# Native Americans?

"Native" Americans?

I think we all understand that the term "native American" was first coined as a response to an historical inaccuracy. When Columbus first arrived in North America, he thought he was in India. So he referred to the local inhabitants as "Indians." Because this designation is inaccurate, it is considered by many to be insulting. So most people have switched to using the newer term "native Americans" in reference to those people who were living on the North American continent when Columbus arrived.

To my mind, this brings up an obvious question; how certain are we that the various tribes and people groups to whom we refer by the epithet "native American" were actually the first homosapiens to reside here? Also, since it is generally accepted that our species originated in Africa, can any group of humans truly be considered "native" to this continent?

I leave it up to the discretion of the mobs whether this thread should be left here, or moved to Archaeology.

Thanks for any insight you can give.

## Answers and Replies

mgb_phys
Homework Helper

To my mind, this brings up an obvious question; how certain are we that the various tribes and people groups to whom we refer by the epithet "native American" were actually the first homosapiens to reside here?
They aren't, it's even worse up-North where they must be referred to as First-Nations people.
Apparently these people were the first ones to move to North America and settled in Canada - every other inhabitant of the continent from Punta-Arenas to N. Dakota arrived later and just peacefully moved on through, moving on down the continent like extremely polite bus passengers.

The current native Americans are the descendant of the ones that invaded/displaced/slaughtered the preceding natives - they are just the last-but-one group to do this.

Wow, this is what I was beginning to suspect, but I never expected to see it stated so, um, bluntly. So, since settling started in the north, I'm assuming the "First-Nations" people came over the land bridge during the ice age? Can you direct me to some resources that would give me a timeline of human habitation of North America? Or, of the Americas in general?

Also, if it was insulting to call these people "Indians" because it was inaccurate, how did we decide it was less insulting to call them "Native Americans," when that term appears to be equally inaccurate?

mgb_phys
Homework Helper

The descendants of native Americans (the technical term would probably be Aboriginal people but to most people that means Native Australians) probably turned up about 12,500 years ago across a land bridge from Asia.

It then only took about 1000 years to pretty much fill the continent. That's pretty quick on geological time but for nomadic hunters that were used to following herds across Siberia it's not a big deal - you move into a new continent full of mega fauna that doesn't know to run away from people and you can expand pretty quickly. the Americas don't have any large East-West mountain ranges so moving south following food is very easy.

The exact pattern of which group moved where and when, who perhaps moved back north, who displaced who is tricky - mostly done from studying rates of change in things like languages and DNA. Then there's extra complications like, an early group of people might have moved down the coast by boat very very quickly, most of N America at the time was heavily forrested - the great plains, like the lack of lots of large animals is man made.

There are also theories that people could have reached the Atlantic coast of Canada from Europe and the Pacific coast of S. American from Australia much earlier (20-30,000 years ago) - but if they did they don't seem to have had much impact.

Finally the best thing to call them would probably be 'people'!

russ_watters
Mentor

Also, if it was insulting to call these people "Indians" because it was inaccurate, how did we decide it was less insulting to call them "Native Americans," when that term appears to be equally inaccurate?
One is a race, the other is a description. If someone called me a "native american", I wouldn't even quibble: I was born here. If someone called me "French", however, I'd be pretty upset.

As labels go, I don't see what the big deal is with this one or what a better alternative would be (besides perhaps addressing them by tribe or nation name).

russ_watters
Mentor

Btw, I'm Pennsylvania Dutch and it really doesn't bother me. It is an honest error, not an attempt to denigrate me. And "Native American" is really only a relatively minor grammar error (I'd even quibble that it is at all, but whatever...) where people are just trying to refer to them as "those guys who'se ancestors were here when we got here".

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member

Speaking as one who is two parts native American [Blackfoot and Sioux], I hereby claim this land according to the divine laws of finders keepers, the early bird gets the worm, and first come, first served. :tongue:

Unfortunately I am only about 1/16 native American, so I am only entitled to about three States and a mule.

