History of Native American Indians

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Native American Indians


Despite the history of Native Americans is the focus of the U.S., many are still uninformed on this matter, in fact, American and Canadian school systems give only small hints of this rich and interesting culture represented by the legacy of India.

By focusing on a special breed as its central theme, it is necessary to consider the entire span of human history, from prehistory to the present day. This is, again, hundreds of different tribes, both existing and extinct, each with its own history, population (lineage) and culture.

The studies include various sectors of Indian history, archeology, ethnology, sociology, geography, politics, religion, linguistics, etc..

If we are here today to talk about habits, customs, traditions, rituals, religious cults of Indian culture has with academics, authors and cartographers earlier, men like Powell, Hodge, Kroeber, Swanton, Collier, Josephy, Driver and Highwater, who dedicated their lives to research and preservation of history and culture of Native Americans.

During the long course of centuries, after the migration of men to the New World until the end of the glacial period, about .000 in 8 BC, and for a subsequent period, the primary mode of living was made by the hunting of large game. Most nomadic hunters dressed in skins and furs, and took refuge in caves, under ledges and in huts made of branches and used to chase the game Pleistocene: hairy mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers, American lions, camels, bison the big horns, short-faced bears, wolves savage, giant beavers, giant armadillos, tapirs nosed curved, musk oxen, wild horses, as well as some smaller mammals. Anthropologists have learned what they know of the first Indian on the basis of skeletons and objects found in the places they lived and places of hunting.

After the Indians appeared between 25,000 BC Paleolithic technology. They were used malleable stones, especially flint, flint and obsidian, to make functional tools, such as scrapers, axes and spears, tips, particularly important for hunting. The Paleo-Indian phases are distinguished by the type of spear point that usually brings the name of the area where it was discovered the first time. The main steps are: Sandia, Clovis, Folsom and Plano. The fact that these points have not been found on the Asian side of Bering Strait indicates that the technological evolution that concerns him, came to the New World.

During the final withdrawal of the northern glaciers between 9,000 and 5,000 years BC, many of the large mammals, from which depended the livelihood of paleo-Indians, disappeared, first in lower latitudes, then also in the North. This example of the extinction of big game is one of the great mysteries of the Paleolithic period and there are various theories to search for an explanation. Probably the cause was climate change. The glaciers melted, they created throughout the continent, high humidity and with lush vegetation, rivers, lakes and abundant wetlands.

Over the centuries, the climate had warmed and the environment had gradually dried up causing seasonal and regional variations that may have made it increasingly difficult to animal life. However, the other large mammals had survived the previous interglacial periods and climate change. Maybe this time the difference was in the presence of a new super predator: man, with his sharp stone points, his cunning and his organization.

The men sought food and shelter, they endeavored to develop new technologies, were proud of their work; dreamed and acted, and survived. The first Indians were adapted. Over the centuries, the climate, flora and fauna have evolved, from the Ice Age through the era of post-glacial watershed, until the new configurations of the regions. Generation after generation, the Indians gradually broadened their base of life and invent new technologies.

With progress comes the cultural diversity: Indians in different parts of the continent progressed in different ways. In archaeological terms, this means that each region has its own cultural sequence and its categories (cultures, periods, phases, traditions, etc..), In fact, every archaeological site has its own classification system, and this makes the study of Indian prehistory even more difficult.

However, to express degrees of development need different terms. In Central America, for example, where the Indians reached the highest level of organized life, as they built the city, uses the term "classical" refers to a climax that involves cultural divisions as "pre-classical" and "post-classical" .

Yet another term, which refers to the culmination of a culture, that of '"golden age", is sometimes used for advanced cultures of the North of Mexico, like that of the Anasazi, Hohokam and Mogollon of the Southwest or " Mound Builders "of the East .. It must be remembered also another cultural classification. Some scholars use the term "meso Indian" instead of "training" or "pre-classical" to distinguish the period when agriculture was introduced in Mesoamerica (between 7,000 and 5,000 BC) from the archaic culture of other places on the continent .



