Native Americans in the United States
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"American Indian" redirects here. For other indigenous peoples, see
Indigenous peoples of the Americas and other geographic regions. For
Americans from South Asia, see Indian American.
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Native Americans Joseph Brant by Gilbert Stuart 1786.jpg Sequoyah.jpg
Pushmataha high resolution.jpg
Tecumseh02.jpg Touch the Clouds 1877a.jpg Sitting Bull.jpg
ChiefJoseph.jpeg Charles eastman smithsonian gn 03462a.jpg Billy Bowlegs III
Jim Thorpe football.png WilmaMankillerByPhilKonstantin.jpg JohnBHarrington.
Native Americans of the United States
(from left to right by row):
Joseph Brant · Sequoyah · Pushmataha
Tecumseh · Touch the Clouds · Sitting Bull
Chief Joseph · Charles Eastman · Billy Bowlegs III
Jim Thorpe · Wilma Mankiller · John Herrington
American Indian and Alaska Native (2010 Census Bureau)
One race: 2,932,248 are registered.
In combination with one or more of the other races listed: 2,288,331.
Regions with significant populations
Predominantly in the Western United States
American English, Native American languages, Spanish
Native American Church
Traditional Ceremonial Ways
(Unique to Specific Tribe or Band)
Related ethnic groups
Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Metis, Mestizo, Latin Americans
Native Americans are the indigenous peoples within the boundaries of the
present-day United States, including those in Alaska and Hawaii. They are
composed of numerous, distinct tribes and ethnic groups, many of which
survive as intact political communities. The terms used to refer to Native
Americans have been controversial. According to a 1995 U.S. Census Bureau
set of home interviews, most of the respondents with an expressed preference
refer to themselves as "American Indians" or simply "Indians"; this term
has been adopted by major newspapers and some academic groups, but does not
traditionally include Native Hawaiians or certain Alaskan Natives, such as
Aleut, Yup'ik, or Inuit peoples.
Since the end of the 15th century, the migration of Europeans to the
Americas has led to centuries of conflict and adjustment between Old and New
World societies. Many Native Americans lived as hunter-gatherer societies
and told their histories by oral traditions; Europeans therefore created
almost all of the surviving historical record concerning the conflict.
The indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-
industrial and mostly Christian immigrants. Many native
cultures were matrilineal and occupied hunting grounds and agricultural
lands for use of the entire community. Europeans at that time had
patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property
rights with respect to land that were extremely different. The differences
in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant Europeans
, as well as shifting alliances among different nations of each culture
through the centuries, caused extensive political tension, ethnic violence,
and social disruption. Native Americans suffered high fatalities from
contact with Eurasian diseases to which they had not acquired immunity.
Smallpox epidemics are thought to have caused the greatest loss of life for
indigenous populations, although estimates of the pre-Columbian population
of what today constitutes the U.S. vary significantly, from 1 million to 18
After the colonies revolted against Great Britain and established the United
States of America, President George Washington and Henry Knox conceived of
the idea of "civilizing" Native Americans in preparation for assimilation as
U.S. citizens. Assimilation (whether voluntary, as with the
Choctaw, or forced) became a consistent policy through American
administrations. During the 19th century, the ideology of manifest destiny
became integral to the American nationalist movement. Expansion of European-
American populations to the west after the American Revolution resulted in
increasing pressure on Native American lands, warfare between the groups,
and rising tensions. In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal
Act, authorizing the government to relocate Native Americans from their
homelands within established states to lands west of the Mississippi River,
accommodating European-American expansion.
As American expansion reached into the West, settler and miner migrants came
into increasing conflict with the Great Basin, Great Plains, and other
Western tribes. These were complex nomadic cultures based on (introduced)
horse culture and seasonal bison hunting. They carried out resistance
against American incursion in the decades after the completion of the Civil
War and the Transcontinental Railroad in a series of Indian Wars, which were
frequent up until the 1890s but continued into the 20th century. Over time,
the U.S. forced a series of treaties and land cessions by the tribes and
established reservations for them in many western states. U.S. agents
encouraged Native Americans to adopt European-style farming and similar
pursuits, but European-American agricultural technology of the time was
inadequate for often dry reservation lands. In 1924, Native Americans who
were not already U.S. citizens were granted citizenship by Congress.
Contemporary Native Americans have a unique relationship with the United
States because they may be members of nations, tribes, or bands with
sovereignty and treaty rights. Cultural activism since the late 1960s has
increased political participation and led to an expansion of efforts to
teach and preserve indigenous languages for younger generations and to
establish a greater cultural infrastructure: Native Americans have founded
independent newspapers and online media, recently including FNX, the first
Native American television channel; established Native American studies
programs, tribal schools and universities, and museums and language programs
; and have increasingly been published as authors.
1.2 European exploration and colonization
1.2.1 Impact on native populations
1.2.2 Animal introductions
1.3 King Philip's War
1.4 Foundations for freedom
1.5 American Revolution
1.6 18th-century United States
1.7 19th century
1.7.1 Civil War
1.7.2 Removals and reservations
1.7.3 Native Americans and U.S. Citizenship
126.96.36.199 Indian Appropriations Act of 1871
1.7.4 Education and Indian boarding schools
1.8 20th century
1.8.1 World War II
1.9 21st century
2.1 Historical Population
2.2 Population and distribution
2.2.1 Urban migration
2.2.2 Distribution by US States
2.3 Population by tribal grouping
3 Current legal status
4 Contemporary issues
4.1 Societal discrimination and racism
4.1.1 Affirmative action issues
4.2 Native American mascots in sports
4.3 Historical depictions in art
4.4 Terminology differences
4.4.1 Common usage in the United States
4.5 Gambling industry
4.6 Crime on reservations
5 Society, language, and culture
5.1 Ethno-linguistic classification
5.2 Society and art
5.5 Gender roles
5.6.1 Team based
5.6.2 Individual based
5.6.3 U.S. Olympics
5.7 Music and art
5.8 Traditional economy
5.8.1 Contemporary barriers to economic development
188.8.131.52 Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans
5.8.3 European enslavement
5.8.4 Native American slavery
5.8.5 Traditions of Native American slavery
5.8.6 Native American and African relations
184.108.40.206 Native American adoption of African slavery
6 Who are Native Americans?
6.1 Admixture and genetics
6.2 Tribal classifications
6.3 Increased self-identification
7 See also
10 External links
Main article: History of Native Americans in the United States
Further information: Settlement of the Americas, Paleo-Indians, and Pre-
Map showing the approximate location of the ice-free corridor and specific
Paleoindian sites (Clovis theory).
"Neolithic" is not generally used to describe indigenous cultures in the
Americas, see Archaeology of the Americas.
The usual theory of the settlement of the Americas is that earliest
ancestors of the peoples of the Americas came from Eurasia over a land
bridge which connected the two continents across what is now the Bering
Strait during a period of glaciation, when the sea water level was lower.
The number and nature of these migrations is uncertain but the land bridge
is believed to have existed only until about 12,000 years ago, when the land
bridge was flooded.
Three major migrations occurred, as traced by linguistic and genetic data;
the early Paleoamericans soon spread throughout the Americas, diversifying
into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and tribes. By
8000 BCE the North American climate was very similar to today's.
The Clovis culture, a megafauna hunting culture of about 11,000 B.P., ranged
over much of North America and also appeared in South America has been
identified by the distinctive Clovis point. Dating of Clovis materials has
been by association with animal bones and by the use of carbon dating
Numerous Paleoindian cultures occupied North America. According to their
oral histories they have been living on this continent since their genesis,
described by a wide range of traditional creation stories. However, genetic
and linguistic data connect the indigenous people of this continent with
ancient northeast Asians.
A Folsom point for a spear.
The Folsom Tradition was characterized by use of Folsom points as projectile
tips, and data from kill sites, where slaughter and butchering of bison
took place. Folsom tools were left behind between 9000 BCE and 8000 BCE.
Na-Dené-speaking peoples entered North America starting around 8000 BCE,
reaching the Pacific Northwest by 5000 BCE, and from there migrating
along the Pacific Coast and into the interior. It is believed that their
ancestors comprised a separate migration into North America, later than the
first Paleo-Indians. They migrated into Alaska and northern Canada, south
along the Pacific Coast, into the interior of Canada, and south to the Great
Plains and the American Southwest. They were the earliest ancestors of the
Athabascan- speaking peoples, including the present-day and historical
Navajo and Apache.
Since the 1990s, archeologists have explored and dated eleven Middle Archaic
sites in present-day Louisiana and Florida at which early cultures built
complexes with multiple earthwork mounds; they were societies of hunter-
gatherers rather than the settled agriculturalists believed necessary
according to the theory of Neolithic Revolution to sustain such large
villages over long periods. The prime example is Watson Brake in northern
Louisiana, whose 11-mound complex is dated to 3500 BCE, making it the oldest
, dated site in the Americas for such complex construction. Construction of
the mounds went on for 500 years until was abandoned about 2800 BCE,
probably due to changing environmental conditions. Poverty Point culture
is a Late Archaic archaeological culture that inhabited the area of the
lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf Coast. The culture thrived
from 2200 BCE to 700 BCE, during the Late Archaic period. Artifacts show
the people traded with other Native Americans located from Georgia to the
Great Lakes region. This is one among numerous mound sites of complex
indigenous cultures throughout the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. They were
one of several succeeding cultures often referred to as mound builders.
The Woodland period of North American pre-Columbian cultures refers to the
time period from roughly 1000 BCE to 1,000 CE in the eastern part of North
America. The term "Woodland" was coined in the 1930s and refers to
prehistoric sites dated between the Archaic period and the Mississippian
cultures. The Hopewell tradition is the term for the common aspects of the
Native American culture that flourished along rivers in the northeastern and
midwestern United States from 200 BCE to 500 CE.
Cultural areas of pre-Columbian North America, according to Alfred Kroeber.
Hohokam is one of the four major prehistoric archaeological traditions of
the present-day American Southwest. Living as simple farmers, they
raised corn and beans. The early Hohokam founded a series of small villages
along the middle Gila River. The communities were located near good arable
land, with dry farming common in the earlier years of this period.
The Mississippian culture, which extended throughout the Ohio and
Mississippi valleys and built sites throughout the Southeast, created the
largest earthworks in North America north of Mexico, most notably at Cahokia
, on a tributary of the Mississippi River in present-day Illinois. The
society began building at this site about 950 CE, and reached its peak
population in 1,250 CE of 20,000–30,000 people, which was not equalled by
any city in the present-day United States until after 1800.
Balthazar, Inhabitant of Northern California, painting by Mikhail T.
Sophisticated pre-Columbian sedentary societies evolved in North America.
The rise of the complex cultures was based on the people's adoption of maize
agriculture, development of greater population densities, and chiefdom-
level complex social organization from 1200 CE to 1650 CE. The
introduction of maize from Mesoamerica allowed the accumulation of crop
surpluses to support a higher density of population and led to development
of specialized skills.
The Iroquois League of Nations or "People of the Long House", based in
present-day upstate and western New York, had a confederacy model from the
mid-15th century. It has been suggested that their culture contributed to
political thinking during the development of the later United States
government. Their system of affiliation was a kind of federation, different
from the strong, centralized European monarchies.
Inter-tribal warfare was endemic resulting in displacement and migration of
European exploration and colonization
Main articles: Age of Discovery and European colonization of the Americas
Discovery of the Mississippi by William Henry Powell (1823–1879) is a
Romantic depiction of de Soto's seeing the Mississippi River for the first
time. It hangs in the United States Capitol rotunda.
