North Carolina American Indian History Timeline

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Native Americans: History Timeline
 
Native American Indians / North American / North Carolina

Pre-Sixteenth-Century American Indian History

ca. 40,000–15,000 B.C.
People migrate to North America from Asia at irregular intervals by way of the Bering Land Bridge.

10,000–8000 B.C.
Paleo-Indian-period American Indians are nomadic and hunt large animals for food. They also eat small game and wild plants. They leave no evidence of permanent dwellings in North Carolina.

8000–1000 B.C.
Archaic-period American Indians move from big-game hunting to small-game hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants. These people change their patterns of living because of the changing climate in North America.

ca. 8000 B.C.
Possibly this early, American Indians begin to use a site in present-day Wilson County for either permanent or seasonal habitation.

ca. 1200 B.C.
Southeastern Indians begin growing squash gourds.

1000 B.C.–A.D. 1550
Woodland-culture American Indians settle in permanent locations, usually beside streams, and practice a mixed subsistence lifestyle of hunting, gathering, and some agriculture. They create pottery and also develop elaborate funeral procedures, such as building mounds, to honor their dead.

ca. 200 B.C.
Southeastern Indians begin growing corn.

A.D. 700–1550
Mississippian-culture American Indians create large political units called chiefdoms, uniting people under stronger leadership than the Woodland cultures have. Towns become larger and last longer. People construct flat-topped, pyramidal mounds to serve as foundations for temples, mortuaries, chiefs' houses, and other important buildings. Towns are usually situated beside streams and surrounded by defensive structures.

Many groups of American Indians live in the area now called North Carolina. These include the Chowanoke, Croatoan, Hatteras, Moratoc, Secotan, Weapemeoc, Machapunga, Pamlico, Coree, Neuse River, Tuscarora, Meherrin, Cherokee, Cape Fear, Catawba, Shakori, Sissipahaw, Sugeree, Waccamaw, Waxhaw, Woccon, Cheraw, Eno, Keyauwee, Occaneechi, Saponi, and Tutelo Indians.

A.D. 1492
Italian explorer Christopher Columbus leads expeditions for Spain to explore new trade routes in the western Atlantic Ocean. This results in European contact with native peoples in the Caribbean and South America, creating a continuing and devastating impact on their cultures.

Sixteenth-Century American Indian History

1540
A Spanish expedition led by Hernando de Soto explores the western portions of present-day North Carolina, looking for gold. De Soto and his men visit Indian communities and probably introduce smallpox and other deadly European diseases to the native populations.

1566–1567
Spanish explorer Juan Pardo, seeking gold, leads an expedition through what is now western North Carolina. Pardo visits the Catawba, Wateree, and Saxapahaw Indians.

1584
Sir Walter Raleigh sends explorers Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to North America in search of potential colony sites. At Roanoke Island the explorers meet Native American chief Wingina and find the site excellent for settlement. They return to England with two Indians, Manteo and Wanchese, who learn English and are used to create publicity for Raleigh's colony.

1585
The first English settlement is established at Roanoke Island, and Ralph Lane is appointed governor. The Roanoke Indian people, some of whom initially welcome the colonists, begin to see the English as a drain on food and other resources.

1586
Ralph Lane leads an expedition into the interior of North Carolina in search of gold and other precious metals. Roanoke Indians warn inland tribes about the English, but Lane makes an alliance with the Chowanoke, who hope to use the English against their enemies the Tuscarora. Chief Wingina plots to get rid of the English settlers, and Lane has him killed.

Sir Francis Drake arrives at Roanoke Island and takes most of the colonists back to England, leaving an exploring party. Possibly Drake also leaves Africans and South American Indians that he captured from the Spanish. A relief ship arrives at Roanoke Island and, finding none of the colonists, leaves fifteen men to hold the area for England.

1587
Raleigh sends explorer and artist John White to Roanoke Island as leader of a new group of settlers—the second English attempt to settle there. The colonists find bones of the 15 men left behind in 1586. White enlists the help of Manteo to build relationships with the Roanoke and Croatoan Indians. Most of the native peoples decide to let the colonists fend for themselves.

Governor White leaves Roanoke Island for England to acquire supplies for the colonists. With England and Spain at war, White cannot make an immediate return to the colony.

