Native Americans refer to the people who have been living in North America for thousands of years. When the white Europeans arrived in Americas in the 15th century, Native Americans lived as different tribes.
They lived all over the present-day USA and each tribe had its own region or lands. The arrival of the Europeans radically changed the lives of these Native Americans.
The history of Native Americans goes back thousands of years. Researchers today believe that they arrived in multiple waves of migration from Eurasia to the American continent.
This happened many times between 40000 years ago and 12000 years ago. At the time, Eurasia was connected to the American continent through a land bridge. As different Native American tribes arrived on the American continent, they settled in different areas.
The culture of the Native Americans varied from one tribe to another. However, they had many common features. A key part of the Native American culture was the love for nature.
Native Americans considered nature as something close to divine or sacred. They believed that all things, such as plants, stones, animals and rocks possessed spirits. These spirits helped humans.
Native Americans drew their food, construction materials and other things of necessity from natural resources such as animals, trees, plants and rivers.
Different Native American tribes had different lifestyles. Some tribes relied mostly on hunting bison. So they moved around with the bison herd and lived in temporary houses.
Other tribes practiced agriculture and lived in permanent houses at one place. When Europeans arrived, they introduced horses to the Native Americans. The Native Americans soon became expert horsemen and started using the horses for hunting.
A large number of Native American tribes lived in North America. When the Europeans arrived, they brought diseases like smallpox. The disease was new to the Native Americans who suffered greatly because of it.
Millions of Native Americans died due to diseases, warfare, starvation and displacement after the arrival of the Europeans. This led to the extinction of many of the tribes. Of the tribes that survived, their populations were greatly reduced.
Famous Native American tribes include Cherokee, Sioux, Cheyenne, Navajo, Lakota, Mohawk and Iroquois.
United States gained independence in 1776. At the time, US were limited to the former British colonies located along the eastern coast.
Soon US started expanding towards the west. This brought US into conflict with the Native American tribes. Wars between the two sides continued until the end of the 19th century.
During these wars, Native Americans scored many victories but were ultimately defeated. Their ancestral lands were taken away and they were forced to move to reservation sites.
A large number of Native Americans died during the wars fought in this period. They also suffered many massacres where Indian women and children were killed during attacks.
Many Native Indians also became widely known and famous during this period. These include Black Hawk, Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Tecumseh, and Geronimo.