Native Americans

Native Americans

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LONG BEFORE the white man set foot on American soil, the American Indians, or rather the Native Americans, had been living on this land. When the Europeans came here, there were probably 10 million Indians north of present-day Mexico and they had been living here for quite some time. It is believed by many anthropologists and archaeologists that the first people arrived during the last ice-age, approximately 20,000 - 30,000 years ago, crossing the land-bridge at the Bering Sound, from northeastern Siberia into Alaska. (There are other theories being studied, such as travel by boat - similar to Australian settlement. Here is a letter from a Native American visitor to this site about this. More information to come!) The oldest documented Indian cultures in North America are Sandia (15000 BC), Clovis (12000 BC) and Folsom (8000 BC). (Please see an update on 2/11/97 under the NEWSPAGE near the bottom of this page).

Although it is believed that the Indians originated in Asia, few if any of them came from India. The name "Indian" was first applied to them by Christopher Columbus, who believed, mistakenly, that the mainland and islands of America were part of the Indies, in Asia.
So, when the Europeans started to arrive in the 16th- and 17th-century they were met by Native mericans, and enthusiastically so. The Natives regarded their white-complexioned visitors as something of a marvel, not only for their outlandish dress and beards and winged ships but even more for their wonderful technology - steel knives and swords, the fire-belching arquebus and cannon, mirrors, hawkbells, earrings, copper and brass kettles, and so on.

However, conflicts eventually arised. As a starter, the arriving Europeans seemed attuned to another world, they appeared to be oblivious to the rhythms and spirit of nature. Nature to the Europeans - and the Indians detected this - was something of an obstacle, even an enemy. It was also a commodity: A forest was so many board feet of timber, a beaver colony so many pelts, a herd of buffalo so many robes and tongues. Even the Indians themselves were a resource - souls ripe for the Jesuit, Dominican, or Puritan plucking.

It was the Europeans' cultural arrogance, coupled with their materialistic view of the land and its animal and plant beings, that the Indians found repellent. Europeans, in sum, were regarded as something mechanical - soulless creatures who wielded diabolically ingenious tools and weapons to accomplish mad ends.

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The Europeans brought with them not only a desire and will to conquer the new continent for all its material richness, but they also brought with them diseases that hit the Indians hard. Conflicts developed between the Native Americans and the Invaders, the latter arriving in overwhelming numbers, as many "as the stars in heaven". The Europeans were accustomed to owning land and laid claim to it while they considered the Indians to be nomads with no interest in claiming land ownership. The conflicts led to the Indian Wars, the Indian Removal Act empowered by president Andrew Jackson in 1830 and other acts instituted by the Europeans in order to accomplish their objectives, as they viewed them at the time. In these wars the Indian tribes were at a great disadvantage because of their modest numbers, nomadic life, lack of advanced weapons, and unwillingness to cooperate, even in their own defense. (One of the few instances in opposition to this view may been seen in the Battle of the Greasy Grass, better known as Custer's Last Stand.)

The end of the wars more or less coincided with the end of the 19th century. The last major war was not really a war, it was a massacre in 1890 where Indian warriors, women, and children were slaughtered by U.S. cavalrymen at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in a final spasm of ferocity.

A stupefying record of greed and trechery, of heroism and pain, had come to an end, a record forever staining the immense history of the westward movement, which in its drama and tragedy is also distinctively and unforgettably American.

[The late Mr. Lindeblad, creator of AW writes:] Undersigned being an European emigrating to the U.S. during the latter part of the 20th century, cannot fully comprehend what happened during the past few centuries. I am sure many descendants of emigrants as well as many Native Americans feel the same way. We are all a product of our time and the circumstances prevalent at the time. If I had lived with the Europeans in America during the 19th century, would I have embraced what was going on then? If I had lived with the Germans in the 1930s and 40s, would I have embraced what was going on in Germany then? If I had lived in Scandinavia during medieval time witnessing the horrors of slavery and killings, would I have embraced what was going on then? (The Nordic countries practiced slavery - träldom - during the middle ages, a master could for any reason kill his slave. Abolished in 1335.)

These are hard questions for anyone to honestly answer. It is easy to toss around opinions now, at the end of the 20th century being conveniently removed from circumstances and conditions in a distant and foreign time.

This web-site will try to present as true and accurate a picture as possible of the past, but not dwell on it. However, it is important for one sole reason and that is to learn from the past and move into the 21st century as better human beings. After all, we are ONE people under God and we can only look back to the past as what it is - history. Now we attempt to cooperate to the best of our ability in the present and we are looking forward to the future for a better world. Let us once again cross the Bering land-bridge and sail the Mayflower, but this time together for the common goal of building up mutual respect and trust.

The best way to accomplish this goal, we believe, is for this web-site to contribute by presenting links to the most sincere, factual, reliable and honest web-sites around on this subject and let interested parties actively participate. We will try to cover all aspects of our common history in regards to the history and development of the west. You will find many Native American web-sites with an abundance of facts and sources of information here. Please join in if you think you have something to contribute!
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