations in the United States. Native American reservation politics. Native American self-determination and Native American civil rights.

Tribal colleges and universities. Modern social statistics of Native Americans. Contemporary Native American issues in the United States. Commission on Civil Rights [] September Stereotypes of Native Americans. Native American mascot controversy. Native American name controversy. Native American cultures of the United States. Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas and Indigenous languages of the Americas. Native American cuisine and Eastern Agricultural Complex. Native American music and Visual arts by indigenous peoples of the Americas.

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In other projects Wikimedia Commons. This page was last edited on 3 October , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Warfare was a major part of Comanche life. Comanche raids into Mexico traditionally took place during the full moon, when the Comanche could see to ride at night.

This led to the term "Comanche Moon", during which the Comanche raided for horses, captives, and weapons. Four levels of social-political integration were found in Comanche society: In contrast to the neighboring Cheyenne and Arapaho to the north, the Comanche never developed a political idea of forming a nation or tribe.

Army Indian Scouts for the Americans and Texans against their still fighting and free-roaming Comanche kin. The band was the primary social unit of the Comanche. A typical band might number about people. Bands were part of larger divisions, or tribes. Before the s, the three Comanche divisions were: Yamparikas, Jupes, and Kotsotekas. In the s and s, a number of Kotsoteka bands split off and moved to the southeast. This resulted in a large division between the original group, the western Comanches, and the break-away Kotsotekas, the eastern Comanches.

Over time, these divisions were altered in various ways. In the early 19th century, the Jupes vanished from history, probably merging into the other divisions. Many Yamparikas moved southeast, joining the eastern Comanche and becoming known as the Tenewa. Many Kiowa and Plains Apache or Naishan moved to northern Comancheria and became closely associated with the Yamparika. A group of Arapaho , known as the Charitica, moved into Comancheria and joined Comanche society.

New divisions arose, such as the Nokonis, closely linked with the Tenewa; and the Kwahadi, who emerged as a new faction on the southern Llano Estacado.

The western-eastern distinction changed in the 19th century. Observers began to call them Northern, Middle, and Southern Comanche. As the last band to move onto the Plains, they retained much of their Shoshone tradition. Because the Kotsoteka and Yamparika lived in the northern part of the Comancheria, they were called the Northern Comanche.

They emerged as a new division in the 19th century. Though the western-eastern distinction had changed in the 19th century, these people were classified as Western Comanche because of their relative isolation on the westernmost edge of the Comancheria. All these division names were spelled in many different ways by Spanish and English writers, and spelling differences continue today.

Large-scale groupings became unstable and unclear during the 19th century. The Comanche society was slowly overwhelmed and ultimately subjugated to the United States. Naming practices of the Comanche were flexible, so some of these names are probably synonyms of others on the list. In addition, several smaller bands included: The Comanche fought a number of conflicts against Spanish and later Mexican and American armies and groups. These were both expeditionary, as with the raids into Mexico , and defensive in nature.

The Comanche were noted for being fierce warriors who fought vigorously to defend their homeland of Comancheria. However, the massive population of the settlers from the east and the diseases they brought with them led to mounting pressure and subsequent decline of the Comanche power and the cessation of their major presence in the southern Great Plains.

The Comanche maintained an ambiguous relationship with Europeans and later settlers attempting to colonize their territory. The Comanche were valued as trading partners since via the Comancheros of New Mexico, but were feared for their raids against settlers in Texas.

At one point, Sam Houston , president of the newly created Republic of Texas , almost succeeded in reaching a peace treaty with the Comanche in the Treaty of Tehuacana Creek. His efforts were thwarted in when the Texas legislature refused to create an official boundary between Texas and the Comancheria.

While the Comanche managed to maintain their independence and increase their territory, by the midth century, they faced annihilation because of a wave of epidemics due to Eurasian diseases to which they had no immunity, such as smallpox and measles. Outbreaks of smallpox , and cholera [45] took a major toll on the Comanche, whose population dropped from an estimated 20, in midcentury to just a few thousand by the s.

However, the government did not prevent the slaughtering of the herds. The attack was a disaster for the Comanche, and the US army was called in during the Red River War to drive the remaining Comanche in the area into the reservation, culminating in the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon. Within just 10 years, the buffalo were on the verge of extinction, effectively ending the Comanche way of life as hunters.

In , the last free band of Comanches, led by the Quahada warrior Quanah Parker , surrendered and moved to the Fort Sill reservation in Oklahoma. The last independent Kiowa and Kiowa Apache had also surrendered. Unhappy with life on the reservation, warriors and their families, led by Black Horse , left the reservation in late for the Llano Estacado.

Attacks on buffalo hunters' camps led to the Buffalo Hunters' War of Some of the Lipan Apache and Mescalero Apache bands with some Comanche in their company held out in northern Mexico until the early s, when Mexican and U. Army forces drove them onto reservations or into extinction. New allotments were made in to all children born after the agreement, and the remaining land was opened to white settlement. With this new arrangement, the era of the Comanche reservation came to an abrupt end.

