• The First Americans

The First Americans

The First Americans or Native American Indians are an important part of the culture of the United States. More than 500 distinct nations or tribes of American Indian people inhabited the Americas before the Europeans arrived at the end of the fifteenth century. The Native Americans lived peacefully off the land. They were hunters, warriors, and protectors and gatherers following the food source. Typically, the women tended to the children, their homes, and farmed. In some tribes, the men would weave baskets and blankets. Natural foods were consumed and deer, buffalo, fish, and various birds were hunted. The fruits and vegetables that were typically consumed were corn and beans in the Fall, squash and melons in the Summer, and berries in the Spring. The aggressive tribes such as the Apache and Comanche were typically a Patriarch tribe while Cherokee tribes were typically Matriarchal with input from the men during wartime.

All in harmony 

The health practices of each tribe varied, but all native medicine is based on the understanding that man is part of nature and health is a matter of balance. The natural world thrives when its complex web of interrelationships is honored, nurtured, and kept in harmony. Native American philosophy recognizes aspects of the natural world that cannot be seen by the eye or by technology, but which can be experienced directly and intuitively. Just as each human has an immeasurable inner life which powerfully influences wellbeing, so does nature include unseen but compelling forces which must be integrated for true balance to be achieved.

Trail of TearsWhen Europeans arrived in the late 1800s, Native American Indians began to fight a battle in pursuit of protecting their land. Laws were passed by U.S. presidents stating that the Indians should be removed. In other cases, bloody battles were fought with lives lost on both sides. Some scholars believe that epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of Native Americans, because of their lack of immunity to new diseases brought from Europe. In so many devastating ways, the Indians were forced out of their homeland, prompting such legendary stories as the “Trail of Tears.” Eventually, many Indians adopted the European way of dress and even religion, with many even converting over to Christianity.

Native Americans today

Today, there are approximately over 500 federally recognized Native American tribes within the United States. Contemporary Native Americans may be members of nations, tribes, or bands with sovereignty and treaty rights. Many face problems such as poverty, alcohol abuse, and heart disease.

triangular-graphic

The natural world thrives when its complex web of interrelationships
is honored, nurtured, and kept in harmony.

triangular-graphic

Fortunately, there are some who want to be sure that Native American history, philosophy, and way of life is preserved, so that we never forget the important role they played in the development of this nation. Renowned Native Americans have run for public office, founded independent newspapers and online media (including First Nations Experience, the first Native American television channel), started Native American studies programs and tribal schools, and founded museums to preserve their culture’s artifacts and artistry. Native Americans are increasingly interested in preserving their culture, and healers from other perspectives are keen to learn ancient native wisdom traditions.

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