1590
White finally returns to Roanoke Island to find the colony deserted, with little evidence of what happened to the colonists. He attempts to sail to Croatoan Island in hopes of finding some of them, but severe weather prevents him from reaching the island, and he never returns to the area. The Roanoke settlement is known afterward as the Lost Colony.

Seventeenth-Century American Indian History

1608
Jamestown leader John Smith sends expeditions to the Roanoke Island area to seek information about the Lost Colony. His men find nothing conclusive.

1611
Because of Spain's rivalry with England, the Spanish government develops an alliance with the Tuscarora people to monitor the Jamestown colony.

1650
White settlers begin to move into Indian lands along the coastal sounds and rivers of North Carolina.

1653
Virginia legislator Francis Yeardly hires fur trader Nathaniel Batts to explore the Albemarle Sound region as an area of possible settlement. Yeardly agrees to purchase land from the Roanoke Indians but dies before his settlement is established. Batts settles along the Chowan River in a building that serves as both his home and a trading post. He trades with local Native Americans and becomes the area's first permanent white settler.

1661
March 1: King Kilcocanen of the Yeopim Indians grants land to George Durant in the earliest grant on record in the colony.

1675
Chowanoc Indians attack white settlements in Carolina. The uprising is quelled with the "loss of many men."

1690s
Cherokee traders establish trade agreements with the English at Charles Towne (present-day Charleston, S.C.)

Eighteenth-Century American Indian History

1700
The Chowanoc and Weapemeoc peoples have gradually abandoned their lands. Some have become slaves or indentured servants, and others have migrated south to join the Tuscarora. Only about 500 Native Americans remain in the Albemarle region.

An escaped slave serves as an architect in the construction of a large Tuscarora Indian fort near the Neuse River.

1709
Surveyor John Lawson, who began a thousand-mile journey through the colony at the end of 1700, publishes A New Voyage to Carolina. It describes the colony's flora and fauna and its various groups of American Indians. Lawson also publishes a map of Carolina.

1710
Settlers begin moving west and south of the Albemarle area.

Baron Christoph von Graffenried, a leader of Swiss and German Protestants, establishes a colony in Bath County. The town, called New Bern, is founded at the junction of the Trent and Neuse Rivers, displacing an Indian town named Chattoka.

June 8: Tuscarora Indians on the Roanoke and Tar-Pamlico Rivers send a petition to the government of Pennsylvania protesting the seizure of their lands and enslavement of their people by Carolina settlers.

1711
Early September: Tuscarora capture surveyor John Lawson, New Bern founder Baron von Graffenried, and two African slaves. Lawson argues with the chief, Cor Tom, and is executed. The Indians spare von Graffenried and the slaves.

September 22: The Tuscarora War opens when Catechna Creek Tuscaroras begin attacking colonial settlements near New Bern and Bath. Tuscarora, Neuse, Bear River, Machapunga, and other Indians kill more than 130 whites.

October: Virginia refuses to send troops to help the settlers but allocates 1,000 for assistance.

1711–1715
In a series of uprisings, the Tuscarora attempt to drive away white settlement. The Tuscarora are upset over the practices of white traders, the capture and enslavement of Indians by whites, and the continuing encroachment of settlers onto Tuscarora hunting grounds.

1712
January: South Carolina sends assistance to her sister colony. John Barnwell, a member of the South Carolina Assembly, leads about 30 whites and some 500 "friendly" Indians, mostly Yamassee, to fight the Tuscarora in North Carolina. A battle takes place at Narhantes, a Tuscarora fort on the Neuse River. Barnwell's troops are victorious but are surprised that many of the Tuscarora's fiercest warriors are women, who do not surrender "until most of them are put to the sword."

April: Barnwell's force, joined by 250 North Carolina militiamen, attacks the Tuscarora at Fort Hancock on Catechna Creek. After 10 days of battle, the Tuscarora sign a truce, agreeing to stop the war.

Summer: The Tuscarora rise again to fight the Yamassee, who, unsatisfied with their plunder during earlier battles, remain in the area looting and pillaging. The Tuscarora also fight against the continued expansion of white settlement.

1713
March 20–23: Another force from South Carolina, consisting of 900 Indians and 33 whites, begins a three-day siege on the Tuscarora stronghold of Fort Neoheroka. Approximately 950 Tuscarora are killed or captured and sold into slavery, effectively defeating the tribe and opening the interior of the colony to white settlement. Although a few renegades fight on until 1715, most surviving Tuscarora migrate north to rejoin the Iroquois League as its sixth and smallest nation.