This treaty was not affiliated with any level of government. In contrast to many treaties of its day, this treaty was very brief and simple, with all parties agreeing to a mutual cooperation and a sharing of the land. The treaty was agreed to at a meeting in San Saba County, [49] and signed by all parties on May 9, in Fredericksburg, Texas. The treaty was very specifically between the Peneteka band and the German Immigration Company.

No other band or tribe was involved. The German Immigration Company was dissolved by Meusebach himself shortly after it had served its purpose.

By , the Comanches had been relocated to reservations. Five years later, artist Friedrich Richard Petri and his family moved to the settlement of Pedernales , near Fredericksburg. Petri's sketches and watercolors gave witness to the friendly relationships between the Germans and various local Native American tribes. In , another treaty was signed in San Saba, between the United States government and a number of local tribes, among which were the Comanches.

This treaty was named for the nearest military fort, which was Fort Martin Scott. The treaty was never officially ratified by any level of government and was binding only on the part of the Native Americans. One of the most famous captives in Texas was a German boy named Herman Lehmann.

He had been kidnapped by the Apaches , only to escape and be rescued by the Comanches. Lehmann became the adoptive son of Quanah Parker. On August 26, , Quanah Parker provided a legal affidavit verifying Lehman's life as his adopted son — Entering the Western economy was a challenge for the Comanche in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many tribal members were defrauded of whatever remained of their land and possessions.

Appointed paramount chief by the United States government, Chief Quanah Parker campaigned vigorously for better deals for his people, meeting with Washington politicians frequently; and helped manage land for the tribe.

Parker became wealthy as a cattleman. Parker also campaigned for the Comanches' permission to practice the Native American Church religious rites, such as the usage of peyote , which was condemned by European Americans. I do not think this legislature should interfere with a man's religion, also these people should be allowed to retain this health restorer.

These healthy gentleman before you use peyote and those that do not use it are not so healthy. During World War II , many Comanche left the traditional tribal lands in Oklahoma to seek jobs and more opportunities in the cities of California and the Southwest.

About half of the Comanche population still lives in Oklahoma, centered around the town of Lawton. Recently, an minute silent film was "rediscovered", titled The Daughter of Dawn. It features a cast of more than Comanche and Kiowa. Comanche groups did not have a single acknowledged leader.

Instead, a small number of generally recognized leaders acted as counsel and advisors to the group as a whole. The peace chief was usually an older individual, who could bring his experience to the task of advising. There was no formal inauguration or election to the position, it was one of general consensus. Any member could speak at council meetings, but the older men usually did most of the talking.

To be chosen for this position, a man had to prove he was a brave fighter. He also had to have the respect of all the other warriors in the band. While the band was at war, the war chief was in charge, and all the warriors had to obey him. After the conflict was over, however, the war chief's authority ended. They learned how to ride horses when they were young and were eager to prove themselves in battle.

On the plains, Comanche women carried out the demanding tasks of cooking, skinning animals, setting up camp, rearing children, and transporting household goods. If a woman went into labor while the band was in camp, she was moved to a tipi , or a brush lodge if it was summer. One or more of the older women assisted as midwives. Men were not allowed inside the tipi during or immediately after the delivery. First, the midwives softened the earthen floor of the tipi and dug two holes.

One of the holes was for heating water and the other for the afterbirth. One or two stakes were driven into the ground near the expectant mother's bedding for her to grip during the pain of labor. After the birth, the midwives hung the umbilical cord on a hackberry tree. The people believed that if the umbilical cord was not disturbed before it rotted, the baby would live a long and prosperous life.

The newborn was swaddled and remained with its mother in the tipi for a few days. The baby was placed in a cradleboard , and the mother went back to work. She could easily carry the cradleboard on her back, or prop it against a tree where the baby could watch her while she collected seeds or roots.

Cradleboards consisted of a flat board to which a basket was attached. The latter was made from rawhide straps, or a leather sheath that laced up the front. With soft, dry moss as a diaper, the young one was safely tucked into the leather pocket. During cold weather, the baby was wrapped in blankets, and then placed in the cradleboard. The baby remained in the cradleboard for about ten months; then it was allowed to crawl around.

Both girls and boys were welcomed into the band, but boys were favored. If the baby was a boy, one of the midwives informed the father or grandfather, "It's your close friend". Families might paint a flap on the tipi to tell the rest of the tribe that they had been strengthened with another warrior. Sometimes a man named his child, but mostly the father asked a medicine man or another man of distinction to do so.

He did this in the hope of his child living a long and productive life. During the public naming ceremony, the medicine man lit his pipe and offered smoke to the heavens, earth, and each of the four directions. He prayed that the child would remain happy and healthy. He then lifted the child to symbolize its growing up and announced the child's name four times. He held the child a little higher each time he said the name. It was believed that the child's name foretold its future; even a weak or sick child could grow up to be a great warrior, hunter, and raider if given a name suggesting courage and strength.

Girls were usually named after one of their father's relatives, but the name was selected by the mother. As children grew up they also acquired nicknames at different points in their lives, to express some aspect of their lives. The Comanche looked on their children as their most precious gift.

