America is considered to have been named for Amerigo or Alberigo Vespucci who made his first voyage in 1499 and was the first European to cross the Atlantic. However, the possibility exists that it could also have been named for Richard Amerike, a wealthy English merchant of the 11th Century, or it could have been named by the Incas whose God was named Amruca or “Land of the Plumed Serpent”. Interestingly, the Olmec Civilization also called itself “Land of the Feathered Serpent”.
The name “Indian” originated with Christopher Columbus, who in his search for Asia in 1492, thought that he had arrived in the East Indies. The Americas came to be known as the “West Indies”, a name still used to refer to the Caribbean. This led to the names “Indies” and “Indian”, which implied some kind of racial or cultural unity among the aboriginal people of all of the Americas. Some indigenous people still live in relative isolation from western society, and a few are still counted as uncontacted people.
From the pre-Columbian Era, possibly 20,000 BC, before the appearance of “significant” European and African influences on the Americas, the Olmec, Maya, Inca, and Aztec people trekked northward and mingled with the influx of migrations through the Bering Strait . . . then southward bringing together myriads of cultures. The wave of migrants through the Bering Strait included Asia, Siberia, the Netherlands (mainly Holland) and the Scandinavian countries (Norway Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland). These people brought with them the sweat lodges and housing structures; such as, teepees and longhouses that are known as American Indian traditions. These structures are depicted later in this post under individual tribes. There are as many different Indian Nations, or communities, in the Americas as there are nations in Europe, Asia, or Africa, and there is as much variety among them. There is not much known about the time period when the continents of South America and Africa may have been one; therefore, the migration of people in this time period can only be conjectured.
The two migrations came together in the west. They then co-mingled with the migrations that took place in the Old Crow Basin, Yukon, and Canada as far back as 400,000 years ago and migrated from the eastern woodlands of Canada and the seaboard of what would be the United States and south to North Carolina and Florida. These people are believed to have followed herds of now-extinct large mammals from the Pleistocene Era along ice free corridors (see Aryans in previous blog posts). Another route of migration, either on foot or using primitive boats, was also in the northwest Pacific coast down to South America. This migration is reminiscent of other Aryan migrations which also merged with other migrations.
After 2,000 BC, the American Indian developed states or nations governing thousands of people. They established extensive trade routes across the continent. European invasions of the Americas began shortly after Columbus’ discovery of the “New World” in 1492. The Europeans started colonizing the Americas in order to cultivate new farmlands and create new jobs for the growing populations of Europeans. To do so, they often had to fight the American Indian for the land. Also, the Europeans had more immunities to diseases and could take advantage of the American Indians who did not because of their close association with their own. Secondly, the Europeans had horses and guns which overpowered the Indians’ hand weapons and arrows in battle although some Indian tribes also had developed the use of horses brought over by the Europeans. Thirdly, European settlements in the Americas grew at such a fast rate that the Europeans’ descendants eventually outnumbered the American Indian.
Before the New World was colonized by Europeans, America was an amazingly complex patchwork of Indian tribes, confederacies, and nomadic hunters. Indigenous tribes co-mingled. The pressure of living among each other resulted in what was to become one of the first displacements of a people by another and the profound changing of an entire society. Diseases were a large contributor although the many American Indian tribes did either assimilate or go extinct culturally. Today, many of the descendants of these people still exist preserving their traditions on over 500 remaining nations.
Depicted is the Ute family of Chief Severo. The Ute (proper spelling is “Jut” but pronounced without the “J”) and the Aztec tribe occupied significant portions of eastern Utah and western Colorado, and what is today New Mexico and Wyoming. These areas had been predominantly Aztec. The state of Utah derived its name from the Ute Indians which means “Land of the Sun”. Uto-Aztecan is the language of the Ute people.