Last edited:

i jest have to put my three centivos in ..
mom told me many times to not tell anyone at school i was part indian..
her mother was raised on indian land and listed as colored by the state of virginia..
it is not like the N word as it is not a slur..
i call my self part indian and you can call me part indian...
and all of the poopluation found here by euro explorers would 'addopt'
what ever they thought was better or that they liked..
so as to thoes that get incised by the term indian and need to be called
natave americians ...
it is most likely a good idea to call them what they want to be called

as to earliest inhabitants here ...
were not the clovis people the earlest and then other waves later?
and who said it had to be a land bridge?!?@?@!
like any navy guy i think they all got here by boat!
there are many thoughts of were some come from
and many idea's based on trade items found here and there..

ivan , you are not too far off..
the prez- a jackson should have been shot in LA..
yes the country would not be as great as it is now
but might never made right..
certainly if he had been that way about native africans
he would not be on USA money today!

Anyone born in the Western Hemisphere is a native of the Western Hemisphere. A much better word for the decedents of Pre-Columbian residents is 'indigenous'.

Last edited:

Anyone born in the Western Hemisphere is a native of the Western Hemisphere. A much better word for the decedents of Pre-Colombian residents is 'indigenous'.

well .. i think you are not only wrong but all wet..
on the born here thing that is..
but you are entitled you your own thoughts on that..
much of the debate is centered on that the euro folks come here took over
if you are of the powerful group taking over you can be called what ever you want
if you are the group being taken over you are called what they want
eruo's took over and call us indians so ... i am part indian..
why change 300 years of dont care what they are ?

as my grand mother said to me
"would you cut off your hand because it is from white's?"
that the euro english lied and cheated to claim land is a fact
that i have to have a "CARD" to claim indian benn'es ..such as a hawk feather.
is bull **** ... i should only have to show my grandmothers picture as her looks say it all
by standards applied to descendants of indian loosers..

well every BLACK Americian must have a card saying they were descended from slaves
to have minority bennes as every one with a spanish name must have a
card that they are from spain.. to claim minority bennies

by your claim that mere birth gives you title to American
which is the western hemisphere is typ of some one ticked off as i am
over this issue but on the other side..

some one said never argue with a public service lizard that claims T rex as a greeeeeat grand parent.. after all he has your paper work in his hands and can loose it..

russ_watters
Mentor

that i have to have a "CARD" to claim indian benn'es ..such as a hawk feather.
is bull **** ...
To make it fair, why don't we just cut off those benefits altogether?
well every BLACK Americian must have a card saying they were descended from slaves
to have minority bennes...
Technically, blacks do not get race-based "bennes". Affirmative action might imply that, but AA tries to tow a tough line to avoid being unconstitutional (and in any case, it applies to other minorities like yours, it's just that yours doesn't have the political clout and get as much attention). Regardless, yes, I'd be in favor of eliminating the concept of treating people differently based on their race.

To make it fair, why don't we just cut off those benefits altogether?
yes that any person can own a eagle feather or hawk feather..
or fish limited salmon stocks.. and the gambling ...why yes
wow "bro's number hall" is opening down the street..
i can not speak for other indians
many feel the rights they have are negocated taht they keep them from a treaty such as NAFTA is.
Technically, blacks do not get race-based "bennes".
Affirmative action might imply that, but AA tries to tow a tough line to avoid being unconstitutional (and in any case, it applies to other minorities like yours, it's just that yours doesn't have the political clout and get as much attention). Regardless, yes, I'd be in favor of eliminating the concept of treating people differently based on their race.
well so am i..

news to me ... but however indians are NOT covered by AA
i applyed for job with fed govt under that nope it only applys to thoes that have ansesters that were slaves at one time. and as slaves were prohibited from education they dont have to prove it ... skin color and kinky hair is all that is needed..
spanish are covered for some reason as are oriental again name or looks

you want a real suprise.. to apply to be covered by indian treates with a tribe
you have to take a gennetic test to see if you have one of the known indian markers..
if any one has been discremanated agenst it was the indians
not blacks
they were only slaves
the US Army fired on and killed whole coumminties including kids
no one from afcria had to endure that..
my granmothers people had the land that the largest east cost marine base has taken from them...

well .. i think you are not only wrong but all wet..
on the born here thing that is..
but you are entitled you your own thoughts on that..