Children were rarely punished. Occasionally, old people donned sheets and frightened disobedient boys and girls. Children were also told about Big Maneater Owl Pia Mupitsi , who lived in a cave on the south side of the Wichita Mountains and ate bad children at night.

Children learned from example, by observing and listening to their parents and others in the band. As soon as she was old enough to walk, a girl followed her mother about the camp and played at the daily tasks of cooking and making clothing. She was also very close to her mother's sisters, who were called not aunt but pia , meaning mother.

She was given a little deerskin doll, which she took with her everywhere. She learned to make all the clothing for the doll. A boy identified not only with his father but with his father's family, as well as with the bravest warriors in the band. He learned to ride a horse before he could walk. By the time he was four or five, he was expected to be able to skillfully handle a horse. When he was five or six, he was given a small bow and arrows. Often, a boy was taught to ride and shoot by his grandfather, since his father and other warriors were on raids and hunts.

His grandfather also taught him about his own boyhood and the history and legends of the Comanche. As the boy grew older, he joined the other boys to hunt birds.

He eventually ranged farther from camp looking for better game to kill. Encouraged to be skillful hunters, boys learned the signs of the prairie as they learned to patiently and quietly stalk game. They became more self-reliant, yet, by playing together as a group, also formed the strong bonds and cooperative spirit that they would need when they hunted and raided.

Boys were highly respected because they would become warriors and might die young in battle. As he approached manhood, a boy went on his first buffalo hunt. If he made a kill, his father honored him with a feast. Only after he had proven himself on a buffalo hunt was a young man allowed to go to war. When he was ready to become a warrior, at about age fifteen or sixteen, a young man first "made his medicine" by going on a vision quest a rite of passage.

Following this quest, his father gave the young man a good horse to ride into battle and another mount for the trail. If he had proved himself as a warrior, a Give Away Dance might be held in his honor. As drummers faced east, the honored boy and other young men danced.

His parents, along with his other relatives and the people in the band, threw presents at his feet — especially blankets and horses symbolized by sticks. Anyone might snatch one of the gifts for themselves, although those with many possessions refrained; they did not want to appear greedy. People often gave away all their belongings during these dances, providing for others in the band, but leaving themselves with nothing.

Girls learned to gather healthy berries, nuts, and roots. They carried water and collected wood, and when about twelve years old learned to cook meals, make tipis, sew clothing, prepare hides, and perform other tasks essential to becoming a wife and mother.

They were then considered ready to be married. During the 19th century, the traditional Comanche burial custom was to wrap the deceased's body in a blanket and place it on a horse, behind a rider, who would then ride in search of an appropriate burial place, such as a secure cave.

After entombment, the rider covered the body with stones and returned to camp, where the mourners burned all the deceased's possessions.

The primary mourner slashed his arms to express his grief. The Quahada band followed this custom longer than other bands and buried their relatives in the Wichita Mountains. Christian missionaries persuaded Comanche people to bury their dead in coffins in graveyards, [71] which is the practice today. When they lived with the Shoshone, the Comanche mainly used dog-drawn travois for transportation. Later, they acquired horses from other tribes, such as the Pueblo, and from the Spaniards.

Since horses are faster, easier to control and able to carry more, this helped with their hunting and warfare and made moving camp easier. Larger dwellings were made due to the ability to pull and carry more belongings. Being herbivores, horses were also easier to feed than dogs, since meat was a valuable resource. A Comanche man's wealth was measured by the size of his horse herd. Horses were prime targets to steal during raids; often raids were conducted specifically to capture horses.

Often horse herds numbering in the hundreds were stolen by Comanche during raids against other Indian nations, Spanish, Mexicans, and later from the ranches of Texans. Horses were used for warfare with the Comanche being considered to be among the finest light cavalry and mounted warriors in history.

Much of the area inhabited by the Comanches was flat and dry, with the exception of major rivers like the Cimarron River , the Pecos River , the Brazos River , and the Red River. The water of these rivers was often too dirty to drink, so the Comanches usually lived along the smaller, clear streams that flowed into them.

These streams supported trees that the Comanche used to build shelters. The Comanche sheathed their tipis with a covering made of buffalo hides sewn together. To prepare the buffalo hides, women first spread them on the ground, then scraped away the fat and flesh with blades made from bones or antlers, and left them in the sun.

When the hides were dry, they scraped off the thick hair, and then soaked them in water. After several days, they vigorously rubbed the hides in a mixture of animal fat, brains, and liver to soften the hides. The hides were made even more supple by further rinsing and working back and forth over a rawhide thong. Finally, they were smoked over a fire, which gave the hides a light tan color. To finish the tipi covering, women laid the tanned hides side by side and stitched them together.

As many as 22 hides could be used, but 14 was the average. When finished, the hide covering was tied to a pole and raised, wrapped around the cone-shaped frame, and pinned together with pencil-sized wooden skewers.

Two wing-shaped flaps at the top of the tipi were turned back to make an opening, which could be adjusted to keep out the moisture and held pockets of insulating air.

With a fire pit in the center of the earthen floor, the tipis stayed warm in the winter.

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