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Introduction to American Indians
Transcript of Introduction to American Indians
What do we call them?
Native Americans, American Indians, First Nations People
Specific tribal allegiance
Currently, over 2 million American Indians in the U.S.
Over 500 different tribes in the U.S.
Over 150 different languages in the U.S.
U.S. Tribal Map
Where do they come from?
Common theory: 20,000 years ago, walked across land bridge from Asia (Bering Strait)
First European encounter: Viking explorers in Southeastern Canada confronted Beothuk tribe
"Redskins" or "Red Indians" comes from this tribe, stemming from their war paint (ochre)"
Largest Tribes in America
Great Plains: Sioux
Northwest: Nez Perce
3 divisions within the Great Sioux Nation - "Knife" or Santee; "Middle Sioux" or Yanktonai; "Dwellers of the Prairie" or Lakota
Great Sioux Nation represents the "Seven Council Fires"
Political leadership based loosely on noble birth, but more focused on bravery, fortitude, generosity and wisdom
Two types of "societies" for men - "Akichita" and "Naca"
"Akichita" societies focused on skill development (hunting, warrior training, policing community values) and societal advancement through achievement
"Naca" societies for older men worked on governance and leadership. Outside of the chief, "Shirtwearers" were elected to represent the community (Crazy Horse).
Bitter enemies with Pawnee and Cheyenne - "total war"
First contact with white Europeans - 17th century Dakotas, created an allegiance with French fur traders in Hudson Bay Company
Dakota War of 1862 - 303 men convicted of rape and murder; 38 Santee were hanged (no attorneys, witnesses, or testimony allowed for defense)
Red Cloud (famous Sioux Chief), led armed revolt against encroaching US Army over native lands in Wyoming. Indian victory led to Treaty of Fort Laramie - temporarily securing heritage lands for Lakota Sioux
Wounded Knee Massacre (South Dakota, 1890) - US Army, using the new Hotchkiss Gun, mows down more than 150 Lakota men, women and children after they resisted forced transport to reservations near Omaha, NE
Oglala Lakota Chiefs are some of the most famous for their revolt and sustained resistance about forced migration to reservations (Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Black Elk)
Sioux and US Government
Crazy Horse Mountain
Nez Perce Culture
"Nez Perce" stems from French fur traders and means "Pierced Nose" - the tribe uses the term, but more traditionally is called the "Nimiipuu."
Lewis & Clark confused the Nez Perce for the Chinook - as did previous fur traders. The Nez Perce never pierced their noses, nor did they rely on ornamentation, whereas the Chinook did both.
In 1800, the Nez Perce tribal lands covered more than 17 million acres and had roughly 70 permanent villages with populations ranging from 30 to 6,000. In 1900, only 1,800 Nez Perce remained.
The Nez Perce were seasonally migratory - they followed the buffalo herds in the summer and stayed farther south in the winter, ranging from the Great Plains to Washington state.
"Weyekin" - The Nez Perce believed in spirits that connected them to the invisible spiritual world. Boys and girls between ages 12 - 15 would embark on a vision quest. Without much food, water or sleep, a spirit, in the form of an animal, would visit them and bestow upon them guidance and protection.
Today, the Nez Perce live on reservation lands in Northern Idaho and are noted for their specialties of breeding Nez Perce horses (a blend of Appaloosa and Akhal-Teke), as well as Steelhead and Chinook salmon fishing and hatching.
Flight of the Nez Perce
In 1877, amid the Indian Wars, the Nez Perce split in two, one sect accepting a treaty with the US government and the other refusing to abandon their fertile and native lands in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Led by Chief Joseph, more than 800 Nex Perce attempted to evade the pursuit of 2,000 US soldiers in an attempt to relocate to Canada.
After 18 battles, more than 1,100 miles and four months of maneuvering, they were trapped by US forces only 40 miles south of the Canadian border.
"I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." - Chief Joseph
Cherokee or Tsalagi trace their name back to many different translations of "people of the mountains" or "people who live in cave country"
Many believe that the Cherokee moved into Appalachia from northern territories, placing them in the region around 1000 ACE
Cherokee culture is both matrilineal and matri-focal: clans, inheritance, mentors and divorce
Medical treatment revolved around herbalism and agrimony.
Cherokee speak a derivative of Iroquoian language that is polysynthetic and uses its own characters. (Sequoyah and Georgia's literacy rates in 1820)
Three branches of Cherokee people: Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band Cherokee & United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee (all together, 819,000 people in the US claim a Cherokee lineage)
Cherokee and Assimilation
Early English settlers traded and lived with Cherokee as early as the 1640s.
