SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)
Native Americanby Arlene B. Hirschfelder
The history of Native Americans, their conflicts and struggles, their spiritual life and adaptations to contemporary America, is presented through photography and written text. Incorporating a vast collection of archival photographs with deeply
The compelling story of Native Americans, retold through magnificent archive photographs and an absorbing narrative.
The history of Native Americans, their conflicts and struggles, their spiritual life and adaptations to contemporary America, is presented through photography and written text. Incorporating a vast collection of archival photographs with deeply researched text, the traditions, history, and current lives of the American Indians are presented in Dorling Kindersley's unique style. The photographs are interwoven with chronological details, eyewitness accounts, and side-bar references to provide in-depth understanding of events. Wars of resistance and conquest are described, and maps are presented to show the forced marches of tribes.
Arlene Hirschfelder is the author and editor of numerous books on the Native American, including the award-winning, American Indian Stereotypes in the World of Children. She was a consultant for the US National Museum of the American Indian and for Turner Broadcasting Company's acclaimed series, The Native Americans.
- DK Publishing, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 AMER ED
- Product dimensions:
- 8.82(w) x 11.22(h) x 0.72(d)
Read an Excerpt
Ancestral Times to 1850s
Encounters between North American Native peoples and Europeans began peaceably, but soon deteriorated as the newcomers sought to conquer the disease-weakened Native populations.
Ancestral Native Life
For at least 30,000 YEARS, long before the first arrivals of Europeans in 1500, ancient Native peoples had populated the North American landscape with a diversity of thriving societies. These first Americans regarded nature as the source of all existence and excelled at exploiting natural resources and adapting to the climates and terrains in which they lived. Many Natives today dispute scientific theories that their ancestors originally migrated across the Bering Sea land bridge from Siberia to Alaska.
Some scientists believe that the human history of North America began when small bands of Paleo-Indian hunters made their way across the Bering Sea land bridge from Siberia to Alaska. Eventually these people and their descendants spread throughout North and South America, and they, the scientists say, are the ancestors of all subsequent generations of Native peoples. The best known of the early arrivals are estimated to have occurred between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago, but some archaeologists extend this period back to 100,000 years.
Many Native peoples, however, argue that their ancestors originated in the Americas, and they question the scientists' theories,citing the lack of archaeological evidence, the difficulty of the journey, and the fact that the theory does not fit with tribes' oral accounts of their origins, which have been passed on through the generations. These creation stories describe spirits ascending from the underground or the sea into the world today, and tell of spiritual beings descending from the sky. In such accounts, the spirits often create people after arriving in the present-day world.
Developing Native Cultures
By AD 1000, Native peoples had established complex societies across North America. Dense populations on the Northwest coast exploited the abundance of sea mammals and fish in the Pacific Ocean and in the tributaries of the Columbia River. A warm climate promoted the growth of vast forests of giant evergreen trees, which the Natives used to build houses and to construct giant totem poles.
In the deserts of the Southwest, the Natives built apartment-like dwellings and practiced agriculture so successfully that, even in such arid surroundings, they could support sizable populations. In the Arctic, inhabitants adapted remarkably well to the harsh environment, becoming highly skilled hunters and fishermen and relying on sea and land mammals to provide dependable food sources. The forests of the Northeast were a natural resource for Native peoples wood for houses, boats, tools, and fuel, as well as bark for clothing, roofing, and bedding. These forests also housed game a source of meat for food, hides for clothing, and bones for tools.
The famous Plains Indian culture evolved in the treeless grassland region only after the arrival of whites. Different kinds of animals, such as buffalo, antelope, deer, elk, and rabbits, lived on the grasslands and provided meat for food as well as hides, bones, and horns for shelter, clothing, and tools.
Religion was the center of existence for these ancient peoples, who constructed their ceremonies and rituals around solstices and equinoxes. They worshiped at natural sacred sites, where they communed with their ancestors and with plants, animals, and spirits. Their daily lives were built around praying to spiritual powers and giving thanks for crop harvests and success in hunting.
The Pueblo Peoples
Around AD 800, the Pueblo Indians, began to from their distinctive cultures, living in multilevel, apartment-style adobe villages. As well as being gifted potters, they mastered irrigation, allowing them to farm in the arid environment. They also plated crops at the mouths of large washes to capture the runoff from heavy rainfall.
League of the Iroquois
Some time before the mid-fifteenth century, five nations in present-day New York State and Ontario Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca (later jointed by the Tuscarora) united to form the Iroquois Confederacy. Known as Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse), the nations form an east-to-west geographic line, just as families were arranged in a longhouse.
One of the most powerful and numerous Indian tribes, the Blackfeet controlled a huge area from the North Saskatchewan River in what is now Alberta, Canada, to the upper Missouri River in present-day Montana. They adapted to a mobile life on the open grasslands, hunting buffalo, their main food source, on foot with stone and bone arrows and lances.
The Northwest coast provided an abundant food supply for the Haida, who lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands, off present-day British Columbia. There, they hunted sea mammals, such as seals, and fished for cod. In an area well supplied with timber, they built large houses of cedar planks; the door openings faced the sea and one or more totem poles were erected in front of each house.
The Inuits, formerly known in Canada as Eskimos (see p.15), have lived in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, the provinces of Newfoundland and Quebec, Siberia, and Greenland. In this mostly icebound region, some Inuits hunted walruses, seals, and whales for food, clothing, weapons, tools, and oil for lighting and cooking. Inland, others hunted caribou for meat and materials.
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