After 1492 European exploration and colonization of the Americas
revolutionized how the Old and New Worlds perceived themselves. Many of the
first major contacts were in Florida and the Gulf coast by Spanish explorers
Impact on native populations
From the 16th through the 19th centuries, the population of Indians sharply
declined. Most mainstream scholars believe that, among the various
contributing factors, epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the
population decline of the American natives because of their lack of
immunity to new diseases brought from Europe. It is
difficult to estimate the number of Native Americans living in what is today
the United States of America. Estimates range from a low of 2.1 million
to a high of 18 million (Dobyns 1983). By 1800, the Native
population of the present-day United States had declined to approximately
600,000, and only 250,000 Native Americans remained in the 1890s.
Chicken pox and measles, endemic but rarely fatal among Europeans (long
after being introduced from Asia), often proved deadly to Native Americans.[
In 1634, Fr. Andrew White of the Society of Jesus established a mission in
what is now the state of Maryland, and the purpose of the mission, stated
through an interpreter to the chief of an Indian tribe there, was "to extend
civilization and instruction to his ignorant race, and show them the way to
heaven." Fr. Andrew's diaries report that by 1640, a community had been
founded which they named St. Mary's, and the Indians were sending their
children there "to be educated among the English." This included the
daughter of the Pascatoe Indian chief Tayac, which exemplifies not only a
school for Indians, but either a school for girls, or an early co-ed school.
The same records report that in 1677, "a school for humanities was opened
by our Society in the centre of [Maryland], directed by two of the Fathers;
and the native youth, applying themselves assiduously to study, made good
progress. Maryland and the recently established school sent two boys to St.
Omer who yielded in abilities to few Europeans, when competing for the
honour of being first in their class. So that not gold, nor silver, nor the
other products of the earth alone, but men also are gathered from thence to
bring those regions, which foreigners have unjustly called ferocious, to a
higher state of virtue and cultivation."
In 1727, the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula founded Ursuline Academy
in New Orleans, which is currently the oldest, continuously-operating school
for girls and the oldest Catholic school in the United States. From the
time of its foundation it offered the first classes for Native American
girls, and would later offer classes for female African-American slaves and
free women of color.
1882 studio portrait of the (then) last surviving Six Nations warriors who
fought with the British in the War of 1812.
Between 1754 and 1763, many Native American tribes were involved in the
French and Indian War/Seven Years War. Those involved in the fur trade
tended to ally with French forces against British colonial militias. The
British had made fewer allies, but it was joined by some tribes that wanted
to prove assimilation and loyalty in support of treaties to preserve their
territories. They were often disappointed when such treaties were later
overturned. The tribes had their own purposes, using their alliances with
the European powers to battle traditional Native enemies. Some Iroquois who
were loyal to the British, and helped them fight in the American Revolution,
fled north into Canada.
After European explorers reached the West Coast in the 1770s, smallpox
rapidly killed at least 30% of Northwest Coast Native Americans. For the
next 80 to 100 years, smallpox and other diseases devastated native
populations in the region. Puget Sound area populations, once estimated
as high as 37,000 people, were reduced to only 9,000 survivors by the time
settlers arrived en masse in the mid-19th century.
Smallpox epidemics in 1780–1782 and 1837–1838 brought devastation and
drastic depopulation among the Plains Indians. By 1832, the federal
government established a smallpox vaccination program for Native Americans (
The Indian Vaccination Act of 1832). It was the first federal program
created to address a health problem of Native Americans.
With the meeting of two worlds, animals, insects, and plants were carried
from one to the other, both deliberately and by chance, in what is called
the Columbian Exchange. In the 16th century, Spaniards and other
Europeans brought horses to Mexico. Some of the horses escaped and began to
breed and increase their numbers in the wild. As Native Americans adopted
use of the animals, they began to change their cultures in substantial ways,
especially by extending their nomadic ranges for hunting. The
reintroduction of the horse to North America had a profound impact on Native
American culture of the Great Plains.
King Philip's War
Main article: King Philip's War
King Philip's War, also called Metacom's War or Metacom's Rebellion, was an
armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day southern
New England and English colonists and their Native American allies from 1675
to 1676. It continued in northern New England (primarily on the Maine
frontier) even after King Philip was killed, until a treaty was signed at
Casco Bay in April 1678.
Foundations for freedom
Further information: Great Law of Peace
The Treaty of Penn with the Indians by Benjamin West painted in 1771.
Some Europeans considered Native American societies to be representative of
a golden age known to them only in folk history. In the 20th century,
some writers have credited the Iroquois nations' political confederacy and
democratic government as being influences for the development of the
Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.
Yamacraw Creek Native Americans meet with the Trustee of the colony of
Georgia in England, July 1734. The painting shows a Native American boy (in
a blue coat) and woman (in a red dress) in European clothing.
During the American Revolution, the newly proclaimed United States competed
with the British for the allegiance of Native American nations east of the
Mississippi River. Most Native Americans who joined the struggle sided with
the British, based both on their trading relationships and hopes that
colonial defeat would result in a halt to further colonial expansion onto
Native American land. Many native communities were divided over which side
to support in the war and others wanted to remain neutral. The first native
community to sign a treaty with the new United States Government was the
Lenape. For the Iroquois Confederacy, based in New York, the American
Revolution resulted in civil war. The British made peace with the Americans
in the Treaty of Paris (1783), through which they ceded vast Native American
territories to the United States without informing or consulting with the
18th-century United States
The United States was eager to expand, to develop farming and settlements in
new areas, and to satisfy land hunger of settlers from New England and new
immigrants. The national government initially sought to purchase Native
American land by treaties. The states and settlers were frequently at odds
with this policy.
United States policy toward Native Americans continued to evolve after the
American Revolution. George Washington and Henry Knox believed that Native
Americans were equals but that their society was inferior. Washington
formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process. Washington had
a six-point plan for civilization which included:
impartial justice toward Native Americans
regulated buying of Native American lands
promotion of commerce
promotion of experiments to civilize or improve Native American society
presidential authority to give presents
punishing those who violated Native American rights.
Benjamin Hawkins, seen here on his plantation, teaches Creek Native
Americans how to use European technology. Painted in 1805.
In the late 18th century, reformers starting with Washington and Knox,
supported educating native children and adults, in efforts to "civilize" or
otherwise assimilate Native Americans to the larger society (as opposed to
relegating them to reservations). The Civilization Fund Act of 1819 promoted
this civilization policy by providing funding to societies (mostly
religious) who worked on Native American improvement.
Tecumseh was the Shawnee leader of Tecumseh's War who attempted to organize
an alliance of Native American tribes throughout North America.
As American expansion continued, Native Americans resisted settlers'
encroachment in several regions of the new nation (and in unorganized
territories), from the Northwest to the Southeast, and then in the West, as
settlers encountered the tribes of the Great Plains. East of the Mississippi
River, an intertribal army led by Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, fought a
number of engagements in the Northwest during the period 1811–12, known as
Tecumseh's War. Conflicts in the Southeast include the Creek War and
Seminole Wars, both before and after the Indian Removals of most members of
the Five Civilized Tribes. Native American nations on the plains in the west
continued armed conflicts with the United States throughout the 19th
century, through what were called generally "Indian Wars."
In the 1830s President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 a
policy of relocating Indians from the Southeast to the Midwest for their own
protection. The resulting forced emigration is known as the Trail of
In July 1845, the New York newspaper editor John L. O'Sullivan coined the
phrase, "Manifest Destiny," as the "design of Providence" supporting the
territorial expansion of the United States. Manifest Destiny had serious
consequences for Native Americans, since continental expansion for the
United States took place at the cost of their occupied land.
The Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 set the precedent for modern-day
Native American reservations through allocating funds to move western tribes
onto reservations since there were no more lands available for relocation.
For more details on this topic, see Native Americans in the American Civil
Ely Parker was a Union Civil War General who wrote the terms of surrender
between the United States and the Confederate States of America.
Many Native Americans served in the military during the Civil War, on both
Removals and reservations
Main article: Americanization of Native Americans
Further information: List of Native American reservations in the United
Further information: Native American reservation politics
In the 19th century, the incessant westward expansion of the United States
incrementally compelled large numbers of Native Americans to resettle
further west, often by force, almost always reluctantly. Native Americans
believed this forced relocation illegal, given the Hopewell Treaty of 1785.
Under President Andrew Jackson, United States Congress passed the Indian
Removal Act of 1830, which authorized the President to conduct treaties to
exchange Native American land east of the Mississippi River for lands west
of the river.
As many as 100,000 Native Americans relocated to the West as a result of
this Indian Removal policy. In theory, relocation was supposed to be
voluntary and many Native Americans did remain in the East. In practice,
great pressure was put on Native American leaders to sign removal treaties.
The most egregious violation, the Trail of Tears, was removal of the
Cherokee by President Jackson to Indian Territory.
Native Americans and U.S. Citizenship
In 1817, the Cherokee became the first Native Americans recognized as U.S.
citizens. Under Article 8 of the 1817 Cherokee treaty, "Upwards of 300
Cherokees (Heads of Families) in the honest simplicity of their souls, made
an election to become American citizens." Factors establishing
1. Treaty provision (as with the Cherokee)
2. Registration and land allotment under the Dawes Act of February 8, 1887
3. Issuance of Patent in Fee simple
4. Adopting Habits of Civilized Life
5. Minor Children
6. Citizenship by Birth
7. Becoming Soldiers and Sailors in the U.S. Armed Forces
8. Marriage to a U.S. citizen
9. Special Act of Congress.
After the American Civil War, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 states, "that all
persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power,
excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the
Indian Appropriations Act of 1871
In 1871 Congress added a rider to the Indian Appropriations Act ending
United States recognition of additional Native American tribes or
independent nations, and prohibiting additional treaties.
Education and Indian boarding schools
Main article: Indian boarding schools
After the Indian wars in the late 19th century, the United States
established Native American boarding schools, initially run primarily by or
affiliated with Christian missionaries. At this time American society
thought that Native American children needed to be acculturated to the
general society. The boarding school experience often proved traumatic to
Native American children, who were forbidden to speak their native languages
, taught Christianity and denied the right to practice their native
religions, and in numerous other ways forced to abandon their Native
Since the rise of self-determination for Native Americans, they have
generally emphasized education of their children at schools near where they
live. In addition, many federally recognized tribes have taken over
operations of such schools and added programs of language retention and
revival to strengthen their cultures. Beginning in the 1970s, tribes have
also founded colleges at their reservations, controlled and operated by
Native Americans, to educate their young for jobs as well as to pass on
Charles Curtis, of Kaw, Osage, Potawatomi, French and British ancestry, was
31st Vice President of the United States, 1929-1933.
On August 29, 1911 Ishi, generally considered to have been the last Native
American to live most of his life without contact with European-American
culture, was discovered near Oroville, California.
On June 2, 1924 U.S. Republican President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian
Citizenship Act, which made all Native Americans born in the United States
and its territories American citizens. Prior to passage of the act, nearly
two-thirds of Native Americans were already U.S. citizens.
American Indians today in the U.S. have all the rights guaranteed in the U.S
. Constitution, can vote in elections, and run for political office.
Controversies remain over how much the federal government has jurisdiction
over tribal affairs, sovereignty, and cultural practices.
World War II
For more details on this topic, see Native Americans and World War II.
General Douglas MacArthur meeting Navajo, Pima, Pawnee and other Native
Some 44,000 Native Americans served in the United States military during
World War II: at the time, one-third of all able-bodied Indian men from 18
to 50 years of age. Described as the first large-scale exodus of
indigenous peoples from the reservations since the removals of the 19th
century, the men's service with the US military in the international
conflict was a turning point in Native American history. The overwhelming
majority of Native Americans welcomed the opportunity to serve; they had a
voluntary enlistment rate that was 40% higher than those drafted.