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American Indian APACHE


If a group of people deserve the label of "mother culture" or "mother civilization" Mesoamerica, this would be that of the Olmecs of the jungles, grasslands and marshes of the Gulf Coast of Mexico. In the Olmec culture developed the villages, though not quite as true of the city, at least as great centers of economic and ceremonies. The tribes became complex social structures. The crafts and manual work evolved into art, and architecture became refined and colossal proportions. The rituals were transformed into numerical systems, and calendar events in hieroglyphic writing.


Agriculture is extended through a network of trade relations.


This culture flourished, known as the Olmec, it influenced all other cultures arose later in Mesoamerica: the Maya, the Teotihuacan, the Totonachi, the Zapotec and, through them, the Toltecs, Mixtecs and Aztecs, like most other people north and south.


Like all major Mesoamerican civilization Olmec society was theocratic, with fixed classes of priests, bureaucrats, merchants and artisans in the towns. The agricultural population practiced agriculture based on ground-breaking (tearing down and burning trees to make way for fields) in order to support the other classes of society.


As for the artifacts, the Olmec are known for the giant basalt heads (some with a weight of 20 tons) with thick features and a hat like a helmet, and even statues of jade, pottery and stone-faced feline , the "baby-faces, which represented the Olmec descendant of a god, the jaguar, the rain god, and his human companions. The great feathered serpent, a recurring theme in Mesoamerica, is another common representation. The Olmecs are Also known for the large stems (carved stone slabs), for paving covered with mosaics of serpentine, magnetite for concave mirrors to light fires and ceramics edged in white.


The Olmecs, progressing, developed a number system and invented a calendar, as well as a hieroglyphic writing, which were then in vogue among the Maya for centuries to come. Indeed, given the linguistic and cultural ties between the two peoples, and not knowing what happened after the decline of the Olmec culture, some scholars have speculated that they are migrating south-east and became the direct ancestors of the Maya. The Maya have been called the "Greeks of the New World": This comparison expresses the high level of civility and intellect of these people. The Maya inherited a rich cultural legacy from the early Mesoamerican peoples and particularly to the Olmecs. Their greatness comes not so much innovation as the improvement of existing ways of life, as revealed by their complicated systems of mathematics, astronomy, calendar, their hieroglyphic writing, which is pictographic and ideographic perhaps even with glyphs that represent sounds and syllables, their realistic art style, is what the painting is that of the bas-reliefs, and finally their fine architecture, including the pyramids from the steep sides, the shelves at times, the ridges of the roofs.


The world of the Maya (link) of the Mayan and profeziecome Oltechi, revolved around ceremonial centers, you know at least 116 areas of the Maya in Mexico today, Guatemala, Honduras and San Salvador, many of these towns were magnificent structures stone, pyramid-shaped temples, platforms or astronomical observatories, palaces, monasteries, baths, fields for playing ball, squares, bridges, aqueducts and reservoirs. Tikal, for example, one of the most important of the classical culture of the plains, found in Guatemala, had six of 3,000 structures including temples, pyramid-shaped, stretched for about 2 square miles and had a population of about 100,000 inhabitants.


Although Mayan society was strictly organized according to different classes (priests, hereditary oligarchies, artisans and peasants), there is no evidence of a broader policy that would combine the various population centers, or a dominant capital. They were not belligerent and did not try to fight their neighbors. Stipulated, however far-reaching trade relations. They were a seafaring people and traders traveling with some large canoes, carved from a single trunk, with a maximum of 25 rowers.


Do you know the reason why the Maya centers of the classics of the plain have fallen into a state of cultural decline around 900 AD A credible theory indicates this decline as a consequence of the decline of agriculture and because of growing population and the depletion of the soil which also led to an uprising of peasants against the priests and nobles regents. In any case, from that moment on the Mayan culture flourished mainly in the south, in the highlands of Guatemala.


