Maypole Mayhem: Puritan Canceling of May Day, and Attacking Native Americans, in 1628

The Puritans had little tolerance for those who didn’t conform to their vision of the world. Introduction Ever since the ancient Romans decided to honor the agricultural goddess Flora with lewd spectacles in the Circus Maximus, the beginning of May has signaled the coming of spring, a time of revival after a long, dark winter. In[…]

Moundville: A Native American Mississippian Culture Site

Moundville is the second largest “mound builder” site preserved in the USA after Cahokia in Illinois. By Dr. Joshua J. MarkProfessor of PhilosophyMarist College Introduction Moundville is an archaeological site and park in Hale County, Alabama, USA on the Black Warrior River enclosing a Native American site dated to c. 1100 – c. 1450 CE. The[…]

Exploring Cahokia, the Largest Pre-Columbian City in North America

It is thought that the Mississippian peoples built their mounds to focus spiritual power in a central location in their communities. Introduction Cahokia is a modern-day historical park in Collinsville, Illinois, enclosing the site of the largest pre-Columbian city on the continent of North America. The original name of this city has been lost – Cahokia is a[…]

23 Medicinal Plants the Native Americans Used on a Daily Basis

Many modern remedies and medicines are based on Native American knowledge of plants and herbs they used for thousands of years. Introduction Native Americans are renowned for their medicinal plant knowledge. It is rumored they first started using plants and herbs for healing after watching animals eat certain plants when they were sick. In order[…]

Stephen Mopope’s Native American Post Office Murals in Andarko, Oklahoma

The sixteen murals displayed within depict the life and traditions of the Kiowa people, a Plains Indian tribe. Introduction In the narrow lobby of the Anadarko Post Office, a buffalo hunt ensues. A pair of Eagle Dancers perform their ceremonial waltz in the entryway. Over by the P.O. boxes, a Kiowa family begins the long[…]

Winema and the Modoc War: One Woman’s Struggle for Peace, 1872-1873

Winema Riddle was a Modoc woman whose life story illuminates Native American women’s roles in history. By Dr. Rebecca BalesAssociate Professor, Global Studies DepartmentCalifornia State University, Monterey Bay On February 25, 1891, Congress passed a very unusual piece of legislation. It awarded “Winemah Riddell [sic] . . . a pension at the rate of twenty-five[…]

1620: Dreams of a ‘New’ Jerusalem and Impacts on Native Americans

The Puritans’ arrival at Plymouth would forever change the lives of the Natives who had lived in New England for millennia. Who Were the Puritans? Overview They sailed to the New World under appalling conditions: One hundred and two English men, women and children, crammed onto a cargo ship that was only about 30 meters[…]

6 Reasons to Learn More about the Culture of Indigenous People

The study of Indigenous People can create a respectful and rigorous understanding of their culture. Some classes for a term provide a broad approach by focusing on native cultures around the world. Some programs, on the other hand, look at the experience of a specific group. In the U.S., some universities offer undergraduate and graduate[…]

Native American Pueblo Architecture and Its Relationship to Place

The Pueblo people are one of many Native American cultural groups living in the southwestern United States. Introduction Until relatively recently, houses at the Southern Tiwa Pueblo of Isleta in New Mexico were replastered every year using a mixture that contained mica from a culturally significant site in the southwestern United States. In the bright[…]

A History of ‘Manifest Destiny’ in the United States

This was a widely held imperialist belief in the 19th-century that American settlers were destined to expand across North America. The Oregon Country The spirit of “Manifest Destiny” pervaded the United States during the Age of Reform—the decades prior to the Civil War. John L. O’Sullivan, editor of the influential United States Magazine and Democratic[…]

Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830

Jackson’s goals put the government in conflict with the more than 125,000 Native Americans who still lived east of the Mississippi. Native Americans and the New Republic From the time the first colonies were settled in America, relations between the Native American Indians and white settlers ranged from respected friends to hated enemies. Into the[…]

The ‘Red Power Movement’: Native Americans and Civil Rights in the 1960s

Events during the movement included the Occupation of Alcatraz, the Trail of Broken Treaties, the Occupation of Wounded Knee. Introduction The Red Power movement was a social movement led by Native American youth to demand self-determination for Native Americans in the United States. Organizations that were part of Red Power Movement included American Indian Movement[…]

A History of the Lumbee Tribe and Political Protest in North Carolina

The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has a long history of struggle, protest, and resistance to white supremacy and its social effects. Introduction It may not have seemed unusual when a protest in support of Black lives and against police brutality moved through the town of Pembroke, North Carolina, in late June and faced off[…]

