Who were the Native American people?

Native Americans were the indigenous people who resided in different parts of the American continent before Columbus discovered Americas in 1492. These tribes had diverse cultures and traditions.

Some of them lived a sedentary life and practiced agriculture, others were always on the move and used hunting as the primary source of food.

Some of these tribes evolved entire civilizations and forged kingdoms and empires, while others retained their tribal independence and isolation.

Native American people of North America

In North America, hundreds of Native American tribes lived by the 16th century. They occupied the entire North American territory from coast to coast.

Notable Native American tribes in North America included the Apache, Blackfoot, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Navajo, Nez Perce, Pawnee, Shawnee, Shoshone, and Sioux.

When British settlers started establishing colonies along the eastern coast, they often came into conflict with these tribes. This resulted in many wars which continued after the establishment of USA as well. Most of the wars were fought over the control of land originally occupied by the Native Americans.

Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans

Before the Europeans arrived in America, many Native American tribes lived a hunter-gatherer life. They would hunt animals, move along with the herds of the hunted animals and live a life on the go.

Other tribes settled down in a given area and practiced agriculture. Sometimes, the tribes fought with each other for control of the land. In such cases, the winning tribe usually pushed the losing tribe out of their territory.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans had no horses or sheep. These animals didn’t exist in North America and were introduced once the European explorers arrived.

Native Americans after the arrival of Europeans

The Europeans discovered America in 1492. Attempts began to immediately explore the region. These eventually led to settlers from Britain, France and Spain who established colonies in America.

As they did so, they also came into contact with the Native Americans. In some cases, this resulted in friendly ties. In others, it led to wars between the two sides.

European settlers and colonists won most of the wars against Native Americans because they had better weapons with superior technology.

At the same time, European diseases like small pox wrecked havoc with the Native American population and killed them by the millions.

With the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans lost a large portion of their population and manpower. They also lost control of many of their ancestral lands and their traditional lifestyle was greatly disturbed.

Native Americans in 20th century

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the US government forced Native American tribes to give up their lands and live on reservation sites.

The Native American didn’t have many political or social rights up until the mid-20th century. In the second half of the 20th century, many movements began to give them back their basic rights, such as the right to practice their religion. Today, more than 500 Native American tribes live in USA.

First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History Fifth Edition

Atlas of Indian Nations Hardcover – October 7, 2014