The original homeland of the Uto-Aztecan language is generally considered to have existed along the border between the United States and Mexico. . . perhaps in the area of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as part of the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua and Sonoro. The Aztecs had settled much of this area before the Spaniards arrived. From this area, speakers of Uto-Aztecan languages gradually diffused northward and southward to include tribes such as the Shoshone and Comanche on the north and east, and the Aztecs in the south. There were also seventeen other small tribes in this area. The last partial migration of the Ute within this area was in the year 1885. The Ute tribe has a close association with Aztecs and appear to be a branch off of the Aztecs. Other tribes who migrated into the Americas from Asia, Siberia, etc. brought along their own cultural ancestry and /or utilized or added the heritage of the Aztecs.
Other tribes in this area with which the Utes maintained close contact were the Capote, Cumumba, Moache, Uncompahgre (who founded the crystal rattles), White River, and Weeminuche. The Uncompahgre tribe are the first people to utilize the effect of mechanoluminescence through use of quartz crystals. Their discovery is likely hundreds of years before the modern world recognized the phenomenon. Made from buffalo rawhide, they filled the rawhide with clear crystals collected from the mountains to form rattles. When the rattles were shaken at night, during ceremonies, the friction and mechanical stress of the quartz impacting together produced flashes of light which shone through the translucent buffalo hide. The Ute’s believed the rattles called Spirits into their ceremonies.
Pipe smoking ceremonies performed in a circle was also believed to call Spirits; the smoke curling into the air represented Spirit. Each person took turns with blowing the smoke out into the air all the while with thoughts on Spirit much as we meditate today. Smoking ceremonies are basically a Nordic tradition brought to North America by ancient migrators.
The Navajo, the Ute’s southern neighbor, and who are the largest Indian Nation in existence today with 300,000 population and are known for their “longhouses” (shown later) share the same religion as the Ute. They are members of the Native American Church and also share a Bible written in Latin script. Traditional Ute healers use peyote, a small spineless cactus, and a variety of other plants, including Elk Root, Bear Root, and Tobacco Sage to treat infections. They participate in sacred ceremonies using the peyote drug which causes hallucinations. Older spiritual cultures did not need drug influence. . .it was a natural ritual of dance and drums and rattles that raised awareness of their Soul and Spirit. There are Ute legends about their ancestors who cleansed and healed themselves by offering gifts to appease mythical “water babies”. It is known that water itself is a natural cleanser if no harmful additives are infused into it.
The Ute experience with European-American settlers is similar to that of many other North American tribes; competition, confrontation, and eventual coerced relocation to reservations. Of particular interest are the Walker War (824-54) and the Black Hawk War (1865-72) in Utah.
The Indian culture is divided into the following areas, and the facial features of each culture is shown.
ARTIC INDIAN CULTURE area near the Artic Circle in present Alaska, Canada, and Greenland was home to the Inuit and Aleut. Some of its people, especially the Inuit in the northern part of the territory, were nomadic following seals, polar bear, and other game (much as the Aryans did) as they migrated across the tundra. The Aleut were somewhat more settled in small fishing villages along the shore. They had a lot in common as a way of life. Decades of oppression and exposure to European diseases took their toll. They lived mostly in skin houses.
NORTHEAST INDIAN CULTURE area ranged from Canada’s Atlantic coast to North Carolina and inland to the Mississippi River Valley. It included many tribes. These people grew crops like corn, beans, and vegetables much as the Mexicans. The Iroquoian and Mohawks were known to be aggressive and warlike, and outsiders were never safe from their raids. As white settlements pressed westward, the indigenous tribes were eventually displaced.
SOUTHEAST INDIAN CULTURE area north of Mexico and south of the northeast was peopled by the indigenous tribes of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. By 1830, the southeast culture area had already lost many of its people due to disease and displacement. They were forced to relocate to “Indian Territory” or Oklahoma. This was known by the Cherokee as the “Trail of Tears”.
