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Американские индейцы

Американские индейцы


Traditionally, the very beginning of the United States’ history is

considered from the time of European exploration and settlement, starting

in the 16th century, to the present. But people had been living in America

for over 30,000 years before the first European colonists arrived.

When Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492 he was

welcomed by a brown-skinned people whose physical appearance confirmed him

in his opinion that he had at last reached India, and whom, therefore, he

called Indios, Indians, a name which, however mistaken in its first

application continued to hold its own, and has long since won general

acceptance, except in strictly scientific writing, where the more exact

term American is commonly used. As exploration was extended north and south

it was found that the same race was spread over the whole continent, from

the Arctic shores to Cape Horn, everywhere alike in the main physical

characteristics, with the exception of the Eskimo in the extreme North

(whose features suggest the Mongolian).


Origin and Antiquity

Various origins have been assigned to the Indian race. The more or

less beleivable explanation is following. At the height of the Ice Age,

between 34,000 and 30,000 B.C., much of the world's water was contained in

vast continental ice sheets. As a result, the Bering Sea was hundreds of

meters below its current level, and a land bridge, known as Beringia,

emerged between Asia and North America. At its peak, Beringia is thought to

have been some 1,500 kilometers wide. A moist and treeless tundra, it was

covered with grasses and plant life, attracting the large animals that

early humans hunted for their survival. The first people to reach North

America almost certainly did so without knowing they had crossed into a new

continent. They would have been following game, as their ancestors had for

thousands of years, along the Siberian coast and then across the land


Race Type

The most marked physical characteristics of the Indian race type are

brown skin, dark brown eyes, prominent cheek bones, straight black hair,

and scantiness of beard. The color is not red, as is popularly supposed,

but varies from very light in some tribes, as the Cheyenne, to almost black

in others, as the Caddo and Tarimari. In a few tribes, as the Flatheads,

the skin has a distinct yellowish cast. The hair is brown in childhood, but

always black in the adult until it turns grey with age. Baldness is almost

unknown. The eye is not held so open as in the Caucasian and seems better

adapted to distance than to close work. The nose is usually straight and

well shaped, and in some tribes strongly aquiline. Their hands and feet are

comparatively small. Height and weight vary as among Europeans, the Pueblos

averaging but little more than five feet, while the Cheyenne and Arapaho

are exceptionally tall, and the Tehuelche of Patagonia almost massive in

build. As a rule, the desert Indians, as the Apache, are spare and muscular

in build, while those of the timbered regions are heavier, although not

proportionately stronger. The beard is always scanty, but increases with

the admixture of white blood. The mistaken idea that the Indian has

naturally no beard is due to the fact that in most tribes it is plucked out

as fast as it grows, the eyebrows being treated in the same way. There is

no tribe of "white Indians", but albinos with blond skin, weak pink eyes

and almost white hair are occasionally found, especially among the Pueblos.

Major Cultural Areas

From prehistoric times until recent historic times there were roughly

six major cultural areas, excluding that of the Arctic (see Eskimo), i.e.,

Northwest Coast, Plains, Plateau, Eastern Woodlands, Northern, and


The Northwest Coast Area

The Northwest Coast area extended along the Pacific coast from South

Alaska to North California. The main language families in this area were

the Nadene in the north and the Wakashan (a subdivision of the Algonquian-

Wakashan linguistic stock) and the Tsimshian (a subdivision of the Penutian

linguistic stock) in the central area. Typical tribes were the Kwakiutl,

the Haida, the Tsimshian, and the Nootka. Thickly wooded, with a temperate

climate and heavy rainfall, the area had long supported a large Native

American population. Salmon was the staple food, supplemented by sea

mammals (seals and sea lions) and land mammals (deer, elk, and bears) as

well as berries and other wild fruit. The Native Americans of this area

used wood to build their houses and had cedar-planked canoes and carved

dugouts. In their permanent winter villages some of the groups had totem

poles, which were elaborately carved and covered with symbolic animal

decoration. Their art work, for which they are famed, also included the

making of ceremonial items, such as rattles and masks; weaving; and

basketry. They had a highly stratified society with chiefs, nobles,

commoners, and slaves. Public display and disposal of wealth were basic

features of the society. They had woven robes, furs, and basket hats as

well as wooden armor and helmets for battle. This distinctive culture,

which included cannibalistic rituals, was not greatly affected by European

influences until after the late 18th cent., when the white fur traders and

hunters came to the area.

