Essay on Native American – Background, History and Culture

Free 700 words essay on Native American – Background, History and Culture for school and college students

Native Americans in the United States

Also known as American Indians or Indigenous Americans, this population is the 500 federally recognized tribes of the United States. It however, excludes the natives of Hawaii and Alaska. The ancestors of these 5 million native Americans have lived in the United States for 15,000 years. Their population was affected by the influx of European migrants, decline due to warfare, disease, and slavery. Movements of self-determination since 1960s have changed their lives significantly.

Background:

The process of Colombian exchange through migration of Europeans to the Americas led to the transfer and adjustment of population, culture, and agriculture between the old and new societies. These immigrants were mostly Christians and proto-industrial. Indigenous tribes used hunting grounds for the entire tribe. Europeans on the other hand, worked by ownership of lands. Cultural differences and war-time shifting of alliances led to development of simmering political tensions, ethnic violence, and social disturbances. Devastating diseases such as smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever were brought in by the explorers and new settlers. Hundreds were massacred in Indian wars by the arrogant whites. The US Government too brought relocation programmes were hundreds died of mass starvation. After the American Revolution, expansion of population sustained the tensions and challenge of assimilation. Ethnic cleansing of many tribes came to be known as Trail of Tears. By the year 1924, almost all Native Americans were granted US citizenship.

Native Americans sided with the British in the American Revolution based on their trading relationships and in the hope that migration would stop. However, it remained divided. Lenape was the first tribe to sign a treaty with the United States Government. Both settlers and natives committed atrocities in the frontier warfare. When the British made peace through Treaty of Paris in 1783, they transferred territories of Native Americans to the US government without the former’s consultation. George Washington however, followed a policy of impartial justice towards the natives. He wanted regulated buying of the lands of native Americans, promotion of commerce, promotion of experiments to civilize their society, and punishment to violators. The Civilization Fund Act of 1819 encouraged this assimilation. Due to the Indian Removal Act of 1930, 100,000 natives relocated to the West. Reportedly, 44,000 native Americans fought in the World War II in the US military.

Culture:

Adena culture: Existed from 1000 BC to 200 BC, where related Native American societies shared a burial complex and ceremonial system.

Coles Creek Culture: Indigenous development of lower Mississippi valley, marked by increased use of flat-topped platform mounds arranged around Central plazas, complex political institutions, and subsistence strategy.

Hokoham culture: It is centered around American Southwest where natives practiced dry farming and produced corn, squash, and beans. They were known for pottery, rise in architecture and ceramics. They traded in shells and other exotics.

Puebloan culture: It comprised of present day southern Utah, northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. This culture is best known for stone and earth dwellings. Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Taos Pueblo are the sites belonging to this culture that are presently recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The stone dwellings are best preserved in the National Parks of the United States.

Mississippian Culture: It is extended throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valley. Most notable earthworks were in Cahokia, in the present-day Illinois, which was a trade and tributary chiefdom. Kincaid is considered as the biggest settlement of this culture. It also developed the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Their complex culture was subject to people’s adoption of maize agriculture, greater population densities, and chiefdom level complex social organization.

Iroquois Culture: It is the basis of present day upstate and western New York. The Iroquois League of Nations or “People of the Long House” had a confederacy model from the mid-15th century. Federation was their system of affiliation. The leadership was restricted to a group of 50 sachem chiefs. Each of them represented one clan within a tribe, but the representation was not based on population numbers. They settled in the historical lands of present day Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Oklahoma by the end of 17th century.

Today more than 70% of Native Americans live in urban areas. Grassroots efforts have been taken to uplift them. They’ve entered considerably in the gambling industry and financial services. Nevertheless, they are still divided into hundreds of ethno-linguistic groups.

 

 


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