Their fellow soldiers often held them in high esteem, in part since the
legend of the tough Native American warrior had become a part of the fabric
of American historical legend. White servicemen sometimes showed a
lighthearted respect toward Native American comrades by calling them "chief"
. The resulting increase in contact with the world outside of the
reservation system brought profound changes to Native American culture. "The
war", said the U.S. Indian Commissioner in 1945, "caused the greatest
disruption of Native life since the beginning of the reservation era",
affecting the habits, views, and economic well-being of tribal members.
The most significant of these changes was the opportunity—as a result of
wartime labor shortages—to find well-paying work in cities, and many people
relocated to urban areas, particularly on the West Coast with the buildup
of the defense industry.
There were also losses as a result of the war. For instance, a total of 1,
200 Pueblo men served in World War II; only about half came home alive. In
addition many more Navajo served as Code talkers for the military in the
Pacific. The code they made, although cryptologically very simple, was never
cracked by the Japanese.
Main articles: Native American self-determination and Native American civil
Military service and urban residency contributed to the rise of American
Indian activism, particularly after the 1960s and the occupation of Alcatraz
Island (1969–1971) by a student Indian group from San Francisco. In the
same period, the American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded in Minneapolis,
and chapters were established throughout the country, where American Indians
combined spiritual and political activism. Political protests gained
national media attention and the sympathy of the American public.
Through the mid-1970s, conflicts between governments and Native Americans
occasionally erupted into violence. A notable late 20th-century event was
the Wounded Knee incident on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Upset with
tribal government and the failures of the federal government to enforce
treaty rights, about 300 Oglala Lakota and AIM activists took control of
Wounded Knee on February 27, 1973.
Indian activists from around the country joined them at Pine Ridge, and the
occupation became a symbol of rising American Indian identity and power.
Federal law enforcement officials and the national guard cordoned off the
town, and the two sides had a standoff for 71 days. During much gunfire, one
United States Marshal was wounded and paralyzed. In late April a Cherokee
and local Lakota man were killed by gunfire; the Lakota elders ended the
occupation to ensure no more lives were lost.
In June 1975, two FBI agents seeking to make an armed robbery arrest at Pine
Ridge Reservation were wounded in a firefight, and killed at close range.
The AIM activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced in 1976 to two consecutive
terms of life in prison in the FBI deaths.
In 1968 the government enacted the Indian Civil Rights Act. This gave tribal
members most of the protections against abuses by tribal governments that
the Bill of Rights accords to all U.S. citizens with respect to the federal
government. In 1975 the U.S. government passed the Indian Self-
Determination and Education Assistance Act, marking the culmination of 15
years of policy changes. It resulted from American Indian activism, the
Civil Rights Movement, and community development aspects of President Lyndon
Johnson's social programs of the 1960s. The Act recognized the right and
need of Native Americans for self-determination. It marked the U.S.
government's turn away from the 1950s policy of termination of the
relationship between tribes and the government. The U.S. government
encouraged Native Americans' efforts at self-government and determining
their futures. Tribes have developed organizations to administer their own
social, welfare and housing programs, for instance. Tribal self-
determination has created tension with respect to the federal government's
historic trust obligation to care for Indians, however, the Bureau of Indian
Affairs has never lived up to that responsibility.
By this time, tribes had already started to establish community schools to
replace the BIA boarding schools. Led by the Navajo Nation in 1968, tribes
started tribal colleges and universities, to build their own models of
education on reservations, preserve and revive their cultures, and develop
educated workforces. In 1994 the U.S. Congress passed legislation
recognizing the tribal colleges as land-grant colleges, which provided
opportunities for funding. Thirty-two tribal colleges in the United States
belong to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. By the early 21st
century, tribal nations had also established numerous language revival
programs in their schools.
In addition, Native American activism has led major universities across the
country to establish Native American studies programs and departments,
increasing awareness of the strengths of Indian cultures, providing
opportunities for academics, and deepening research on history and cultures
in the United States. Native Americans have entered academia; journalism and
media; politics at local, state and federal levels; and public service, for
instance, influencing medical research and policy to identify issues
related to American Indians.
In 2013 jurisdiction over persons who were not tribal members under the
Violence Against Women Act was extended to Indian Country. This closed a gap
with prevented arrest or prosecution by tribal police or courts of abusive
partners of tribal members who were not native or from another tribe.
Migration to urban areas continued to grow with 70% of Native Americans
living in urban areas in 2012, up from 45% in 1970 and 8% in 1940. Urban
areas with significant Native American populations included Minneapolis,
Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Houston, New York City, and
Rapid City. Many lived in poverty. Racism, unemployment, drugs and gangs
were common problems which Indian social service organizations such as the
Little Earth housing complex in Minneapolis attempted to address.
Further information: Modern social statistics of Native Americans
American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut % of Population by U.S. State (1890-2010)
 State/Territory 1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990
United States United States 0.4% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% 0.3% 0.4% 0.6
% 0.8% 0.9% 0.9%
Alabama Alabama 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.4% 0.5%
Arizona Arizona 34.0% 21.5% 14.3% 9.9% 10.0% 11.0% 8.8% 6.4% 5.4% 5.6% 5.6%
Arkansas Arkansas 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.4% 0.5% 0.7
California California 1.4% 1.0% 0.7% 0.5% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% 0.2% 0.5% 0.9% 0.8%
Colorado Colorado 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.4% 0.6% 0.8% 1.0
Connecticut Connecticut 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.
2% 0.3% 0.3%
Delaware Delaware 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3
Washington, D.C. District of Columbia 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1
% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3%
Florida Florida 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3%
Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.
1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3%
Hawaii Hawaii 0.1% 0.1% 0.3% 0.5% 0.3% 0.3%
Idaho Idaho 4.8% 2.6% 1.1% 0.7% 0.8% 0.7% 0.6% 0.8% 0.9% 1.1% 1.4% 1.4% 1.4%
Illinois Illinois 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2
Indiana Indiana 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
Iowa Iowa 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.4%
Kansas Kansas 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.4% 0.7% 0.9% 0.9% 1.
Kentucky Kentucky 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2
Louisiana Louisiana 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.3% 0.4% 0
Maine Maine 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.4% 0.5% 0.6% 0.6%
Maryland Maryland 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3
Massachusetts Massachusetts 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1
% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3%
Michigan Michigan 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.4% 0.6% 0.6
Minnesota Minnesota 0.8% 0.5% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.5% 0.6% 0.9% 1.1% 1
Mississippi Mississippi 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2% 0.
3% 0.4% 0.5%
Missouri Missouri 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.3% 0.4% 0.4
Montana Montana 7.8% 4.7% 0.8% 2.0% 2.8% 3.0% 2.8% 3.1% 3.9% 4.7% 6.0% 6.2%
Nebraska Nebraska 0.6% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.4% 0.4% 0.6% 0.8% 0.9
Nevada Nevada 10.9% 12.3% 6.4% 6.3% 5.3% 4.3% 3.1% 2.3% 1.6% 1.7% 1.6% 1.3%
New Hampshire New Hampshire 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1
% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2%
New Jersey New Jersey 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
New Mexico New Mexico 9.4% 6.7% 6.3% 5.4% 6.8% 6.5% 6.2% 5.9% 7.2% 8.1% 8.9%
New York New York 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3% 0.4
North Carolina North Carolina 0.1% 0.3% 0.4% 0.5% 0.5% 0.6% 0.1% 0.8% 0.9% 1
.1% 1.2% 1.2% 1.3%
North Dakota North Dakota 4.3% 2.2% 1.1% 1.0% 1.2% 1.6% 1.7% 1.9% 2.3% 3.1%
4.1% 4.9% 5.4%
Ohio Ohio 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2%
Oklahoma Oklahoma 24.9% 8.2% 4.5% 2.8% 3.9% 2.7% 2.4% 2.8% 3.8% 5.6% 8.0% 7.
Oregon Oregon 1.6% 1.2% 0.8% 0.6% 0.5% 0.4% 0.4% 0.5% 0.6% 1.0% 1.4% 1.3% 1.
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
Rhode Island Rhode Island 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.3%
0.4% 0.5% 0.6%
South Carolina South Carolina 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2%
South Dakota South Dakota 5.7% 5.0% 3.3% 2.6% 3.2% 3.6% 3.6% 3.8% 4.9% 6.5%
7.3% 8.3% 8.8%
Tennessee Tennessee 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0
Texas Texas 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.4% 0.6% 0.7%
Utah Utah 1.6% 0.9% 0.8% 0.6% 0.6% 0.7% 0.6% 0.8% 1.1% 1.3% 1.4% 1.3% 1.2%
Vermont Vermont 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.4%
Virginia Virginia 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3
Washington (state) Washington 3.1% 1.9% 1.0% 0.7% 0.7% 0.7% 0.6% 0.7% 1.0% 1
.5% 1.7% 1.6% 1.5%
West Virginia West Virginia 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1
% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2%
Wisconsin Wisconsin 0.6% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.6% 0.8% 0
Wyoming Wyoming 2.9% 1.8% 1.0% 0.7% 0.8% 0.9% 1.1% 1.2% 1.5% 1.5% 2.1% 2.3%
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 0.4% 0.5%
Population and distribution
The 2010 census permitted respondents to self-identify as being of one or
more races. Self-identification dates from the census of 1960; prior to that
the race of the respondent was determined by opinion of the census taker.
The option to select more than one race was introduced in 2000. If
American Indian or Alaska Native was selected, the form requested the
individual provide the name of the "enrolled or principal tribe". The 2010
Census showed that the U.S. population on April 1, 2010, was 308.7 million.[
Out of the total U.S. population, 2.9 million people, or 0.9 percent,
reported American Indian or Alaska Native alone. In addition, 2.3 million
people, or another 0.7 percent, reported American Indian or Alaska Native in
combination with one or more other races. Together, these two groups
totaled 5.2 million people. Thus, 1.7 percent of all people in the United
States identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, either alone or in
combination with one or more other races.
The definition of American Indian or Alaska Native used in the 2010 census:
According to Office of Management and Budget, "American Indian or Alaska
Native" refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of
North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal
affiliation or community attachment.
78% of Native Americans live outside a reservation. Full-blood individuals
are more likely to live on a reservation than mixed-blood individuals. The
Navajo, with 286,000 full-blood individuals, is the largest tribe if only
full-blood individuals are counted; the Navajo are the tribe with the
highest proportion of full-blood individuals, 86.3%. The Cherokee have a
different history; it is the largest tribe with 819,000 individuals, and it
has 284,000 full-blood individuals.
As of 2012 70% of American Indians live in urban areas, up from 45% in 1970
and 8% in 1940. Urban areas with significant Native American populations
include Minneapolis, Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago, Oklahoma City,
Houston, New York City, and Rapid City. Many live in poverty. Racism,
unemployment, drugs and gangs are common problems which Indian social
service organizations such as the Little Earth housing complex in
Minneapolis attempt to address.
Distribution by US States
This Census Bureau map depicts the locations of differing Native American
groups, including Indian reservations, as of 2000. Note the concentration (
blue) in modern-day Oklahoma in the South West, which was once designated as
an Indian Territory before statehood in 1907.
According to 2003 United States Census Bureau estimates, a little over one
third of the 2,786,652 Native Americans in the United States live in three
states: California at 413,382, Arizona at 294,137 and Oklahoma at 279,559.[
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that about 0.8% of the U.S.
population was of American Indian or Alaska Native descent. This population
is unevenly distributed across the country. Below, all 50 states, as
well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are listed by the
proportion of residents citing American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry,
based on the 2010 U.S. Census.