Prehistoric and Ancient Native American Tools and Technology in Iowa

Exploring archery technology, the production of bone tools and ground stone tools, flintknapping, and prehistoric pottery. By Tim WeitzelHistoric Preservation Specialist Overview Paleoindian At the end of the last Ice Age, Iowa had a cool, wet climate and widespread coniferous forests. Paleoindian peoples (11,000_8500 BC) lived in small, highly mobile bands and hunted large game animals. Their tools[…]

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[…]

Roanoke Colony: First Contact to Disappearance, 1585-1590

Doomed to failure, this early colonial project lacked adequate planning and logistical support. Introduction The Roanoke Colony was England’s first colony in North America, located in what is today North Carolina, USA. Established in 1585 CE, abandoned and then resettled in 1587 CE, the colonists had little regard for their new environment and were soon in[…]

Rivers Held a Spiritual Place in the Lives of the Cherokee

Water appeared at the very beginning of Cherokee cosmology. When anthropologist James Mooney published the first of his influential studies of Native American culture in 1888, “Myths of the Cherokee,” he was struck by the centrality of water in the Cherokee world. Mooney had spent a season living with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians[…]

An Overview of the Powhatan Chiefdom in 17th-Century Virginia

Accounts of Powhatan authority hint that a complex set of dynamics shaped the Powhatan political realm. Introduction With its remarkably rich ethnohistoric and archaeological records, the Chesapeake region offers much to those interested in understanding the culture histories of Native societies. The written accounts produced by European sources during the early years of the colonial[…]

Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend

The most famous event of Pocahontas’ life, her rescue of Captain John Smith, did not happen the way he wrote it. By Sarah J. Stebbins Introduction Not much is known about this memorable woman. What we do know was written by others, as none of her thoughts or feelings were ever recorded. Specifically, her story[…]

Underestimating the Enemy: St. Clair’s Defeat at the Battle of Wabash River

President George Washington forced St. Clair to resign his post and Congress initiated its first investigation of the executive branch. Introduction He was so obsessed with not dividing his troops that he did not send out scouts, instead marching forward without reconnaissance. With no scouts out, St. Clair was completely unaware of the force of[…]

The Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad on Native Americans

The Transcontinental Railroad facilitated the colonization of western territories by encouraging new settlements on Indigenous lands. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed 150 years ago, in 1869. In 1800s America, some saw the railroad as a symbol of modernity and national progress. For others, however, the Transcontinental Railroad undermined the sovereignty of Native nations and threatened[…]

Sarah Winnemucca: Paiute “Princess” Who Spoke Out in the 19th Century

She was an outspoken critic of harsh treatment of the Paiute in the American West. For the first few years of her life, Sarah Winnemucca, who was born around 1844, did not know that she was American. Born Thocmetony (Shell Flower) among the Numa (known among whites as the Northern Paiute or “digger” Indians), she[…]

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[…]

Native American Archaeology in the Nation’s Capital

At the time Europeans first began exploring the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River region, three Native confederacies had come to power. By Cecily Hilleary During his time in the White House, Former President Gerald Ford decided to build an outdoor swimming pool. National Park Service archaeologists examined the site of the dig, which is standard[…]

The Ancestral Puebloan Site at Wupatki

The U.S. National Park Service has overseen the site’s ruins since it was first registered in 1924 CE by the US President Calvin Coolidge. Introduction Wupatki or Wupatki National Monument is an Ancestral Puebloan site that contains over 800 ancient ruins. It is situated in the north-central region of the US state of Arizona and is[…]

Native Cultures of Ancient Southwest North America

An interview with Professor Steven Lekson of the University of Colorado Boulder on the ancient cultures of Oasisamerica. Pre-Columbian civilizations of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico include the Hohokam who occupied the US state of Arizona, the Anasazi or Ancestral Pueblo Peoples who resided in the Four Corners Region, and the Mogollon who[…]

What Calvin Coolidge Didn’t Understand About Native Americans

Though he was adopted by the Lakota Nation, he clung to a paternalistic mindset. During the summer of 1927, Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, was formally adopted into the Lakota nation. The ceremonies took place in Deadwood, South Dakota, with the prominent Sicangu Lakota activist and teacher Chauncy Yellow Robe presiding. Yellow[…]

Thomas Harriot and the Lost North Carolina Algonquian Language

Harriot had the right temperament for his diplomatic role – he was open, curious, and notably non-judgmental. Thomas Harriot was the English contemporary and peer of Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler, although he’s unknown to most people. That’s because his busy and dramatic life meant that he never got around to publishing his mathematical and[…]