native american

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Sitting Bull , chief and medicine man of the Hunkpapa - Lakota - Sioux . Photo by David Frances Barry, 1885
John Ross , Cherokee chief from 1828 to 1866; Color lithograph, ca. 1843

Native American is a collective term for members of various indigenous peoples of the Americas, with the exception of the Eskimo peoples and Aleutians of the arctic areas and the Polynesians of the American Pacific Islands .

The word goes back to an error of Christopher Columbus , who thought he had gotten to India (see Council of India ). The foreign term originating from colonialism is discussed controversially in the context of the racism debate. The so-called indigenous people also evaluate the expression differently: In the Latin American - speaking world, "Indio" is mostly interpreted pejoratively as an insult. In Anglo -American countries, on the other hand, some members of various indigenous groups refer to themselves as “(American) Indians” as part of a new pan -Indian identity . This is a well-known example American Indian Movement . Today, in the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies of America as well as in the United States and Canada , other general terms are used, such as Indigenas , Native Americans or First Nations .

The settlement of America began in prehistoric times mainly from Asia via a land bridge, Beringia , in the area of ​​today's Bering Strait. As a result, different cultures and indigenous American languages in North and South America developed into great diversity. The ancestors of the Indians initially developed the culture of hunters and gatherers they brought with them, and soon they lived primarily on land mammals such as bison , caribou and guanacos or on birds such as rheas , in addition to a wide range of plant products . However, they also sailed along the coast of the Pacific shortly after or even during the last glacial period . Pottery, agriculture (such as the cultivation of gourds, beginning before 4000 BC), and gradual forms of sedentariness , as well as very early long-distance trade, characterized the cultures of the north of the continent, while in the south of North America livestock and irrigation economy yielded higher yields and before 3000 BC. led to urban cultures extending north to the Mississippi River and southern Canada. The outstanding breeding successes of the rural Indians of Central and South America are the cultivation u. of avocado , potato, tomato, corn, pineapple, pepper, tobacco, as well as alpaca wool and the guinea pig. In addition, many forager cultures continued to exist in large parts of the double continent, which were mostly nomadic in small hordes or larger segmentary or tribal societies .

In today's Latin America, the Spanish conquerors ( conquistadors ) destroyed the great empires of Central and South America within a few decades in the 16th century . However, the diseases brought in by the Europeans had an even more devastating effect, above all smallpox . In some regions, such as B. in the Caribbean, there was a genocide of the indigenous population, which was then replaced by African slaves; in other regions, such as B. in South America, Indian and European population mixed. Only in some areas, such as Bolivia and southern Mexico , are Native Americans still in the majority today. In Bolivia, Evo Morales was the first indigenous president and leader of the ruling Socialist Party from 2006 to 2019 . Today, the politics of industrial and agricultural use, deforestation and the exploitation of mineral resources pose a particular threat to their local communities , which in South America are still closely tied to their natural environment and to a small extent live in isolation again.

In North America , Native Americans gradually became a minority from the 1600s. This process of displacement continued into the 20th century. The European immigrant societies regarded the Indians as “inferior” and tried to oust them at first in an uncoordinated manner, but soon systematically: military subjugation, sometimes annihilation, was followed by a targeted policy of assimilation , initially mainly by kidnapping the children to boarding schools ; Try to turn the Indians into sedentary farmers; also through segregation on Indian reservations , forced resettlement and segregation .

The consequences of trauma have long been underestimated or ignored. Since the late 20th century, churches and some governments have apologized for abuse, genocide , and cultural destruction . Attempts to make amends have been made since the beginning of the 21st century. In addition, Indians gained opportunities for participation and skills to enforce contractual and political rights.


The German term Indianer goes back to the Spanish word indio , a colonial -era neologism . Christopher Columbus thought he had arrived in India in 1492 when he reached Hispaniola . However , the European seafarers at that time did not only refer to India as the Indian subcontinent , but to the entire East of Asia , which they tried to reach via the western sea route. Although Amerigo Vespucci finally cleared up Columbus' error in 1502, the designation of the inhabitants found in the newly discovered areas as Indians was retained. Competing terms such as Americans (e.g. in the Codex canadiensis ), some of which disappeared again, but above all “savages” and heathens , which emphasize non-belonging to civilization and Christianity and thus create a demarcation, were in use early on.

