Native American Colonisation.
Estimates range from about 10 – 90 million Native Americans inhabited America at the time of the European arrivals. They had lived in the land many, many years before white man set foot on their soil. It is believed that during the ice age, they had travelled 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. The name “Indian” was given them by Christopher Columbus who mistakenly believed he had landed in the Indies.
The Native Americans of the east coast met the new 16th and 17th century visitors from Europe with enthusiasm. They regarded these bearded white men as strange but were delighted with the steel knives, mirrors, copper kettles, and other intriguing novelties. The indigenous tribes were more than accommodating and hospitable. Without their aid, the first waves of settlers would not have survived in the land they knew little about.
In time the Europeans disregarded all respect for the valued land and resources and instead displayed insatiable greed and arrogance. The Europeans soon pursued their intent to conquer this new continent with brutal attacks and invasion. The Native Americans soon realized that the invaders would arrive in overwhelming numbers, as many “as the stars in heaven.” Initially, the people of this land tried to co-exist with the Europeans. But many more problems arose. With all their intriguing gadgets, the white men brought deadly diseases to the Native Americans.


There are approximately one-and-a-half million Indians living in the USA today. They are descendants of the original inhabitants of North America and do not represent a homogenous group but have different social, cultural, economic, and linguistic characteristics. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which supervises all Indian affairs in the United States, recognizes 283 tribes in the mainland United States. These tribes receive special federal services, and trusteeships for their lands and assets based on treaties signed in the nineteenth century. Tribes range in size and character with reservations of more than 22,000 square miles and populations of more than 130,000 to tiny bands of less than 100 with a few acres, to those who on outward appearance are almost indistinguishable from their white neighbours. Some Indians live in cities and towns and therefore cease to be eligible for BIA services. Additionally there are some groups who identify themselves as Indian but are not officially recognized as such. These are tribes who had their status terminated in the 1950s and 1960s or those groups that never had federal status at all.

Initially, the people of this land tried to co-exist with the Europeans. But many more problems arose. With all their intriguing gadgets, the white men brought deadly diseases to the Native Americans.
The colonists and explorers brought measles, smallpox, cholera, yellow fever, and many more devastating diseases. This drastically diminished the Native American population and annihilated entire villages. In addition to this, the arrogant attitude of the ever-growing whites led to the Indian Wars, the Indian Removal Act (1830), and in 1890 one of the worst massacres ever -- Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Here warriors, women, and children alike were ferociously slaughtered by the U.S. Cavalry. The U.S, government began Relocation Programs and the now famous Trail of Tears march where hundreds of Cherokee died from starvation, exposure, and illnesses. The Native American peoples were not only reduced in number but taken from their homes, stripped of their customs, and even forbidden to speak their native languages. Their children were taken from them and sent to schools to “civilize” them, forced to abandon every aspect of their heritage. In January 1876, the U.S. government forced them to live on ‘reservations’ where the majority of Native Americans still reside today.

American Indian Facts:
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Alternative Names:Various Indian nations and clan names
Location: throughout USA, especially west and south-west
Population: approximately 1.5 million
% of Population: 0.63%
Religion: various
Language: English and various Indian dialects