Das ist ein Vortrag über die Ureinwohner Amerikas, die Indianer (Native Americans) für das Fach Englisch.

Native Americans/Indians:


1. General information
2. The origin of the Indians
3. Different cultures of the Native Americans
4. Contacts & conflicts between Reds and Whites

General information:

  • Native Americans: indigenous people from the regions of North America
  • Comprise a large number of different tribes, states and ethnic groups
  • Also known as American Indians, Indians, Amerindians, Amerinds or Indigenous, Aboriginal or Original Americans; in Canada: First Nations
  • The U.S. states and several of the inhabited insular areas that are not part of the continental U.S. also contain indigenous groups
  • Some of these other indigenous people, including the Inuit, Yupik and Aleuts for example are not always counted as Native Americans
  • Native Hawaiians and various other Pacific Islander American people can also be considered as Native Americans, but it is not usual due to their different historical origin

The Origin of the Indians:

  • Since the Europeans settled in America, there always has been one question:
    Where did the Indians come from?
  • A lot of theories existed:
    o Two bible theories:
    –> In the time of colonies many people thought, that the Indians descend from the 10 Jewish tribes, which were expelled from Israel
    –> Others said, that the Indians came from the legendary country Ophir
    • After Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution came into question, if maybe anthropoid apes, which developed into humans, lived in America
    –> But according to current scientific knowledge, human being did not evolve in North or South America
    • A long time one believed (and some people still believe), that the Indians are descendants of survivors of Atlantis or other lost parts of the world
    So how did the Indians really come to America?
  • Till a few years ago one was convinced that all Indians reached the North American continent over the Bering Strait land bridge that formerly connected North America with Asia 10.000 years ago
  • Most of those indigenous people descended from people living in Siberia
  • Exact epoch and route is still a matter of debate
  • Probably there were three migration waves:
    o First wave came into a land populated by the large mammals including mammoths and horses for example
    o Their support was based on the hunting of bison
    o The wave eventually spread over the whole hemisphere, as far south as Tierra del Fuego
    o Became the inhabitants of central to eastern North America and most (if not all) of Central and South America
    o Second wave brought the ancestors of the Na-Dene people
    o lived in Alaska and western Canada
    o but some migrated as far as the Pacific north western U.S. and the American Southwest
    o would be ancestral to the Dene, Apaches and Navajos
    o third wave brought the ancestors of the Eskimos and the Aleuts
  • one result of these successive waves of migration is, that large groups of people with similar languages and perhaps physical characteristics moved into various geographic areas of North and later Central and South America
  • different kinds of science confirmed this supposition:
    o anthropology: many Indians have Mongolian body characteristics (for example: protruding cheekbone)
    o genetics: there are a lot of genetic conformities between the indigenous of Siberia and the majority of North American Indians
    o ethnography: the material and spiritual culture of present-day inhabitants of East and South Asia is similar to the Indian’s one (for example: worship of the same animals and plants and the number 4)
  • meanwhile there are other suppositions, which say, that the Bering Strait was not the only gate to the New World
  • one assumes that immigrants also came by boats to America
  • sailors could come from Siberia over the North Pacific
  • other sailors came from the South of the Pacific to land in South or in North America
  • transoceanic immigrates also from Europe could reach America
  • but all these thesis are not proved, because there are not many bone remains of the immigrants
  • no whole skeleton or boats were found till now
  • but more immigrant waves from different parts of the world would explain the language variety in America

Indian cultures in North America of the very old time:

  • first known Indian culture in North America belonged to the Clovis-culture
  • people of Clovis lived circa from 11.600 BC to 10.700 BC
  • were hunters of mammoths and other big animals
  • Following Folsom-culture (ca. 10.700 BC to 8.500 BC) covered all from the Big Lakes to the southwest of the U.S.
  • had higher developed arrows
  • 8.000 BC a lot of big games died out
  • Reason for that is not clear
  • Could be excessive hunting or change of climate
  • But the warmer climate since 5.000 BC made agriculture possible
  • Especially maize from Central America were imported
  • In a result of that many tribes changed from nomadic hunter-gatherer into stationary farmers
  • Was beginning of Cochise-culture

Later Indian cultures in North America:

Cultures of the northwest coast of North America:
  • We can split the northwest coast into three cultural main areas:

    oNorthern region:
    –> Eyak settled in the far north
    –> Living place of the Tlingit
    –> Besides the Tlingit developed their own language, which is in spite of the huge expansion of the people quite uniform
    –> The Haida, which were probably the oldest population group of the northwest coast, settled on the Queen Charlotte Islands
    –> They spoke several dialects of their proper language
    o Central region:
    –> People of the central region, the Nuxalk-people for example, were specialized in hunting sea mammals
    o Southern region:
    –> Comprises mainland opposite to the Vancouver Islands and the coast of Washington and Oregon
    –> There lived the Chinook-tribe for example