In Spanish , the word indio has a different meaning than the German Indio . While in German the conceptual difference between Indians and Indians is recognizable in the expression, both categories of origin are referred to in Spanish in the same way with indio . Therefore, in almost all Latin American countries, to avoid misunderstandings, Indians are not referred to as indios but as hindú ( Hindus ) (although this actually only indicates a widespread religious affiliation in India). In literature, the neologism amerindio was also coined, based on the French amérindien . In general usage in Latin America, on the other hand, the general designation indígenas ("natives", "natives") or pueblos indígenas ( indigenous peoples ) prevails for Indians.

In English , the word Indian , like indio in Spanish, does not express any difference between a resident of India and a member of an indigenous people of America. The semantic distinction is only made clear by the expression American Indian , which has been used since about 1650 , with a limitation of the scope of the term . Younger is the expression Red Indians , which can also be translated into German as Indianer , but today - similar to "Rothaut" - is no longer used because of the racist connotation as a rule. The term Native Americans is now widespread in the USA , and American Indian is more often preferred as a self-designation .

In German, in addition to Inder , there are the words Indianer and Indio with different meanings. While the term Indio is limited to members of a South or Central American indigenous population group, the term Indians also includes the indigenous people of North America, occasionally only the North American Indians are meant.

In many cases, terms such as Indian or Indio are rejected or avoided by the members of societies addressed in this way as colonial foreign terms. Until the arrival of the Europeans, there was no reason for them to form an overarching term for the population of the continent. Even the self-designation of many communities was often simply synonymous with human beings . The continent as a unit or the world known to them as a delimited entity and named (a counter-example are the Kuna in Panama and Colombia , who spoke of Abya Yala "continent of life") was also rarely understood . Although there were already a variety of collective terms for ethnic groups and related ethnic groups pre-colonial , it was only through the serious consequences of colonization that the Indian ethnic groups in North America, for example, gained a certain sense of togetherness.

Author Gail Tremblay considers the shared experience of colonial rule, attempted genocide , attempts at assimilation, and the pain of loss to be the crucial factors that led to the perception of connections across ethnic lines. Conceptually, this was done while retaining the concept of Indian in principle, as can be seen from the term American Indian , which is also used by members of North American Indian peoples themselves.

The unifying aspect of the common home on the continent, on the other hand, is emphasized by terms such as Native Americans ( americanos nativos ), indigenous peoples of the Americas ( original peoples of America ), pueblos originarios de América ) or indigenous American peoples ( indigenous American peoples , pueblos indígenas de America ). Unlike the term Native Americans , however, these terms also include the Inuit , Unangan , and Yupik of Alaska and the northern Canadian Arctic .

However, these peoples arrived in the Americas much later than the Native Americans and are genetically and culturally distinct from the earlier immigrants. The latter also applies to the native peoples of Hawaii , American Samoa and Easter Island . They are therefore not included in the German language under the term Indian . Mestizos , Genízaros , Métis or Zambos , i.e. descendants from connections between Europeans or Africans and Indians, are also not counted among the latter.

In Canada , a comprehensive term that is not limited to Native Americans is used, namely First Nations or Premières Nations , i.e. First Nations . However, complications arise from the fact that the Indian Law of 1876, which is still valid and therefore continues many traditions of the colonial concept of Indian, distinguishes between Status Indians (those are registered members of the state-recognized First Nations who have certain rights), non- Status Indians (who do not have these rights because they are not registered) and Treaty Indians (who are subject to the terms of individual treaties concluded with a large number of tribes ). As a result of these legal definitions , “mixed” couples, for example, lose their claim to the rights of the indigenous people, possibly even their formal recognition as Indians . Even members of the First Nations are therefore often not legally considered Indians today . In the long run, this can lead to the disappearance of "nationally recognized" Indians and the irrelevance of their legal rights.

