Other American Pages.

 

The Mound Builders.

Ancient Canal Systems.

Old World - New World.

The Olmecs.

 

Americas Homepage.

Index of Ancient Sites.

Homepage.

 Ancient Wisdom Jewelry 

 

 

 
 

 

Share/Bookmark

Homepage.

About Us.

A-Z Site Index.

Gift Shop.

Contact Us

 

       The North American Indians:

Estimates on the American Indian population before European contact range from between 2 and 18 million. By 1890, only 250,000 native Americans remained. (1) The total death toll has been estimated at around 100 million American Indians from the time of Columbus' arrival to the end of the Indian Wars 400 years later.

 -  “Over 100 million killed”. (D. Stannard. American Holocaust. 1992. Oxford Press)

It is perhaps ironic, considering the condition of the modern world, that the American Indian way of life existed relatively unchanged for so many thousands of years... only to be eradicated overnight by our 'superior' European system. It is certain that we lost much in the process of 'conversion' and 'assimilation' of the American Indians, but undoubtedly greater was the chance to witness (and learn from) a human culture that had managed to develop a philosophy and traditions in harmony with the rhythms of the natural world, offering an ecological case-study without comparison.

'Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect...'

(Chief Seattle, 1854)

 

   Early Origins.

According to the currently accepted theory of the first settlement of the Americas, migrations from Eurasia to the Americas took place across the Bering Strait land bridge. The number of migrations is still debated. Falling sea levels created the Bering land bridge that joined Siberia to Alaska about 60,000 - 25,000 years ago. The latest this migration could have taken place is 12,000 years ago; the earliest remains undetermined. (2)

It is presently believed that 3 major migrations occurred, as traced by linguistic and genetic data. These early Palaeo-Indians soon spread throughout the Americas, diversifying into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and tribes. By 8,000 BC the North American climate was similar to today's. A study published in 2012 gives genetic backing to the 1986 theory put forward by linguist Joseph Greenberg that the Americas must have been populated in three waves, based on language differences

 

North American Cultures: (Extract from Wikipedia) (2)

Numerous Palaeo-Indian cultures occupied North America, from around the Great Plains and Great Lakes of the modern United States of America and Canada, as well as adjacent areas to the West and Southwest. According to the oral histories of many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, they had been living on this continent since their genesis, as described by a wide range of traditional creation stories. However, genetic and linguistic data connect the indigenous people of this continent with ancient northeast Asians. Archaeological and linguistic data has also now enabled scholars to determine some of the migrations within the Americas. Unlike in the old world however, there are noticeably no remains to be uncovered of lost, unknown civilisations, as the Indians remained mostly tribal, and were greatly dependant on natures harvest, something which kept a check on population and the growth into the 'great' civilisations seen in the old world, or even in the South American continent. The following are some of the better known cultures that existed before Columbus' arrival in 1492.

 

A List of the Primary North American Indian Cultures (Pre-Columbus).

The Clovis Culture: (c. 9,100 to 8,850 BC). A megafauna hunting culture, primarily identified by use of fluted spear points. Artefacts from this culture were first excavated in 1932 near Clovis, New Mexico. The Clovis culture ranged over much of North America and also appeared in South America. The culture is identified by the distinctive Clovis point, a flaked flint spear-point with a notched flute, by which it was inserted into a shaft. Dating of Clovis materials has been by association with animal bones and by the use of carbon dating methods. Recent re-examinations of Clovis materials using improved carbon-dating methods produced results of 11,050 and 10,800 radiocarbon years BP.

The Folsom Tradition: (c. 9,000 BC and 8,000 BC). Characterized by use of flint knapped 'Folsom points' as projectile tips, and activities known from kill sites, where slaughter and butchering of bison took place. Folsom tools were left behind between 9000 BCE and 8000 BCE.

The Na-Dené-speaking peoples: (c. 8,000 BC).  They migrated into Alaska and northern Canada, south along the Pacific Coast, into the interior of Canada, and south to the Great Plains and the American Southwest. They were the earliest ancestors of the Athabascan-speaking peoples, including the present-day and historical Navajo and Apache. They constructed large multi-family dwellings in their villages, which were used seasonally. People did not live there year round, but for the summer to hunt and fish, and to gather food supplies for the winter.