Alaska – 14.8% 104,871
New Mexico – 9.4% 193,222
South Dakota – 8.8% 71,817
Oklahoma – 8.6% 321,687
Montana – 6.3% 62,555
North Dakota – 5.4% 36,591
Arizona – 4.6% 296,529
Wyoming – 2.4% 13,336
Washington – 1.5% 103,869
Oregon – 1.4% 53,203
Idaho – 1.4% 21,441
North Carolina – 1.3% 122,110
Utah – 1.2% 32,927
Nevada – 1.2% 32,062
Nebraska – 1.2% 18,427
Minnesota – 1.1% 60,916
Colorado – 1.1% 56,010
California – 1.0% 362,801
Wisconsin – 1.0% 54,526
Kansas – 1.0% 28,150
Arkansas – 0.8% 22,248
Texas – 0.7% 170,972
Louisiana – 0.7% 30,579
New York – 0.6% 106,906
Michigan – 0.6% 62,007
Alabama – 0.6% 28,218
Maine – 0.6% 8,568
Rhode Island – 0.6% 6,058
Missouri – 0.5% 27,376
Puerto Rico – 0.5% 19,839
Mississippi – 0.5% 15,030
Delaware – 0.5% 4,181
Florida – 0.4% 71,458
Virginia – 0.4% 29,225
Maryland – 0.4% 20,420
South Carolina – 0.4% 19,524
Iowa – 0.4% 11,084
Vermont – 0.4% 2,207
Illinois – 0.3% 43,963
Georgia – 0.3% 32,151
New Jersey – 0.3% 29,026
Tennessee – 0.3% 19,994
Massachusetts – 0.3% 18,850
Indiana – 0.3% 18,462
Connecticut – 0.3% 11,256
Hawaii – 0.3% 4,164
District of Columbia – 0.3% 2,079
Pennsylvania – 0.2% 26,843
Ohio – 0.2% 25,292
Kentucky – 0.2% 10,120
West Virginia – 0.2% 3,787
New Hampshire – 0.2% 3,150
In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that about less than 1.0% of the U
.S. population was of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander descent. This
population is unevenly distributed across 26 states. Below, are the 26
states that had at least 0.1%. They are listed by the proportion of
residents citing Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander ancestry, based on 2006
Hawaii – 8.7
Utah – 0.7
Alaska – 0.6
California – 0.4
Nevada – 0.4
Washington – 0.4
Arizona – 0.2
Oregon – 0.2
Alabama – 0.1
Arkansas – 0.1
Colorado – 0.1
Florida – 0.1
Idaho – 0.1
Kentucky – 0.1
Maryland – 0.1
Massachusetts – 0.1
Missouri – 0.1
Montana – 0.1
New Mexico – 0.1
North Carolina – 0.1
Oklahoma – 0.1
South Carolina – 0.1
Texas – 0.1
Virginia – 0.1
West Virginia – 0.1
Wyoming – 0.1
Population by tribal grouping
Below are numbers for US citizens self-identifying to selected tribal
grouping, according to the 2000 US census.
Tribal grouping American and Alaska Native alone American and Alaska Native
alone American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more
races American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more
races American Indian and Alaska Native tribal grouping alone or in any
Tribal grouping One tribal grouping reported More than one tribal grouping
reported One tribal grouping reported More than one tribal grouping reported
Total 2,423,531 52,425 1,585,396 57,949 4,119,301
Apache 57,060 7,917 24,947 6,909 96,833
Blackfeet 27,104 4,358 41,389 12,899 85,750
Cherokee 281,069 18,793 390,902 38,769 729,533
Cheyenne 11,191 1,365 4,655 993 18,204
Chickasaw 20,887 3,014 12,025 2,425 38,351
Chippewa 105,907 2,730 38,635 2,397 149,669
Choctaw 87,349 9,552 50,123 11,750 158,774
Colville 7,833 193 1,308 59 9,393
Comanche 10,120 1,568 6,120 1,568 19,376
Cree 2,488 724 3,577 945 7,734
Creek 40,223 5,495 21,652 3,940 71,310
Crow 9,117 574 2,812 891 13,394
Delaware 8,304 602 6,866 569 16,341
Houma 6,798 79 1,794 42 8,713
Iroquois 45,212 2,318 29,763 3,529 80,822
Kiowa 8,559 1,130 2,119 434 12,242
Latin American Indian 104,354 1,850 73,042 1,694 180,940
Lumbee 55,913 642 4,934 379 57,868
Menominee 7,883 258 1,551 148 9,840
Navajo 269,202 6,789 19,491 2,715 298,197
Osage 7,658 1,354 5,491 1,394 15,897
Ottawa 6,432 623 3,174 448 10,677
Paiute 9,705 1,163 2,315 349 13,532
Pima 8,519 999 1,741 234 11,493
Potawatomi 15,817 592 8,602 584 25,595
Pueblo 59,533 3,527 9,943 1,082 74,085
Puget Sound Salish 11,034 226 3,212 159 14,631
Seminole 12,431 2,982 9,505 2,513 27,431
Shoshone 7,739 714 3,039 534 12,026
Sioux 108,272 4,794 35,179 5,115 153,360
Tohono O’odham 17,466 714 1,748 159 20,087
Ute 7,309 715 1,944 417 10,385
Yakama 8,481 561 1,619 190 10,851
Yaqui 15,224 1,245 5,184 759 22,412
Yuman 7,295 526 1,051 104 8,976
Other specified American Indian tribes 240,521 9,468 100,346 7,323 357,658
American Indian tribe, not specified 2 109,644 57 86,173 28 195,902
Alaska Athabascan 14,520 815 3,218 285 18,838
Aleut 11,941 832 3,850 355 16,978
Eskimo 45,919 1,418 6,919 505 54,761
Tlingit-Haida 14,825 1,059 6,047 434 22,365
Other specified Alaska Native tribes 2,552 435 841 145 3,973
Alaska Native tribe, not specified 6,161 370 2,053 118 8,702
American Indian or Alaska Native tribes, not specified 3 511,960 (X) 544,497
Current legal status
Main articles: Tribal sovereignty in the United States and Native American
There are 562 federally recognized tribal governments in the United States.
These tribes possess the right to form their own governments, to enforce
laws (both civil and criminal) within their lands, to tax, to establish
requirements for membership, to license and regulate activities, to zone and
to exclude persons from tribal territories. Limitations on tribal powers of
self-government include the same limitations applicable to states; for
example, neither tribes nor states have the power to make war, engage in
foreign relations, or coin money (this includes paper currency).
Many Native Americans and advocates of Native American rights point out that
the U.S. federal government's claim to recognize the "sovereignty" of
Native American peoples falls short, given that the United States wishes to
govern Native American peoples and treat them as subject to U.S. law. Such
advocates contend that full respect for Native American sovereignty would
require the U.S. government to deal with Native American peoples in the same
manner as any other sovereign nation, handling matters related to relations
with Native Americans through the Secretary of State, rather than the
Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Bureau of Indian Affairs reports on its
website that its "responsibility is the administration and management of 55,
700,000 acres (225,000 km2) of land held in trust by the United States for
American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives". Many Native
Americans and advocates of Native American rights believe that it is
condescending for such lands to be considered "held in trust" and regulated
in any fashion by other than their own tribes, whether the U.S. or Canadian
governments, or any other non-Native American authority.
As of year 2000, the largest groups in the United States by population were
Navajo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Sioux, Chippewa, Apache, Blackfeet, Iroquois, and
Pueblo. In 2000, eight of ten Americans with Native American ancestry were
of mixed ancestry. It is estimated that by 2100 that figure will rise to
nine out of ten.
In addition, there are a number of tribes that are recognized by individual
states, but not by the federal government. The rights and benefits
associated with state recognition vary from state to state.
Some tribal groups have been unable to document the cultural continuity
required for federal recognition. The Muwekma Ohlone of the San Francisco
bay area are pursuing litigation in the federal court system to establish
recognition. Many of the smaller eastern tribes, long considered
remnants of extinct peoples, have been trying to gain official recognition
of their tribal status. Several in Virginia and North Carolina have gained
state recognition. Federal recognition confers some benefits, including the
right to label arts and crafts as Native American and permission to apply
for grants that are specifically reserved for Native Americans. But gaining
federal recognition as a tribe is extremely difficult; to be established as
a tribal group, members have to submit extensive genealogical proof of
tribal descent and continuity of the tribe as a culture.
Native peoples are concerned about the effects of abandoned uranium mines on
or near their lands.
In July 2000 the Washington Republican Party adopted a resolution
recommending that the federal and legislative branches of the U.S.
government terminate tribal governments. In 2007 a group of Democratic
Party congressmen and congresswomen introduced a bill in the U.S. House of
Representatives to "terminate" the Cherokee Nation. This was related to
their voting to exclude Cherokee Freedmen as members of the tribe unless
they had a Cherokee ancestor on the Dawes Rolls, although all Cherokee
Freedmen and their descendants had been members since 1866.
As of 2004, various Native Americans are wary of attempts by others to gain
control of their reservation lands for natural resources, such as coal and
uranium in the West.
In the state of Virginia, Native Americans face a unique problem. Virginia
has no federally recognized tribes but the state has recognized eight. This
is related historically to the greater impact of disease and warfare on the
Virginia Indian populations, as well as their intermarriage with Europeans
and Africans. Some people confused the ancestry with culture, but groups of
Virginia Indians maintained their cultural continuity. Most of their early
reservations were ended under the pressure of early European settlement.
Some historians also note the problems of Virginia Indians in establishing
documented continuity of identity, due to the work of Walter Ashby Plecker (
1912–1946). As registrar of the state's Bureau of Vital Statistics, he
applied his own interpretation of the one-drop rule, enacted in law in 1924
as the state's Racial Integrity Act. It recognized only two races: "white"
Plecker, a segregationist, believed that the state's Native Americans had
been "mongrelized" by intermarriage with African Americans; to him, ancestry
determined identity, rather than culture. He thought that some people of
partial black ancestry were trying to "pass" as Native Americans. Plecker
thought that anyone with any African heritage had to be classified as
colored, regardless of appearance, amount of European or Native American
ancestry, and cultural/community identification. Plecker pressured local
governments into reclassifying all Native Americans in the state as "colored
", and gave them lists of family surnames to examine for reclassification
based on his interpretation of data and the law. This led to the state's
destruction of accurate records related to families and communities who
identified as Native American (as in church records and daily life). By his
actions, sometimes different members of the same family were split by being
classified as "white" or "colored". He did not allow people to enter their
primary identification as Native American in state records. In 2009,
the Senate Indian Affairs Committee endorsed a bill that would grant federal
recognition to tribes in Virginia.
To achieve federal recognition and its benefits, tribes must prove
continuous existence since 1900. The federal government has maintained this
requirement, in part because through participation on councils and
committees, federally recognized tribes have been adamant about groups'
satisfying the same requirements as they did.
Main article: Contemporary Native American issues in the United States
Native American struggles amid poverty to maintain life on the reservation
or in larger society have resulted in a variety of health issues, some
related to nutrition and health practices. The community suffers a
vulnerability to and disproportionately high rate of alcoholism.
It has long been recognized that Native Americans are dying of diabetes,
alcoholism, tuberculosis, suicide, and other health conditions at shocking
rates. Beyond disturbingly high mortality rates, Native Americans also
suffer a significantly lower health status and disproportionate rates of
disease compared with all other Americans.
- U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (September 2004)
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Lands inhabited by indigenous peoples
ILO 169 · United Nations Declaration
Societal discrimination and racism
Further information: Stereotypes of Native Americans
A discriminatory sign posted above a bar. Birney, Montana, 1941.
Most non-Native Americans admitted they rarely encountered Native Americans
in their daily lives. While sympathetic toward Native Americans and
expressing regret over the past, most people had only a vague understanding
of the problems facing Native Americans today. For their part, Native
Americans told researchers that they believed they continued to face
prejudice, mistreatment, and inequality in the broader society.
