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Native Americans

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They were the first people ever to live in North America. Exactly when they came and how they arrived is still a mystery. But many scientists believe that as long as 30,000 years ago, some hunters from Asia walked or sailed along the coast of a land bridge that once connected Russia to Alaska. Their decendents became known as Native American or American Indians. As they spread out over the vast continent, Native Americans adapted to living in different regions, and hundreds of unique cultures were born. The Plains Indians hunted buffalo by stampeding them over cliffs. On the northern Pasific coast, tribes like the Haida and the Kwakiutl sailed the ocean and fished. They cut down giant red cedar trees for thier houses, dugout canoes, and ceremonial totem poles. When the first white settlers arrived in the 1500's, about a million Native American lived north of Mexico. But the outsiders changed everything. Diseases from Europe, such as smallpox and tuberculosis, wiped out entire tribes. Settlers began to claim Indian land for themselves. Some tribes resisted and fought back. Others attempted to co-operate. In the end, the result was the same. In the late 1800's the U.S. government forced the remaining Indians to leave thier traditional homelands and live on tracts of lands called "reservations". Over the next century, Native Americans continued to fight for their rights through political activism. " We were told that our religion was wrong. We were told rights before our faces that we were heathens. But no more are we going to take this." Today there are more than 550 recognized tribes in the U.S. Native Americans are working to improve living conditions on the reservations, and to preserve their languages, religions, and cultural identities. The potlatch, a religious ceremony that was once banned by the Canadian government, is being held again by the Kwakiutl. On the Navaho reservation, some ancient ways are blended into modernlives. This sand painting depicts the cloud people. Its being created to pray for the safely of a group traveling by airplane. Other Native American artists are reviving their tribe's traditional art forms. A movement which could help these unique culutures survive into the next century.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: National Geographic
Director: National Geographic
Views: 117
Posted by: greenbo on Apr 30, 2011

Know these basic facts about American Indians.

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