It also occurs due to the different processes in the construction of a political subject from state to state , which in Latin America, for example, calls itself Indígena (e.g. in Guatemala or Brazil), Nacionalidad Indígena ( Ecuador ) or Pueblo Originario ( Bolivia ). in the political sphere to inconsistent terminological solutions - especially since terms such as Partido Indio ( Indian Party ) or National Congress of American Indians also continue to exist as self-designations.

This struggle over the designations has its reason not only in the history of the term, but also in the social connotations with which the terms are associated. For example, Indian in English-speaking America and Indio in Spanish-speaking America are often regarded as derogatory qualifications in the language of the general public. The same applies in French and Portuguese-speaking countries.

The translation into German further complicates this linguistically and terminologically complex network of self-designations and external designations, determined by the need for differentiation and assignments in the area of ​​tension between racism and cultural self-determination. Ultimately, in the eyes of many, the term Indianer , which is relatively non-discriminatory in German (see also Indian image in the German-speaking world ), has proven to be the one that is most likely to solve these naming problems. Unreflected aspects of the description of others, the homogenization of groups that do not belong together or the trivialization are often critically questioned.

Population and Reserves

Reservations in the USA (excluding Alaska)
Indian reservations in Brazil
Xavantes in their reserve Maraiwatséde

The American Indian population is very unevenly distributed, with several thousand reservations . Most Indians in Central and South America do not live on reservations.

While in Canada in 2006 almost 700,000 people (2.1% of the population) were considered Native Americans and 615 tribes were recognized in around 3000 reservations, in the USA there were 566 tribes recognized by the federal government, which represented 0.97% of the population, and around 245 unrecognized tribes. Priorities can also be identified within the states. The majority of US Indians live in California , Arizona , New Mexico and Oklahoma . A total of around 3.5 to 4 million Indians live in North America.

In Latin America, on the other hand, 65 to 70 million Indians live, about half of them in Mexico and a third in the Andean countries . Only in Bolivia do they head the government. The demarcation from the rest of the population is less sharply defined, reserves exist mainly in Brazil, Colombia , Panama , Paraguay and Venezuela and are mostly in the forest areas of the Orinoco , Paraná and Amazon basins .

In Mexico alone, the indigenous population is estimated at 30% of the more than 100 million Mexicans. Mestizos make up another 60% of the total population. Belize is believed to be 10% and 45% of the population respectively. In Guatemala , 59.4% are mestizos ( called Ladinos here ), 45% of the population belong to various Maya groups. Of these, 9.1% are Quiché , 8.4 Cakchiquel , 7.9 Mam , 6.3% Kekchí , and another 8.6% belong to other Maya groups. In neighboring Honduras , the Indians make up 7% and the mestizos 90%, similar to El Salvador , where the Indians only make up 1% of the population. In Nicaragua , the proportion of mestizos is 69%, that of the Indians 5%. In Costa Rica the proportion of Indians is only around 1%, in Panama it is 5%. The Caribbean is an extreme, because in Cuba , for example, there are practically no Indians anymore, similar to Jamaica . On Dominica , 300 to 500 Caribs live in their own reservation.

There are also focal points in South America. While the proportion of Indians in Colombia is only 1%, the proportion of mestizos there is 58%, and at least 3% are descendants of blacks and Indians. In Guyana the proportion of Indians is 9.1%, in Suriname 2%. The proportion is significantly higher in the Andean countries , such as in Ecuador , where 25% of the population are Indians, in Peru 45, in Bolivia even 55% - 30% are Quechua and 25% Aymara .

Further south, in Chile , the proportion of the Indian population is just under 5%, most are Mapuche . In Argentina their share is less than 3%, in Uruguay there are almost no Indians, in Paraguay their share is around 5% but in Brazil less than 1%.

In North America, Native Americans often live on reservations called reservations in Canada and reservations in the United States . In Canada, the reservations arose as a result of treaties that Indians made with the government. After questioning the Indians, but without including them in the decision, commissions determined the reservation boundaries. Within these areas, they enjoyed their traditional rights and paid no taxes on transactions made there. Around half of the Indians now live in cities.