  • The peoples had all a similar culture
  • So everywhere totem-poles were known, including the mythic figures of the raven, bear, orca and others
  • Furthermore all of them celebrated the so called Potlatch festival
  • Chiefs or other rich persons arranged this festival to remind of marriages, deaths or victories, to clear debts, to get the right of a special totem or to confirm friendships
  • At this party the people ate, danced and told stories
  • On the height they made a present to each other with blankets, canoes, slaves, fishing rights and food
  • After three or four days of celebrating it could be that the party organiser was pauperised, but ones social esteem increased and this was very important for the Indians
  • Were hunters and collectors
  • Their staple food was fish, especially salmon, which was very common in their territory
  • The men caught the fish with nets, bow nets and spears
  • After that the women cured it

  • Depending on the season the Tlingit lived either in naves in the winter or in summer villages
  • Up to 100 persons found place in one nave
  • These houses had decorated walls to divide them into sectors for different families
  • They also had a central place, which was used for telling stories or for celebrating Potlatch

  • In the time of winter the Tlingit acted as manufacturers
  • The men repaired weapons or houses, carved masks or totem-poles or built canoes
  • On the other hand the women picked firewood, cooked or made baskets

  • The Tlingit loved dancing
  • With dances they copied totem animals or other beasts of the ocean, of the forest or of the mythology
  • The only instrument accompanying the singer and dancer was the drum

  • There were strict social rules and taboos
  • If someone broke one rule, he or she was severely penalised, sometimes even with death

  • In the Tlingit society slaves had lowest rank
  • Slaves were captivated in wars, sold by merchants
  • If a female slave married a free man, she became free, too

  • The Tlingit believed that all beings – plants, animals and humans – have spirits and all of them have a social life, which is really similar to the humans one

  • The Tlingit-people were divided into two big clans: the Eagles and the Ravens
  • One was not allowed to marry a partner out of one’s own clan
  • Children were taken in the mother’s clan
  • If the husband died, his next relative had to marry his wife

  • a defunct was burnt together with his or her ownership and was kept in so called grave-totem-poles
  • after the burial the Tlingit celebrated a funeral service
  • they believed, that one change into a better life after death
  • so suicide was not unusual
Cultures of the southwest of North America:
  • we can find a lot of exciting relicts of lost cultures in the southwest of North America
  • unfortunately this prehistoric societies did not leave written evidences, which could tell something about their life, traditions or religion
  • however they left their marks (for example: great cities, pottery and many leathery or wooden artefacts
  • there were three main and two ancillary cultures, which extended to Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, big parts of Colorado, California and Nevada
  • the three main cultures are called Hohokam, Mogollon and Anasazi and the ancillary ones Patayan- and Fremont- culture
  • all this cultures broke down between 1.200 and 1.450AD
  • when the first Europeans reached this land they came up against Indians with similar traditions and custom
  • so we can hypothesise that these are ancestors of the Hohokam, Mogollon and Anasazi


  • living space of the Anasazi: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, that overall was desert land
  • the temperatures range between 40 degrees in summer and 30 degrees below zero in the winter
  • there put forth only sage, cacti and adapted herbage
  • we differ three branches of the Anasazi: Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, Mesa Verde in Colorado and Kayenta in the northern part of Arizona
  • though they all belong to the same culture, they vary in the style of their ceramic and architecture
  • about 185 BC the first villages in cavity construction arose
  • this was the culture of the basket weaver, due to the fact that only basket but no ceramics were found
  • in 500 AD the cavities were replaced by unearthly steaning buildings
  • the inhabitants built their houses directly in cliffs
  • because of that it was called the culture of cliff city inhabitants
  • this people were the real Anasazi
  • you can still visit these major houses

  • the Anasazi were farmers
  • expanded irrigation systems enabled good crop of maize, melons, peppers, beans and tobacco
  • hunting was just for varied food
  • furthermore the Anasazi had dogs and gobblers

  • fieldwork and house building was women’s business, but just the men went hunting
  • the Anasazi were excellent potters, what the women and men did together

  • the women played a major role in the society
  • every woman got a part of the farmland
  • their husbands moved in as guests, but after a potential divorce they had to left the wife’s house
  • in this case the children abode with their mother

  • the religion was important, too
  • above all the rituals should secure wetness
  • the main deity was the Sun and Mother Earth