TRIBES: Abenaki, Algonkin, Beothuk, Delaware, Erie, Fox, Huron,

Illinois, Iroquois, Kickapoo, Mahican, Mascouten, Massachuset,

Mattabesic, Menominee, Metoac, Miami, Micmac, Mohegan, Montagnais,

Narragansett, Nauset, Neutrals, Niantic, Nipissing, Nipmuc, Ojibwe,

Ottawa, Pennacook, Pequot, Pocumtuck, Potawatomi, Sauk, Shawnee,

Susquehannock, Tionontati, Wampanoag, Wappinger, Wenro, Winnebago.

The Plains Area

The Plains area extended from just North of the Canadian border, South

to Texas and included the grasslands area between the Mississippi River and

the foothills of the Rocky Mts. The main language families in this area

were the Algonquian-Wakashan, the Aztec-Tanoan, and the Hokan-Siouan. In

pre-Columbian times there were two distinct types of Native Americans

there: sedentary and nomadic. The sedentary tribes, who had migrated from

neighbor ing regions and had initally settled along the great river

valleys, were farmers and lived in permanent villages of dome-shaped earth

lodges surrounded by earthen walls. They raised corn, squash, and beans.

The foot nomads, on the other hand, moved about with their goods on dog-

drawn travois and eked out a precarious existence by hunting the vast herds

of buffalo (bison) - usually by driving them into enclosures or rounding

them up by setting grass fires. They supplemented their diet by exchanging

meat and hides for the corn of the agricultural Native Americans.

The horse, first introduced by the Spanish of the Southwest, appeared

in the Plains about the beginning of the 18th cent. and revolutionized the

life of the Plains Indians. Many Native Americans left their villages and

joined the nomads. Mounted and armed with bow and arrow, they ranged the

grasslands hunting buffalo. The other Native Americans remained farmers

(e.g., the Arikara, the Hidatsa, and the Mandan). Native Americans from

surrounding areas came into the Plains (e.g., the Sioux from the Great

Lakes, the Comanche and the Kiowa from the west and northwest, and the

Navajo and the Apache from the southwest). A universal sign language

developed among the perpetually wandering and often warring Native

Americans. Living on horseback and in the portable tepee, they preserved

food by pounding and drying lean meat and made their clothes from buffalo

hides and deerskins. The system of coup was a characteristic feature of

their society. Other features were rites of fasting in quest of a vision,

warrior clans, bead and feather art work, and decorated hides. These Plains

Indians were among the last to engage in a serious struggle with the white

settlers in the United States.

TRIBES: Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Bidai, Blackfoot, Caddo,

Cheyenne, Comanche, Cree, Crow, Dakota (Sioux), Gros Ventre, Hidatsa,

Iowa, Kansa, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, Kitsai, Lakota (Sioux), Mandan,

Metis, Missouri, Nakota (Sioux), Omaha, Osage, Otoe, Pawnee, Ponca,

Sarsi, Sutai, Tonkawa, Wichita.

The Plateau Area

The Plateau area extended from above the Canadian border through the

plateau and mountain area of the Rocky Mts. to the Southwest and included

much of California. Typical tribes were the Spokan, the Paiute, the Nez

Perce, and the Shoshone. This was an area of great linguistic diversity.

Because of the inhospitable environment the cultural development was

generally low. The Native Americans in the Central Valley of California and

on the California coast, notably the Pomo, were sedentary peoples who

gathered edible plants, roots, and fruit and also hunted small game. Their

acorn bread, made by pounding acorns into meal and then leaching it with

hot water, was distinctive, and they cooked in baskets filled with water

and heated by hot stones. Living in brush shelters or more substantial lean-

tos, they had partly buried earth lodges for ceremonies and ritual sweat

baths. Basketry, coiled and twined, was highly developed. To the north,

between the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mts., the social, political, and

religious systems were simple, and art was nonexistent. The Native

Americans there underwent (since 1730) a great cultural change when they

obtained from the Plains Indians the horse, the tepee, a form of the sun

dance, and deerskin clothes. They continued, however, to fish for salmon

with nets and spears and to gather camas bulbs. They also gathered ants and

other insects and hunted small game and, in later times, buffalo. Their

permanent winter villages on waterways had semisubterranean lodges with

conical roofs; a few Native Americans lived in bark-covered long houses.