The Oshara Tradition: (c. 5,500 BC to 600 AD). These people were part of the Southwestern Archaic Tradition centred in north-central New Mexico, the San Juan Basin, the Rio Grande Valley, southern Colorado, and south-eastern Utah.

The Mound Builders: (c. 3,500 BC - 2,800 BC). Archaeologists have explored and dated eleven Middle Archaic sites in present-day Louisiana and Florida at which early cultures built complexes with multiple earthwork mounds; they were societies of hunter-gatherers rather than the settled agriculturalists believed necessary according to the theory of Neolithic Revolution to sustain such large villages over long periods. The prime example is Watson Brake in northern Louisiana, whose 11-mound complex is dated to 3,500 BC, making it the oldest, dated site in the Americas for such complex construction.

(More about the Mound Builders)

Poverty Point culture: (c. 2,200 BC - 700 BC). A Late Archaic archaeological culture that inhabited the area of the lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf Coast. Evidence of this culture has been found at more than 100 sites, from the major complex at Poverty Point, Louisiana across a 100-mile (160 km) range to the Jaketown Site near Belzoni, Mississippi. Poverty Point is a 1 square mile (2.6 km2) complex of six major earthwork concentric rings, with additional platform mounds at the site. Artefacts show the people traded with other Native Americans located from Georgia to the Great Lakes region. This is one among numerous mound sites of complex indigenous cultures throughout the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. They were one of several succeeding cultures often referred to as the Mound builders.

The Woodland period: (c. 1,000 BC - 1,000 AD).   The term "Woodland" was coined in the 1930s and refers to prehistoric sites dated between the Archaic period and the Mississippian cultures. It is a blanket term for a number of Indian American cultures in the eastern part of North America at that time.

The Hopewell 'Tradition': (c. 200 BC - 500 AD). This was not a single culture or society, but a widely dispersed set of related populations, who were connected by a common network of trade routes, known as the Hopewell Exchange System. At its greatest extent, the Hopewell exchange system ran from the South-eastern United States into the South-eastern Canadian shores of Lake Ontario. Within this area, societies participated in a high degree of exchange; most activity was conducted along the waterways that served as their major transportation routes. The Hopewell exchange system traded materials from all over the United States.

(More about the Hopewell Culture)

The Mississippian culture (900 AD - 1,700 AD), which extended throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys and built sites throughout the Southeast, created the largest earthworks in North America north of Mexico, most notably at Cahokia, on a tributary of the Mississippi River in present-day Illinois. Its ten-story Monks Mound has a larger circumference than the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan or the Great Pyramid of Egypt. The 6 square miles (16 km2) city complex was based on the culture's cosmology; it included more than 100 mounds, positioned to support their sophisticated knowledge of astronomy, and built with knowledge of varying soil types. It included a Woodhenge, whose sacred cedar poles were placed to mark the summer and winter solstices and fall and spring equinoxes. The society began building at this site about 950 AD, and reached its peak population in 1,250 AD of 20,000–30,000 people, which was not equalled by any city in the present-day United States until after 1, 800 AD. Cahokia was a major regional chiefdom, with trade and tributary chiefdoms located in a range of areas from bordering the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. In the sixteenth century, the earliest Spanish explorers encountered Mississippian peoples in the interior of present-day North Carolina and the Southeast.

(Map of the North American Indian Tribes at the time of Columbus Arrival)

 

 

   The European Arrival -1492
 

The American Indian Holocaust:

(Death Toll:  Est. 95,000,000 to 114,000,000) (5)

American Holocaust: D. Stannard (Oxford Press, 1992) - “Over 100 million killed”

Figures refer to the number of Native American Indians killed in the time between Columbus arrival in 1492, to the end of the Indian American Wars in the 1890's when less than 250,000 remained.

