The history of the Native Americans that occupied the United States of America traces back in ancient times around ten thousand years ago. The account is such a fascinating and indeed pregnant of real information. It is also tragic in many ways. Many archeologists have focused on the study of their migration patterns, their interactions with Europeans and how they shaped the history of America up to date. Research estimations record that, approximately 10 to 90 million Native Americans were already in the land of USA before the arrival of the early Europeans (Kniffen, Pg. 60-63). They were the earliest inhabitants of the area before the white man crossed the border and positioned himself in the soil.
Their migration patterns are still a research topic that cannot be distinctively analyzed. They are believed to have migrated from Serbia into what is called Alaska before they spread across the region (Kniffen, Pg. 45). They settled in various parts depending on their preference on climatic conditions among many other aspects. Their history is called the pre-Columbian history. The name originates from the early historian by the name Columbian. Columbian labeled the first inhabitants of America as the Indians who up to today are the preferred Native Americans. On believing that he had landed in the Indies on his way to Asia, Christopher Columbus gave the name Indian to the Native Americans. Since then the name has remained to be Indian Americans (Kniffen, Pg. 45). The group migrated and formed themselves into various tribes. They adapted to their new areas of settlement and stated the exploitation of the endowed natural resources. They had the belief of respecting the abundance of the gifts offered by the land. Depending on the provisions of the land, the new inhabitants specialized in various economic activities such as crop farming, proficient fishing, and animal keeping. They built their homes with the readily available resources within their territory. Some of these resources were things like animal skins, lumber, and sun-dried bricks. However, some other theoretical approaches argue that the Native Americans have been living in the land since their genesis. The approaches are however anchored on the creation myths that lack sufficient pieces of evidence to support the argument. It is just oral histories of different tribes.
Native Americans and Europeans
The genesis of Europeans migration and settlements in the new world was aided and the same time complicated by the indigenous inhabitants. Some communities became allies while others became enemies to the newly arrived settlers. The two different cultures of the groups were hurtling to each other. The collision could seemingly bring an end to one of them because of them. Much was expected on the arrival of the Europeans America but not the settlers themselves really knew the exact change. Different groups of Europeans came for various reasons. Some came as explorers and other in hunt of economic resources among many other varied purposes. What reception did the settlers expect from the Native Americans who were perceived to be mysterious people who had already faced great battles with the early Spanish colonizers? Conversely, what did the inhabitants expect from these new visitors who entirely unknown to them?
When the Europeans set their sail on the American soil, they were not only prepared to survive in the harsh wilderness environment but to face the cruel inhabitants of the land that they wanted to claim their vast lands. They were damned sure that some obstacles were hard to conquer, but they were set for any course. However, the strange thing in their resolution was how to face the new population of the natives whom they nothing about. They had tried to read a lot of literature background of the native society from the Columbus voyages, but the information was not in any substantial to relay on.
However, they had the hope of striking a trade deal with the natives to lure them to friends, but the problem was they were not sure if these hopes could be realized. They also had mixed reactions on the natives that really confused them. On one hand, they believed that Indians are gentle and eager to trade. The belief was as a result of the propaganda from the English governments on the trading companies. This gave the settlers hope and they believed that they were headed to the Garden of Eden for the great harvest. Another opposing image was the hostility of the Indians based on the early hostile reception of visitors like Spanish. Whichever way, the Europeans were destined to venture and conquer the land of America and the territories of the natives.
On arrival in the land, Powhattan as the leader of the powerful tribe of Indians saw the visitors as a source of power. They had brought with them valuable things like guns and knives. Powhattan was by that time fighting to consolidate maximum power in the region (Smith, Pg. 28-30). He had already taken control around 25 bands of warriors and still looking for more way to solicit more powers. To him, this was a golden opportunity to get the best weapons he longed to have for the sake of the regional powers. He, therefore, befriended the colonists and became the first benefiter of the new settlers. Despite the fact that he felt that the presence could destabilize the region, he saw that the benefit he got as an individual was worth the risk. In exchange for the weapons, Powhattan brought them food to help them survive the starving and long cold winter period. He also traded with them in exchange of corns with weapons(Smith, Pg. 28-30). The reception gave the Europeans first waves to survive easily and finally settled.
