Native Americans In The Lower 48 States
Learning About Native Americans In the Contiguous 48 States
In elementary school or preschool, children first hear about the American First Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and the Friendly Indians. The legend is not the complete truth, but an introduction nonetheless to human development, discovery, and migration as well as to Indigenous Peoples in North America. Thanksgiving is often a point at which children learn about Native North Americans.
The legends and propaganda that have grown up around the Plymouth Colony First Thanksgiving are inaccurate when compared to 17th Century white settlers' handwritten diaries held in museums around the Eastern US. They also do not reflect the fact that the Spanish held Thanksgiving in the South before the English attempted it in the Northeastern US. Finally, it does not reflect that the Native Americans held thanksgiving celebrations and ceremonies regularly during many months of every year for thousands of years into the past.
For a special National Geographic film about the harrowing life the settlers of Jamestown led in 1607, please visit this link: The Real Story of Jamestown.
The national Thanksgiving Day was changed to the 4th Thursday in November to allow more Shopping Days Before Christmas by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the lobbying efforts of the F & R Lazarus company in Columbus OH and others. Soon thereafter, Black Friday boosted seasonal sales, ushered in with Christmas Parades on Thanksgiving Day (Macy's New York) and the day after (Columbus OH and others).
Put it all together and you have America and its interesting assortment of National Symbols, the official and the popular. All are interesting and unknown to most schoolchildren.
The Settlers' Diaries
- The settlers of Plymouth Colony were to have been transported elsewhere in the region, but were dropped off at Plymouth, because it was more advantageous to their sea captain.
- The settlers called themselves Saints and were poor people. They dressed in cheap brightly-colored clothing day to day. No black and white (that came from a retail ad campaign by magazine editor Sarah Hale around 1840).
- The settlers brought barrels of beer with them, instead of crop seeds, flour, and other staples.
Portions of the First Thanksgiving day were cooperative and happy, but much of it was marred by the fact that the settlers who called themselves Saints and did not know what a Pilgrim was, brought beer to the New World instead of food and agricultural seeds. It was a combination of drunkenness and prejudice among a few that brought the days immediately after our first NE American thanksgiving to a tragic end (see the links below). See a barrel of the beer at this link: Your Thanksgiving Resource - Fact, Fiction, Food, and Fun
The Eastern Woodlands peoples were the first of the Indigenous populations that settlers met when they landed in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern Coast of the future United States of America.
Men from the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake: Canadian Lacrosse Champions In 1869
Native American Nations and Groups
Over 10,000 Years Of History In North America
From about 10,000 - 12,000 BCE, when Indigenous Peoples had entered the New World across the frozen Bering Strait, to about 9,000 or 8,000 BCE, when they had traveled across the continent and took the Eastern Woodlands of what is now the Northeastern US and parts of the Midwest as their homes was a long struggle.
It had been a wilderness struggle, but a wilderness of plenty that they did not waste. When white or Eurocentrist settlers arrived, sought help, received help from, and in 1621 turned against the first Native Americans they met, it was unexpected and tragic.
By the end of the American Civil War some 250 years later, massacres on both sides ended in the slashing of Indigenous populations to a fraction of their former nations, the forced march of natives back to the west, barefoot in the snow during the harshest winter of the century; and more tragedies on both sides.
Southern and Southwestern US Native Nations had already suffered at the hands of other European settlers beginning in the 1500s. The history of US Native Americans is not as happy as our elementary school stage plays for Thanksgiving would suggest.
The best parts of the First Thanksgiving with the Indigenous Peoples can be preserved in our National Holiday, for children, but at some point, they need to know all the facts. Even then, they can celebrate, add their own traditions, and pass them on. For example, The Ohio State University holds an Alternative Thanksgiving dinner with authentic dishes from 1621 every year.
The Eastern Woodlands Is a Large Space
America's Eastern Woodlands is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the to the eastern Great Plains at the Mississippi River, and from the Great Lakes Region in the North to the Gulf of Mexico in the South. This land accounts for nearly half of the Lower 48 States today.
The Contiguous United States or the Lower 48 contain many US Federally recognized Native American Nations, some State-recognized-only, and some non-recognized nations. State-only and non-recognized groups regularly apply for State or US Federal recognition in order to gain certain rights and financial benefits like minority scholarships. Regularly, new groups emerge that have not been addressed in historic or written materials anywhere. I find it difficult to stay ahead of the new emergence.
Some US States have approved organizations to seek out the history of Indigenous Peoples in their states and the current status of their descendents. For example, California is famously active in this work. New Mexico, Nevada and other Western and Southwestern States are prominent in this research, possibly because of the higher concentration of Indigenous populations in these staes when compared with the rest of the Lower 48 US.