United States Indian policy changed direction several times. All tribes were forced to leave their residential areas east of the Mississippi from the 1830s , and several tribes were often grouped together on one reservation. Although the rural Indians often live in poverty, some tribes managed to recover economically. According to the 2000 census, about 85% lived off reservations, mostly in cities.

Isolated Peoples still exist in Brazil and neighboring countries , groups that have had such bad experiences in contact with whites that they try to avoid them. In Brazil alone, it is assumed that there are about 67 groups.


Distribution areas of the indigenous languages of North America before colonization

The languages ​​consist of dozens of distinct language families , as well as many isolated languages . There have been several attempts by linguists to group these into superordinate families, none of which are widely accepted. Two language families differ significantly from the others: the Na Dené languages and the Eskimo-Aleut languages . Genetic analyzes of the Indians suggest several waves of immigration when settling in America . It can therefore be assumed that these languages ​​are spoken by Native American peoples who came to America as later immigrants when the other peoples had already settled the continent.

Scripts have only developed in Native American cultures in Central America . The oldest evidence comes from the Olmecs in Central America and is dated to around 900 BC. dated . Other scripts also developed here, notably those of the Maya , Mixtec , Zapotec , and Aztec . There was a range of variation between what was still a purely logographic script and a largely phonetic script .

History of Languages ​​in America

Post-colonization of the Americas, attitudes toward indigenous languages ​​ranged from neglect to deliberate repression. Only the missionary orders began early to learn the languages ​​and set up appropriate schools. This applied first to Peru , where a university was established, then to numerous mission areas between Québec and California in the north, through the Mexican metropolitan areas to the border areas in southern Chile and along the Portuguese border (Brazil). Occasionally, in doing so, they spread languages ​​into areas where that language was not previously in use, as in the case of Quechua . Aside from languages ​​with millions of speakers, such as Aymara , Guarani , and Nahuatl , the missionaries learned few languages, which in turn encouraged their survival.

In North America, the use of indigenous languages ​​has long been actively suppressed. This policy culminated in the so-called termination with the aim of separating Indians from their tribal group and integrating them into society as individuals. In addition, the use of Native American languages ​​in schools was strictly forbidden. Only in 1958 was this goal abandoned and since then there have been numerous attempts to revive the North American languages.

spread today

In North America, some of the larger languages, such as Cree (with 60-90,000 speakers) in Canada or Navajo in the Southwest USA (with around 150,000 speakers) are not endangered, others are on the verge of extinction. At least 74 languages ​​are still in use in Canada.

Indigenous languages ​​in Mexico with more than 100,000 speakers

In Mexico and neighboring countries to the south, the Maya languages are dominant . Mexico recognizes 62 national indigenous languages, with more than 6 million residents over the age of 5 claiming one of these languages ​​as their first language in 2005 .

In the Caribbean, the languages ​​of the Caribs and the Arawak are only rarely spoken; their representatives include the Taíno .

It is different in South America. According to estimates, around 1500 languages ​​were spoken there before Columbus , of which around 350 still exist today. The classification into language families is, as in all of America, highly controversial. The number of speakers is significantly higher than in North America and the Caribbean, but at the same time the majority of them are concentrated in a few languages. These, in turn, were learned and promoted by missionaries. This is how numerous languages ​​survived, for which materials are now available in writing and on the Internet.<

While Tupí languages predominate in the eastern lowlands of South America, with the Tupí-Guarani languages being the largest branch , Quechua languages , which the Incas already used , dominate in the Andes region . In addition to them, there are large language groups such as the Aymara languages , which include Aymara , the indigenous language with the most speakers in South America (approx. 2.2 million). Around a quarter of a million people in Argentina speak one of the two Araucan languages .

Mainly in North America, new languages, especially mixed languages such as the Chinook Wawa of the Pacific coast , arose through contact between whites and Native Americans because the extensive trade required a simple language of communication . In addition, there were languages ​​such as Michif , the most important language of the Métis in Canada, which arose from Amerindian and European languages ​​during the emergence of a mixed people and has Cree and French origins. Bungee , also spoken by Métis, has Scottish Gaelic and Cree roots.