1715
A treaty with remaining North Carolina Tuscarora is signed. They are placed on a reservation along the Pamlico River. The Coree and Machapunga Indians, Tuscarora allies, settle in Hyde County near Lake Mattamuskeet. The land will be granted to them in 1727, and a reservation will be established.

The General Assembly enacts a law denying blacks and Indians the right to vote. The king will repeal the law in 1737. Some free African Americans will continue to vote until disfranchisement in 1835.

1717
The few Tuscarora remaining in the colony, led by Tom Blount, are granted land on the Roanoke River in Bertie County, near present-day Quitsna. The Tuscarora left their reservation on the Pamlico River because of raids by tribes from the south.

1721
The Cherokee cede land northwest of Charleston to the colony of South Carolina, the first of many land cessions the Cherokee make to Europeans. The treaty also regulates trade and establishes a boundary between the Cherokee and European settlers.

1726–1739
The Cheraw (Saura) Indians incorporate with the Catawba living near present-day Charlotte.

1730
Cherokee leaders visit London and confer with the king. They pledge friendship to the English and agree to return runaway slaves and to trade exclusively with the British.

1736
The North Carolina colony establishes an Indian Trade Commission to regulate trade with native peoples.

1738–1739
A smallpox epidemic decimates the Indian population in North Carolina, especially in the eastern part of the colony. The epidemic decreases the number of Cherokee by 50 percent.

1740
Waxhaw Indians, decimated by smallpox, abandon their lands in present-day Union County and join the Catawba. The vacated lands are taken up by German, English, Scottish, and Welsh immigrants.

1750s
Armed conflicts arise between the Cherokee and colonists, who continue to expand areas of settlement further into the western part of the colony.

1754
Governor Arthur Dobbs receives a report from a Bladen County agent of 50 Indian families living along Drowning Creek (present-day Lumber River). The communication also reports the shooting of a surveyor who entered the area "to view vacant lands." It is the first written account of the tribe from whom the Lumbee descended.

1754–1763
The French and Indian War is fought between England and France all along the frontier of North America. North Carolina troops serve both in North Carolina and in other colonies.

1755
The Indian population in eastern North Carolina is estimated at around 356. Most of these are Tuscarora who have not moved north.

The colonial governor approves a proposal to establish an Indian academy in present-day Sampson County.

1758
North Carolina militia and Cherokee assist the British military in campaigns against the French and Shawnee Indians. The Cherokee decide to change sides after receiving ill treatment by the English, and they return home, where they eventually attack North Carolina colonists.

1759
The French and Indian War intensifies as the Cherokee raid the western Piedmont. Refugees crowd into the fort at Bethabara. Typhus kills many refugees and Moravians there.

A second smallpox epidemic devastates the Catawba tribe, reducing the population by half.

1760
An act of assembly permits North Carolinians serving against Indian allies of the French to enslave captives.

February: Cherokee attack Fort Dobbs and white settlements near Bethabara and along the Yadkin and Dan Rivers.

June: An army of British regulars and American militia under Colonel Archibald Montgomerie destroys Cherokee villages and saves the Fort Prince George garrison in South Carolina but is defeated by the Cherokee at Echoe.

August: Cherokee capture Fort Loudoun in Tennessee and massacre the garrison.

1761
June: An army of British regulars, American militia, and Catawba and Chickasaw Indians under Colonel James Grant defeats the Cherokee and destroys 15 villages, ending Cherokee resistance.

December: The Cherokee sign a treaty ending their war with the American colonists.

1763
King George III issues a proclamation that demarcates the western edge of settlement. This "proclamation line" through western North Carolina is meant to separate the Native Americans and the colonists.

February: The Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years' War in Europe and the French and Indian War in North America.

1775
The Treaty of Sycamore Shoals (now Elizabethton, Tenn.), between Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Company and the Cherokee people, is signed. It opens for settlement the area from the Ohio River south to the Watauga settlement. The Shawnee people, who inhabit the lands, refuse to accept the terms of the treaty.

1747–1776
The Coharie, Catawba, and ancestors of the Lumbee join the Patriot cause.

