Historical Overview for Native Americans
Americans arrived from Asian via land bridge, 25,000 - 40,000 years ago.
horticultural empires in Mexico, Central America, Peru.
Higher population densities, settled
Spanish colonialists added layer on top, native population still there in many places.
(Will return to this for "Latinos.")
What is now US and Canada was more sparsely settled; over 300 languages.
Highest ests of NA
pop in 1500 are 12 -
15 million, lowest is 5 million (current pop of entire state of WI).
empires, no kings.
Small decentralized bands, sometimes organized into loose confederations, but
with little centralization of power, led to varied and shifting response to Europeans; not just
impose European king at the top of a hierarchy.
Initial Confrontations: Colonial Period
Horses from Mexico lead to Plains culture,
buffalo hunting on horseback.
Fur trading leads to reorganization of economies.
of new agricultural methods, especially in the southeast.
European settlement dense only along
French and English competing to settle; each forms alliances with different
American groups, who are drawn into their ongoing wars.
Some groups move west, out of the
way; others fight; others try to live in peace.
Many die in warfare, dislocation, or disease.
census of the new US govt in 1800, NA pop counted
Quite a few European males
married into American tribes; their mixed-ancestry descendants probably increase in relative
numbers due to high death rates among Americans.
Once independent, the US govt encourages a flood of
immigration from Europe and turns west to conquer the continent.
Rough timetable: 1800-1830,
eastern seaboard; 1830-1860, to Mississippi + California; 1860 - 1890, Plains wars, opening of
"Indian territory" to Europeans, final battles in southwest and northwest.
By 1850, census counts
By 1900, it is well under 200,000.
General pattern: Initially native groups vary in response, some fight wars of resistance,
others try to create "peaceful coexistence," others adopt European ways and try to assimilate,
either as groups or individuals.
(The descendants of some who intermarry do successfully
assimilate and blend into the "white" population.)
Outcome of the process is native people are
pushed off their land and forced to relocate to "reservations" in more or less coerced treaties
which guarantee them rights to reservation land in exchange for giving up fighting and giving up