Bolivia , Paraguay , Ecuador and Peru today recognize one or more Indigenous American languages ​​as an official language in addition to Spanish.


Native American cultures before 1500

Settlement of the Americas occurred in multiple waves of immigration spanning at least 16,000 years. In this continuum, European immigration is just one of many. The main route of the groups referred to as Paleo -Indians led from Siberia via Beringia to Alaska and from there southwards. Genetic analyzes can explain the Aboriginal distribution with three waves, the first of which was by far the most significant. Almost all Native American peoples emerged from it, and its distribution fits with a rapid and direct advance from Siberia via Alaska southwards through the entire continent. A genetic proportion of 10% in the Chippewa falls out of this pattern and is interpreted as indicating a second wave. After all, the first wave can only explain 57% of the genetic make-up of the inhabitants of the North American Arctic, so the third wave is assumed here. These analyzes are consistent with previous linguistic and morphological studies.

The early settlers adapted to their new environment and lived as nomadic foragers , as fishermen , hunters and gatherers , later as sedentary farmers with corresponding urban cultures ( Archaic Period ). From South America to far north, they bred from about 7000 BC. Plants such as corn , squash , and potato , as well as many species displaced by European farmers, transformed the landscape in the process to a far greater extent than had long been assumed.

Livestock breeding was limited to a few species such as llamas and related cameloids ( alpaca and vicuña ) , as well as the domestic guinea pig in the Inca empire , the turkey in North and Central America and the dog . Besides the llama of the Incas, only dogs were available as pack animals for smaller loads, which in North America were clamped into simple triangular dragging harnesses, called travois . In addition, their hair was the starting material for blankets and clothing.

The wheel as a means of locomotion was apparently unknown, although wheels and even gears were used as components of mechanical devices. People generally walked and carried their loads themselves or used watercraft such as canoes . Dignitaries in hierarchical societies in Central and South America were sometimes carried in palanquins .

North America

In Alaska, the oldest confirmed finds go back 12,000 to 14,000 years. For a long time, the Clovis culture was considered the oldest culture . But at the latest the finds in the Paisley Caves , which predate the Clovis finds by around a millennium, showed that the earliest inhabitants did not belong to this culture. The oldest human remains come from the Buhl woman of Idaho , who is over 10,500 years old , and the remains from On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, which are around 9,800 years old. This early phase was followed by the Archaic period . At its end between 2000 and 1000 BC. From about 3000 BC, the use of pottery, agriculture and various forms of graduated sedentarism developed well into the north. Hunting techniques were greatly improved by atlatl and later by bow and arrow . While hunting cultures existed in the north, where herds of caribou and bison provided sustenance, hunting played an increasingly minor role in the south. Population concentrations occurred in North America around the Great Lakes, on the Pacific coast around Vancouver Island , on the Mississippi River and in many places on the Atlantic coast and in the Southwest.

In North America, complex communities (templemound cultures) existed in the Mississippi and Ohio catchment areas ( Adena culture , Mississippi culture ) , but these disappeared shortly before the arrival of the first Europeans. They radiated far to the north and west. In the Southwest of the USA, mud building settlements with up to 500 rooms, the so-called pueblos , were built . This culture goes back to the Basketmakers , who were already growing corn. Large stockaded villages and permanent confederations developed around the Great Lakes. Similar to those in the West, these groups cultivated corn and squash and engaged in extensive long-distance trade in things such as copper and certain rocks important for hunting weapons and jewelry, which lasted in British Columbia until 8000 BC. can be proven.

Oldest traces in Meso and South America

Cueva de las manos (Cave of the Hands) in Santa Cruz Province , southern Argentina , c. 7300 BC BC, now a World Heritage Site

Apart from the much-discussed finds from Monte Verde , the finds from Los Toldos in the Argentine province of Santa Cruz are probably the oldest in South America. They go back at least 12,000 years. Similar to the North American sites, the remains indicate hunting of large mammals ( giant sloths and horses), guanacos and llamas. Something similar was found in Cueva del Milodón (Chile), where extinct prey animals such as horses were also found. The Casapedrense culture (approx. 7000 to 4000 BC) was considered to be the forerunner of the Tehuelche or Patagonians , whose oldest finds date back to 9400 to 9200 BC. be dated.