1776
May–June: Cherokee village councils discuss going to war against the American colonists. The Cherokee decide to fight, knowing that the consequences are enormous. However, the Cherokee are fighting to protect the existence of their society, so they ignore the overwhelming odds against them.

June: White settlements in Watauga and South Carolina are raided by the Cherokee, allies of the British, who have promised to protect the Indians from encroachments by colonial borders.

July 29–November: General Griffith Rutherford with 2,400 men invades Cherokee country, destroying 32 towns and villages. Rutherford is joined by Colonel Andrew Williamson with South Carolina troops and Colonel William Christian with Virginians. This expedition breaks the power of the Cherokee and forces them to sue for peace.

1777
July 20: By the Treaty of Long Island of Holston, the Cherokee cede territory east of the Blue Ridge and along the Watauga, Nolichucky, Upper Holston, and New Rivers (the area east of present-day Kingsport and Greenville, Tenn.).

1783
Despite the Indian treaty of 1777 fixing the boundary at the foot of the Blue Ridge, the assembly declares lands open for settlement as far west as the Pigeon River.

1791
July 2: The Cherokee sign the Treaty of Holston, by which they cede a 100-mile tract of land in exchange for goods and an annuity of $1,000.

1798
October 2: By the Treaty of Tellico, the Cherokee cede a triangular area with its points near Indian Gap, east of present-day Brevard, and southeast of Asheville.

Nineteenth-Century American Indian History

1808
The Cherokee establish a law code and the "Light Horse Guards" to maintain law and order.

1810
The Cherokee abolish clan revenge as a mechanism for social control.

1814
March 27: Cherokee Indians aid General Andrew Jackson in defeating the Creek Indians in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama. After the battle, Jackson tells the Cherokee chief Junaluska: "As long as the sun shines and the grass grows there shall be friendship between us, and the feet of the Cherokee shall be toward the East." As president, Jackson later plays a major role in the effort to move the Cherokee west.

1817
The Cherokee cede land in exchange for land on the Arkansas River, and 2,000 Cherokee move west.

1819
The Cherokee agree to a treaty by which a large amount of their land in present-day Henderson, Transylvania, and Jackson Counties is ceded to the federal government. The Cherokee are allowed to receive land grants as individuals and can resell the land to white settlers to earn money.

1820
The Cherokee establish a judicial administration and eight judicial districts.

1821
Sequoyah completes his work of establishing the Cherokee alphabet, making the Cherokee people the only group of American Indians to have a written language.

1822
The Cherokee National Supreme Court is established.

1827
The Cherokee approve a new tribal constitution.

1828
The first edition of the Cherokee Phoenix, a newspaper printed in Cherokee and English, is released.

1830
President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act calling for American Indians to be forced from their homes to lands west of the Mississippi.

1835
The state constitution is extensively revised, with amendments approved by the voters that provide for the direct election of the governor and more democratic representation in the legislature. However, new laws take voting rights away from American Indians and free blacks.

A small, unauthorized group of men signs the Cherokee Removal Treaty. The Cherokee protest the treaty, and Chief John Ross collects more than 15,000 signatures, representing nearly the entire Cherokee population, on a petition requesting the United States Senate to withhold ratification.

1836
The Senate approves the Cherokee Removal Treaty by one vote.

1838
Approximately 17,000 North Carolina Cherokee are forcibly removed from the state to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). This event becomes known as the Trail of Tears.

An estimated 4,000 Cherokee people die during the 1,200-mile trek. A few hundred Cherokee refuse to be rounded up and transported. They hide in the mountains and evade federal soldiers. Eventually, a deal is struck between the army and the remaining Cherokee. Tsali, a leading Cherokee brave, agrees to surrender himself to General Winfield Scott to be shot if the army will allow the rest of his people to stay in North Carolina legally. The federal government eventually establishes a reservation for the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

1839
Yonaguska, chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, dies at age 80. His adopted white son, William Holland Thomas, becomes chief of the Cherokee and fights to secure reservation land for them.

1840
The General Assembly passes a law prohibiting Indians from owning or carrying weapons without first obtaining a license.

1842
Those Cherokee who avoided forced removal in 1838 and remained in North Carolina are given citizenship. In 1848 Congress grants them a small amount of money to use for the purchase of land.

