American Indian Studies

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					American Indian Studies

         Chapter 1:
   American History before
Determining What Came Before
• For Indians, history did not begin with
• History began when their ancestors:
• “Fell from the sky” (Iroquois)
• “Entered the world through a hollow log”
• “Crossed the Bering Strait”
  Columbus did “NOT” discover a
          new world:
• He discovered another world rich in
  diverse peoples, histories, communities
  and cultures.
        Popular Perspectives
• As late as 1987, a popular U.S. HST
  textbook claimed that the America’s lay
  without mankind for thousands of
• Later revised editions still only devoted 4
  pages out of 1,000 to pre-Columbus
        Pre-contact Population
• Old estimates are fewer than 1million.
• Improved techniques of demographic
  calculation have raised the estimates.
• Between 2 and 18 million north of Mexico.
• N & S America populations combined could
  have ranged between 43 and 65 million.
• 1/5 (? %) of the world’s population.
• This should eliminate many stereotypes
  about Indian societies prior to European
• Social structures, political and economic
  systems existed.
• Indians had altered forests and other
  topographical features, sometimes
• Infrastructural elements such as roads and
  canals were in place.
   Creation Stories and Migration
• Estimates of how long Indians have been
  in America also vary.
• Firm evidence dates back to 12,000 yrs.
• Some evidence suggests as far back as
  40,000 yrs.
• Creation stories of many tribes tell how
  their people have always lived in America.
• “Anishinaabewaki” to the Anishinaabe.
• “Dinetah” to the Navajo.
    Popular Migration Theories
• One of the lost tribes   • The Bering Strait
  of Israel.                 theory citing genetic,
• Descendants of the         dental and linguistic
  Welsh prince Madoc         evidence.
  from the 12th century.
• Descendants of
  Asiatic voyagers.
        The Bering Strait Theory
• Began with the Ice Age    • By the Archaic period
  of 75,000B.C. -8,000        (8,000 B.C. -1,000 B.C.),
  B.C.                        most areas of the
• Water levels dropped        continent were inhabited.
  exposed a “land bridge”   • **This is only 1
  connecting Siberia and      explanation.
  Alaska.                   • Sea travel was possible.
• Climate and food          • Indians say that they
  sources were very           have always been here.
      Examples of Evidence
• 1925-Folsom (New Mexico) worked flint near
  a bison discovered. The species had been
  extinct for 8,000yrs.
• 1932-Clovis (New Mexico) weapon points
  older than Folsom discovered.
• 11,500 yrs back is the widely accepted
  beginning point of occupation in the
• Some estimates go as far back as 20,000.
• Indians claim that they have always been
  here, not just the first immigrants.
• Some suggest that Asian people migrated
  from America.
  Kennewick Man Controversy
• 1996, the skeletal remains of a man between
  40 and 45 was discovered near Kennewick,
• Signs of violence, and was between 8 and
  9,000 yrs old.
• Evidence of “Caucasoid” features.
• Indian tribes demanded the remains returned
  to be reburied to end the violation of human
• August 2002, Federal Courts granted
  scientists access to the body.
• What was the controversy?
• Indians saw this as another way to “prove”
  the first people came here from Asia or
• Do scientists and museums “own” the
  remains of indigenous people?

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