After the 1000 A.D. developed another strain of the Mayan culture in Yucatan Peninsula, as a result of an invasion of people who joined the Toltecs and Mayans adopted their traditions and their aesthetic. Then arose of ceremonial centers like Chichen, Itza, Mayapan, and Tulum.


The Chichimecs nomads or "sons of dogs" arrived in the valley of Mexico from the northern regions, in small groups and the eighth century onwards. But only in the tenth century one of these nomadic tribes, the Tolteca-Chichimeca, managed to take over the others. Their leader was called Mixcoatl.


Studying the local cultures, it was discovered that they built a great city, Tula, situated on top of a mountain and well defended. In 968 Topiltzin, son of Mixcoatl, came to power. It 'hard to distinguish fact from legend, since most of what we know about the history of Toltec, was passed down through myths and Aztec poems, in which both father and son are treated as gods: Mixcoatl as a god of hunting, Topiltzin as Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent which is the oldest of which took its name. And 'well known, however, that Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl established the Toltec empire with an independent city-states. sought to increase the cultural level of his people and thanks to his work as "Toltec" became synonymous with "civilized" follows in the tradition. Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl encouraged architecture, the Toltecs became excellent builders: they built palaces and halls of columns and frescoes, huge pyramids, gardens, surrounded by a wall to the ball game. Topiltzin encouraged the processing of metals, the Toltecs modeled objects of gold and fine silver. New ceramic forms appeared in the Toltec culture: weaving, feather work and hieroglyphic writing developed further. He gave impetus to agriculture, which gave results in the production of better types of maize, cassava and cotton.


According to tradition, the peaceful Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl fell from power when he tried to abolish human sacrifices, which were practiced on a large scale. As a result, his followers, namely those of the Feathered Serpent benign, were overwhelmed by those of the god Tezcatlipoca, the god of the night.


It is not known the exact nature of this power struggle. You do not even know what happened to Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl and his entourage after the alleged loss. Perhaps the two deities represented theocratic and militaristic elements of Toltec society. Maybe they were those Toltecs who invaded Yucatan and contributed to the rebirth of the Mayan culture, the period would correspond. If the great king still living do not know, the legend of Quetzalcoatl, however, became so popular throughout Central America that still centuries later, Montezuma II, emperor of the Aztecs believed Cortes, the Spanish conquistador, was the god returning.


Regarding the Toltecs who remained in power in Tulare and the valley of Mexico, it is known that they were haunted by a series of disasters such as drought, fire and invasions of the nomads of the north. They were back to square one, once were the "sons of dogs", the conquerors, now it was their turn to be conquered. Tula was destroyed in 1160.


As the Toltecs before them, which now became tributary, the Mexica were a people chichimeco, migrated from the north in the valley of Mexico. The date of their arrival in the region is 1168. During the following years they lived as nomads on the margins of local cultures and sometimes served as mercenaries of the army, with their bows and arrows deadly. Supposedly founded two settlements on marshy islands in Lake Texcoco, Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco, ie, approximately 1325. Tenochtitlan, the area where Mexico City stands today, is extended; wicker baskets were laid down on the lake bottom and loaded with silt and other plant materials by creating chinampas, artificial islands for agriculture. It 'possible that Tenochtitlan conquered and absorbed Tlateloco. The inhabitants of Tenochtitlan, which is called Tenocha, tenaciously fought for dominance over rival city-states of the valley. The most salient was the alliance with Texcoco Alcohua against Tepanec, other people recently arrived in the valley and great rival of Tenocha.


Tenocha I took the new name of the legendary Aztec Aztlan, which presumably are derived, and began to subdue many of the other peoples of central Mexico. Tenochtitlan became a city with hundreds of buildings and connected with a complex system of channels, with an estimated population of about 300,000 inhabitants. The entire Aztec empire came to include approximately 5,000,000 individuals. The conquests of the Aztecs were useful for two reasons: first it was kept the business empire they had created. In fact, gold, silver, copper, pearls, jade, turquoise and obsidian were important products for their business, as well as cereals, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, cotton, cocoa, mango, papaya and avocado plus domesticated dogs and turkeys. The same goods were sometimes delivered as tribute from defeated peoples who did not receive anything in return. But the Aztecs demanded much more from conquered peoples: in addition to their property, they also wanted individuals. In fact, secondly, their military activity aimed to make the prisoners for human sacrifice, which they performed state functions to maintain order.