(Average death toll - 250,000 per year over 400 years).

There have been many dubious stereotypes afforded the American Indians, but the simple truth is that when Europeans first encountered them, they were still operating (successfully) on a tribal level and the continent had never been governed as a single nation. Importantly, the whole concept of 'ownership' of land was alien to them and remained so till the end of the Indian Wars in the 1890's. Although agriculture was known and widely practiced, it had not replaced foraging and hunting which they still depended on and which encouraged a more personal relationship between people and the land they lived on. This reverence for nature was lost on the European colonists, so that when they were first encountered they were considered little more than  'godless' savages.

It is this stereotype which has sadly endured until recently, when the worlds thoughts have turned towards ecological matters such as sustainable farming, low-impact dwellings and a recognition of the value of forming a relationship with our environment. Today, we recognise that these were the very characteristics which sustained the Indians lifestyle for so long.  

 

The American Revolution: (1775-1783)

The American Revolution, which was primarily a colonial dispute, had a huge impact on the American Indian way of life, sadly ending in the 'Indian Removal Act' being passed in 1830, something which marked the end of Indian culture as it had been.

The colonisation of the Americas was so effective that when the revolution began the thirteen colonies had already formed representative democracies. All of them elected legislatures, which made laws, laid taxes, levied troops, provided for grants, and formed a real government of the people by the people. At the same time, internal struggles in Europe had inflamed with wars looming between England against both France and Spain, in addition, the Dutch power at New Amsterdam had been swept away; the Spaniards had been pushed back to the South; the Indians and the French were held at bay on the West and North. In King Philip's War the New England colonies had combined to raise two thousand troops and had conquered by concerted action. In the early French and Indian wars military operations had also been carried on in concert by the colonies with varying successes. Thus, the New England colonies and New York had captured Port Royal in 1690, and had even attempted an attack on Quebec, and in 1709 and 1712 expeditions were planned against Canada and Acadia, in which the colonies united.

England's whole theory in relation to colonies had become radically outdated, though it was still in common with other great powers of the time. This theory was that the colony was merely a commercial dependency —a place where the mother country could extend its trade; while by no means was the colony to be allowed to compete in trade at home or in the world's markets. To this end had been enacted years before the so-called Navigation Laws. By these Americans were forbidden to export their products to other countries than England, to buy the products of other countries except from English traders, to manufacture goods which could compete in the colonies with English importations or to ship goods from colony to colony except in British vessels; while a high protective tariff prevented the colonists from selling grain and other raw products to England.

During the American Revolution, the newly proclaimed United States began to compete with the British for the allegiance of Native American nations east of the Mississippi River. Most Native Americans who eventually joined the struggle sided with the British (, based both on their trading relationships and hopes that colonial defeat would result in a halt to further expansion onto Native American land. Many native communities were divided over which side to support in the war and others wanted to remain neutral.

 

The Indian Confederacy (The Five 'Six' Nations).

The Five Nations, which originally comprised of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk, were united in confederation c. 1,200 AD. This unification took place under the "Great Tree of Peace" and each nation gave its pledge not to war with the other members of the confederation. Around 1720, the Tuscarora nation was admitted into the league as the sixth member. In total, the confederacy numbered around 15,000 people at the time of Columbus' arrival. They caused their commonwealth to expand by annexation and conquest. Had they remained undiscovered by the Europeans a century longer the Confederacy may have embraced the whole continent, for the Five Nations had already extended their conquests from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and were the terror of the other tribes east and west.

The five Nations (later six) were subdivided into tribes, each having a heraldic insignia, or totem. Through the totemic system they maintained a tribal union, and exhibited a remarkable example of an almost pure democracy in government. Each canton or nation was a distinct republic, independent of all others in relation to its domestic affairs, but each was bound to the others of the league by ties of honour and general interest. Each had an equal voice in the general council or congress, and possessed a sort of veto power, which was a guarantee against despotism. Much of the system was later adopted into the Constitution of America.

