TOP When Europeans came to the Americas they were considered outsiders but, in accordance with the Aboriginal view, were permitted to share in the land and its resources. Elders have told us that, in the eyes of the Creator, the Europeans as outsiders could not enjoy the same rights as the original inhabitants.
Bring fact-checked results to the top of your browser search. Native American history The thoughts and perspectives of indigenous individuals, especially those who lived during the 15th through 19th centuries, have survived in written form less often than is optimal for the historian.
Because such documents are extremely rare, those interested in the Native American past also draw information from traditional artsfolk literaturefolklorearchaeologyand other sources.
Powhatan village of SecotonPowhatan village of Secoton, colour engraving by Theodor de Bry,after a watercolour drawing by John White, c.
As one would expect, indigenous American farmers living in stratified societies, such as the Natchezengaged with Europeans differently than did those who relied on hunting and gathering, such as the Apache. Likewise, Spanish conquistadors were engaged in a fundamentally different kind of colonial enterprise than were their counterparts from France or England.
The sections below consider broad trends in Native American history from the late 15th century to the late 20th century. More-recent events are considered in the final part of this article, Developments in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
North America and Europe circa The population of Native America Scholarly estimates of the pre-Columbian population of Northern America have differed by millions of individuals: In anthropologist James Mooney undertook the first thorough investigation of the problem.
He estimated the precontact population density of each culture area based on historical accounts and carrying capacity, an estimate of the number of people who could be supported by a given form of subsistence.
Mooney concluded that approximately 1, individuals lived in Northern America at the time of Columbian landfall. In ethnohistorian Henry Dobyns estimated that there were between 9, and 12, people north of the Rio Grande before contact; in he revised that number upward to 18, people.
Dobyns was among the first scholars to seriously consider the effects of epidemic diseases on indigenous demographic change. He noted that, during the reliably recorded epidemics of the 19th century, introduced diseases such as smallpox had combined with various secondary effects i.
He then used this and other information to calculate from early census data backward to probable founding populations. Some of his critics fault Dobyns for the disjunctions between physical evidence and his results, as when the number of houses archaeologists find at a site suggests a smaller population than do his models of demographic recovery.
Others, including the historian David Henige, criticize some of the assumptions Dobyns made in his analyses. For instance, many early fur traders noted the approximate number of warriors fielded by a tribe but neglected to mention the size of the general population.
This group notes that severe epidemics of European diseases may have begun in North America in the late 10th or early 11th century, when the Norse briefly settled a region they called Vinland. Yet another group of demographers protest that an emphasis on population loss obscures the resilience shown by indigenous peoples in the face of conquest.
Most common, however, is a middle position that acknowledges that demographic models of 15th-century Native America must be treated with caution, while also accepting that the direct and indirect effects of the European conquest included extraordinary levels of indigenous mortality not only from introduced diseases but also from battles, slave raids, and—for those displaced by these events—starvation and exposure.
This perspective acknowledges both the resiliency of Native American peoples and cultures and the suffering they bore. Native American ethnic and political diversity Determining the number of ethnic and political groups in pre-Columbian Northern America is also problematic, not least because definitions of what constitutes an ethnic group or a polity vary with the questions one seeks to answer.
Ethnicity is most frequently equated with some aspect of languagewhile social or political organization can occur on a number of scales simultaneously. Thus, a given set of people might be defined as an ethnic group through their use of a common dialect or language even as they are recognized as members of nested polities such as a clana village, and a confederation.
Other factors, including geographic boundaries, a subsistence base that emphasized either foraging or farming, the presence or absence of a social or religious hierarchyand the inclinations of colonial bureaucratsamong others, also affected ethnic and political classification; see Sidebar: The Difference Between a Tribe and a Band.
The cross-cutting relationships between ethnicity and political organization are complex today and were equally so in the past.
And both the hypothetical Germanic speaker and the hypothetical Iroquoian speaker live or lived in nested polities or quasi-polities: Recognizing that it is difficult to determine precisely how many ethnic or political groups or polities were present in 15th-century Northern America, most researchers favour relative rather than specific quantification of these entities.
The outstanding characteristic of North American Indian languages is their diversity—at contact Northern America was home to more than 50 language families comprising between and languages. At the same moment in history, western Europe had only 2 language families Indo-European and Uralic and between 40 and 70 languages.
In other words, if one follows scholarly conventions and defines ethnicity through language, Native America was vastly more diverse than Europe.
Politicallymost indigenous American groups used consensus-based forms of organization. In such systems, leaders rose in response to a particular need rather than gaining some fixed degree of power. The Southeast Indians and the Northwest Coast Indians were exceptions to this general rule, as they most frequently lived in hierarchical societies with a clear chiefly class.
Regardless of the form of organization, however, indigenous American polities were quite independent when compared with European communities of similar size. European populations and polities Just as Native American experiences during the early colonial period must be framed by an understanding of indigenous demography, ethnic diversityand political organization, so must they be contextualized by the social, economic, political, and religious changes that were taking place in Europe at the time.
These changes drove European expansionism and are often discussed as part of the centuries-long transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism see Western colonialism. Many scholars hold that the events of the early colonial period are inextricably linked to the epidemics of the Black Deathor bubonic plaguethat struck Europe between and Perhaps 25 million people, about one-third of the populationdied during this epidemic.
The population did not return to preplague levels until the early s. The intervening period was a time of severe labour shortages that enabled commoners to demand wages for their work.The bombs doors are open. The plans have been drawn up.
This has been brewing for a time. The sheer energy and meticulous planning that's gone into this change of regime – it's breathtaking. ABORIGINAL & TREATY RIGHTS. Introduction Aboriginal-Crown Relations.
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