25 Little Known Facts About Native Americans

Posted by , Updated on June 1, 2016

Everybody knows that before Europeans arrived on the shores of America, it was the Native Americans that dominated the continent. They lived in tents and hunted for their food. Everything was fine and then the Europeans showed up and they shared their food and that’s why we have Thanksgiving and then the Indian tribes just sort of…went away. Or they walked on some kind of tear trail or something. And then Europeans colonized the New World and everything was great. That’s about the extent of knowledge that an average person has regarding the Native American people. Of course, as with most of the things you know (or think that you know), it is no where near that simple. The history of Native Americans is a drama as complicated and nuanced as any you have ever heard. Many of the over-simplifications you heard about in school don’t do justice to a period of time that lasted thousands and thousands of years. Entire empires and nations rose and fell within the Americas. Some cities in Central America rivaled the greatest civilizations of the Middle East. And when Europeans came, the relationships between them and the natives was complicated to say the least. These are 25 little known facts about Native Americans.

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25

Many American states are named after Indian names e.g. Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri

Many American states are named after Indian names e.g. Arizona, Kentucky, MissouriSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
24

The word "barbecue" is an Arawakan word meaning "framework of sticks"

The word "barbecue" is an Arawakan word meaning "framework of sticks"Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
23

Actually, English borrowed a lot of Native American words - guacamole, chocolate, chili, poncho

Actually, English borrowed a lot of Native American words - guacamole, chocolate, chili, ponchoSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
22

In spite of not being citizens, nearly 8,000 Native Americans served during WWI

In spite of not being citizens, nearly 8,000 Native Americans served during WWISource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
21

In large part due to their service during WWI, the Indian Citizenship Act granted US citizenship to all Native Americans

In large part due to their service during WWI, the Indian Citizenship Act granted US citizenship to all Native AmericansSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

20

In the 1600s five tribes that were former enemies banded together to create the Iroquois Confederacy

In the 1600s five tribes that were former enemies banded together to create the Iroquois ConfederacySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
19

An all-male council was elected for life to make decisions. Women, however, were allowed to fire the counselors at any time

An all male council was elected for life to make decisions. Women, however, were allowed to fire the counselors at any timeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
18

Benjamin Franklin actually thought that the Iroquois Confederacy had a model of government that the colonies could emulate

Benjamin Franklin actually thought that the Iroquois Confederacy had a model of government that the English colonies could emulateSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
17

The bald eagle on the US shield is actually an Iroquois Confederacy symbol

The bald eagle on the US shield is actually an Iroquois Confederacy symbolSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
16

The Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes were seen as being more civil by the Europeans because they had a similar social system (planned villages and farms)

The Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes were seen as being more civil by the Europeans because they had a similar social system (planned villages and farms)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
15

Both the United States and Canada sought to eradicate native cultures both militarily and with aggressive assimilation

Both the United States and Canada sought to eradicate native cultures both militarily and with aggressive assimilationSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
14

Native Americans used porcupine hair to make brushes

Native Americans used porcupine hair to make brushesSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
13

Iroquois women would stop eating turtles so that their babies wouldn't grow up to be clumsy (apparently turtles were thought to be clumsy)

Iroquois women would stop eating turtles so that their babies wouldn't grow up to be clumsy (apparently turtles were thought to be clumsy)Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
12

When a Plains man killed his first buffalo he was always offered the best part, the tongue. He was expected to decline though, and share it with his friends.

When a Plains man killed his first buffalo he was always offered the best part, the tongue. He was expected to decline though, and share it with his friends.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
11

Indians in the Northwest would build totem poles outside their houses to advertise their family's status

Indians in the Northwest would build totem poles outside their houses to advertise their family's statusSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
10

About 22% of the United States' 5.2 million Native Americans live on reservations

About 22% of the United States' 5.2 million Native Americans live on reservationsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
9

Nearly 30% of Native Americans live below the poverty line

Nearly 30% of Native Americans live below the poverty lineSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
8

When Christopher Columbus first came to America there were up to 18 million Native Americans living there

When Christopher Columbus first came to America there were up to 18 million Native Americans living thereSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
7

By 1900 that number had dropped to roughly 350,000

By 1900 that number had dropped to roughly 350,000Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
6

There are 566 federally recognized tribes

There are 566 federally recognized tribesSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
5

Some historians believe that Native Americans have inhabited the Americas for the past 30,000 years

Some historians believe that Native Americans have inhabited the Americas for the past 30,000 yearsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
4

You already know about the Native Americans in WWI, but in WWII they really came into their own. The Navajo language is one of the most complicated languages on Earth and the Navajo Code Talkers were soldiers that used their native language to send messages on the battlefield

You already know about the Native Americans in WWI, but in WWII they really came into their own. The Navajo language is one of the most complicated languages on Earth and the Navajo Code Talkers were soldiers that used their native language to send messages on the battlefieldSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
3

Although retired after the Vietnam War, the Navajo language is the only code used in battle that was never broken

Although retired after the Vietnam War, the Navajo language is the only code used in battle that was never brokenSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
2

According to scientists, the Native languages can be separated into 3 distinct groups, which points to the likelihood of 3 separate migrations into North America from Asia

According to scientists, the Native languages can be separated into 3 distinct groups, which points to the likelihood of 3 separate migrations into North America from AsiaSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
1

Many major cities today were first indian villages that became trading posts, forts, and eventually cities i.e. Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Detroit

Many major cities today were first indian villages that became trading posts, forts, and eventually cities i.e. Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, DetroitSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

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