1859
The Coharie community establishes subscription schools for Indian children.

1861–1865
Approximately 42,000 North Carolinians lose their lives in the Civil War. Native Americans have varying experiences during the war. Many Cherokee in western North Carolina support the Confederacy. Thomas's Legion, a well-known fighting unit, has two companies of Cherokee soldiers. The Lumbee in eastern North Carolina are treated quite differently. They are forced to work on Confederate fortifications near Wilmington. Many flee and form groups to resist impressment by the army. Henry Berry Lowry leads one such group, which continues to resist white domination long after the war's end.

1865
March 3: The killings of Allen and William Lowry, the father and brother of Henry Berry Lowry, spark what becomes known as the Lowry War in Robeson County.

1865–1874
The Lowry band employs guerilla tactics in its war against Robeson County's power structure, robbing prominent citizens and killing law enforcement officers. Indians, blacks, and poor whites unite in support of the outlaw group.

1872
February: Henry Berry Lowry vanishes, leading to years of speculation about his death.

1874
After the death of Steve Lowry at the hand of bounty hunters, the Lowry War ends.

1875
The North Carolina constitution is changed, giving free men of color over the age of 21 the right to vote.

1882–early 1900s
Three schools are established in Halifax and Warren Counties to serve Haliwa-Saponi children.

1885
February 10: The state recognizes the Croatan Indians, now known as the Lumbee, as an official American Indian tribe. With recognition come separate schools for Indian students.

1887
A normal school for Indians opens in Pembroke, Robeson County. This school evolves into the present-day University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

1888
Hamilton McMillan publishes Sir Walter's Lost Colony, which claims that Lumbee Indians are descended from the ill-fated Roanoke settlers.

December 4: Fifty-four Croatan Indians in Robeson County petition the federal government, requesting funds for schools.

The Indians of Person County construct a school on land donated by Green Martin; another school will be constructed within the next few years.

1889
The Eastern Band of Cherokee is incorporated under North Carolina law.

Twentieth-Century American Indian History

1904
Diotrion W. and Mary Epps deed land for a school for Indians in Person County, North Carolina, and southern Virginia. The school will be rebuilt in 1925 by Person County, North Carolina, and Halifax County, Virginia.

1910
Shiloh Indian School is established in Dismal Township, Sampson County, to serve Coharie children.

1911
March 8: A North Carolina law changes the name of the Croatan Indians to the Indians of Robeson County.

The Coharie receive state recognition, but this recognition is rescinded two years later.

The State of North Carolina names recognizes a group of Indians descended from the Saponi, Tutelo, and Occaneechi tribes as the Indians of Person County. State recognition will be rescinded in the 1970s.

New Bethel Indian School is established in New Bethel Township, Sampson County, to serve Coharie children.

1913
March 11: The Indians of Robeson County change their name to Cherokee Indians of Robeson County.

1917
Eastern Carolina Indian School is established in Herring Township, Sampson County. The school will operate until school desegregation in 1966, eventually serving children in grades 1–12. In 1942 the school begins accepting children from Indian communities in other eastern North Carolina counties, including Harnett, Hoke, Columbus, Cumberland, Bladen, and Person.

1925
Cherokee lands are placed in trust status with the federal government.

1934
Wide Awake Indian School opens in the Waccamaw-Siouan community of Buckhead in Bladen County, with Welton Lowry, a Lumbee, as teacher. The school, serving students in grades 1–8, follows the tradition of Doe Head School, founded in 1885; Long Boy School, founded in 1901; and St. Mark's School, founded in 1920. It will close in 1952.

1935
A federal memorandum allows Indians in Robeson County to organize under the Wheeler-Howard Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. To receive recognition, individuals must be at least one-half Indian.

1938
December 12: Only 22 of 209 Robeson County Indians qualify for recognition under the Wheeler-Howard Act of 1934. Qualification is based on "race" testing to determine an individual's Indian blood.

1939
The Indian Normal School (now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke) in Robeson County grants its first college degree.

1942
East Carolina Indian School is established in Sampson County to serve American Indians in seven surrounding counties. The school will close in 1965.

1947
The first Indian mayor of the town of Pembroke is elected. Previously the governor appointed the mayors, all of whom were non-Indian.

1950
The Cherokee Historical Association receives funding, and the first performance of the outdoor drama Unto These Hills takes place.

1952–1954
Waccamaw Indian School opens in Columbus County. The school will close in 1969 following the desegregation of North Carolina schools.

