People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Native Americans Part 1

About the Native Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous Native Americans and more.


Why They Left: The earliest arrivals across the Bering Strait were small groups of hunters following the migratory paths of the animals that were their food source. These nomadic peoples crossed from Siberia to Alaska in search of new territories rich in game and gradually moved southward, thus populating the American hemisphere.

Where They Settled: At first the new arrivals drifted south along the Pacific coast or down the continental divide. Some groups peeled off and crossed to the eastern seaboard, then headed north or south as the food supply at the time led them. By the beginning of recorded history, the most densely settled part of the present contiguous U.S. was the Pacific Coast. The abundant fish supplies and the various seeds, berries, and nuts (acorns in particular) there supported life easily and pleasantly. The southwestern U.S. was also densely settled, its climate being more favorable than it is now. The eastern half of the present U.S. contained the greatest total number of native Americans, but its population density was low. In the southwestern deserts, such peoples as the Apache and the Navajo, the Hopi and the Pima, the Havasupai and the Yuma represented various language groups. In the central prairies were Kickapoo, Quapaw, Osage, and Miami; in the northern plains, Arapaho and Cheyenne, Pawnee, Crow, Kansa, and Ponca. In the southern plains, such people as the Wichita, Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa roamed. In the Great Basin, the Washo, Paiute, Ute, and Western Shoshoni dwelt. Along the Gulf coast and in Florida, the Natchez, Calusa, Tonkawa, and Arawak peoples looked northward to see the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Tuscarora, and Shawnee of the southeastern woodlands. To the north in the eastern woodlands were the Mohegan, Ottawa, Cayuga, Onandaga, Wyandot, Narragansett, Wampanoag, Mohawk, Delaware, Seneca, and Oneida. What the movements of all of these peoples were from the time they crossed the strait until the Europeans arrived is a matter for speculation and is still being deciphered. For example, archaeologists and ethnologists place the earliest traces of the Mandan in the upper Great Lakes area of Wisconsin. However, the language spoken by the Mandan bears similarities to languages spoken by native peoples of the Ohio-Kentucky area and the North Atlantic states area and dates to before the first archaeological evidence in northern Wisconsin. Therefore, scientists believe the Mandan may have moved to Wisconsin from other areas in North America.

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