PLAINS INDIAN CULURE area was the prairie region between Mississippi River and Rocky Mountains (present day Canada to Gulf of Mexico). The inhabitants were speakers of Siowan, Algonquian, Caddoan, Uto-Aztecan, and Athabaskan who were hunters, farmers, and horsemen. Groups such as Crow, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Arapaho eventually pursued, on horseback, great herds of buffalo across the prairie The common dwelling used was a cone shaped teepee which could be folded and carried anywhere:
This is Geronimo as an elder Apache. SOUTHWEST INDIAN CULTURE area consisted of Hopi, Zun, Yahui, and Yuma; also Navajo and Apache. The name “Apache” originates from Spanish; however, most Apacheans prefer to call themselves Dine or Inde meaning “person” The Spanish first used the term “Apachu de Nabajo” (Navajo) in 1620s referring to people in the Colorado and San Juan River area. They lived in pueblos made of stone and adobe. Many were exterminated. Spanish colonists and missionaries enslaved the Pueblos by working them to death on vast Spanish ranches. The U. S. Government resettled them onto reservations.
The Apache speak Athabaskan or Apachean language which related linquistically to the languages of Athabaskan speakers of Alaska and western Canada. Navajo and Apache groups are related through culture and language, and they are all considered Apachean. The Apachean tribes fought the Spanish and Mexican people for centuries during the 17th and 19th centuries. The U. S. Army found the Apache to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.
For more on Apache see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache (use Control Key plus click)
GREAT BASIN INDIAN CULTURE area is a bowl-like area formed by the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevados, Columbia Plateau and Colorado Plateau. It was peopled by Shosonean or Uto-Aztecan Indians. After white prospectors discovered gold and silver, most of these tribes lost the land and their lives which were not that great anyway. They foraged for roots, seeds, and nuts and hunted snakes, lizards, and small mammals while living on the move in huts built of willow poles, saplings, leaves, and brush.
The CALIFORNIA INDIAN CULTURE area was discussed in the previous blog post, and the Indian tribes which were fostered by the Spanish infiltration communicated in many dialects; such as, Penutian, Hokan, Uto-Aztecan, and Athabaskan. Their dialects were more complex than that of Europe. Again, disease and forced labor or slavery by the Spanish nearly exterminated the area’s population and culture.
NORTHWEST COASTAL INDIAN CULTURE area was kinder to the Indians as far as climate and usage of natural resources. They built permanent villages, and an individual’s status was governed by a closeness to the village chief and by how much possessions (blankets, shells and skins, canoes, and even slaves) were at their disposal. Belonging to this group included the Athabaskan, Haida, and Tlingit; the Penutian Chinook, Tsimshian and Coos, the Waka Shen Kwakiiutl and Nootka and the Salishan Coast Salish. The Chinook never saw a teepee and lived in longhouses framed in cedar:
This is a longhouse. Iroquois and Chinook tribes, and possibly a few others, built and lived in longhouses. They called themselves Haudenosaunee meaning “people who live in the extended longhouses”. These houses were also used in Asia and Europe and may have been the earliest form of a permanent structure. They were designed so as many as twenty (20) families or more could live in it. A family would occupy a booth on either side of the hallway, and the booth had a wooden platform for sleeping. It had no windows but doors at either end. The ceiling had holes to allow the fire pit smoke to escape but the holes provided very little light. The fire pits were located in the hallway and was shared by the families.
PLATEAU INDIAN CULURE area was in the present-day Idaho, Montana, and eastern Oregon and Washington areas. The tribes lived peacefully and simply. Their dialects spoken were of the Penuktian (Klumath, Klikitat, Modoc, Nez Perce, Walla Walla, and Yakima). North of the Columbia River, the dialects spoken were Salshan, Flathead, Spokane, and Columbia. The explorers, Lewis and Clark, passed through the plateau area which drew disease-spreading white settlers. The remaining tribes were resettled in government reservations.
I thought I could finish the American Indian in two parts, but there is a little more I would like to share before I go into the Pineal Gland and Universal Life Forces. There shall be one more continued post on the migration to the Eastern part of the New World. Until then, may your days be happy!