1953
The State of North Carolina recognizes the Lumbee (formerly called the Cherokee of Robeson County).

1955
The Hickory Hill School in the Waccamaw-Siouan community of St. James, Columbus County, closes after having operated since at least 1927.

1956
Congress passes the "Lumbee Bill," which recognizes the Lumbee as an Indian tribe but denies them services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

1957
The Haliwa School opens in Warren County, serving children in grades 1–12. The school is tribally controlled and state recognized under the county school system. It will close in 1970 as a result of school desegregation.

1958
January 18: A large group of Lumbee, angered by racist agitation and threats of cross burnings, descend on a Ku Klux Klan rally near Maxton, scattering the Klan. Two Klan members are later indicted on charges of incitement to riot.

June: English E. Jones becomes the first Lumbee president of Pembroke State College (now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke).

1965
The Haliwa receive state recognition as an Indian tribe.

1970s
The General Assembly, in removing obsolete laws from the books, inadvertently rescinds state recognition of the Indians of Person County.

1971
The state recognizes the Coharie and Waccamaw-Siouan tribes.

July 2: The General Assembly establishes the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs. Bruce Jones, a Lumbee, serves as director.

December 22: The Lumbee Bank is established in Pembroke. It is the first bank in the United States owned and operated by Indians.

1972
August: The new Department of American Indian Studies at Pembroke State University (now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke) begins offering courses.

The Carolina Indian Voice, an Indian-owned newspaper, begins operation.

September: Horace Locklear, a Lumbee, becomes the first Indian to practice law in North Carolina.

October: Tuscarora from Robeson County join other Indians from across the nation in occupying the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, D.C., during the Trail of Broken Treaties protest. The Tuscarora steal 7,200 pounds of records from the building and bring them to Robeson County.

1973
March 18: Old Main, the oldest building on the campus of Pembroke State College (now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke), is gutted by fire. The building is reconstructed and will eventually house the Department of American Indian Studies and the Native American Resource Center.

March 19: Henry Ward Oxendine, a Lumbee from Robeson County, becomes the first American Indian to serve in the General Assembly in North Carolina.

September 5: The Guilford Native American Association incorporates in Greensboro.

1976
January 5: The Metrolina Native American Association incorporates in Charlotte.

The Waccamaw-Siouan tribe begins governing by tribal council and tribal chief.

1986
The Meherrin Indian tribe receives recognition from the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs.

1988
February 1: Two Tuscarora Indians, Eddie Hatcher and Timothy Jacobs, hold 17 people hostage in the offices of the Robesonian newspaper in Lumberton. The two demand to speak with Governor Jim Martin, hoping to publicize corruption and drug dealing among Robeson County's law enforcement officials. They will be acquitted of federal charges but convicted on state charges.

1997
May: The General Assembly passes a bill restoring state recognition, rescinded in the 1970s, to the Indians of Person County.

November: Harrah's Cherokee Casino opens on Qualla Boundary reservation, with 175,000 square feet of space and 1,800 video gambling machines.

Source: North Carolina Museum of History

Recommended Reading: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Description: 1491 is not so much the story of a year, as of what that year stands for: the long-debated (and often-dismissed) question of what human civilization in the Americas was like before the Europeans crashed the party. The history books most Americans were (and still are) raised on describe the continents before Columbus as a vast, underused territory, sparsely populated by primitives whose cultures would inevitably bow before the advanced technologies of the Europeans. For decades, though, among the archaeologists, anthropologists, paleolinguists, and others whose discoveries Charles C. Mann brings together in 1491, different stories have been emerging. Among the revelations: the first Americans may not have come over the Bering land bridge around 12,000 B.C. but by boat along the Pacific coast 10 or even 20 thousand years earlier; the Americas were a far more urban, more populated, and more technologically advanced region than generally assumed; and the Indians, rather than living in static harmony with nature, radically engineered the landscape across the continents, to the point that even "timeless" natural features like the Amazon rainforest can be seen as products of human intervention. Continued below...