Religion compenetrò the life of the Aztecs. Each of their deities, many of which already worshiped by the early Mesoamerican peoples, such as the Quetzalcoatl, had its own cult. Huitzilopochtli, god of war, was invented by the Aztecs demanded tribute and more. Thousands of prisoners were murdered at the top of the pyramid-temples and their hearts torn by the priests. The Aztecs did not give rise to human sacrifice in Central America, but developed it to unusual extremes of cruelty and fanaticism. The priests, though they represented the central function of Aztec society, were not as powerful as in other Mesoamerican theocracies. At the height of the class system was the Chief of Men, chosen by a royal family from the noble clan of people, from wealthy merchants and chiefs. Below were ordinary citizens, including farmers and artisans and the group of unskilled workers, even as there were slaves.


Of all the "lost civilizations", that of the Aztecs is the best known because it was at its peak when the Europeans arrived. Although the Spanish have quickly destroyed the Aztec culture, temples, sculptures, writings, have valuable information stored on it. However, despite all that is known of the Aztecs, remains a puzzling paradox: on the one side there was a culture complex, sophisticated, highly intellectual purpose and a refined sense of aesthetics, the other a fierce culture of death that fed ritualistic individuals.


The Olmecs, Mayans, Toltecs and Aztecs were great rulers during their heyday and culture are described along with their main centers. Teotihuacan was a city-state, and it is unknown which was the people who founded it and brought it to its important role in the classical period. Whoever they were, the Teotihuacan culture peaked in the valley of Mexico, while the Maya flourished in the Southeast. The cross-influence between the two peoples had its share in the greatness of both. Teotihuacan, in addition to develop as a ceremonial center, became the first true cities of Central America, a well-designed city covering an area of 20 km2 with a population that reached to 125,000 units. The villagers made squares, avenues, canals, parks, sewers, markets, shops, apartment buildings (blocks consist of adobe and plaster to a floor with many rooms), and temple pyramids. Two massive pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun 60-meter high the smaller Pyramid of the Moon, were connected with the city's main thoroughfare, the Avenue of the Dead, 4,800 m long. The citadel, a fence and a large square of buildings that included the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, had joined the avenue.



Religion and politics in societies divided by classes of Teotihuacan. The buildings housed the religious leaders and royalty. Farmers lived in nearby villages. With the introduction of improved agricultural techniques such as irrigation and chinampas are producing enough food for the urban population grew dramatically.

From Teotihuacan, the dynamic center of religion, commerce and art, the Aztec culture was expanded to many regions of Mesoamerica. The terms of a military nature is rarely found in the multitude of frescoes of the city, which means that trade, not war, had a dominant role in the minds of the Aztecs.

Many elements of the culture of Teotihuacan spread among other peoples: the hieroglyphic writing, calendar systems, architectural styles, agricultural techniques and the worship of specific deities such as Quetzalcoatl (the Plumed Serpent) and Tlaloc (the Rain God), and the practice of human sacrifice.

The city also exported artifacts, utensils, tools, jewelry, clothing, sculptures, obsidian and pottery tall, thin and orange.

The decline of Teotihuacan was manifested in the eighth century. Drought, a crisis in agriculture, fires, rebellions, invasions, all of which played their part in this decline. The ruins of the city were called back to the Aztecs "the abode of the gods". The South-West stretching from southern Utah and Colorado, through Arizona,

A corner of New Mexico and Texas to northern Mexico. In the arid and rugged terrain of mountains, canyons and desert (before contact with the white man), reached its highest development in the north of advanced agricultural civilization of Central America. This fact is explained by two factors: first, the region's proximity to Central America, the cradle of Indian agriculture, and second, the harsh environment of the South-West, with its game and its not very edible wild plants, they ensure that agriculture should become a necessary alternative.