Affirmative action issues
Federal contractors and subcontractors, such as businesses and educational
institutions, are legally required to adopt equal opportunity employment and
affirmative action measures intended to prevent discrimination against
employees or applicants for employment on the basis of "color, religion, sex
, or national origin". For this purpose, a Native American is
defined as "A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North
and South America (including Central America), and who maintains a tribal
affiliation or community attachment." However, self-reporting is permitted:
"Educational institutions and other recipients should allow students and
staff to self-identify their race and ethnicity unless self-identification
is not practicable or feasible."
Self-reporting opens the door to "box checking" by people who, despite not
having a substantial relationship to Native American culture, innocently or
fraudulently "check the box" for Native American.
Native American mascots in sports
Main article: Native American mascot controversy
A student acting as Chief Osceola, the Florida State University mascot
American Indian activists in the United States and Canada have criticized
the use of Native American mascots in sports, as perpetuating stereotypes.
While many universities and professional sports teams (for example, the
Cleveland Indians, who had a Chief Wahoo) no longer use such images without
consultation and approval by the respective nation, some lower-level schools
continue to do so. On the other hand, in the Bay Area of California,
Tomales Bay High and Sequoia High have retired their Indian mascots.[
126] An exception was made to allow the use of tribal names if approved by
that tribe (such as the Seminole Tribe of Florida's approving use of their
name for the team of Florida State University.)
Historical depictions in art
Secotan Indians' dance in North Carolina, watercolor by John White, 1585
Native Americans have been depicted by American artists in various ways at
different historical periods. A number of 19th and 20th-century United
States and Canadian painters, often motivated by a desire to document and
preserve Native culture, specialized in Native American subjects. Among the
most prominent of these were Elbridge Ayer Burbank, George Catlin, Seth
Eastman, Paul Kane, W. Langdon Kihn, Charles Bird King, Joseph Henry Sharp,
and John Mix Stanley.
In the 20th century, early portrayals of Native Americans in movies and
television roles were first performed by European Americans dressed in mock
traditional attire. Examples included The Last of the Mohicans (1920),
Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans (1957), and F Troop (1965–67). In
later decades, Native American actors such as Jay Silverheels in The Lone
Ranger television series (1949–57) came to prominence. Roles of Native
Americans were limited and not reflective of Native American culture. By the
1970s some Native American film roles began to show more complexity, such
as those in Little Big Man (1970), Billy Jack (1971), and The Outlaw Josey
Wales (1976), which depicted Native Americans in minor supporting roles.
For years, Native people on U.S. television were relegated to secondary,
subordinate roles. During the years of the series Bonanza (1959–1973), no
major or secondary Native characters appeared on a consistent basis. The
series The Lone Ranger (1949–1957), Cheyenne (1955–1963), and Law of the
Plainsman (1959–1963) had Native characters who were essentially aides to
the central white characters. This continued in such series as How the West
Was Won. These programs resembled the "sympathetic" yet contradictory film
Dances With Wolves of 1990, in which, according to Ella Shohat and Robert
Stam, the narrative choice was to relate the Lakota story as told through a
Euro-American voice, for wider impact among a general audience. Like
the 1992 remake of The Last of the Mohicans and Geronimo: An American Legend
(1993), Dances with Wolves employed a number of Native American actors, and
made an effort to portray Indigenous languages.
In 2009 We Shall Remain (2009), a television documentary by Ric Burns and
part of the American Experience series, presented a five-episode series "
from a Native American perspective". It represented "an unprecedented
collaboration between Native and non-Native filmmakers and involves Native
advisors and scholars at all levels of the project." The five episodes
explore the impact of King Philip's War on the northeastern tribes, the "
Native American confederacy" of Tecumseh's War, the US-forced relocation of
Southeastern tribes known as the Trail of Tears, the pursuit and capture of
Geronimo and the Apache Wars, and concludes with the Wounded Knee incident,
participation by the American Indian Movement, and the increasing resurgence
of modern Native cultures since.
Further information: Native American name controversy
Common usage in the United States
Native Americans are more commonly known as Indians or American Indians. The
term Native American was introduced in the United States in preference to
the older term Indian to distinguish the indigenous peoples of the Americas
from the people of India, and to avoid negative stereotypes associated with
the term Indian. Some academics[who?] believe that the term Indian should be
considered outdated or offensive. Many indigenous Americans, however,
prefer the term American Indian.
Criticism of the neologism Native American comes from diverse sources.
Russell Means, an American Indian activist, opposed the term Native American
because he believed it was imposed by the government without the consent of
American Indians. He has also argued that the use of the word Indian
derives not from a confusion with India but from a Spanish expression En Dio
, meaning "in God".
A 1995 U.S. Census Bureau survey found that more Native Americans in the
United States preferred American Indian to Native American. Most
American Indians are comfortable with Indian, American Indian, and Native
American, and the terms are often used interchangeably. The traditional
term is reflected in the name chosen for the National Museum of the
American Indian, which opened in 2004 on the Mall in Washington, D.C..
Sandia Casino, owned by the Sandia Pueblo of New Mexico
Main article: Native American gaming
Gambling has become a leading industry. Casinos operated by many Native
American governments in the United States are creating a stream of gambling
revenue that some communities are beginning to use as leverage to build
diversified economies.[clarification needed] Although many Native
American tribes have casinos, the impact of Native American gaming is widely
debated. Some tribes, such as the Winnemem Wintu of Redding, California,
feel that casinos and their proceeds destroy culture from the inside out.
These tribes refuse to participate in the gambling industry.
Crime on reservations
Prosecution of serious crime, historically endemic on reservations,[136
] was required by the 1885 Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. §§1153, 3242,
and court decisions to be investigated by the federal government, usually
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and prosecuted by United States
Attorneys of the United States federal judicial district in which the
A Dec. 13, 2009 The New York Times article about growing gang violence on
the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation estimated that there were 39 gangs with 5,
000 members on that reservation alone. Navajo country recently reported
225 gangs in its territory.
As of 2012, a high incidence of rape continued to impact Native American
women and Alaskan native women. According to the Justice Department 1 in 3
women have suffered rape or attempted rape, more than twice the national
rate. About 46 percent of Native American women have been raped, beaten
, or stalked by an intimate partner, according to a 2010 study by the
Centers for Disease Control. According to Professor N. Bruce Duthu, "
More than 80 percent of Indian victims identify their attacker as non-Indian
Society, language, and culture
Main article: Native American cultures of the United States
Zuni girl with pottery jar on her head in 1909
Though cultural features, language, clothing, and customs vary enormously
from one tribe to another, there are certain elements which are encountered
frequently and shared by many tribes. Early European American scholars
described the Native Americans as having a society dominated by clans.
Early hunter-gatherer tribes made stone weapons from around 10,000 years ago
; as the age of metallurgy dawned, newer technologies were used and more
efficient weapons produced. Prior to contact with Europeans, most tribes
used similar weaponry. The most common implements were the bow and arrow,
the war club, and the spear. Quality, material, and design varied widely.
Native American use of fire both helped provide and prepare for food and
altered the landscape of the continent to help the human population flourish.
Large mammals like mammoths and mastodons were largely extinct by around
8000 BCE. Native Americans switched to hunting other large game, such as
bison. The Great Plains tribes were still hunting the bison when they first
encountered the Europeans. The Spanish reintroduction of the horse to North
America in the 17th century and Native Americans' learning to use them
greatly altered the natives' culture, including changing the way in which
they hunted large game. Horses became such a valuable, central element of
Native lives that they were counted as a measure of wealth.
Main articles: Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas and
Indigenous languages of the Americas
Native Americans were divided into several hundred ethno-linguistic groups.
A number of English words have been derived from Native American languages.
Society and art
Further information: petroglyph, pictogram, petroform, Visual arts by
indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous ceramics of the Americas, and
Native American jewelry
The Iroquois, living around the Great Lakes and extending east and north,
used strings or belts called wampum that served a dual function: the knots
and beaded designs mnemonically chronicled tribal stories and legends, and
further served as a medium of exchange and a unit of measure. The keepers of
the articles were seen as tribal dignitaries.
Pueblo peoples crafted impressive items associated with their religious
ceremonies. Kachina dancers wore elaborately painted and decorated masks as
they ritually impersonated various ancestral spirits. Sculpture was not
highly developed, but carved stone and wood fetishes were made for religious
use. Superior weaving, embroidered decorations, and rich dyes characterized
the textile arts. Both turquoise and shell jewelry were created, as were
high-quality pottery and formalized pictorial arts.
Navajo spirituality focused on the maintenance of a harmonious relationship
with the spirit world, often achieved by ceremonial acts, usually
incorporating sandpainting. The colors—made from sand, charcoal, cornmeal,
and pollen—depicted specific spirits. These vivid, intricate, and colorful
sand creations were erased at the end of the ceremony.
Further information: Native American cuisine
Maize grown by Native Americans
Chippewa baby waits on a cradleboard while parents tend rice crops (
An early crop the Native Americans grew was squash. Others early crops
included cotton, sunflower, pumpkins, tobacco, goosefoot, knotgrass, and
Agriculture in the southwest started around 4,000 years ago when traders
brought cultigens from Mexico. Due to the varying climate, some ingenuity
was needed for agriculture to be successful. The climate in the southwest
ranged from cool, moist mountains regions, to dry, sandy soil in the desert.
Some innovations of the time included irrigation to bring water into the
dry regions and the selection of seed based on the traits of the growing
plants that bore them. In the southwest, they grew beans that were self-
supported, much like the way they are grown today.
In the east, however, they were planted right by corn in order for the vines
to be able to "climb" the cornstalks. The most important crop the Native
Americans raised was maize. It was first started in Mesoamerica and spread
north. About 2,000 years ago it reached eastern America. This crop was
important to the Native Americans because it was part of their everyday diet
; it could be stored in underground pits during the winter, and no part of
it was wasted. The husk was made into art crafts, and the cob was used as
fuel for fires. By 800 CE the Native Americans had established three main
crops — beans, squash, and corn — called the three sisters.
The agriculture gender roles of the Native Americans varied from region to
region. In the southwest area, men prepared the soil with hoes. The women
were in charge of planting, weeding, and harvesting the crops. In most other
regions, the women were in charge of doing everything, including clearing
the land. Clearing the land was an immense chore since the Native Americans
rotated fields frequently. There is a tradition that Squanto showed the
Pilgrims in New England how to put fish in fields to act like a fertilizer,
but the truth of this story is debated.
Native Americans did plant beans next to corn; the beans would replace the
nitrogen which the corn took from the ground, as well as using corn stalks
for support for climbing. Native Americans used controlled fires to burn
weeds and clear fields; this would put nutrients back into the ground. If
this did not work, they would simply abandon the field to let it be fallow,
and find a new spot for cultivation.
Europeans in the eastern part of the continent observed that Natives cleared
large areas for cropland. Their fields in New England sometimes covered
hundreds of acres. Colonists in Virginia noted thousands of acres under
cultivation by Native Americans.
Native Americans commonly used tools such as the hoe, maul, and dibber. The
hoe was the main tool used to till the land and prepare it for planting;
then it was used for weeding. The first versions were made out of wood and
stone. When the settlers brought iron, Native Americans switched to iron
hoes and hatchets. The dibber was a digging stick, used to plant the seed.
Once the plants were harvested, women prepared the produce for eating. They
used the maul to grind the corn into mash. It was cooked and eaten that way
or baked as corn bread.
Further information: Native American religion
Kateri Tekakwitha, the patron of ecologists, exiles, and orphans, was
canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Baptism of Pocahontas was painted in 1840. John Gadsby Chapman depicts
Pocahontas, wearing white, being baptized Rebecca by Anglican minister
Alexander Whiteaker (left) in Jamestown, Virginia; this event is believed to
have taken place either in 1613 or 1614.
Traditional Native American ceremonies are still practiced by many tribes
and bands, and the older theological belief systems are still held by many
of the native people.[specify] These spiritualities may accompany adherence
to another faith, or can represent a person's primary religious identity.