Mann is well aware that much of the history he relates is necessarily speculative, the product of pot-shard interpretation and precise scientific measurements that often end up being radically revised in later decades. But the most compelling of his eye-opening revisionist stories are among the best-founded: the stories of early American-European contact. To many of those who were there, the earliest encounters felt more like a meeting of equals than one of natural domination. And those who came later and found an emptied landscape that seemed ripe for the taking, Mann argues convincingly, encountered not the natural and unchanging state of the native American, but the evidence of a sudden calamity: the ravages of what was likely the greatest epidemic in human history, the smallpox and other diseases introduced inadvertently by Europeans to a population without immunity, which swept through the Americas faster than the explorers who brought it, and left behind for their discovery a land that held only a shadow of the thriving cultures that it had sustained for centuries before. Includes outstanding photos and maps.

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Recommended Reading: Atlas of the North American Indian. Description: This unique resource covers the entire history, culture, tribal locations, languages, and lifeways of Native American groups across the United States, Canada, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Thoroughly updated, Atlas of the North American Indian combines clear and informative text with newly drawn maps to provide the most up-to-date political and cultural developments in Indian affairs, as well as the latest archaeological research findings on prehistoric peoples. The new edition features several revised and updated sections, such as "Self-Determination," "The Federal and Indian Trust Relationship and the Reservation System," "Urban Indians," "Indian Social Conditions," and "Indian Cultural Renewal." Continued below...

Other updated information includes: a revised section on Canada, including Nunavut, the first new Canadian territory created since 1949, with a population that is 85% Inuit; the latest statistics and new federal laws on tribal enterprises, including a new section on "Indian Gaming"; and current information on preferred names now in use by certain tribes and groups, such as the use of "Inuit" rather than "Eskimo."

 

Recommended Viewing: 500 Nations (372 minutes). Description: 500 Nations is an eight-part documentary (more than 6 hours and that's not including its interactive CD-ROM filled with extra features) that explores the history of the indigenous peoples of North and Central America, from pre-Colombian times through the period of European contact and colonization, to the end of the 19th century and the subjugation of the Plains Indians of North America. 500 Nations utilizes historical texts, eyewitness accounts, pictorial sources and computer graphic reconstructions to explore the magnificent civilizations which flourished prior to contact with Western civilization, and to tell the dramatic and tragic story of the Native American nations' desperate attempts to retain their way of life against overwhelming odds. Continued below...

Mention the word "Indian," and most will conjure up images inspired by myths and movies: teepees, headdresses, and war paint; Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and their battles (like Little Big Horn) with the U.S. Cavalry. Those stories of the so-called "horse nations" of the Great Plains are all here, but so is a great deal more. Using impressive computer imaging, photos, location film footage and breathtaking cinematography, interviews with present-day Indians, books and manuscripts, museum artifacts, and more, Leustig and his crew go back more than a millennium to present an fascinating account of Indians, including those (like the Maya and Aztecs in Mexico and the Anasazi in the Southwest) who were here long before white men ever reached these shores.
It was the arrival of Europeans like Columbus, Cortez, and DeSoto that marked the beginning of the end for the Indians. Considering the participation of host Kevin Costner, whose film Dances with Wolves was highly sympathetic to the Indians, it's no bulletin that 500 Nations also takes a compassionate view of the multitude of calamities--from alcohol and disease to the corruption of their culture and the depletion of their vast natural resources--visited on them by the white man in his quest for land and money, eventually leading to such horrific events as the Trail of Tears "forced march," the massacre at Wounded Knee, and other consequences of the effort to "relocate" Indians to the reservations where many of them still live. Along the way, we learn about the Indians' participation in such events as the American Revolution and the War of 1812, as well as popular legends like the first Thanksgiving (it really happened) and the rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas (it probably didn't).

 

Recommended Reading: Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World: 15,000 Years of Inventions and Innovations (Facts on File Library of American History) (Hardcover). Editorial Review from Booklist: More than 450 inventions and innovations that can be traced to indigenous peoples of North, Middle, and South America are described in this wonderful encyclopedia. Criteria for selection are that the item or concept must have originated in the Americas, it must have been used by the indigenous people, and it must have been adopted in some way by other cultures. Continued below...

Some of the innovations may have been independently developed in other parts of the world (geometry, for example, was developed in ancient China, Greece, and the Middle East as well as in the Americas) but still fit all three criteria. The period of time covered is 25,000 B.C. to the twentieth century. Among the entries are Adobe, Agriculture, Appaloosa horse breed, Chocolate, Cigars, Diabetes medication, Freeze-drying, Hydraulics, Trousers, Urban planning, and Zoned biodiversity. Readers will find much of the content revealing. The authors note that the Moche "invented the electrochemical production of electricity" although they used it only for electroplating, a process they developed "more than a thousand years" before the Europeans, who generally get the credit. The Aztec medical system was far more comprehensive than anything available in Europe at the time of contact.