These relationships continued and expanded throughout the 18th century, and we see many Scottish, Irish and English traders marrying into Cherokee clans along the East Coast and even rising into leadership positions within tribes.
Through early British expansion, many smaller wars took away Cherokee land and threatened Cherokee ways of life (deerskin trading became impossible due to the near extinction of white tail deer).
Formal documentation from George Washington's presidency notes his hopes for the "civilization" of Indians in the Southeast.
Forced with few options, many Cherokee adopted European ways of life (culture, farming, education, religion).
By 1827, the Cherokee Nation had established a constitution (modeled after the three-tiered US approach), had elected officials (Major & John Ridge) and was communicating with its people through published newspapers (Cherokee Phoenix).
Under Andrew Jackson's leadership, the US government passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 - legalized removal of Indians currently living east of the Mississippi to new Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.
Chief John Ross, using the US process of judicial review, took the case of the Cherokee all the way to the Supreme Court and successfully defended the Cherokees' claims to their sacred land.
Jackson responded to the Supreme Court's ruling by saying, "The court made its ruling. Now, let them enforce it."
After lengthy court battles and divisions within the Cherokee leadership, 16,000 Cherokee were forced to march 800 miles through six states. More than 4,000 died along the trail.
Cherokee fought in the Civil War (most on the Confederate side) - General Stand Watie (Cherokee) was the last Confederate leader to surrender to Union forces.
Five separate indian nations (Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca)
"Three sisters" - corn, beans, squash (agriculture)
Longhouses - permanent residences
Traditional herbal medicine
Polytheistic religion based on spirits bringing about changes in nature
Each tribe has between 3-8 clans - standard naming system based on important spirit animals
Adopted women and children after warfare (including Europeans), divided among various clans - could explain ability to fight infectious disease
Adoption and assimilation led to melting pot culture
Alliance formed between 1450-1600 - peace brokered by Dakanawida (Great Peacemaker) and Hiawatha (also famous from H.W. Longfellow poem)
Beaver Wars (1609-1645): conflict over control of regional fur trade between the confederation and the Huron and French
Height of power in 1650s - 12,000 people and significant political impact (very much allied with the English)
1650s-1750s: expansion and conquest through treaty and violence
Iroquois & Colonial Interaction
Fought with British (colonists) against French in French & Indian War: rewarded with the crown issuing the Proclamation of 1763 (limited colonization to east coast of continent)
American Revolution brought about the first division in the Confederacy's history: Tuscarora and Oneida w/colonists; Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga and Cayuga w/British.
Mohawks, led by Joseph Brant, attack settlements throughout upstate New York in 1779. George Washington retaliates later that year and commands generals to "not merely overrun the British-Indian alliance, but destroy it."
In the aftermath of war, most Iroquois who fought with British fled to Canada and received territory from the crown.
Diné - our people
Heritage lands in American Southwest
Matrilineal society - housing, familial structure, uncle as significant mentor
Hogan - clay ground house (different shaped building for male and female)
Arts - silversmithing, wool dying and weaving
Medicine - traditional herbal medicine (also believe that illnesses can stem from interacting with societal taboos - e.g. touching lightning-struck objects, contact with the dead, contact with cursed animals)
Spirituality - based around achieving balance and harmony. Also focused on significant "first" ceremonies (baby's first laugh)
Current famous Navajo - Rickie Fowler, Jacoby Ellsbury
Current Navajo Reservation Land
Rickie Fowler - PGA Golfer
Navajo & U.S. Government
1846: Stephen Kearny, after invading Santa Fe during the Mexican-American War, came into contact with Navajo scouts.
1849: Navajo chiefs sign treaty to allow U.S. forts on heritage lands in exchange for trade rights. When leaving the signing ceremony, one of the Navajo chiefs, Narbona, was killed.
1860-1861: Navajo were active within and caught amid Mexican / Spanish / U.S. raids and attacks - time period is known as "the fearing time."
1863: After Kit Carson began a scorched-earth campaign against the Navajo, the last band surrendered at Fort Defiance, NM
1864: "The Long Walk" - after surrendering, 9,000 Navajo were forced to walk over 300 miles to new reservation lands
1868: Manuelito signs treaty to regain certain pieces of Navajo heritage lands and begins advocating for extensive education of Navajo children.