The History of Native Americans is both fascinating and in many ways, tragic. 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 traveled 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.
They have been labeled Indians, American Indians, and the now preferred Native Americans. They migrated to all regions of the land and were formed into many different tribes or nations. These were a people who adapted well to their particular regions and made wise use of all natural resources available. They believed in respecting the land and the abundance of gifts it offered. They became proficient fishermen, hunters, farmed crops such as corn, and built homes with whatever available resources their territory provided. Some of these included animal skins, sun-dried brick for adobes, or lumber for long houses depending on the regions.
Native American History – Native Americans and the Europeans
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.