 

The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World is an "Eyeopener to the innumerable contributions of the American Indian to our nation and to world civilizations...."

 

The awards it has won and some of the print reviews this book has received are listed below.

Winner 11th Annual Colorado Book Award, Collections and Anthologies

Winner Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Writer of the Year, Creative Reference Work, 2002

Selected by Booklist as Editors Choice Reference Source, 2002

"This is a well-written book with fascinating information and wonderful pictures. It should be in every public, school, and academic library for its depth of research and amazing wealth of knowledge. We've starred this title because it is eye-opening and thought-provoking, and there is nothing else quite like it." Booklist Starred Review

"[An] interesting, informative, and inspiring book." Native Peoples Magazine

"I would strongly urge anyone with a kernel of intellectual curiosity: teacher, administrator, researcher, lawyer, politician, writer, to buy this book. I guarantee it will enlighten, stimulate and entertain...Native students and indigenous instructors must obtain their own copies of the Encyclopedia. Whether Cree, Mayan or Penobscot they will find a deep source of pride on each and every page. I can well imagine the excitement of Native teachers when they obtain the book followed by an eagerness to share its contents with everyone within reach."

"I hope the Encyclopedia will serve as the basis for an entirely new approach to Native history, one in which the scholar is liberated from the anti-Indian texts of the recent past. Ideally, a copy of the Encyclopedia should be in every class in every school across the hemisphere." Akwesasne Notes-Indian Time–Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, co-founder of the Native American Journalists Association and the Akwesasne Communications Society

"Highly recommended for academic libraries keeping collections about American Indians." Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

"Native accomplishments finally get their due in this award-winning book." American Indian Report

"A treasure trove of information about the large range of technologies and productions of Indian peoples. This is indeed the most comprehensive compilation of American Indian inventions and contributions to date. It is most worthwhile and should be on the bookshelves of every library and home in America." Indian Country Today

"This large, well-illustrated volume is an excellent reference. One of the important strengths of the encyclopedia is that the information provided is balanced and rooted in facts, not speculation. Highly recommended." Multicultural Review

"Far from the stereotypical idea that Native Americans were uncultured and simple, possessing only uncomplicated inventions such as bows and arrows or canoes, these varied cultures donated a rich assortment of ideas and items to the world. This book can be recommended to libraries that support an interdisciplinary approach to student learning, such as units that integrate biology and culture studies projects." VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates

"...a comprehensive, unique A to Z reference to the vast offerings made by the American Indians throughout history." Winds of Change (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)

"We bought one for each center. It is a GREAT resource." Ann Rutherford, Director Learning Resources Center, Oglala Lakota College

 

"As I travel to conferences and host presentations, I take your book as a reference and to show individuals. It allows science, engineering and math students to gain insight into the traditional knowledge held about these and related subjects. I believe it empowers them to know this knowledge is already within. To balance contemporary knowledge within that context creates a student who can experience a topic from a number of perspectives." Jacqueline Bolman, Director, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Scientific Knowledge for Indian Learning and Leadership (SKILL)/NASA Honors Program

 

"…the three page introduction alone makes this book a valuable resource as it sets forth the circumstances which led the invaders to change their initial writings of wonder at the advanced native societies…I hope a way can be found to put this book in the hands of our youth and all who touch them." Carter Camp, American Indian rights activist, Ponca tribal leader and founder of  Kansas/Oklahoma AIM

 

Readers' Reviews: "One stop shop for studying the Native American Indian." "Paints a lively portrait that fills in the void of the real Native Americans!" "Will cause the greatest skeptic to rethink that previous History and Timeline of Cherokee Indians and Native Americans." "Comprehensive and eye-opening facts to the pivotal events and moments in Native American studies." "These astonishing facts are major turning points to our nation, to our people, to all Native Americans and their grand History." One reader refers to it as "[T]he final chapter in the book, the missing link to the chain, the most beautiful page ever written for Native Americans...[T]he raw facts regarding the many contributions of American Indians to the Americas and to the world."

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