The people, who first discovered and lived in the Americas, called American Indians or Native Americans. The History of Native Americans is both fascinating and in many ways, tragic. Estimates range from about 10 – 90 million Native Americans inhabited America at the time of the European arrivals. People lived in the United States long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the Europeans. These people and cultures are called Native Americans. Sometimes these peoples are referred to as Indians or American Indians. This is because when Columbus had first landed in America, he thought he had sailed all the way to the country of India. He called the locals Indians and the name stuck for some time.
They had lived in the land many, many years before the white man set foot on their soil. It is believed that during the ice age, they had traveled a land-bridge across the Bering Sound, from Siberia into what is now Alaska. They had gradually migrated across the land and southward into Mexico and beyond. Over thousands of years, as they migrated across the continents, American Indians have developed a wide range of languages, customs, and civilizations. There are as many different tribal nations in the Americas as there are nations in Europe, Asia, or Africa, and there is as much variety among them. Native Americans lived throughout North and South America. In the United States, there were Native Americans in Alaska, Hawaii, and the mainland of the United States. Different tribes and cultures lived in different areas. In the middle of the country lived the Plains Indians, including tribes such as the Comanche and Arapaho. In the Southeast area of the country lived tribes such as the Cherokee and the Seminole.
After 2000 BC, some Native Americans developed states, each governing thousands of people. They established extensive trade routes across the continents. And they used cargo rafts and other boats to ship their goods from one trading point to another. In South America, llamas provided transportation on land. European invasions of the Americas began with Columbus’s voyages to the “New World” in 1492. The Europeans brought diseases with them, including smallpox and measles. These unfamiliar diseases spread quickly among Native Americans. They wiped out the populations of many native cities. Native American tribal nations resisted colonization, but eventually, many were forced to surrender their lands. In the regions of present-day southern Canada, the United States, and southern South America, survivors were gathered up and involuntarily moved to specific areas, called reservations. In Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, the native people were forced to live as peasants and laborers, under Spanish rule. In the last few decades, developments in transportation and earth-moving machinery have made it profitable for outsiders to colonize the tropical lowland forests. Now the way of life for those tribal nations, too, is threatened.
Today, some of the descendants of the original American Indians live on reservations. These are areas of land set aside specifically for Native Americans. While most still live on the reservations, they are considered some of the most poverty-ridden areas in the United States. Unemployment is 5 times higher than the general U. S. population, according to the 2002 Bureau of Indian Affairs. This helps to protect their heritage and culture. However, only around 30% live on reservations. The rest live outside the reservations just like anyone else. Of course, Native American history is subject to these historiographical shifts. In fact, it can be argued that no character in the pantheon of American historical figures has been cast and recast, interpreted, reinterpreted, and misinterpreted more frequently than the American Indian. For example, popular depictions of Native American history from the nineteenth century have an Anglo-centric perspective. Writers narrated the country’s history from a White American perspective, often celebrating America’s “winning of the West” with the national self-confidence characteristic of the era. It was deemed a “good” thing that American civilization overspread the continent and supplanted the less developed, “savage” native inhabitants.