Mesoamerican cultures

In the arid regions, an irrigation economy developed early on, which in turn permitted higher population densities and more complex organizational forms. Processes for freshwater extraction that were similarly complicated to those in the arid regions of central and southern Mexico were needed in the Yucatán . Here originated from about 3000 BC. A major settlement-based culture that is believed to belong to the pre-classic era of the Maya cultures. One of the oldest Maya sites was Cuello in Belize , dating back to around 2000 BC. is dated.

Mayan Pyramid at Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá , which flourished for the first time between the 5th and 7th centuries , became one of the most important metropolises of the Maya alongside Uxmal . A whole network of interconnected cities emerged. After the unexplained collapse of the Maya culture in the 10th century, Toltecs settled (or at least culturally dominated) the city. Among the Maya, Tulúm now assumed a leading role on the coast, possibly a sign that the economic focus shifted to maritime trade in the 12th century.

Between AD 100 and 600, Teotihuacán was the cultural, economic, and governmental center of Mesoamerica . Its population is estimated at up to 200,000 for the period between 450 and 650. The city covered an area of ​​20 km². The sun pyramid there alone, which was built around 100 AD, covers an area of ​​222 by 225 meters and is around 65 m high. Other large buildings such as the Ciudadela , a kind of closed dominion, were built. The city's economic basis was an extensive obsidian trade , in addition to irrigated agriculture ; it was probably settled on the square in front of the Ciudadela and reached at least as far as today's border with the USA. The roots of the city go back to 1500 BC. back. However, from 750 the metropolis was deserted. The remaining power vacuum was only filled again in the 10th century by the Toltecs .

The Toltecs immigrated to southern Mexico from the 9th century and formed an urban culture for two centuries, although this was threatened by the more militarily organized Chichimeks , who also came from the north.

The territory ruled by the Aztecs (green) and tributary (dotted green) before the arrival of the Spanish, and their neighbors

At the end of the 14th century, the Aztecs , who called themselves Mexica , succeeded in conquering a large empire surrounded by tributary dominions. Their roots probably go back to the 11th century. The capital Tenochtitlan may have had tens of thousands of inhabitants, possibly even 150,000.

cultures in South America
Machu Picchu , whose Incan name has not been handed down
Ollantaytambo in the southeast of Peru, almost 2800 m high

The oldest stone tools in South America date back to around 10,000 BC. similar to the cave paintings at Ayacucho in Peru and in the Lauricocha Caves at the source of the Marañón . The first cultivation of squashes and beans and the breeding of llamas is dated to before 4000 BC. B.C., but the pumpkin also appears far north, in Maine , at this time .

The oldest ceramics were found in the Ecuadorian Guayas Basin. They are assigned to the Valdivia culture and dated to the 4th millennium BC. In North America, ceramics only caught on in the metropolitan areas; in other areas, a wide variety of techniques and obstacles limited its spread. The Valdivia culture already spawned an urban organization with cults, rites, and offerings.

One of the oldest cities, Caral (north of Lima), was discovered in 1996. Five years later, the step pyramid there was dated to 2627 BC. be dated. The city had houses for at least 3,000 residents. Temple complexes, artificial irrigation systems and long-distance trade with the inhabitants of the coast and those of the Amazon region indicate that advanced civilization was already well developed.

Even older is Sechín Bajo , a city whose pyramid dates back to 3200 BC. B.C., and which has been excavated since 2003.

On the coast of Ecuador around 1600 B.C. the Machalilla culture . The typical ceramic vessels with handles, which are also handed down to the Chavín , Mochica and Chimú , go back to them. The subsequent Chorrera culture brought about 1200 to 500 BC. BC ceramics in human and animal form. The houses were grouped around a large square and built on artificial mounds.

