Contemporary Native American Architecture

The variety of native traditions, available materials, and architectural expertise has given the continent new and culturally sensitive architectural forms during the last two generations. Design and Heritage You are a member of one of the midwestern nations of Native Americans. Your ancestors had no permanent architecture because they were nomadic hunter-gatherers (see photo below).[…]

The First Americans

What we think we know about the arrival of Homo sapiens on this continent. In the 1970s, college students in archaeology such as myself learned that the first human beings to arrive in North America had come over a land bridge from Asia and Siberia approximately 13,000 to 13,500 years ago. These people, the first North Americans,[…]

The Greatest Native American Intellectual You’ve Never Heard Of

The short life and long legacy of the 19th-century reformer William Apess. On April 1, 1839, a New York City medical examiner performed an autopsy on a man at a boardinghouse in a working-class neighborhood of lower Manhattan. He had performed scores of such examinations each month, but this one was especially significant though he[…]

The Native Americans Who Drew the French and British into War

The Anishinaabeg played an outsized role in world affairs. When a young George Washington approached the forks of the Ohio River in the spring of 1754, he was nervous. The previous year, as he scouted the area that would become Pittsburgh to contest French claims to the region, he came across seven scalped settlers. His[…]

Other Americans and the American Revolution

Who identified as “American” during the Revolution? To what extent did the American Revolution serve the interests of all inhabitants of the emerging nation? By Carolyn LatshawNational Society of Daughters of the American Revolution–Chicago Chapter Introduction When we think of the Americans during the Revolutionary War, we think George Washington, John Adams, Paul Revere—the Patriots.[…]

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[…]

Ulysses Grant Tried but Failed to Get Citizenship Rights for Native Americans

The president and his Seneca friend Ely Parker wanted Native Americans to gain citizenship, but their efforts are mostly lost to history. The man elected president in 1868—Ulysses S. Grant—was determined to change the way many of his fellow Americans understood citizenship. As he saw it, anyone could become an American, not just people like[…]

Madam Sacho: How One Iroquois Woman Survived the American Revolution

General George Washington gave the orders to destroy towns and take prisoners in Sullivan’s Campaign, but her story lives on. Soldiers called her many things: “a very old Squaw,” “helpless impotent wretch,” “antediluvian hag.” Only one recorded anything like a name: “Madam Sacho.” Yet we would not even know that much about her if, in[…]

Native Americans, the Stamp Act, and the American Revolution

In the years after the French and Indian War, Britain’s strategies to keep its Native American alliances sometimes backfired. John Trumbull’s painting Declaration of Independence is a classic depiction of history being made. From John Adams to Benjamin Franklin, all the key players appear to be in attendance. But are they? In depicting only well-to-do[…]

Transnational Debts: The Cultural Memory of Navajo Code Talkers in World War II

Their experiences and memories—in oral histories, interviews, as well as in fiction and film—challenge the narrative of a glorious nation in unison. Even 70 years after it ended, World War II continues to endure in the global imagination. In the United States, images of the “Good War” prevail, and memories of the soldiers have been[…]

How the Forced Removal of the Southeast’s Indians Turned Native Lands into Slave Plantations

“Alabama Fever” triggered a takeover by cotton planters of America’s oldest indigenous region. The Old South wasn’t really that old. Plantations appeared in many areas of the Deep South only a few decades before the Civil War. Before that, the South was Indian country. The South’s long and rich Indigenous history is unknown to many[…]

The Lumbee: Indigenous Peoples of North Carolina in Baltimore

A folklorist is working to preserve the history of a unique, urban community of the Lumbee. A few years ago, I invited a group of students to go on a short walking tour of the Lumbee Indian community of East Baltimore. Lumbee are indigenous to North Carolina but have been present in Baltimore since at[…]

Why the Myth of the “Savage Indian” Persists

Iconic children’s books and popular media that Gen Xers grew up with are riddled with damaging Native stereotypes—but things may finally be shifting. Peter Pan, the beloved children’s classic, is sure to stun modern readers with its descriptions of “redskins” carrying “tomahawks and knives,” their naked bodies glistening with oil. “Strung around them are scalps,[…]

Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830

The 1830 Indian Removal Act led to the displacement of the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Cherokee tribes of the Southeast. By Dr. P. Scott CorbettProfessor of HistoryVentura College Introduction Pro-Jackson newspapers touted the president as a champion of opening land for white settlement and moving native inhabitants beyond the boundaries of “American civilization.” In this[…]

Warriors of the Rainbow: The Birth of an Environmental Mythology

How did Greenpeace develop this affinity with Native Americans? The German branch of Greenpeace announced itself to the world in June 1981 when two activists climbed a smokestack in Hamburg and festooned it with a banner which read: Erst wenn der letzte Baum gefällt, der letzte Fluss vergiftet und der letzte Fisch gefangen ist, werdet[…]

Church, State, and Competing Ideologies Regarding the Indian Removal Act of 1830

Controversies surrounding the 1830 Indian Removal Act reflected the Early Republic’s problem of church and state. “I most sincerely desire that the historian, who shall write a hundred years hence, may be enabled to say… Georgia has not repeatedly, within a few years past, threatened to take the lands of Indians by force,” wrote Jeremiah[…]

On Native Ground: Indigenous Presences and Southern Narratives of Captivity, Removal, and Repossession

How contemporary southeastern Native writers work to repossess homelands that they rearticulate not as “the South” but as Native ground. Overview This essay argues that mainstream, familiar concepts of a bordered South and a recognizable southernness, however permeable and flexible, are mostly dysfunctional when it comes to American Indian literatures. “Native southern ground” can nevertheless[…]

Native Americans and the Origin of Abraham Lincoln’s Views on Race

Native Americans influenced the formation of Abraham Lincoln’s racial ideology. December of 1862 was a grisly month of a grisly year. Abraham Lincoln received dire reports from the horrifying battle at Fredricksburg, Virginia, and he had an eye on the scene unfolding on the windswept prairie of Mankato, Minnesota. In that far-flung corner of the[…]

African and Native Americans in Colonial and Revolutionary Times

Ideas about racial and cultural identity, even among indigenous people, have changed significantly over time. Joseph Louis Cook and Pierre Bonga One such person is Joseph Louis Cook, the son of an African-American father and an Abenaki mother who had both been taken captive by the Iroquois. Cook himself was raised in the Mohawk community[…]