Having existed peacefully under the terms of the treaty for five hundred years, the coming of the civil-war between England and her colonies brought problems to the Six Nation Confederacy beyond their understanding. Having achieved peace themselves, they could not comprehend why the English were quarrelling with one another, and had no desire to be drawn into what they perceived as a civil war. Early in the revolution, Oneida leaders sent a message to the governor of New York stating:

 "We are unwilling to join either side of such a contest, for we love you both... ...We Indians cannot find or recollect from the traditions of our ancestors any like case."

Their neutral course was not be maintained for long however, as pressure increased from both England and the 13 States. The English particularly were insistent that the Confederacy fulfil its obligations as allies of England. In the end, the civil war aspects of the American Revolution spilled over into the Six Nations, dividing them. Unable to agree on a unified course of action, the Confederacy split, with not only nation fighting nation, but individuals within each nation taking different sides. Following the war (in which most had sided with the English), and without any unifying system of control within the Indians, the general atmosphere of hostility towards Indians was heightened and they became outcasts in their own lands as settlers continued to push further and deeper into their territories completely  disregarding the official treaties, perhaps not surprisingly considering the mixed messages they were getting from their own government.

 

George Washington:

George Washington, 1779: Instructions to Major General John Sullivan to attack the Iroquois people in which Washington stated the following:

"Lay waste all the settlements around... that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed". In the course of the carnage and annihilation of Indian people, Washington also instructed his general to not "listen to any overture of peace before the total ruin of their settlements is effected".

George Washington, 1790: A later proclamation regarding the Indian Treaties:

"Whereas it hath at this time become peculiarly necessary to warn the citizens of the United States against a violation of the treaties.... I do by these present require, all officers of the United States, as well civil as military, and all other citizens and inhabitants thereof, to govern themselves according to the treaties and act aforesaid, as they will answer the contrary at their peril".

(Stannard, David E. AMERICAN HOLOCAUST. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. pp. 118-121.)

 

In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the 'Indian Removal Act', authorizing the government to relocate all native Americans from their native homelands to established reservations. This act announced the final chapter of the wholesale annihilation of the American Indian way of life... but it came at a cost to both sides as it began the period known now as the American Indian Wars.

 

The American Indian Wars:

Following the Civil-war, and as the direct result of written and broken treaties, warfare, and of forced assimilation, the Indians were effectively destroyed by the European immigration that created the United States. Scholars believe that among the causes of the overwhelming population decline of the American natives were new infectious diseases carried by Europeans. Native Americans had no acquired immunity to such diseases, which had been chronic in Eurasian populations for centuries. For instance, some estimates indicate fatality rates of 80–90% in Native American populations during smallpox epidemics.

However, American expansion continued, Native Americans resisted settlers' encroachment in several regions of the new nation (and in unorganized territories), from the Northwest to the Southeast, and then in the West, as settlers encountered the tribes of the Great Plains.

Native American nations on the plains in the west continued armed conflicts with the United States throughout the 19th century, through what were called generally "Indian Wars." The Battle of Little Bighorn (1876) was one of the greatest Native American victories. Defeats included the Sioux Uprising of 1862, the Sand Creek Massacre (1864) and Wounded Knee in 1890. (4) 

 

The Ghost Dance:

Essentially, the ghost dance was a ceremony for the regeneration of the earth, and, subsequently, the restoration of the earth’s caretakers to their former life of bliss. Not surprisingly, the religion experienced its height of popularity during the late 19th century, when devastation to the buffalo, the land, and its Native American guardians was at its peak.

The phenomena swept the American west in 1888 following a vision by a Paiute holy man called Wovoka from Nevada. Wovoka, son of the mystic Tavibo, drew on his father's teachings and his own vision during an eclipse of the sun. His vision soon became a religion which drew followers from different, previously unrelated tribes. He claimed that the earth would soon perish and then come alive again in a pure, aboriginal state, to be inherited by the Indians, including the dead, for an eternal existence free from suffering. The dance spread to various American Indian nations, and as it spread, it took on additional meanings. While performing the ceremonial dance, it was believed that you could visit relatives who had left their bodies, sadly, it was also believed that by wearing 'ghost shirts', the white mans bullets would become ineffective.

