At the end of the fifteenth century the population of North and South America was approximately the same as in Europe. It was the land of ancient civilizations like Aztecs and Incas. Thousands of different tribes such as Nootkas, Haidas, Arikara, and many others inhabited these lands. Every American Indian belonged to the family of immigrants who moved there through Alaska and China. All of them spoke hundreds of diverse languages and had distinct cultural traditions.
Some Indians practiced human sacrifice, killed unwanted infants, or had more than one wife. For some tribes premarital sex was a crime, and others encouraged it. In spite of it, they were people who valued and worshiped nature, full of desire to share rather than own something. Many tribes did not have class stratification or oppression; some had female chiefs while others had male chiefs and did not let their women join public councils. Unlike Europeans, Indians used to take a daily bath. Native men were hunters who brought food to their tribes, used stone hatches to create canoes from giant trees. However, it was strictly prohibited to kill more animals than the tribe needed at the time. American Indians were people of rituals and traditions. During special events their men danced on hot coals or took out meat from boiling water with bare hands to prove their courage.
Why we know so little about the native people of this country?
Unfortunately most people think that American history started only 500 years ago when Christopher Columbus discovered the new land. The main reason why we know so little about Native Americans is that by the time when new settlers arrived there, many cities of ancient world has simply vanished and seemed deserted. Historians say that some Indians exploited their land, forest and speeded extinction of some animals because of hunting. For these reason many tribes abandoned their lands in search for food. When Columbus and Europeans arrived to the shores of North and South America, they saw only some wandering tribes and refused to believe these people were civilized. They thought thousands of abandoned mounds were built by Vikings or Israeli tribes. For decades no one believed that these lands were inhabited by people knowledgeable in astronomy and geometry. Multiple mounds built by Indian ancestors were genius. The equivalences of shapes and sizes represented real intellectual achievement. However, it was discovered much too late, when the majority of Native Americans died, or was murdered by Europeans. The interest to ancient civilizations has increased since then, however most of us know nothing or little about them.
Why do you think the Indians and Pioneers had such a difficult time understanding each other?
Pioneers and Indians represented societies of different languages, cultures, and religions. These differences kept them from understanding each other. By that time Europeans were people who clearly understood such terms as property or profit, while Indians did not know how to profit from food they planted. Moreover they greeted Pioneers and shared everything they had with them. Sadly enough, property-minded Europeans mistook their hospitality. They treated Native Americans as lazy and childlike savages.
Religious differences influenced inability to understand each other as well. Indian tribes feared and respected nature, believed that land belonged to everyone and must be shared, while Europeans were greedy for profit and better life conditions, believing that people are born to dominate over the nature. As a result they saw a possibility to dominate other human beings as well. For example, in order to get new lands for growing tobacco, they systematically wiped out tribes inhabiting those areas.