The National Geographic and Smithsonian Institution in partnership with IBM, along with their human migration work, are gathering stories and other data from Native Americans and other Indigenous Peoples around the world in an effort to eventually document every indigenous group that exists and perhaps some extinct tribes. That is the website to read often for updates and new stories, more so than any book written -- with each edition, new groups emerge and make that edition outdated.
Indigenous Peoples settles North America, including the Lower 48, from West to East.
The Western States include a wide diversity of Native Americans and Metis, from those of the Pacific Northwest to those of the southern pueblo communities. Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah comprise this block of states. The indigenous peoples of the northernmost states are most like the Canadian Frirst Nations across he border.
In a simplistic comparison, the northern Native American groups tend to be more similar to Asian peoples and the central and southern groups more like those of Mexico, Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous communities in Central and South America.
Nations of the West
- Native American Nations of the US West Coast
From Alaska and Western Canada, The People of the North migrated eastward and southward, filling Washington, Orgeon, and California, creating new cultures. Videos of Pow Wows from these areas are incredibly striking.
- Sacajawea and the Lost Grave
Not all of the bands in the Shoshone Nation are federally recognized, meaning that not all benefit from political and financial advantages offered by recognition of the US government. This includes college...
- Native American Nations of the Far Western US
Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples developed different cultures from Alaska and Hawaii inward through the western United States...
Nations of the North Central States
For this project, the US North Central States include North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Abutting Canada, this block of states share soime of the same First Nations Peoples of the northern plains and prairies.
- Native American Nations in the North Central States - George Caitlin Portraits
The native groups in this region migrated from the Pacific Northwest of Canada and USA and from the middle Canada. Native peoples crossed the Canadian border in both directions for food and shelter.
Native Americans in Iraq
Nations of the Southwest
- Native American Nations in the Southwestern States - Oklahoma and Texas
The American Southwest includes many Indigenous Nations with differing cultures and the cuisine. This is a fun place to vacation.
- Native Americans in Western Novels
I did not discover the part of my heritage that is Native American until the mid-1990s. There had been some vague references during my early childhood to one of my...
- Literature: Who Have the Power: A Legend of the West
Who Have the Power: A Legend of the West by Mary Sheeran. A novel of the history of Lake Tahoe, Washoe nation, Virginia City, music, and human rights. A haunting take on a Bonanza-type TV show.
- Literature: God is Red
Vine Delores, Jr. compaires Native American and First Nations with Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Indigenous Cultures In the Northeastern USA
- Dreams in Native American Cultures from 10,000 BC - 2010s AD
The commercial trinket known today as a dreamcatcher is based on a sacred icon of infancy and dream interpretation among Eastern Woodlands Native Americans long before the 1900s and at least as far back as 1640 AD.
- Native American Nations of the Northeastern United States - Beautiful People
Many Native American Nations lived in the Northeastern US sometime in the last 250 to 14,000 years. They migrated from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, only to eventually harsh winters here as well.
- Top 10 Unique Native American Attractions in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has at least 1,000 places to visit that are awesome as well as interesting. This list of 10 attractions all include archaeological sites that will fascinate your family and friends.
- World Lacrosse Championships Likened to Olympic Games
World class lacrosse is a challenging sport that is centuries old in the Americas. Its Iroquois inventors also established the world's oldest representative democracy.
Interesting Facts About Midwest Nations
- A Mohawk Valentine - Sacred Marriage
Pocahontas Saves John Smith - Library of Congress. Smiles the earth, and smile the waters, Smile the cloudless skies above us, But I lose the way of smiling When thou art no longer near me! ...
- Native American Herbal Medicine in Ohio
The Ohio Territory before Statehood in 1803 was a land of natural wonders. According to Native storytellers in Western Ohio, members of the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band, forests were taller and thicker...
- Traditional Mohawk Nation Daily and Ceremonial Clothing
What did Mohawk families wear from 1800 - 1900? While they had their own traditional clothing, they readily added European pieces to their wardrobes as they made friends with settlers.
Indigenous Cultures Of the Southeastern USA
- Native American Nations of the Southeastern US
Southeastern US Native Americans: migration and European contact.
- Southeast Native American Indian Nations
LorettaKryzanski asks a question and states that she is in the 4th grade. She would like to know which of the many Native American Nations in the Southeast US are the largest. American Indigenous Peoples...
- Recipes From the Everglades - How the Seminole People Cook
The Seminole Nation is traditionally from Florida and enjoyed many of the foods found naturally in the area. One unique aspect of the Seminole community is that it was made up of different nations, especially Creek Nation, that welcomed Africans and
© 2010 Patty Inglish
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