In December 1890 the Ghost Dance was banned on Lakota reservations, and troops entered the reservation. The resulting massacre is now known as the Massacre of Wounded Knee, in which at least 150 Indian men, women and children were slaughtered and numerous others wounded. The man in charge, Colonel Forsyth was later charged with killing the innocents, but was also exonerated.

 

The Wounded Knee Massacre by the 7th Cavalry, Dec 29th, 1890.

Wounded knee became the centre of attention again in 1973 when the American Indian Movement (AIM) protested the United States government's failure to fulfil treaties with Indian peoples and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations. The activists chose the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre for its symbolic value. Both sides were armed and shooting was frequent. An FBI agent was paralyzed from a gunshot wound early during the occupation, and later died from complications; a Cherokee and an Oglala Lakota were killed by shootings in April 1973.

Marlon Brandon's Refusal to Accept an Oscar that year was triggered by the events at Wounded knee.

 

   The American Indian Way of Life:

For American Indians, the environment was sacred, possessing a cosmic significance equal to its material riches. The earth was sacred — a haven for all forms of life — and it had to be protected, nourished, and even worshipped.

Much has been written about the American Indian lifestyle, but the portrayal of Indians as war-painted savages still prevails in literature and on the screen. Sadly, many of the most important aspects of Indian lifestyle have been washed over in the course of providing this more commercially popular (and easier on the conscience) image of them. However, it is these very aspects of their lifestyle that are now recognised to be of such value in the way we perceive our relationship with the world today. Both the American Indians’ agricultural methods and medical wisdom were ignored by the European invaders (while taking care to extract any useful herbs, plants and foodstuffs in the process, transforming human nutrition internationally ever since), but it was the integral association with natures bounty that led to the Indians adopting such a close spiritual affinity with the earth, something which the western mind completely failed to comprehend at the time.

Perhaps the greatest loss in the European 'assimilation' of the Indians was this recognition of the Indian perception of the place of humans in the greater 'web of life'. Chief Smoholla of the Wanapun tribe illustrated American Native reverence for the earth, and highlighted the contrast in European thinking when he said in 1885:

'You ask me to plough the ground! Shall I take a knife and tear my mother’s bosom?

Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest.

You ask me to dig for stone! Shall I dig under her skin for her bones?

Then when I die I cannot enter her body to be born again'...

 

The Nomadic Indians:

Although some Indian tribes had become sedentary by the time of the European arrival, many tribes, in particular the plains Indians, still followed a nomadic lifestyle, following the seasons and the availability of food. This meant that they had to pack up the belongings of whole tribe several times a year and travel until they found more abundant sources. In particular, they followed the buffalo herds which they depended on and which also migrated according to the seasons. Until the arrival of the Spanish with their horses, this was carried out manually and on foot (apart from using dogs to pull the travois), making it an important and integral part of the Indian lifestyle. Since a large surplus of supplies cannot be kept if one wanders continuously, nomadic tribes face many challenges and must by necessity lead very simple, efficient lives in order to survive.

The nomadic lifestyle is often suggested to have kept the Indian population in check, and lies at the heart of the Indian philosophy of 'Wakan Tanka', the great spirit and provider, as without agriculture or the development of the infrastructure provided by towns, cities, roads, or industry, they remained dependant on natures harvest for their survival. There are still an estimated 30 - 40 million nomadic peoples in the world today. (9)

 

Indian Healing and Medicine:

Attempting to describe the whole spectrum of American Indian healing methods in a few words is an almost  impossible task. Put simplistically, there are two main belief systems that were adopted by the Indians in their healing practices: The first is seen primarily amongst the Plains groups, where healing power was a characteristic that individuals obtained through personal 'shamanic' experiences, such as in encounters with animal spirit helpers. The well-known "vision quest" is a manifestation of this principle. The success of a healer in this context is based in large part, on personal power obtained through direct encounters with sacred powers. In contrast, Woodlands groups associate power, including the ability to heal, with possession of esoteric knowledge that exists outside the experience of the individual. (7)

These differences are illustrated by the fact that animals are the source of healing power on the Plains, where healers were often identified on the basis of their animal helpers, for instance, as an "eagle doctor." By contrast, among Woodland peoples, the spirits of animals were often considered the source of illness, with specific plants being created with the power to cure such animal illnesses, a belief that was confirmed with the arrival of Europeans who brought with them a variety of diseases including the introduction of the ailments of contemporary life, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease since the medicine of their ancestors did not have to cope with these ailments.