You've misunderstood me. Like it or not, "native" is an ambiguous word. I use the term Native American instead of 'Indian' all the time, but it doesn't really do justice to the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere. ONLY those people with ancestors who lived in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus can claim to be indigenous. I take "indigenous" it to mean the original people of the Americas. "Indigenous" is a much stronger and specific word than "native".

Last edited:

then i apologize, i have some strong feelings on the subject as you can no dought tell
perhapps i am to close to the issue to form any unbiased opinions on this.

i truly fee that Jackson's behavior negates any praise for what he did for this country
as what he did to the indians would today have him impeached...
i don't understand why he is hailed as great when he did so much to dishonor and punish those unlike him.

i feel so strongly i ask for no 20$bills in change on large bills and i dont use them either if i can help it.. Last edited: then i apologize, i have some strong feelings on the subject as you can no dought tell perhapps i am to close to the issue to form any unbiased opinions on this. i truly fee that Jefferson's behavior negates any praise for what he did for this country as what he did to the indians would today have him impeached... i don't understand why he is hailed as great when he did so much to dishonor and punish those unlike him. i feel so strongly i ask for no 20$ bills in change on large bills
and i dont use them either if i can help it..

You have a right to feel the way you do, except that I think you're talking about Jackson, not Jefferson (although Jefferson was no angel re indigenous people either). Andrew Jackson's treatment of the Cherokee Nation was virtually genocidal and without any justification. Even the US Supreme Court ruled Jackson's actions unconstitutional prior to the actual "removal". Jackson's response: "They've made their ruling, now let them enforce it!" I don't know of any other president who so willfully and egregiously violated a clear ruling of the Supreme Court. I don't think he should be on any currency or honored in any way. Most non-Native Americans (I use the term because it's in general use) really have little or no idea what happened to the Cherokee Nation and other tribes. I suggest people reading this post look up the subject on the web.

For starters: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2722

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears

Last edited:
mgb_phys
Homework Helper

then i apologize, i have some strong feelings on the subject as you can no dought tell.
Remember though you are also the descendant of indigenous people that wiped out the previous bands of indigenous people. Unless you are from some parts of the Atacama you aren't the descendant of people who moved into a totally uninhabited area.

To put it into less recent historical sensitive terms - suppose you are 'English'. You are much more likely to be descended from the waves of subsequent invaders, celts, gauls, romans, saxons, angles jutes, danes, norse, normans etc than to be a pure descendant of original stone age Britons.

Remember though you are also the descendant of indigenous people that wiped out the previous bands of indigenous people. Unless you are from some parts of the Atacama you aren't the descendant of people who moved into a totally uninhabited area.

To put it into less recent historical sensitive terms - suppose you are 'English'. You are much more likely to be descended from the waves of subsequent invaders, celts, gauls, romans, saxons, angles jutes, danes, norse, normans etc than to be a pure descendant of original stone age Britons.

If you're English, you very likely will have some stone age Briton ancestry. Almost no one is pure anything in terms of identifiable cultural/ethnic groups.

You have a right to feel the way you do, except that I think you're talking about Jackson, not Jefferson (although Jefferson was no angel re indigenous people either). Andrew Jackson's treatment of the Cherokee Nation was virtually genocidal and without any justification. Even the US Supreme Court ruled Jackson's actions unconstitutional prior to the actual "removal". Jackson's response: "They've made their ruling, now let them enforce it!" I don't know of any other president who so willfully and egregiously violated a clear ruling of the Supreme Court. I don't think he should be on any currency or honored in any way. Most non-Native Americans (I use the term because it's in general use) really have little or no idea what happened to the Cherokee Nation and other tribes. I suggest people reading this post look up the subject on the web.