While much Native American spiritualism exists in a tribal-cultural
continuum, and as such cannot be easily separated from tribal identity
itself, certain other more clearly defined movements have arisen among "
traditional" Native American practitioners, these being identifiable as "
religions" in the prototypical sense familiar in the industrialized Western
Traditional practices of some tribes include the use of sacred herbs such as
tobacco, sweetgrass or sage. Many Plains tribes have sweatlodge ceremonies,
though the specifics of the ceremony vary among tribes. Fasting, singing
and prayer in the ancient languages of their people, and sometimes drumming
are also common.
The Midewiwin Lodge is a traditional medicine society inspired by the oral
traditions and prophesies of the Ojibwa (Chippewa) and related tribes.
Another significant religious body among Native peoples is known as the
Native American Church. It is a syncretistic church incorporating elements
of Native spiritual practice from a number of different tribes as well as
symbolic elements from Christianity. Its main rite is the peyote ceremony.
Prior to 1890, traditional religious beliefs included Wakan Tanka. In the
American Southwest, especially New Mexico, a syncretism between the
Catholicism brought by Spanish missionaries and the native religion is
common; the religious drums, chants, and dances of the Pueblo people are
regularly part of Masses at Santa Fe's Saint Francis Cathedral. Native
American-Catholic syncretism is also found elsewhere in the United States. (
e.g., the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, New York and the
National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York).
The eagle feather law (Title 50 Part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations)
stipulates that only individuals of certifiable Native American ancestry
enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are legally authorized to obtain
eagle feathers for religious or spiritual use. The law does not allow Native
Americans to give eagle feathers to non-Native Americans.
Main articles: Gender roles in First Nations and Native American tribes,
Clan Mother, Matriarchy, and Matrilineality
Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman to become a
physician in the United States.
Gender roles were differentiated in most Native American tribes. Both sexes
had power in decisionmaking within the tribe. Many tribes, such as the
Haudenosaunee Five Nations and the Southeast Muskogean tribes, had
matrilineal or Mother Clan systems, in which property and hereditary
leadership were controlled by and passed through the maternal lines. The
children were considered to belong to the mother's clan and achieved status
When the tribe adopted war captives, the children became part of their
mother's clan and accepted in the tribe. In Cherokee and other matrilineal
cultures, wives owned the family property. When young women married, their
husbands joined them in their mother's household.
This enabled the young women to have assistance for childbirth and rearing;
it also protected her in case of conflicts between the couple. If they
separated or the man was killed at war, the woman had her family to assist
her. In addition, in matrilineal culture, the mother's brother was the
leading male figure in a male child's life, as he mentored the child within
the mother's clan.
The husband had no standing in his wife's and children's clan, as he
belonged to his own mother's clan. Hereditary clan chief positions passed
through the mother's line. Chiefs were selected on recommendation of women
elders, who also could disapprove of a chief. There were sometimes
hereditary roles for men called peace chiefs, but war chiefs were selected
based on proven prowess in battle. Men usually had the roles of hunting,
waging war, and negotiating with other tribes, including the Europeans after
Others were patriarchal, although several different systems were in use. In
the patrilineal tribes, such as the Omaha, Osage and Ponca, hereditary
leadership passed through the male line, and children were considered to
belong to the father and his clan. For this reason, when Europeans or
American men took wives from such tribes, their children were considered "
white" like their fathers, or "half-breeds". Generally such children could
have no official place in the tribe because their fathers did not belong to
it, unless they were adopted by a male and made part of his family.
Men hunted, traded and made war. The women had primary responsibility for
the survival and welfare of the families (and future of the tribe); they
gathered and cultivated plants, used plants and herbs to treat illnesses,
cared for the young and the elderly, made all the clothing and instruments,
and processed and cured meat and skins from the game. They tanned hides to
make clothing as well as bags, saddle cloths, and tepee covers. Mothers used
cradleboards to carry an infant while working or traveling.
At least several dozen tribes allowed polygyny to sisters, with procedural
and economic limits.
Apart from making homes, women had many additional tasks that were also
essential for the survival of the tribes. They made weapons and tools, took
care of the roofs of their homes and often helped their men hunt bison.
In some of the Plains Indian tribes, medicine women gathered herbs and
cured the ill.
The Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota girls were encouraged to learn to ride, hunt
and fight. Though fighting was mostly left to the boys and men,
occasionally women fought with them, especially if the tribe was severely
Jim Thorpe—gold medalist at the 1912 Olympics, in the pentathlon and
Native American leisure time led to competitive individual and team sports.
Jim Thorpe, Joe Hipp, Notah Begay III, Chris Wondolowski, Jacoby Ellsbury,
Joba Chamberlain, Kyle Lohse, Sam Bradford, Jack Brisco, Tommy Morrison and
Billy Mills are well known professional athletes.
Ball players from the Choctaw and Lakota tribe as painted by George Catlin
in the 1830s
Native American ball sports, sometimes referred to as lacrosse, stickball,
or baggataway, was often used to settle disputes, rather than going to war,
as a civil way to settle potential conflict. The Choctaw called it isitoboli
("Little Brother of War"); the Onondaga name was dehuntshigwa'es ("men
hit a rounded object"). There are three basic versions, classified as Great
Lakes, Iroquoian, and Southern.
The game is played with one or two rackets/sticks and one ball. The object
of the game is to land the ball on the opposing team's goal (either a single
post or net) to score and to prevent the opposing team from scoring on your
goal. The game involves as few as 20 or as many as 300 players with no
height or weight restrictions and no protective gear. The goals could be
from around 200 feet (61 m) apart to about 2 miles (3.2 km); in Lacrosse the
field is 110 yards (100 m). A Jesuit priest[who?] referenced stickball in
1729, and George Catlin painted the subject.
Chunkey was a game that consisted of a stone shaped disk that was about 1–2
inches in diameter. The disk was thrown down a 200-foot (61 m) corridor so
that it could roll past the players at great speed. The disk would roll down
the corridor, and players would throw wooden shafts at the moving disk. The
object of the game was to strike the disk or prevent your opponents from
Billy Mills crosses the finish line for the 10,000 meter race at the 1964
Jim Thorpe, a Sauk and Fox Native American, was an all-round athlete playing
football and baseball in the early 20th century. Future President Dwight
Eisenhower injured his knee while trying to tackle the young Thorpe. In a
1961 speech, Eisenhower recalled Thorpe: "Here and there, there are some
people who are supremely endowed. My memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He
never practiced in his life, and he could do anything better than any other
football player I ever saw."
In the 1912 Olympics, Thorpe could run the 100-yard dash in 10 seconds flat,
the 220 in 21.8 seconds, the 440 in 51.8 seconds, the 880 in 1:57, the mile
in 4:35, the 120-yard high hurdles in 15 seconds, and the 220-yard low
hurdles in 24 seconds. He could long jump 23 ft 6 in and high-jump 6 ft
5 in. He could pole vault 11 feet (3.4 m), put the shot 47 ft 9 in (14
.55 m), throw the javelin 163 feet (50 m), and throw the discus 136 feet (41
m). Thorpe entered the U.S. Olympic trials for both the pentathlon and
Ellison Brown, of the Narragansett people from Rhode Island, better known as
"Tarzan" Brown, won 2 Boston Marathons (1936, 1939) and also competed on
the United States Olympic team in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany,
but did not finish due to injury. He qualified for the 1940 Olympic Games
in Helsinki, Finland but the games were canceled due to the outbreak of
World War II.
Billy Mills, a Lakota and USMC officer, won the gold medal in the 10,000
meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was the only American ever to win
the Olympic gold in this event. An unknown prior to the Olympics, Mills
finished second in the U.S. Olympic trials.
Billy Kidd, part Abenaki from Vermont, became the first American male to
medal in alpine skiing in the Olympics, taking silver at age 20 in the
slalom in the 1964 Winter Olympics at Innsbruck, Austria.
Six years later at the 1970 World Championships, Kidd won the gold medal in
the combined event and took the bronze medal in the slalom.
Music and art
Main articles: Native American music and Visual arts by indigenous peoples
of the Americas
Jake Fragua, Jemez Pueblo from New Mexico
Traditional Native American music is almost entirely monophonic, but there
are notable exceptions. Native American music often includes drumming and/or
the playing of rattles or other percussion instruments but little other
instrumentation. Flutes and whistles made of wood, cane, or bone are also
played, generally by individuals, but in former times also by large
ensembles (as noted by Spanish conquistador de Soto). The tuning of modern
flutes is typically pentatonic.
Performers with Native American parentage have occasionally appeared in
American popular music such as Rita Coolidge, Wayne Newton, Gene Clark,
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Blackfoot, Tori Amos, Redbone (members are also of
Mexican descent), and CocoRosie. Some, such as John Trudell, have used music
to comment on life in Native America. Other musicians such as R. Carlos
Nakai, Joanne Shenandoah and Robert "Tree" Cody integrate traditional sounds
with modern sounds in instrumental recordings, whereas the music by artist
Charles Littleleaf is derived from ancestral heritage as well as nature. A
variety of small and medium-sized recording companies offer an abundance of
recent music by Native American performers young and old, ranging from pow-
wow drum music to hard-driving rock-and-roll and rap. In the International
world of ballet dancing Maria Tallchief was considered America's first major
prima ballerina, and was the first person of Native American descent
to hold the rank. along with her sister Marjorie Tallchief both became
The most widely practiced public musical form among Native Americans in the
United States is that of the pow-wow. At pow-wows, such as the annual
Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, members of drum groups sit
in a circle around a large drum. Drum groups play in unison while they sing
in a native language and dancers in colorful regalia dance clockwise around
the drum groups in the center. Familiar pow-wow songs include honor songs,
intertribal songs, crow-hops, sneak-up songs, grass-dances, two-steps,
welcome songs, going-home songs, and war songs. Most indigenous communities
in the United States also maintain traditional songs and ceremonies, some of
which are shared and practiced exclusively within the community.
Native American art comprises a major category in the world art collection.
Native American contributions include pottery, paintings, jewellery,
weavings, sculpture, basketry, and carvings. Franklin Gritts was a Cherokee
artist who taught students from many tribes at Haskell Institute (now
Haskell Indian Nations University) in the 1940s, the Golden Age of Native
American painters. The integrity of certain Native American artworks is
protected by an act of Congress that prohibits representation of art as
Native American when it is not the product of an enrolled Native American
The Inuit, or Eskimo, prepared and buried large amounts of dried meat and
fish. Pacific Northwest tribes crafted seafaring dugouts 40–50 feet (12–15
m) long for fishing. Farmers in the Eastern Woodlands tended fields of
maize with hoes and digging sticks, while their neighbors in the Southeast
grew tobacco as well as food crops. On the Plains, some tribes engaged in
agriculture but also planned buffalo hunts in which herds were driven over
Dwellers of the Southwest deserts hunted small animals and gathered acorns
to grind into flour with which they baked wafer-thin bread on top of heated
stones. Some groups on the region's mesas developed irrigation techniques,
and filled storehouses with grain as protection against the area's frequent
In the early years, as these native peoples encountered European explorers
and settlers and engaged in trade, they exchanged food, crafts, and furs for
blankets, iron and steel implements, horses, trinkets, firearms, and
Contemporary barriers to economic development
Makah Native Americans and a whale, pictured in 1910 by Asahel Curtis. (The
photo's title is "The King of the Seas in the Hands of the Makahs")
Today, other than tribes successfully running casinos, many tribes struggle,
as they are often located on reservations isolated from the main economic
centers of the country. The estimated 2.1 million Native Americans are the
most impoverished of all ethnic groups. According to the 2000 Census, an
estimated 400,000 Native Americans reside on reservation land. While some
tribes have had success with gaming, only 40% of the 562 federally
recognized tribes operate casinos. According to a 2007 survey by the U.