In their training, Woodland healers were taught how to diagnose illness and which plants to use to counter them. These healers also learnt procedures, rituals, and songs that activated the curing power of plants. Woodland medicine and the knowledge to use it was not discovered anew by spiritually powerful practitioners but was considered to have been provided to tribal ancestors by the Creator in the ancient past and subsequently handed down across the generations.

(More about Herb-Lore)

The common characteristic to all tribal and regional American Indian medicine traditions is that they were founded on an ecological basis. In Native America, wild plants were of fundamental importance in medicine, and the species distribution greatly influenced the content of medicinal repertoires. This impact was significant for changes wrought by the forced migration of Indian tribes to unfamiliar environments which meant that many of the traditionally known medical plants were unavailable in new homelands. This process contributed greatly to the demise of the Indians who were suspicious of the 'White-man's medicine', and therefore found themselves bereft of any substantial form of medicinal treatment.

(More about Shamanism)

 

The Reintroduction of the Horse:

The early American horse had been game for the earliest humans on the continent. They are believed to have been hunted to extinction about 7,000 BC, just after the end of the last glacial period. In the 16th century, Spaniards and other Europeans brought horses to Mexico. During this process horses invariable escaped and began to breed until their numbers increased in the wild.

The reintroduction of the horse to north America had a profound impact on Native American culture of the Great Plains.  It allowed them primarily to extend their nomadic ranges for hunting. They trained and used horses to ride and to carry packs or pull travois. The people fully incorporated the use of horses into their societies and expanded their territories. They used horses to carry goods for exchange with neighbouring tribes, to hunt game, especially bison, and to conduct wars and horse raids.

 

Indians and Buffalo:

The buffalo was used an essential part of the Indian way of  life, so much so that the Sioux believed that the Buffalo was the physical manifestation of the wisdom and generosity of the great spirit 'Wakan Tanka'. It was used in everything from religious rituals to building theirs tepee. In fact just about every part of the buffalo was used:

The Mandan Tribe used the Skull as a religious altar, the horns were carved into cups, spoons and ladles. The teeth were used for tools and decoration and were used in ceremonial rattles. The Cheyenne used their brains to treat leather. Bones were made into knives, arrowheads, sleds, clubs. Hides became Tepee covers, clothes, shoes, bags and arrow quivers, The Lakota nations used the hair to stuff pillows, headdresses and to weave rope. The tongue, heart and liver were eaten right away. Muscle was cut into strips and preserved as Jerky. The four-chambered heart was formed into buckets, cups and pots. Kiowa hunters used sinews as bowstring. Tails were used as whips and brushes. Fat was used in soap, cooking oil and candles. Hooves were boiled down for glue. Dung was dried and burnt as fuel.

Over 60 million buffalo roamed the Americas at the turn of the 19th century, even though the Indians had successfully hunted them for millennia. By 1910 only 5,000 survived.

The recognition of the inter-dependence of the Indians on Buffalo led to the following comments being made in congress: In 1874, Secretary of the Interior Delano testified before Congress, "The buffalo are disappearing rapidly, but not faster than I desire. I regard the destruction of such game as Indians subsist upon as facilitating the policy of the Government, of destroying their hunting habits, coercing them on reservations, and compelling them to begin to adopt the habits of civilization." (The Military and United States Indian Policy, p. 171) Two years later, reporter John F. Finerty wrote that the government's Indian allies "killed the animals in sheer wantonness, and when reproached by the officers said: ‘better kill buffalo than have him feed the Sioux.'" Although Sheridan added that "If I could learn that every buffalo in the the northern herd were killed I would be glad" (8)