TRIBES: Carrier, Cayuse, Coeur D'Alene, Colville, Dock-Spus,

Eneeshur, Flathead, Kalispel, Kawachkin, Kittitas, Klamath, Klickitat,

Kosith, Kutenai, Lakes, Lillooet, Methow, Modac, Nez Perce, Okanogan,

Palouse, Sanpoil, Shushwap, Sinkiuse, Spokane, Tenino, Thompson,

Tyigh, Umatilla, Wallawalla, Wasco, Wauyukma, Wenatchee, Wishram,

Wyampum, Yakima. Californian: Achomawi, Atsugewi, Cahuilla, Chimariko,

Chumash, Costanoan, Esselen, Hupa, Karuk, Kawaiisu, Maidu, Mission

Indians, Miwok, Mono, Patwin, Pomo, Serrano, Shasta, Tolowa,

Tubatulabal, Wailaki, Wintu, Wiyot, Yaha, Yokuts, Yuki, Yuman


The Eastern Woodlands Area

The Eastern Woodlands area covered the eastern part of the United

States, roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, and

included the Great Lakes. The Natchez, the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the

Creek were typical inhabitants. The northeastern part of this area extended

from Canada to Kentucky and Virginia. The people of the area (speaking

languages of the Algonquian-Wakashan stock) were largely deer hunters and

farmers; the women tended small plots of corn, squash, and beans. The

birchbark canoe gained wide usage in this area. The general pattern of

existence of these Algonquian peoples and their neighbors, who spoke

languages belonging to the Iroquoian branch of the Hokan-Siouan stock

(enemies who had probably invaded from the south), was quite complex. Their

diet of deer meat was supplemented by other game (e.g., bear), fish (caught

with hook, spear, and net), and shellfish. Cooking was done in vessels of

wood and bark or simple black pottery. The dome-shaped wigwam and the

longhouse of the Iroquois characterized their housing. The deerskin

clothing, the painting of the face and (in the case of the men) body, and

the scalp lock of the men (left when hair was shaved on both sides of the

head), were typical. The myths of Manitou (often called Manibozho or

Manabaus), the hero who remade the world from mud after a deluge, are also

widely known.

The region from the Ohio River South to the Gulf of Mexico, with its

forests and fertile soil, was the heart of the southeastern part of the

Eastern Woodlands cultural area. There before c.500 the inhabitants were

seminomads who hunted, fished, and gathered roots and seeds. Between 500

and 900 they adopted agriculture, tobacco smoking, pottery making, and

burial mounds. By c.1300 the agricultural economy was well established, and

artifacts found in the mounds show that trade was widespread. Long before

the Europeans arrived, the peoples of the Natchez and Muskogean branches of

the Hokan-Siouan linguistic family were farmers who used hoes with stone,

bone, or shell blades. They hunted with bow and arrow and blowgun, caught

fish by poisoning streams, and gathered berries, fruit, and shellfish. They

had excellent pottery, sometimes decorated with abstract figures of animals

or humans. Since warfare was frequent and intense, the villages were

enclosed by wooden palisades reinforced with earth. Some of the large

villages, usually ceremonial centers, dominated the smaller settlements of

the surrounding countryside. There were temples for sun worship; rites were

elaborate and featured an altar with perpetual fire, extinguished and

rekindled each year in a “new fire” ceremony. The society was commonly

divided into classes, with a chief, his children, nobles, and commoners

making up the hierarchy. For a discussion of the earliest Woodland groups,

see the separate article Eastern Woodlands culture.