S. Small Business Administration, only 1% of Native Americans own and
operate a business.
Native Americans rank at the bottom of nearly every social statistic:
highest teen suicide rate of all minorities at 18.5 per 100,000, highest
rate of teen pregnancy, highest high school drop-out rate at 54%, lowest per
capita income, and unemployment rates between 50% to 90%. Many[
clarification needed] Native Americans have become urbanized to survive,
moving to urban centers in the states where their reservations are, or out
of state. Others have entered academic and political fields
that take them away from the reservations.
The barriers to economic development on Native American reservations have
been identified by Joseph Kalt and Stephen Cornell of the Harvard
Project on American Indian Economic Development at Harvard University, in
their report: What Can Tribes Do? Strategies and Institutions in American
Indian Economic Development (2008), are summarized as follows:
Lack of access to capital.
Lack of human capital (education, skills, technical expertise) and the means
to develop it.
Reservations lack effective planning.
Reservations are poor in natural resources.
Reservations have natural resources, but lack sufficient control over them.
Reservations are disadvantaged by their distance from markets and the high
costs of transportation.
Teacher with picture cards giving English instruction to Navajo day school
Tribes cannot persuade investors to locate on reservations because of
intense competition from non-Native American communities.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is inept, corrupt, and/or uninterested in
Tribal politicians and bureaucrats are inept or corrupt.
On-reservation factionalism destroys stability in tribal decisions.
The instability of tribal government keeps outsiders from investing. (Many
tribes adopted constitutions by the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act model,
with two-year terms for elected positions of chief and council members
deemed too short by the authors for getting things done)
Entrepreneurial skills and experience are scarce.
Tribal cultures get in the way.
A major barrier to development is the lack of entrepreneurial knowledge and
experience within Indian reservations. "A general lack of education and
experience about business is a significant challenge to prospective
entrepreneurs," was the report on Native American entrepreneurship by the
Northwest Area Foundation in 2004. "Native American communities that lack
entrepreneurial traditions and recent experiences typically do not provide
the support that entrepreneurs need to thrive. Consequently, experiential
entrepreneurship education needs to be embedded into school curricula and
after-school and other community activities. This would allow students to
learn the essential elements of entrepreneurship from a young age and
encourage them to apply these elements throughout life.". Rez Biz
magazine addresses these issues.
Lillian Gross, described as a "Mixed Blood" by the Smithsonian source, was
of Cherokee and European-American heritage. Raised within Cherokee culture,
she identified with that.
Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans
Interracial relations between Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans is a
complex issue that has been mostly neglected with "few in-depth studies on
interracial relationships". Some of the first documented cases of
European/Native American intermarriage and contact were recorded in Post-
Columbian Mexico. One case is that of Gonzalo Guerrero, a European from
Spain, who was shipwrecked along the Yucatan Peninsula, and fathered three
Mestizo children with a Mayan noblewoman. Another is the case of Hernán
Cortés and his mistress La Malinche, who gave birth to another of the first
multi-racial people in the Americas.
The 1725 return of an Osage bride from a trip to Paris, France. The Osage
woman was married to a French soldier.
European impact was immediate, widespread, and profound—more than any other
race that had contact with Native Americans during the early years of
colonization and nationhood. Europeans living among Native Americans were
often called "white indians". They "lived in native communities for years,
learned native languages fluently, attended native councils, and often
fought alongside their native companions."
Early contact was often charged with tension and emotion, but also had
moments of friendship, cooperation, and intimacy. Marriages took place
in English, Spanish, and French colonies between Native Americans and
Europeans. Given the preponderance of men among the colonists in the early
years, generally European men married American Indian women.
In 1528, Isabel de Moctezuma, an heir of Moctezuma II, was married to Alonso
de Grado, a Spanish Conquistador. After his death, the widow married Juan
Cano de Saavedra. Together they had five children. Many heirs of Emperor
Moctezuma II were acknowledged by the Spanish crown, who granted them titles
including Duke of Moctezuma de Tultengo.
On April 5, 1614, Pocahontas married the Englishman John Rolfe. They had a
child called Thomas Rolfe. Intimate relations among Native American and
Europeans were widespread, beginning with the French and Spanish explorers
and trappers. For instance, in the early 19th century, the Native American
woman Sacagawea, who would help translate for the Lewis and Clark Expedition
, was married to the French-Canadian trapper Toussaint Charbonneau. They had
a son named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. This was the most typical pattern
among the traders and trappers.
Five Indians and a Captive, painted by Carl Wimar, 1855
There was fear on both sides, as the different peoples realized how
different their societies were. The whites regarded the Indians as "
savage" because they were not Christian. They were suspicious of cultures
which they did not understand. The Native American author, Andrew J.
Blackbird, wrote in his History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of
Michigan, (1897), that white settlers introduced some immoralities into
Native American tribes. Many Indians suffered because the Europeans
introduced alcohol and the whiskey trade resulted in alcoholism among the
people, who were alcohol-intolerant.
"The Ottawas and Chippewas were quite virtuous in their primitive state, as
there were no illegitimate children reported in our old traditions. But very
lately this evil came to exist among the Ottawas-so lately that the second
case among the Ottawas of 'Arbor Croche' is yet living in 1897. And from
that time this evil came to be quite frequent, for immorality has been
introduced among these people by evil white persons who bring their vices
into the tribes."
The U. S. government had two purposes when making land agreements with
Native Americans: to open it up more land for white settlement, and to
ease tensions between whites and Native Americans by forcing Natives to use
the land in the same way as did the whites - for subsistence farms. The
government used a variety of strategies to achieve these goals; many
treaties required Native Americans to become farmers in order to keep their
land. Government officials often did not translate the documents which
Native Americans were forced to sign, and native chiefs often had little or
no idea what they were signing.
Charles Eastman was one of the first Native Americans to become certified as
a medical doctor, after he graduated from Boston University.
For a Native American man to marry a white woman, he had to get consent of
her parents, as long as "he can prove to support her as a white woman in a
good home". In the early 19th century, the Shawnee Tecumseh and blonde
hair & blued eyed Rebbecca Galloway had an inter-racial affair. In the late
19th century, three European-American middle-class women teachers at Hampton
Institute married Native American men whom they had met as students.
As European-American women started working independently at missions and
Indian schools in the western states, there were more opportunities for
their meeting and developing relationships with Native American men. For
instance, Charles Eastman, a man of European and Lakota descent whose father
sent both his sons to Dartmouth College, got his medical degree at Boston
University and returned to the West to practice. He married Elaine Goodale,
whom he met in South Dakota. He was the grandson of Seth Eastman, a military
officer from Maine, and a chief's daughter. Goodale was a young European-
American teacher from Massachusetts and a reformer, who was appointed as the
US superintendent of Native American education for the reservations in the
Dakota Territory. They had six children together.
Main article: Slavery among Native Americans in the United States
When Europeans arrived as colonists in North America, Native Americans
changed their practice of slavery dramatically. Native Americans began
selling war captives to whites rather than integrating them into their own
societies as they had done before. As the demand for labor in the West
Indies grew with the cultivation of sugar cane, Europeans enslaved Native
Americans for the Thirteen Colonies, and some were exported to the "sugar
islands." The British settlers, especially those in the southern colonies,
purchased or captured Native Americans to use as forced labor in cultivating
tobacco, rice, and indigo. Accurate records of the numbers enslaved do not
exist. Scholars estimate tens of thousands of Native Americans may have been
enslaved by the Europeans, being sold by Native Americans themselves.
Slaves became a caste of people who were foreign to the English (Native
Americans, Africans and their descendants) and non-Christians. The Virginia
General Assembly defined some terms of slavery in 1705:
All servants imported and brought into the Country... who were not
Christians in their native Country... shall be accounted and be slaves. All
Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion ... shall be held to
be real estate. If any slave resists his master ... correcting such slave,
and shall happen to be killed in such correction ... the master shall be
free of all punishment ... as if such accident never happened.
—Virginia General Assembly declaration, 1705
The slave trade of Native Americans lasted only until around 1730. It gave
rise to a series of devastating wars among the tribes, including the Yamasee
War. The Indian Wars of the early 18th century, combined with the
increasing importation of African slaves, effectively ended the Native
American slave trade by 1750. Colonists found that Native American slaves
could easily escape, as they knew the country. The wars cost the lives of
numerous colonial slave traders and disrupted their early societies. The
remaining Native American groups banded together to face the Europeans from
a position of strength. Many surviving Native American peoples of the
southeast strengthened their loose coalitions of language groups and joined
confederacies such as the Choctaw, the Creek, and the Catawba for protection.
Native American women were at risk for rape whether they were enslaved or
not; during the early colonial years, settlers were disproportionately male.
They turned to Native women for sexual relationships. Both Native
American and African enslaved women suffered rape and sexual harassment by
male slaveholders and other white men.
Native American slavery
Further information: Slavery among Native Americans in the United States and
Slavery among Indigenous peoples of the Americas
Traditions of Native American slavery
The majority of Native American tribes did practice some form of slavery
before the European introduction of African slavery into North America, but
none exploited slave labor on a large scale. In addition, Native Americans
did not buy and sell captives in the pre-colonial era, although they
sometimes exchanged enslaved individuals with other tribes in peace gestures
or in exchange for their own members.
The conditions of enslaved Native Americans varied among the tribes. In many
cases, young enslaved captives were adopted into the tribes to replace
warriors killed during warfare or by disease. Other tribes practiced debt
slavery or imposed slavery on tribal members who had committed crimes; but,
this status was only temporary as the enslaved worked off their obligations
to the tribal society.
Among some Pacific Northwest tribes, about a quarter of the population were
slaves. Other slave-owning tribes of North America were, for example,
Comanche of Texas, Creek of Georgia, the Pawnee, and Klamath.
Native American and African relations
Further information: Black Indians
African and Native Americans have interacted for centuries. The earliest
record of Native American and African contact occurred in April 1502, when
Spanish colonists transported the first Africans to Hispaniola to serve as
Buffalo Soldiers, 1890. The nickname was given to the "Black Cavalry" by the
Native American tribes they fought.
Sometimes Native Americans resented the presence of African Americans.
The "Catawaba tribe in 1752 showed great anger and bitter resentment when an
African American came among them as a trader." To gain favor with
Europeans, the Cherokee exhibited the strongest color prejudice of all
Native Americans. He contends that because of European fears of a
unified revolt of Native Americans and African Americans, the colonists
encouraged hostility between the ethnic groups: "Whites sought to convince
Native Americans that African Americans worked against their best interests.
" In 1751, South Carolina law stated:
"The carrying of Negroes among the Indians has all along been thought
detrimental, as an intimacy ought to be avoided."
In addition, in 1758 the governor of South Carolina James Glen wrote:
it has always been the policy of this government to create an aversion in
them Indians to Negroes.
Europeans considered both races inferior and made efforts to make both
Native Americans and Africans enemies. Native Americans were rewarded
if they returned escaped slaves, and African Americans were rewarded for
fighting in the late 19th-century Indian Wars.
Ras K'Dee, Pomo-Kenyan singer and editor from California.
"Native Americans, during the transitional period of Africans becoming the
primary race enslaved, were enslaved at the same time and shared a common
experience of enslavement. They worked together, lived together in communal
quarters, produced collective recipes for food, shared herbal remedies,
myths and legends, and in the end they intermarried." Because of a
shortage of men due to warfare, many tribes encouraged marriage between the
two groups, to create stronger, healthier children from the unions.
In the 18th century, many Native American women married freed or runaway
African men due to a decrease in the population of men in Native American
villages. Records show that many Native American women bought African
men but, unknown to the European sellers, the women freed and married the
men into their tribe. When African men married or had children by a
Native American woman, their children were born free, because the mother was
free (according to the principle of partus sequitur ventrum, which the
colonists incorporated into law.)