  

Left: Buffalo hunter, seated on a “rick” of 40,000 Buffalo hides in 1878. Right: Bison skulls to be ground into fertilizer at around 1870

 

The Black Hills. (Paha Sapa)

The Black hills, or 'Paha Sapa' were considered the sacred heart of the Indian nations. At over 65 million years in age, they are also the oldest mountainous region in the nation. In 1923, Doane Robinson, the aging superintendent of the South Dakota State Historical Society, had a vision of a massive mountain memorial carved from stone so large it would put South Dakota on the map. Robinson told all who would listen of his dream of giant statues of Western figures such as Chief Red Cloud, Buffalo Bill Cody, Lewis and Clark, and legendary Sioux warriors marching along South Dakota's skyline. Robinson spoke to local organizations and wrote letter upon letter. By the time congress had agreed to the monument, and under pressure from the sculptor, Glutzon Borglum, it had been decided that the sculpture should represent four renowned American Presidents. The work occurred on and off between 1927 and 1941 and was finished by his son following his death.

Paha Sapa as it is (left)... and as it was originally intended (right)

Recently, satellites at the Eros Data Centre, near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, photographed Paha Sapa from above. When the pictures were developed, scientists were apparently shocked to learn that the Black Hills were the almost exact shape of the human heart. You could even see the chambers, veins, and arteries. This finding gives new meaning to the statements of Lakota elders, the former guardians of Paha Sapa, who said all along that Paha Sapa was the heart of all there is.  (6)

 

 

 
   American Indian Words of Wisdom:

'We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children'.

What is now essentially a primitive idea of a 'Living Earth' can still be seen in the narratives and mythologies of the ancient Indian tribes and cultures. The American Indian, Chief Seattle, in his famous speech of 1854, remarked that:

'Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb as they swelter in the sun along a silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people (2).

 

Other American Indian  proverbs and sayings:

"Man's heart away from nature becomes hard"

(Standing Bear).

 

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."

(Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator).

 

"Only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land 'infested' with 'wild' animals and 'savage' people. To us it was tame, Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery"

(Black Elk, Oglala Lakota Sioux, 1863-1950).

 

"It does not require many words to speak the truth"

(Chief Joseph, Nez Pierce, 1840-1904).

 

"Treat the earth well, it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children"

(Indian Proverb, Unknown).

 

"Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation"

(Chief Black Hawk, 1767-1838).

 

"One does not sell the land people walk on"

(Chief Crazy Horse, 1840-1877).

 

"Traditional people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to spirituality. We feel that the road to technology has led modern society to a damaged and seared earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction, and that the road to spirituality represents the slower path that the traditional native people have travelled and are now seeking again? The earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there."

(William Commanda, Mamaiwinni 1991)

 

 

Great American Indians: Hall of Fame.

Chief Red Cloud, Oglala Sioux. 

 

Chief Wolf Robe, Cheyenne.

 

Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.

 

Chief Sitting Bull, Sioux.

 

Chief Crazy Horse. Sioux.

 

Geronimo, Apache.

 

 

 'When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted,
When all the waters are polluted and when the air is unsafe to breathe
Only then will you discover you cannot eat money'.

(Cree Proverb)

 

(Pre-Columbian America Homepage)

(List of Pre-Columbian Sites)

 

References:

1).Thorton, Russel. American Indian holocaust and survival: a population history since 1492. 1990. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 43.
2). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_Americans_in_the_United_States
3). Paul Deveraux. Earthmind. 1989. Harper and Row Publ.
4). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Wars
5). http://espressostalinist.wordpress.com/genocide/native-american-genocide/
6). http://www.native-americans-online.com/native-american-black-hills.html
7). http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/M/ME007.html
8). http://www1.american.edu/ted/ice/buffalo.htm
9). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomad

 

Further Reading:

 

About Us Homepage  |  A-Z Site Index  |  Gift Shop  |  Contact-Us