TRIBES: Acolapissa, Asis, Alibamu, Apalachee, Atakapa, Bayougoula,

Biloxi, Calusa, Catawba, Chakchiuma, Cherokee, Chesapeake Algonquin,

Chickasaw, Chitamacha, Choctaw, Coushatta, Creek, Cusabo, Gaucata,

Guale, Hitchiti, Houma, Jeags, Karankawa, Lumbee, Miccosukee, Mobile,

Napochi, Nappissa, Natchez, Ofo, Powhatan, Quapaw, Seminole,

Southeastern Siouan, Tekesta, Tidewater Algonquin, Timucua, Tunica,

Tuscarora, Yamasee, Yuchi. Bannock, Paiute (Northern), Paiute

(Southern), Sheepeater, Shoshone (Northern), Shoshone (Western), Ute,


The Northern Area

The Northern area covered most of Canada, also known as the Subarctic,

in the belt of semiarctic land from the Rocky Mts. to Hudson Bay. The main

languages in this area were those of the Algonquian-Wakashan and the Nadene

stocks. Typical of the people there were the Chipewyan. Limiting

environmental conditions prevented farming, but hunting, gathering, and

activities such as trapping and fishing were carried on. Nomadic hunters

moved with the season from forest to tundra, killing the caribou in

semiannual drives. Other food was provided by small game, berries, and

edible roots. Not only food but clothing and even some shelter (caribou-

skin tents) came from the caribou, and with caribou leather thongs the

Indians laced their snowshoes and made nets and bags. The snowshoe was one

of the most important items of material culture. The shaman featured in the

religion of many of these people.

TRIBES: Calapuya, Cathlamet, Chehalis, Chemakum, Chetco,

Chilluckkittequaw, Chinook, Clackamas, Clatskani, Clatsop, Cowich,

Cowlitz, Haida, Hoh, Klallam, Kwalhioqua, Lushootseed, Makah, Molala,

Multomah, Oynut, Ozette, Queets, Quileute, Quinault, Rogue River,

Siletz, Taidhapam, Tillamook, Tutuni, Yakonan.

The Southwest Area

The Southwest area generally extended over Arizona, New Mexico, and

parts of Colorado and Utah. The Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan

linguistic stock was the main language group of the area. Here a

seminomadic people called the Basket Makers, who hunted with a spear

thrower, or atlatl, acquired (c.1000 B.C.) the art of cultivating beans and

squash, probably from their southern neighbors. They also learned to make

unfired pottery. They wove baskets, sandals, and bags. By c.700 B.C. they

had initiated intensive agriculture, made true pottery, and hunted with bow

and arrow. They lived in pit dwellings, which were partly underground and

were lined with slabs of stone - the so-called slab houses. A new people

came into the area some two centuries later; these were the ancestors of

the Pueblo Indians. They lived in large, terraced community houses set on

ledges of cliffs or canyons for protection and developed a ceremonial

chamber (the kiva) out of what had been the living room of the pit

dwellings. This period of development ended c.1300, after a severe drought

and the beginnings of the invasions from the north by the Athabascan-

speaking Navajo and Apache. The known historic Pueblo cultures of such

sedentary farming peoples as the Hopi and the Zuni then came into being.

They cultivated corn, beans, squash, cotton, and tobacco, killed rabbits

with a wooden throwing stick, and traded cotton textiles and corn for

buffalo meat from nomadic tribes. The men wove cotton textiles and

cultivated the fields, while women made fine polychrome pottery. The

mythology and religious ceremonies were complex.

TRIBES: Apache (Eastern), Apache (Western), Chemehuevi, Coahuiltec,

Hopi, Jano, Manso, Maricopa, Mohave, Navaho, Pai, Papago, Pima, Pueblo

(breaking into: Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris,

Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Ana,

Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia), Yaqui, Yavapai,

Yuman, Zuni. Am strongly thinking about


Social Organization

Among most of the tribes east of the Mississippi, among the Pueblos,

Navahos, and others of the South-West, and among the Tlingit and Haida of

the north-west coast, society was based upon the clan system, under which

the tribe was divided into a number of large family groups, the members of

which were considered as closely related and prohibited from intermarrying.

The children usually followed the clan of the mother. The clans themselves

were sometimes grouped into larger bodies of related kindred, to which the

name of phratries has been applied. The clans were usually, but not always,

named from animals, and each clan paid special reverence to its tutelary

animal. Thus the Cherokee had seven clans, Wolf, Deer, Bird, Paint, and

three others with names not readily translated. A Wolf man could not marry

a Wolf woman, but might marry a Deer woman, or one of any of the other

clans, and his children were of the Deer clan or other clan accordingly. In

some tribes the name of the individual indicated the clan, as "Round Foot"

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