It is believed that Asian migrations that entered North America through the Bering Strait gave way to the “native peoples” of North America. Despite some recent evidence, this theory is in dispute.
The estimated population for 1492 was between 600,000 and 2 million indigenous peoples who inhabited the areas now known as Canada and the United States.
There was no unique culture among the indigenous peoples of North America, because of the variety of aspects and the marked differences and similarities between the tribes.
There are defined cultural areas for Native Americans. The cultural area called California, the Rocky Mountain region, the Pacific Coast mountain system, the southwest of the United States, the Great Plains area, the Northeast culture area, and the Southeast cultural area.
Within each of these areas, several features define aspects of the native culture of North America, and the main one is the development of the language that it had in each of the tribes. It has been estimated that around 300 different indigenous languages are spoken in North America. At one time in history there were more languages in use among the towns in the arable area of California than in all of Europe.
Some theorists assume that although there are many languages, a common language or two, brought from Asia many thousands of years ago, they had fragmented into variants of the language of origin, through dispersion. However, linguists have not found common aspects among the main linguistic groups that support this theory.
North American Tribes
When the first Europeans arrived in the North American continent, approximately four hundred tribes occupied it, scattered throughout the territory. The northern end was inhabited by Eskimos who had a nomadic and primitive existence and did not know any other form of social organization other than the family.
For their part, the Redskins knew a Neolithic organization inherited from their ancestors. They produced fire colliding with two pieces of flint, used stone utensils, made baskets, and domesticated dogs.
They lived in tents called tipi, made with bison leathers, held by 3 or 4 sticks. Other tribes made rectangular houses, made of branches, leaves and straw, called wigwan or also made among the Navajos.
By 1600 it is estimated that there were eight hundred thousand red skins in America, of which approximately 250 thousand resided between the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi.
They were small tribes, some more weakened by their visceral struggles. The Iroquois were the most powerful. His greatest enemies, ferrets, and Algonquins resided to the west and north of their territory. The civilization of these two tribes was characterized by knowing metals and practicing pottery.
On the other hand, the best-known tribes in the southeastern United States were the Creeks, the Cherokees, and the Seminóla; to the west were the piute, the siux and the cheyenne.
There is evidence of primitive literature found in these tribes, consisting of narratives concerning the gods and ancestors, and which were transferred from father to son. They had a certain political organization, especially tribal alliances. Upon the arrival of the colonizers, the tribes that inhabited eastern North America, such as the Iroquois, Algonquians, and Ferrets, formed a council of five nations, a kind of association of redskins from the eastern area, which was directed by the Hiawatha chief.
There is evidence of the existence of 12 linguistic branches among the American tribes, very different from each other. In addition to various dialects, therefore, when the white man arrived, there were about 2,000 languages spoken by the primitive American Redskins.
After the United States achieved its independence, it led to peaceful coexistence with the Indians; but, in the nineteenth century, the influx of social and technical advances brought back conflicts. Today, Indians increasingly seek to integrate into modern society.
American Indian Customs
The dances were one of their customs, which had great value for the American Indians and were present in their most important occasions, such as birth, marriage, or for declarations of war. They considered them as the union between power and force.
- They danced to nature for different reasons:
- To produce rain, they danced to the rain dance.
- For good health, they danced the sundance.
- To have a good hunt, they danced the bison dance.
- The Pow-wow
It is a great meeting of Native American tribes, considered one of the main ceremonies of American tribes. Currently, it is an event where Native Americans and non-indigenous people gather to sing, dance, and make social life, in honor of American Indian culture. There are dance competitions and different activities.
The hunting of this animal, Buffalo family, which was very numerous in the area, was one of the main activities of nomadic Indians. They used all parts for food, clothing, and raw material.
With the bison, they made shoes, shops, tools, ropes, weapons, and utensils. At the end of the 19th century, because settlers hunted bison for commercial purposes, they almost died out, so the natives no longer benefited from them.
Spanish explorers reintroduced them in the 16th and 17th centuries, since then, they were an important part of the Native American culture; in fact, some tribes called them “sacred dogs.”
The horse began to use it to carry large and heavy loads. It was also used by bison hunters who could ride and shoot several bison at the same time before the flock began the flight.
War was an important part of many indigenous cultures in North America.
They struggled to control hunting grounds, increase their population with the capture of Indians and to steal horses. At the same time, the war had a ritual aspect.
With the theft of horses, the warriors obtained prestige, just as when they touched the enemy with their ceremonial staff. One of the primitive practices in wars was to scalp the enemies. According to the historian RG Grant, with that, they prevented the enemy from returning and doing revenge.
There were very prominent warriors such as the Comanches and the Cheyenne, who brought the Wichita, the Apaches, and the Tonkawa from the plains.