  • about 1.300 the Anasazi lost power and left their villages by and by
  • there also might be environmental problems
Cultures of the south-eastern forest of North America:
  • A particularity in the history of the Native American cultures represent the Mound-Builder-cultures
  • They existed from 1.000BC to 400AD
  • Created big mounds, which probably were used as burials
  • We can find these mounds near the Mississippi
  • Some mounds have a circular or elliptical layout
  • Others replicate bodies of animals (for example: body of a snake)
  • European settler destroyed thousands of these mounds
  • Researcher think, that there had existed 200.000
  • Archaeologists could identify three main cultures of the Mound-Builders: the Adena-, the Hopewell– and the Mississippi[/b]– culture
The Adena- culture:
  • The oldest kind of mounds are the burial mounds
  • They accrued circa 500 BC
  • All that we learned about this culture told us the mounds and the things inside of them

  • The Adena-people had a distinct death cult
  • Probably they burned the normal tribesmen, but buried the important ones with a ceremony
  • They were laid in provisional graves till their flesh was rot
  • After that they were buried

  • The Adena-people cultivated sunflowers, cucurbit and also tobacco
  • They hunted moose and other wild games and collected nuts and wild plants
  • They engaged in counter trade

  • The heyday of the Adena- culture was 100 BC
  • 200 years later it began to degrade

Contacts and conflicts between Red and Whites:

  • The undisturbed development of all the different cultures in North America was suddenly interrupted in the 15th century
  • With the arrival of the first Europeans on the American continent, a new era began for the about 50 million people of the Western hemisphere
  • Christopher Columbus arrived at the second largest island of the Caribbean in October of 1492
  • Columbus founded a colony for the Spanish King and was at first welcomed very friendly by the hospitable natives
  • He wrote himself that the Indians were: “so innocent and generous with all they had that nobody would believe it who hadn’t seen it with his own eyes. Whatever you ask of them, they never say no, but urge you to take it, and show so much kindness by that as if they would give their hearts to you.”
  • Nevertheless, the Spanish immigrants soon became arrogant and felt superior, which Bartolomé de Las Casas, a friend of the Indians, tried to explain like that: “The natural, simple and generous kindness and the simple living conditions of the Indians, as well as the fact that they hardly possessed any weapons and were defenceless, led the Spaniards to the impertinence to give them a lower value than themselves.”
  • And he also described the cruelty Columbus and his men were soon treating the Indians with: “The Spaniards made bets about who could slit up a man into two halves or cut off his hand with a single strike; or they opened his innards. They pulled the babies away from their mothers on their feet and threw them head-first against the rocks. In other cases they speared the babies, their mothers, and all who stood in front of them onto their swords…”
  • Because of the Europeans’ greed for gold the Indians were forced to work as slaves in gold mines and many committed suicide
  • Only after the revolt of the Indian leader Enrique, the Spaniards left them alone, but they were already so decimated by European diseases, against which they had no immunity, that, already in 1552, all Indians were extinct in this area
  • Something that would happen to many other tribes as well in the next 400 years

  • The Spaniards also left their marks on the Indians of Florida and the majority of the South East of the US, as well as on the South West

  • Since 1598, the Spaniards started founding colonies in this territory and acted very impertinent against the Indians, demanding food from them all the time
  • This led the Indians to form an alliance in 1680 and start a revolt
  • They were actually able to drive the colonists away, and kept their freedom until 1692 when the Spaniards conquered the land back

  • Some time later, the Spanish invaders reached California on the West coast, and established a series of 21 Christian missions along the shore, the first one in 1769
  • Then, they forced the Native Americans to live there and work for them
  • Because of the bad living conditions epidemic diseases broke out, which killed thousands of people, mainly because they were living together on such little space
  • Many cultures were totally wiped out

  • Not only the Spaniards tried to form colonies in the New World, but also other European countries soon laid their claims on America as well, not even considering that it actually did not belong to any of them but to the Native Americans
  • The first English settlement in North America, Jamestown, was founded in 1607 by John Smith at the James River in today’s Virginia
  • The Indians living there formed a confederation, known as the mighty Powhatan-Confederation
  • Soon, they regarded the English colonists as dangerous and annoying invaders, because they were demanding corn from them
  • Consequently, the Indians started a war, already in the same year
  • But in 1613, Pocahontas, the favourite daughter of the Chief, was captured and she agreed to take on the Catholic faith and even married the Englishman John Rolfe, securing the peace for some time
  • Four years later, Pocahontas and her little son sailed to England, where she died at only 21 years
  • After that, the Powhatan tried again to drive the British out of their country, but the Virginia-colony was already to large with too many white settlers, so that the Powhatan were pushed back into small reservations