Under the influence of the South, born from Central America, three specific dominant cultures on the basis of previous archaic tradition Cochse-Desert: the Mogollon, the Hohokam and Anasazi. For each of them the adoption of agriculture led to the sedentary life in villages with development tools, arts and crafts, especially that of the ceramic.

Although each of them had specific characteristics, were connected to each other and each was influenced other.

In the Eastern and Midwestern regions of North America, advanced cultures with large populations could exist without agriculture practiced on a large scale, thanks to plentiful wild game and edible plants. Among these cultures there was that of "Mound Builders" also called the Adena and Hopewell, who had their settlements in Ohio. The Adena culture lasted from 1,000 BC to 200 AD, that of Hopewell from 300 BC to 700 AD Although the two cultures to share some of their features and coexisted for five centuries, their exact relationship is unknown. It is not known, in fact, if the Adena were, and to what extent, the ancestors of Hopewell, or if between the two peoples there were conflicts. Nor is it known where the two peoples had arrived, some scholars believe that they originated in Central America, other regions of the Great Lakes, and no one knows what happened to them when they ended their own cultures. Until the nineteenth century it was believed, some mounds found around the whole of East, were the work of Europeans then lost, but science has proven, with finds from excavations and artifacts, which were the work of indigenous peoples, and therefore the expression of ancient Indian cultures .

The Adena culture spread from the Ohio River valley to the territories of Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York. Some tribes settled Hopewell later near the Chesapeake Bay and Alabama. The name derives from a field of Adena near Chillicothe, Ohio, where there is a large mound, which proves that the area was the center of their culture.

There is evidence that among the Adena there were rudimentary agriculture: the cultivation of sunflowers, pumpkins and other fruits of cucurbits and chenopodiacee were resources that were used to their power. It 's well known that cultivated tobacco, and that perhaps it was used for ceremonies. However, they were mainly hunters and gatherers, who exploited, like other peoples who inhabited the forests, the rich flora and fauna in their area who was so abundant as to allow a rather nomadic life rather sedentary.

As mentioned when we talked about the uncertainties of the settlement sites of the two cultures, that of Hopewell had many traits characteristic of the Adena, but increased: earthworks larger and more numerous, richer funerals, ceremonies and more intense, more refinement in the art objects , a more hierarchical system more rigid, a growing division of labor and a more intensive agriculture. In addition, the Hopewell culture of covering a larger area, extending from its center to the valleys of the rivers Ohio and Illinois to the Midwest and East. The people of Hopewell, whoever and whatever its origin, established a very extensive sales network: at their sites have been found materials to all parts of the continent, obsidian of the Black Hills and Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes copper, shells of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, Appalachian mica, silver and Canada's skulls and teeth of alligators in Florida. All these tests demonstrate that the sphere of influence of Hopewell was expanded through trade and religion (the term Hopewell refers to either a cult or a culture) and not through conquest. The priest-rulers were perhaps the highest position, while the merchants and the warriors were their inferiors.

As the population grew Hopewell, also their dependence on agriculture was also increased, and cultivated varieties of edible plants. It is possible that they also trade with neighboring peoples edible kinds. Their villages were

located near water and consisted of circular buildings (wigwam) or oval with domed roofs, covered with animal skins, layers of bark, plant fiber mats, etc.. The Hopewell, as the Adena built a variety of textures of the earth. The laoro culture boasted excellent craftsmen, specialists in their society very well structured. They were masters in making objects and functional art and worked in a style of abstract and figurative.

But what happened to those fabulous artists, those ambitious builders, merchants at that energetic? How did their culture declined? The theories are many, as for other cultures disappear: climate change, poor harvests, epidemics, civil wars, invasions, or simply progressive fatigue. Whatever the cause, another culture will be ready to dominate on the same territory. Other mounds are built close to rivers and temples on top.

