“Indigenous” peoples of what become the Americas
The Native Americans are believed to have traveled to America from Siberia (Russia) across the Bering Straight land bridge, formed during the ice age. [roughly 14,000 years ago] Scientists believe that the Native Americans were following the buffalo and byson that they were hunting for food.
Evidence: arrowheads that are similar to those of other Siberians, linguistic – believed that all Native American language is derived from one (was it a small migration or multiple waves), genetics (evidence shows that it was a pretty small migration that initially entered America, perhaps as few of 4 or 5 women)
Follow the Fish theory –
What if the Siberians traveled down the coast of western America by boat, following instead the fish that they caught; little evidence exists though to support this theory because any villages or settlings that were formed would now be submerged under water.
Anthropologists wonder then, roughly how many indigenous people were there at the time of Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbean?
Nobody really knows, it could be anywhere from 40,000,000 to 10,000,000.
Incas and the Aztecs
Probably 80% of the Native Americans lived below the Rio Grande at the time of Colombus’ voyage.
The Aztecs were not indigenous to central Mexico, but further north. Throughout the years they migrated downwards, conquering the people along the way. The same with the Incas has they migrated throughout Peru.
The same with the Chickasaw and Choctaw within in southeast America. The point is, nobody remained stationary; people were always on the move. (Anywhere from 1.5 million to 5 or 6 million most heavily populated along the rivers and coast).
What to call them?
Today the preferred term is Native American
Amerinian (American Indian)
Ideally we would call these people by their tribal identifications, i.e. Cherokee, choktaw; also these groups can be broken down linguistically, i.c lgonkin, Heron, Hokan-Suen (Iroquois)
Eastern Woodlands Peoples
All Native Americans EAST of the Mississippi River, Igonkin groups within Eastern America tended to ally with the French, while the English tended to befriend the Hoken-Suen (Iroquois Tribes). In almost all European and/or American conflicts throughout history someone always has Native American allies.
How did they live?
Agricultural people, living off the fruits of the land that they grow themselves. – very dependent on maize (corn), with fossil evidence from over 6,000 years ago., also ate beans, squash, and melons. They tended not to produce much surplus, due to the way in which they raised crops. North America was heavily covered in forest, so the Natives would set fire to the forest to clear the land. Over time, women would stab the ground with a stick to create planting holes – not digging very deep into the Earth – resulting in less destruction of the soil, but also fewer crops.
This is very much unlike the European way of farming – plow. Native Americans never really entered the “iron age,” although they still is evidence of cooper and gold ornamentation. This is also what makes the Mayan temples so incredible.
Beasts of Burbon, At this time the Americas are free of cows, pigs, horses, and even chickens – until the Spanish show up. They did have seasonal crop rotation, maybe three years of corn, three of pumpkin, three of beans…Native Americans would cultivate the entire land, and then after a few years they would travel to a new location and plant there, moving in a large circle – very massive territory. Unlike the Europeans who never left their farms, Native Americans would leave and come back years later – marking their territory with large totem poles.
Very unequal distribution of labor: women planted the seeds, women harvested the crops, women constructed the shelters, women bared the children. Men? They hunted, fished, cleared the land. They were there for…