European colonists often required the return of runaway slaves to be
included as a provision in treaties with American Indians. In 1726, the
British Governor of New York exacted a promise from the Iroquois to return
all runaway slaves who had joined up with them. In the mid-1760s, the
government requested the Huron and Delaware to return runaway slaves, but
there was no record of slaves having been returned. Colonists placed
ads about runaway slaves.
While numerous tribes used captive enemies as servants and slaves, they also
often adopted younger captives into their tribes to replace members who had
died. In the Southeast, a few Native American tribes began to adopt a
slavery system similar to that of the American colonists, buying African
American slaves, especially the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Creek. Though less
than 3% of Native Americans owned slaves, divisions grew among the Native
Americans over slavery. Among the Cherokee, records show that slave
holders in the tribe were largely the children of European men that had
shown their children the economics of slavery. As European colonists
took slaves into frontier areas, there were more opportunities for
relationships between African and Native American peoples.
Based on the work of geneticists, a PBS series on African Americans
explained that while most African Americans are racially mixed, it is
relatively rare that they have Native American ancestry. According
to the PBS series, the most common "non-black" mix is English and Scots-
Irish. However, the Y-chromosome and mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA)
testing processes for direct-line male and female ancestors can fail to pick
up the heritage of many ancestors. (Some critics thought the PBS series did
not sufficiently explain the limitations of DNA testing for assessment of
Another study suggests that relatively few Native Americans have African-
American heritage. A study reported in The American Journal of Human
Genetics stated, "We analyzed the European genetic contribution to 10
populations of African descent in the United States (Maywood, Illinois;
Detroit; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Baltimore; Charleston, South
Carolina; New Orleans; and Houston) ... mtDNA haplogroups analysis shows no
evidence of a significant maternal Amerindian contribution to any of the 10
populations." A few writers persist in the myth that most African
Americans have Native American heritage.
DNA testing has limitations and should not be depended on by individuals to
answer all their questions about heritage. So far, such testing
cannot distinguish among the many distinct Native American tribes. No tribes
accept DNA testing to satisfy their differing qualifications for membership
, usually based on documented blood quantum or descent from ancestor(s)
listed on the Dawes Rolls.
Native American adoption of African slavery
Further information: Cherokee freedmen controversy
Native Americans interacted with enslaved Africans and African Americans on
many levels. Over time all the cultures interacted. Native Americans began
slowly to adopt white culture. Native Americans in the South shared
some experiences with Africans, especially during the period, primarily in
the 17th century, when both were enslaved. The colonists along the Atlantic
Coast had begun enslaving Native Americans to ensure a source of labor. At
one time the slave trade was so extensive that it caused increasing tensions
with the various Algonquian tribes, as well as the Iroquois. Based in New
York and Pennsylvania, they had threatened to attack colonists on behalf of
the related Iroquoian Tuscarora before they migrated out of the South in the
In the 1790s, Benjamin Hawkins was assigned as the US agent to the
southeastern tribes, who became known as the Five Civilized Tribes for their
adoption of numerous Anglo-European practices. He advised the tribes to
take up slaveholding to aid them in European-style farming and plantations.
He thought their traditional form of slavery, which had looser conditions,
was less efficient than chattel slavery. In the 19th century, some
members of these tribes who were more closely associated with settlers,
began to purchase African-American slaves for workers. They adopted some
European-American ways to benefit their people.
From the late 1700s to the 1860s, the Five Civilized Tribes were involved in
the institution of African slavery as planters. For example, Cherokee
leader Joseph Vann owned more than 100 slaves. The proportion of Cherokee
families who owned slaves did not exceed ten percent, and was comparable to
the percentage among white families across the South, where a slaveholding
elite owned most of the laborers.
The writer William Loren Katz contends that Native Americans treated their
slaves better than did the typical white American in the Deep South.
Though less than 3% of Native Americans owned slaves, bondage created
destructive cleavages among those who were slaveholders. Among the Five
Civilized Tribes, mixed-race slaveholders were generally part of an elite
hierarchy, often based on their mothers' clan status, as the societies had
matrilineal systems. As did Benjamin Hawkins, European fur traders and
colonial officials tended to marry high-status women, in strategic alliances
seen to benefit both sides. The Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee believed they
benefited from stronger alliances with the traders and their societies.[
citation needed] The women's sons gained their status from their mother's
families; they were part of hereditary leadership lines who exercised power
and accumulated personal wealth in their changing Native American societies.
The historian Greg O'Brien calls them the Creole generation to show that
they were part of a changing society. The chiefs of the
tribes believed that some of the new generation of mixed-race, bilingual
chiefs would lead their people into the future and be better able to adapt
to new conditions influenced by European Americans.
Proposals for Indian Removal heightened the tensions of cultural changes,
due to the increase in the number of mixed-race Native Americans in the
South. Full bloods, who tended to live in areas less affected by colonial
encroachment, generally worked to maintain traditional ways, including
control of communal lands. While the traditional members often resented the
sale of tribal lands to Anglo-Americans, by the 1830s they agreed it was not
possible to go to war with the colonists on this issue.
Who are Native Americans?
Further information: Native American identity in the United States and
Cherokee freedmen controversy
Admixture and genetics
Members of the Creek (Muscogee) Nation in Oklahoma around 1877; they include
men with some European and African ancestry.
Intertribal mixing was common among Native American tribes, so individuals
often had ancestry from more than one tribe, particularly after tribes lost
so many members from disease. Bands or entire tribes occasionally split
or merged to form more viable groups in reaction to the pressures of climate
, disease and warfare. A number of tribes traditionally adopted
captives into their group to replace members who had been captured or killed
in battle. These captives were from rival tribes and later from European
settlements. Some tribes also sheltered or adopted white traders and runaway
slaves, and others owned slaves of their own. Tribes with long trading
histories with Europeans show a higher rate of European admixture,
reflecting years of intermarriage between European men and Native American
women. A number of paths to genetic and ethnic diversity among Native
In recent years, genetic genealogists have been able to determine the
proportion of Native American ancestry carried by the African-American
population. The literary and history scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. had
experts on his TV programs who discussed African-American ancestry. They
stated that 5% of African Americans have at least 12.5% Native American
ancestry. A greater percentage could have a smaller proportion of Indian
ancestry, but their conclusions show that popular estimates of admixture may
have been too high.
DNA testing is not sufficient to qualify a person for specific tribal
membership, as it cannot distinguish among Native American groups.
Native American identity has historically been based on culture, not just
biology, as many American Indian peoples adopted captives from their enemies
and assimilated them into their tribes. The Indigenous Peoples Council on
Biocolonialism (IPCB) notes that:
"Native American markers" are not found solely among Native Americans. While
they occur more frequently among Native Americans, they are also found in
people in other parts of the world.
Not all Native Americans have been tested; especially with the large number
of deaths due to disease such as small pox, it is unlikely that Native
Americans only have the genetic markers they have identified, even when
their maternal or paternal bloodline does not include a non-Native American.
To receive tribal services, a Native American must be a certified member of
a recognized tribal organization. Each tribal government makes its own rules
for eligibility of citizens or tribal members. The federal government has
standards related to services available to certified Native Americans. For
instance, federal scholarships for Native Americans require the student to
be enrolled in a federally recognized tribe and have at least one-quarter
Native American descent (equivalent to one grandparent), attested to by a
Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) card. Among tribes,
qualification may be based upon a required percentage of Native American "
blood" (or the "blood quantum") of an individual seeking recognition, or
documented descent from an ancestor on the Dawes Rolls or other registers.
Some tribes have begun requiring genealogical DNA testing, but this is
usually related to an individual's proving parentage or direct descent from
a certified member. Requirements for tribal membership vary widely by
tribe. The Cherokee require documented genealogical descent from a Native
American listed on the early 1906 Dawes Rolls. Tribal rules regarding
recognition of members who have heritage from multiple tribes are equally
diverse and complex.
Tribal membership conflicts have led to a number of legal disputes, court
cases, and the formation of activist groups. One example of this are the
Cherokee Freedmen. Today, they include descendants of African Americans once
enslaved by the Cherokees, who were granted, by federal treaty, citizenship
in the historic Cherokee Nation as freedmen after the Civil War. The modern
Cherokee Nation, in the early 1980s, excluded them from citizenship, unless
individuals can prove descent from a Cherokee Native American (not Cherokee
Freedmen) listed on the Dawes Rolls.
Since the census of 2000, people who have, or believe they have, Native
American ancestry may designate themselves, for census purposes, as being of
more than one race. Since the 1960s, the number of people claiming
Native American ancestry has grown significantly and by the 2000 census, the
number had more than doubled. Sociologists attribute this dramatic change
to "ethnic shifting" or "ethnic shopping"; they believe that it reflects a
willingness of people to question their birth identities and adopt new
ethnicities which they find more compatible. The author Jack Hitt writes:
The reaction from lifelong Indians runs the gamut. It is easy to find Native
Americans who denounce many of these new Indians as members of the wannabe
tribe. But it is also easy to find Indians like Clem Iron Wing, an elder
among the Lakota, who sees this flood of new ethnic claims as magnificent, a
surge of Indians trying to come home. Those Indians who ridicule Iron Wing'
s lax sense of tribal membership have retrofitted the old genocidal system
of blood quantum—measuring racial purity by blood—into the new standard
for real Indianness, a choice rich with paradox.
The journalist Mary Annette Pember notes that identifying with Native
American culture may be a result of a person's increased interest in
genealogy, the romanticization of the lifestyle, and a family tradition of
distant Native American ancestors. Problems in classification are compounded
by different qualifications for tribal membership by different tribes, a
fear of registering with a tribe because it is seen as a method of control
initiated by the federal government, and the problem of individuals who are
of 100% Native American background who, because of their mixed tribal
heritage, do not qualify to belong to any individual tribe. Pember concludes:
"The subjects of genuine American Indian blood, cultural connection and
recognition by the community are extremely contentious issues, hotly debated
throughout Indian country and beyond. The whole situation, some say, is
ripe for misinterpretation, confusion and, ultimately, exploitation."[
For more details on this topic, see Genetic history of indigenous peoples of
The genetic history of indigenous peoples of the Americas primarily focuses
on human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups and human mitochondrial DNA
haplogroups. "Y-DNA" is passed solely along the patrilineal line, from
father to son, while "mtDNA" is passed down the matrilineal line, from
mother to offspring of both sexes. Neither recombines, and thus Y-DNA and
mtDNA change only by chance mutation at each generation with no intermixture
between parents' genetic material. Autosomal "atDNA" markers are also
used, but differ from mtDNA or Y-DNA in that they overlap significantly.[218
] Autosomal DNA is generally used to measure the average continent-of-
ancestry genetic admixture in the entire human genome and related isolated
The genetic pattern indicates Indigenous Americans experienced two very
distinctive genetic episodes; first with the initial-peopling of the
Americas, and secondly with European colonization of the Americas.[
220] The former is the determinant factor for the number of gene lineages,
zygosity mutations and founding haplotypes present in today's Indigenous
Human settlement of the New World occurred in stages from the Bering sea
coast line, with an initial 15, 000 to 20,000-year layover on Beringia for
the small founding population. The micro-satellite diversity
and distributions of the Y lineage specific to South America indicates that
certain Amerindian populations have been isolated since the initial
colonization of the region. The Na-Dené, Inuit and Indigenous Alaskan
populations exhibit haplogroup Q-M242 (Y-DNA) mutations, however, that are
distinct from other indigenous Amerindians, and that have various mtDNA and
atDNA mutations. This suggests that the paleo-Indian migrants
into the northern extremes of North America and Greenland were descended
from a later, independent migrant population.