  • In New England, the first English people arrived in 1620 on the ship Mayflower
    Who exactly came with this ship? (Puritans, often called Pilgrims, who fled religious persecution)
  • In a hard winter their number was reduced by half and they couldn’t have survived if they hadn’t met Indians the next spring, who taught them how to plant and where to fish
  • After a rich harvest in fall, the Pilgrims invited all Indians in the neighbourhood to a feast to thank them for their help
  • But after some time had passed, the number of the settlers grew and the friendly relations with the natives worsened
  • In 1675, war broke out between the colonists and an Indian alliance under the Wampanoag-chief Metacom, called King Philip
  • He faced about 50.000 colonists with only 20.000 warriors
  • So being clearly the minority, their war for freedom soon turned into a fight for survival
  • They were hunted down merciless and an Indian priest remarked on that: “During the bloody fights, the Pilgrims prayed long and hard to their god that he might give their enemies into their hands…If this is there way of praying – to pray bullets through the hearts of people – then I just hope that they won’t pray for me.”
  • Only one year later, with King Philip’s death, the revolt was ended, and with it, every planned Indian resistance in New England

  • The 17th century was mainly formed by trade relations between the Indians and the Whites

  • the white settlers began to push further and further to the west, taking the land away from the Indians violently
  • In 1754, the Ottawa-chief Pontiac, who was very angry with the British, started to form an alliance of all Indian nations and tribes in the area of the Great Lakes, with the message that said that all tribes should take action against the English invaders together
  • Pontiac started his rebellion in 1763 with the conquest of all British forts in the Ohio-valley except for two
  • When he besieged Fort Detroit, the English treacherously sent the Indians blankets that were infected with smallpox
  • Many of the Indians caught the disease and had to give up
  • Pontiac’s alliance crumbled into pieces and two years later his revolt was ended
  • In 1769, he was murdered by an Indian traitor

  • After the American Independence War (from 1775 to 1783), the English were replaced by a new white force, the Americans – who were not at all better for the Indians
  • The Americans expanded more and more to the west, carelessly overrunning the Indians’ land
  • After some time, the Native Americans refused to sign any more contracts that took their land away from them “legally”
  • As a response an American army was sent into their land in 1794
  • The Americans defeated the Indians and forced them to sign a peace treaty in 1795 by which the tribes lost almost two thirds of their territories in the East of the U.S.

  • In the South of the USA, the so-called Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminols) were more and more pressured to give up their land
  • Finally, in 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which contained the resettlement of all Indians of the Southeast to the west of the Mississippi, into the Indian Territory in Oklahoma
  • All nations were forced to leave their land, and on the way, almost 45 per cent of the Creek, over 4.000 of 13.000 Choctaw, and one quarter of the Cherokee population, died

  • In 1871, when the demand for buffalo hides suddenly increased, buffaloes were shot down in millions, destroying the basis of existence from the natives
  • Besides, the Indians were supposed to go into the small reservations
  • But the great Sioux-Chiefs Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull concluded to fight for their land
  • Although Red Cloud finally went into the reservation, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were not willing to give up, yet
  • In July of 1876, they assembled a huge camp with members of many different tribes
  • When General Custer tried to attack them, the Indians were such a majority that they totally defeated Custer’s troops and left only one survivor
  • Now, of course, the Americans were very shocked and angry, and a merciless pursuit of the tribes by the American soldiers followed
  • During the extremely cold winter, many groups had to give up and till March of 1877 most of them had arrived in a reservation, even Crazy Horse, who was injured there by soldiers and died
  • Only Sitting Bull could escape to Canada

  • Now, the Americans had won after all
  • After 1890 the last free-living Indians were forced onto reservations, which were like prisons to them, managed by agents of the government
  • The Indians were forced to take on the white way of life
  • Their own traditions, beliefs and life-styles regarded as immoral and wrong were strictly forbidden, even speaking in their own language
  • The children were taken away from their parents by force and put into Indian boarding schools, where they lived under strict discipline and often lost their old identity
  • It was like a nightmare for the Native Americans and they couldn’t understand why they were treated like this
  • An Indian woman tried to explain it the following way: “We think that the true reason, why our property has been taken away from us, is that we are humans and not wolves or bears. In Washington many millions of acres of land have been declared safety zones, so that wolves and bears can live undisturbed, and nobody has anything against it. Maybe, if we were wolves or bears, we could also expect that much protection. But we are just humans.”

  • Around the turn of the century, all Indian nations were strongly reduced or totally wiped out and the survivors were kept as prisoners on their own land
  • Despite all difficulties their number slowly increased again from 250.000 to about 2 million people nowadays
  • After many conflicts without weapons in the 20th century, the Indians have become citizens of the United States in 1924, while still keeping their Indian identity and traditional cultures by arranging their ceremonies, just like Sitting Bull had once advised them: “Take the best of the way of the white man, pick it up and take it with you. Leave the bad behind, throw it away. Take the best of the old Indian way of life – always preserve it. It has proved itself in thousands of years. Don’t let it go to waste.”


http://www.wikipedia.de / http://www.wikipedia.org
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