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Образование The Native Americans
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Who were the first Americans? They were aboriginal dark-skinned people, called by Columbus “Indians”, in the mistaken belief that he had reached the East Indies. The other names for them are “Native Americans”, “Amerindians”, “American Indians”, “indigenous Americans” and “aboriginal Americans”. Their ancestors came to the continent from Asia, Siberia. They crossed the Bering Strait and got to Alaska at various times when the sea level dropped and scattered all over the continent developing many different kinds of societies. Today there are about 1.5 million of them in the United States, and Western states have the largest Indian populations.

American Indians had been living there for about 50,000 years. Numerous tribes of Amerindians were scattered across the grasslands and forests. Some were hunters, some were farmers. Some were peaceful, others – warlike. They spoke over 300 distinct languages.

The tribes followed very different ways of life. Amerindians in Mexico were growing and eating beans, maize, squash and peppers. The best organized were the Pueblo people of present day Arizona and New Mexico. They lived in terraced houses made of adobe(mud and straw) bricks, dried in the sun. The pueblo made clothing and blankets from cotton and wore leather moccasins. Long before Europeans came to America the Pueblo were building networks of canals across the deserts to bring water to their fields.

The Apache were the neighbours of the Pueblo. They were fierce and warlike, they were wandering the deserts and mountains in small bands hunting and gathering wild plants. The Iroquois who were also fierce warriors, skilled farmers, hunters and fishermen lived in the thick woods of northeastern North America in permanent villages. They built long wooden huts and birch bark canoes. On the vast plains of grass that stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains lived another warrior nation – the Sioux (or Dakota, as they called themselves). They grew no crops and built no houses. For food, shelter and clothing they depended upon the buffalo. They moved after these huge animals. The Sioux used conical buffalo skin tents – tepees – that have become a symbol of the Amerindians’ way of life. The tribes of the Pacific coast - like the Haida – lived in large houses built of wooden planks. In front of them they placed specially decorated tree trunks – totem poles. The carvings on the totem pole were a record of the history of the family that lived in the house.

Amerindians developed their own way of life lasted for many centures. But the arrival of Europeans eventually destroyed it. It is one of the most brutal stories of genocide in modern history.

The original population of Native Americans was about 12 mln. As many as 280 distinct aboriginal societies existed in North America prior to Columbus. Some of them developed great civilizations (the Incas and the Aztecs) which contributed greatly to the world culture and the welfare of the human race: they domesticated corn, potatoes, peanuts, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, pineapples, cocoa; cultivated tobacco and discovered at least 59 drugs that are now used in medical science today.

The conflict between the Native Americans and the white settlers began in 1822. The latter wanted to dispossess the former of their land and resources, and to get rid of people who could not be exploited. The means included not only mass extermination, but also slavery, bounty-hunting (scalping for profit), massacre of women and children, the assassination of leaders, the forced relocation of people. The slogan “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” was used for more than 200 years. Even the Declaration of Independence pronouncing that “all men are created equal” was not true for the Native Americans. The government forced the Indians to sign treaties that were enormous land robbery. Many Indian tribes were removed from their homelands and their lands were taken by the white. According to the General Allotment Act of 1887, by 1930 the Indian lands were cut down from 139 million acres to 47 million acres. This destruction and scattering of the tribes had a devastating effect on Indian life and culture.

While a number of Amerindian nations were fully annihilated, some tribes managed to survive as ethnic communities, like the 130,000 Navajo (Navaho), the 72,000 Cherokee, the 60,000 Sioux and the 35,000 Pueblo. Today there are about 764,000 American Indians and nearly 40 % of them live in 200 reservations under terrible social and economic conditions. There is no running water in many reservations, and most Indian homes are dilapidated,unsanitary and crowded. There is a high death rate for children, a high suicide rate, and a very low educational level of all Amerindians. In the middle of the 20th century they were the most oppressed ethnic minority in the USA.

Of course, the Indians have never stopped their struggle for civil rights.

There are hundreds of claims against the federal government by Indian tribes and tribal groups requiring payment for lands taken from them. The Indians have built organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians representing two-thirds of the 600,000 Indians in more than 20 states, the National Indian Youth Council, the United Nations of Pan-American Indians and others. Through these organizations they are demanding self-determination and political independence, i. e. Red Power.

While many Indians have continued to live in their old tribal ways isolated from capitalist life, they exist in a capitalist environment and are basically subject to its economic and political laws. So they are also developing class differentiations. Thus, the Osage Indians of the U.S. (one of the rare cases) have even a few wealthy, land-owning Indians.

Today Native Americans are full citizens of the USA. They are proud of their own cultural heritage: they taught the Europeans to cultivate some crops (see above), canoes and moccasins are their inventions. Their handcrafted artifacts such as pottery, silver jewelry, printings and woven rugs are highly prized.


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  • - The Native Americans

    Who were the first Americans? They were aboriginal dark-skinned people, called by Columbus “Indians”, in the mistaken belief that he had reached the East Indies. The other names for them are “Native Americans”, “Amerindians”, “American Indians”, “indigenous Americans” and “aboriginal Americans”. Their ancestors came to the continent from Asia, Siberia. They crossed the Bering Strait and got to Alaska at various times when the sea level dropped and scattered all over the... [читать подробенее]