NATAM - Sociology 220 Pamela Oliver Historical Overview for...

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Sociology 220 Pamela Oliver Historical Overview for Native Americans Pre-Europeans Americans arrived from Asian via land bridge, 25,000 - 40,000 years ago. spread south. Urban horticultural empires in Mexico, Central America, Peru. Higher population densities, settled agriculture. 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). No large 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 1500-1800. Horses from Mexico lead to Plains culture, buffalo hunting on horseback. Fur trading leads to reorganization of economies. Some adoption of new agricultural methods, especially in the southeast. European settlement dense only along northeast coast. 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. In first census of the new US govt in 1800, NA pop counted at 600,000. 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. European-American Conquest 1800-1900. 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 250,000 "Indians." 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 their claims to their original land.
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