For starters: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2722

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears

Yes you are correct in jackson is the name i was meaning thx..

what was done lead to the indian wars in fla which never were won also
if it had not been for the indian fighters he never would have won the battle of NO
thus this country would have never become what it is..

he was also the only president who served being marred
as the illegal 2ed husband of a woman who was not divorced from her first husband..
and look how they did the mormons...
power is reserved to the people in power
you have no rights that the majority dont want you to have

the state of Virginia due to its bible thumping old guard
has fought the federal reconation of any indian tribe in the state
and in fear of loosing to a court ruleing has said that
oh if you give up the federal right to have a casino (would complete with their loto) or other gambling and selling untaxed cigarettes the commonwelthe might not oppsose you any longer
dare i say the best reason for no religion in govt was
that the one time it was they hanged people for witch craft?
and had the army shoot indians for dancing a spirit dance?

Remember though you are also the descendant of indigenous people that wiped out the previous bands of indigenous people. Unless you are from some parts of the Atacama you aren't the descendant of people who moved into a totally uninhabited area.

To put it into less recent historical sensitive terms - suppose you are 'English'. You are much more likely to be descended from the waves of subsequent invaders, celts, gauls, romans, saxons, angles jutes, danes, norse, normans etc than to be a pure descendant of original stone age Britons.

but history of that is long ago
what i am talking of is as little as 50 years ago..
i grew up being told that if they ask a school to
"...NOT to tell any one you are part indian .." " ..tell them you are german or irish ."
why?
because " between 1924 and 1964, the commonwealth, operating under the Racial Integrity Act, reclassified native Indian populations as "colored." and this was the time i was in school and
they did ask in class at times if any of us were indian..i answered as mother said to

and my grand mother saying of the seasure of relatives land for a marine base
yet the white owned town was left alone ...
you have to cross the base to get to the town of Quantio Va.
The area was originally inhabited by the Manohoacs (Algonquin) in the 16th century.
this land was privately owned and joint locations used for tribe use. In 1917, Marine Barracks, Quantico was established on the land currently occupied by today's base. some of the 100 sq miles was owned by a company but quite a bit was owned by what was left of the manohoacs , this land was taken under immediate domain.. and the last of the tribe had to move else ware.. and is scattered today..
there are practically NO references to the taken land.
i only know of it via family history..
so this is not "dead history" this is history of living persons..

Last edited:
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member

If someone called me "French", however, I'd be pretty upset.

:rofl:

alxm

It's perhaps worth noting that the political/legal term 'indigenous people' is often broader than simply meaning the first people to live somewhere.

For instance, the Sami (Laplanders) of Scandinavia are now considered (and legally recognized by their governments as) an 'indigenous people', although there's not much evidence that they actually arrived in Scandinavia prior to the folks on the southern end of the peninsula.

It's perhaps worth noting that the political/legal term 'indigenous people' is often broader than simply meaning the first people to live somewhere.

For instance, the Sami (Laplanders) of Scandinavia are now considered (and legally recognized by their governments as) an 'indigenous people', although there's not much evidence that they actually arrived in Scandinavia prior to the folks on the southern end of the peninsula.

Yes. It's not an exact science, given our incomplete knowledge. However, I think you could define 'indigenous' as the first known people to inhabit a region. It only takes on legal significance if they're still around. Maybe the folks at the southern end could label themselves as indigenous to that region if there are no known previous inhabitants.

yes it is a tough call as to whom to call what...
for practical use i would use indigenous as a term to imply/apply of/to
primitive {to the discovers} inhabitants "there" before the end of the dark ages..
and the age of discovery/exploration away from the Euro/Asian land masses..

IE: the defeated inhabitants of the world
not on a map
when churches still said the world
was flat..

alxm