Indigenous Navigation and Settlement of the Ancient Pacific

By 10,000 years ago, humans had migrated to most habitable lands that could be reached on foot. The islands of the Pacific remained. Introduction Indigenous navigation of the Pacific Ocean and its settlement began thousands of years ago. The inhabitants of the Pacific islands had been voyaging across vast expanses of ocean water sailing in[…]

Indigenous Artists Use Technology to Tell Stories about Their Ancestral Lands

The stories of four groups of Indigenous artists using technology and art to tell their communities’ stories. By Demi Guo Introduction Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun does not use email or text. In the Coastal Salish communities from which he hails, he has been known as a painter and a dancer since the 1980s. Yet, he has[…]

The Codices: Insight into Aztec Culture

The tlacuilo (codex painter) tradition endured the transition to colonial culture. Introduction Aztec codices (singular codex) are books written by pre-Columbian and colonial-era Aztecs. These codices provide some of the best primary sources for Aztec culture. The pre-Columbian codices differ from European codices in that they are largely pictorial; they were not meant to symbolize[…]

Thriving in the Valley: A History of Aztec Civilization

Aztec culture had complex mythological and religious traditions. Introduction The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican people of central Mexico in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. They were a civilization with a rich cultural heritage whose capital, Tenochtitlan, rivaled the greatest cities of Europe in size and grandeur. The nucleus of the Aztec Empire was the[…]

Indigenous Medicine: A Fusion of Ritual and Remedy

Aborigines were hunter gatherers – not cultivators – so there was little intentional interference with natural selection of native plants. Introduction In traditional Indigenous Australian society, healers used plants in tandem with precise ritual. Thousands of years later, we’re beginning to understand the science underlying these medicines. A variety of plant species were used in[…]

Medicine Wheel: ‘Sacred Hoops’ of Indigenous Americans

The hoop is symbolic of “the never-ending circle of life.” Introduction Medicine wheels, or sacred hoops, are stone structures built by certain Indigenous peoples of the Americas apparently for astronomical, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes. They were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground. Most medicine wheels resemble a wagon wheel,[…]

American Indian Culture of the West

Many different groups of American Indians with distinct cultures inhabited the western region of North America. Geographic and Temporal Setting: The Diverse West The West of United States, extending from the top corner of Washington, through California and into parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho, was home to a diverse array of Native American[…]

A Brief History of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

Some indigenous peoples of the Americas supported agriculturally advanced societies for thousands of years. Introduction The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Americas, their descendants, and many ethnic groups who identify with those peoples. They are often also referred to as “Native Americans” or “American Indians,” although such terms are[…]

Keeping Indigenous Cultures Alive with Living Museums

In Namibia, San people are finding ways to adapt to modern life whilst keeping their culture and connection to ancestors alive. By Ludovica Iaccino Introduction The scorching sun illuminates the golden rocks scattered across the Erongo region, in central-western Namibia. Yellow mountains, typical of this area, envelope a small, fictional village that attracts plenty of[…]

Aboriginal Voices in the Afterlife of Photographs

Connecting faces in 19th Century photographs to their contemporary Aboriginal descendants can tell a new history. The faces in the photographs look out from over a hundred years ago, dressed in their Sunday best – Aboriginal people growing up on a church mission in Victoria’s Gippsland. They look back from a time when the State[…]

A New Generation Is Reviving Indigenous Tattooing

People in Arctic and Northwest Coast communities are uncovering the therapeutic history of tattoos. By Joshua Rapp Learn To celebrate her graduation from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Native Studies program in 2012, Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone got a tattoo. Tahbone is Inupiat, an Alaska Native people, and the design was a traditional Inupiat pattern:[…]

Bringing Back Aboriginal Languages from Scraps of Paper

Ethnographer Daisy Bates recorded many Aboriginal languages in the early 20th century, which would otherwise be lost today. Introduction In 1904 Daisy Bates, an Irish-Australian journalist and ethnographer, sent out a questionnaire to squatters, police, and other authorities across Western Australia asking them to record examples of the local Aboriginal language. Mrs Bates (1859-1951) was something[…]

Preserving Precious Indigenous Languages in Australia

Linguists are using new technology to return decades-old recordings of near-extinct languages to the communities where they were made. On the bonnet of a dust-covered four-wheel drive, linguists Ian Green and Rachel Nordlinger whip out a laptop to download a sound file onto a memory stick. The Indigenous man beside them is impatient. His family[…]

The Yudja: Brazil’s People of the Forest

For decades, they’ve sustainably managed their community forest, relying on it for food, shelter and livelihoods. By Caleb Stevens, Sarah Parsons, Katie Reytar and Bill DuganPhotos by: André D’elia Introduction The Yudja are one of many indigenous groups who call Brazil’s Amazon rainforest home. For decades, they’ve sustainably managed their community forest, relying on it[…]

The Maori and Indigenous “Folk” Geographical Ideas and Knowledge

Discussing the advantage of studying folk geographic knowledge in a cross-cultural context. Abstract This paper advocates the need for studying indigenous folk geographical ideas and knowledge in addition to academic geographic ideas and knowledge to encompass all types of geographic tradition in a cross-cultural context. To date, historians of geographic ideas and knowledge in the[…]

A Route 66 Road Trip through Indigenous Homelands

Seeking out the histories and communities that existed before Route 66 and that survive still today. By Shoshi Parks The wind is so powerful on top of the mesa that even hours after I’ve returned to the valley below, I’ll be wiping its ancient sand from the cracks and crevices of my skin. In the[…]

Indigenous Basket-Weaving as an Excellent Digital Math Lesson

Academic disciplines such as mathematics can contribute through community-led partnerships with Indigenous peoples. Public universities across Canada are committed to addressing the calls to action included in the final report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). There is a general expectation that academic institutions and faculty members across the country will contribute to this[…]

What Winter Solstice Rituals Tell Us about Indigenous People

For indigenous peoples, winter solstice has been a time to honor their ancient sun deity. Their rituals reveal a deep understanding of the natural world. On the day of winter solstice, many Native American communities will hold religious ceremonies or community events. The winter solstice is the day of the year when the Northern Hemisphere has[…]

Makahiki: The Ancient Hawaiian New Year Festival to Lono

The Makahiki season is the ancient Hawaiian New Year festival, in honor of the god Lono of the indigenous Hawaiian religion. Introduction Makahhiki is a holiday covering four consecutive lunar months, approximately from October or November through February or March. The focus of this season was a time for men, women and chiefs to rest,[…]