The Indians belonging to the later culture had a wide social structure and a rigid system of classes. They were obsessed with death. They built mounds not only as those of the Adena and Hopewell, but they added the huge temples and took the name "Temple Mound Builders" (builders of mounds with temples). They were influenced by the Adena and Hopewell and the peoples of Central America. Although this is not yet proven, there are similar characters: agricultural techniques, artistic styles, use of mounds with temples and open squares in the villages, all similar to those in the region mentioned above. The contacts were definitely established by Indian merchants who traveled by boat to the north, crossing the Gulf of Mexico, or by land.

As in Central America, even in Mississippi was possible the development of culture thanks to improved farming techniques. Having enough food, a large population could live in the same place for a long period. Beginning in 700 AD in the Mississippi were born several ceremonial centers and malls, until later times the first contact with white men, coming and developed along the lower Mississippi valley, through most of South-East, by current Florida and Oklahoma to Wisconsin.

The largest and most famous site is located in Cahokia, Illinois, near St. Louis. The area of the village, which extended up to 7 km along the Illinois River, contained 85 mounds with temples and tombs, and had a maximum of 75,000 inhabitants. Among the important centers of culture in today's Mississippi Moundvill include Alabama, Etowah and Ocmulgee in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Spiro Hiwasee Island in Tennessee. In the early seventeenth century the great centers of the Mississippi were abandoned. Excessive population was perhaps one of the causes, along with famine and varied climatic conditions, diseases, or the political struggles that preceded and those brought by the white man. However, the evidence of this culture, the arrival of the white man, were now all underground and were discovered centuries later by archaeologists.

One similar culture survived until the eighteenth century with several contacts with the white man, that of the Natchez. The French who lived among them and then destroy them, they adopted some of their ways of living. Like the first settlers of the Mississippi, the Natchez had a mound with a central temple and around an open square, satellites and other mounds which were used as dwellings or tombs. The supreme ruler of the Natchez was the Great Sun, who lived on one of these mounds. On the other living parent, call Donna White who was his counselor, with his brothers called Suns, including the leaders were chosen for the wars and the high priest, the sisters were called Women's sun There were many classes in the royal family were the noble and honorable men, and ordinary citizens. All the nobility could marry the common, and when one died, the partner or the partner followed him in the afterlife. With the end of the culture of Natchez, ended the culture of the Mississippi.

Some traits survived among the other Indians of the Southeast as the Creek, but now without the construction of mounds. The exploration of North America by the white man's lasted more than four centuries, from the fifteenth to the twentieth. During the colonial period, until the American Revolution, five European nations sent expeditions under their flag and took possession of the land discovered: Spain, France, England, Netherlands and Russia. Portugal also had an active part in the first exploration, then settled in South America and Sweden occupied the territory in the Bay of Delaware from 1638 to 1654. Individuals, from Europe, made journeys of exploration on behalf of the five largest Member beneficiaries. Then, later, Canadian and American explorers, crossed the continent, discovering the wild lands left for the settlement of the white man.

The many factors why the Europeans and their descendants explored the so-called New World, are included in the concept of the Renaissance, a period that led to the emergence of Europe from the Middle Ages: from the political point of view there was a trend toward a unified nation-state and centralized, starting from the feudal system. The exploration thus became a national goal. From the economic point of view there was a growing need for new markets and imports specific to a rapid population expansion (the Far East could provide for example the spices necessary for food preservation). In addition, the economic system of mercantilism or bullionismo, in which power and wealth of a nation were determined by the amount of gold and silver possessed had become dominant and stimulating the search for new resources of precious metals. The skins were another source of wealth and power.

Let's say, for purposes of brevity, the whites brought not only the traditions that were not part of Indian culture, but also diseases, weapons, hypocrisy, ignorance of new type, and many other negative concepts of which the American Indians would have preferred to unless, not less than the Catholic religion or derivative (Jesuits, Protestants, etc.).

For centuries these people of great spirituality and wisdom, but also of immense practical warrior, found themselves having to do with the white man and suffer the negative effects of failing to respond in the most appropriate way, risking to disappear from the history of mankind.


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