Contrary, in a very short period, the Europeans disregarded the natives hospitality. They displayed insatiable greed and arrogance towards the Indians. They went on and pursued their intent to take over the new territory of Indians. They became brutal and often attacked the Native Americans. The then naive Native Americans realized that the white settlers could soon take over their land due to the alarming rate in which they were coming in. the more they tried to coexist with the visitors, more problems were forthcoming.
With their new technology, the Europeans brought deadly diseases like measles and smallpox in the land of native Americans. This new technic brought a drastic effect to the Native Americans population, which had significantly started growing. As a result, the pervasive treatment by the arrogant colonists evoked Indian war. They started with the Indian Removal Act of 1830 the followed the worst bloody massacre of 1890(Stewart, Pg. 48-50). The massacre left hundreds of Indians slaughtered by the U.S cavalry. The colonial government started relocation programs that left many Native Americans alienated from their ancestral homes. The relocation provoked the renowned Tears of Trail that left hundreds of Cherokee tribe of Native Americans dead due to illnesses and starvation in their newly settled region (Stewart, Pg. 8-10). The population of the Native Americans was significantly reduced. Moreover, they were stripped off their customs. Their children were forcefully taken to schools so that they could become civilized and adopt to the new customs of the colonist. In 1876, the colonial government forced them natives to live in reservations where a big number reside up to today.
The Native Americans in the 20th century
Almost at the end of the 19th century that had turned be the worst era for Native Americans, their population had reduced significantly. They seemed a disappearing race. In the 1890 census, their population was recorded to be approximately 2225,000 people. Much worrying, the number was still reducing due to worse living conditions that they were left in by the colonial powers. Due to their diminishing number, there was the rise of the need for the Indians to be absorbed by other dominant society and do away with all their customs. The federal government married the idea, and the tribes were declared no longer separate.
Later in 1924, the Indian Citizen Act brought back the glory of the Native Americans by official citizenship to their tribes. This was done as a reward for their heroic contributions in the First World War (Lawson Pg. 30. As a result, there was emergence hundreds of recognized tribal government in the United States of America. They were granted the sovereignty of their government within the land. They began self-governance and organized themselves again for self-empowerment. The population of the Native Americans has since then increased significantly. The 2000 census recorded their population to be around 2.48 million.
Many of the Native Americans are still living in reservations that are considered to be the most poverty-ridden areas. The level of unemployment in the region records much higher as compared to the broader US (Lawson, Pg. 78-80). Due to depression and challenges of neglect, many individuals are facing challenges of drug addiction. The genesis of sufferings traces back to the humiliation and robbing of what belonged to them by the colonial governments. Instances of alcoholism and suicide are commonly witnessed in their areas. Many have tried to modernize or rather civilize the Native Americans through virtues like Christianity, but there are remains of few who hold to their customs. They recognize the importance of their heritage. There is still fight to against the indigenous people to leave their dark days and celebrate experience the ultimate freedom.
In conclusion, the history of the Native American is quite broad. Much remains unexploited, and the researchers are still in the run to make up more discoveries. The economic activities of the Native Americans remain an art to be detailed and well analyzed. Their cultural diversity is another area of exploration that needs great attention. Native America reasons for migrations and interactions with other groups apart from Europeans need more study too. Indeed the history of the group is a rich one.
Kniffen, Fred B. The Indians of Louisiana. Gretna, La: Pelican, 1976. Print.
Lawson, Russell M. Encyclopedia of American Indian Issues Today. , 2013. Print.
Smith, Robert W. Colonial America. Westminster, Calif: Teacher Created Resources, 2005. Print.
Stewart, Mark. The Indian Removal Act: Forced Relocation. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2007. Print.
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