The Chavín culture (about 800 to 300 BC) was closely related to that of the Olmec , as suggested by the use of the jaguar , puma , bird , and snake symbol clusters . The contemporary Paracas culture in the Lima area was known for its cult of the dead, skull deformation and trepanation techniques , ceramics and textiles. They also created scratching images in the Nazca desert . This technique was perfected by the subsequent Nazca culture.

The Herrera culture (before 4th century BC to 2nd century AD) existed in the highlands of Bogotá , and the Calima culture (4th century BC to 2nd century AD) on the west side of the Andes .). Tombs from the 4th century go back to the San Agustín culture , which changed the landscape significantly by the 7th century.

Between 300 B.C. and after 600 AD the Nazca culture existed around 500 km south of Lima, who built irrigation canals. The Mochica culture developed similar irrigation systems in the desert strip on the Pacific coast. In addition to precious metals, copper was processed. The Nazca culture was heavily influenced by the Paracas culture, from whom they also adopted various skull manipulation techniques and the art of creating giant carvings (see Nazca Lines ).

Around Lake Titicaca from the 1st century B.C. to about 1000 AD the Tiwanaku culture , whose cultural center was the Tiwanaku ruins of the same name . Their traces can be found in Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile. Around the same time, the Wari culture (600 to 1100) emerged, which followed north along the coast. Both cultures were dominated by capitals that were of considerable extent. The Wari surrounded their capital with defensive walls, and their main temple, Willkawayin , survives.

The Chimu developed their first great empire in the period from 1000 to 1470 with the capital Chan Chan in the area around the Peruvian Trujillo . From around 1200 to 1532, the Incas created an empire that reached its greatest extent in the 15th century. In addition to Cusco , which was the capital for a time, and Machu Picchu , Ollantaytambo should be mentioned, where the basic structure of an Inca city has largely been preserved.

Much less researched is the history of the groups living on the eastern rim of the Andes and in the forested areas of the Amazon. However, numerous finds point to much older cultures (approx. 2450 BC), which may have arisen before those of the Andean highlands. Little is known about the Chachapoya , who lived on the eastern edge of the Andes from about 800 to 1600. They built rock tombs on steep cliffs.

Between 1000 BC and 500 B.C. the Arawak migrated down the Orinoco . They built canoes and made a living from fishing, hunting, and growing corn , beans, sweet potatoes, squash, and cassava . There were also peanuts , red pepper , pineapple , tobacco and cotton .

colonial history

Excerpt from page 34 of the Codex Osuna , with symbols representing the three Aztec cities Texcoco , Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan , plus lines written by Spaniards in Nahuatl
Control of non-Native American nations over South America (from 1700):
green: Portugal,
red: Spain,
blue: France, brown-
grey: Holland
Non-Native American control of North America (from 1750):
ochre: United Kingdom ,
olive green: France,
salmon red: Spain,
blue: United States,
dark brown: Russia
Florida: Athore shows René Goulaine de Laudonnière Jean Ribault's Column (with the Coat of Arms of France). Theodor de Bry Engraving after a colored drawing by Jacques Le Moyne, 1591
Possible Route de Sotos , 1539–1542

From 1492, the double continent was gradually taken over by European states. The forms of colonization and settlement pursued differed significantly from one another and had serious effects on the cultures encountered there. While trade prevailed in the north for a century and the first permanent colonies on the east coast only emerged after 1600, the Spaniards conquered the great empires of Latin America within a few decades. While more than three quarters of the Indians lived in the Spanish area, Portugal received the more sparsely populated regions with Brazil and France and England with the north.

collapse of the indigenous population

Wars initially played a major role in wiping out indigenous peoples; but imported diseases, punitive expeditions, resettlement and forced labor decimated the population to an extent that can hardly be quantified. Some ethnic groups in Central America disappeared through imported diseases without a European having even seen them.

Around 1940, the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber was largely followed , who estimated the population in 1492 at just eight million and north of the Rio Grande at one million people. These estimates were readily adopted because they reduced the magnitude of destruction and perpetuated the political myth that Europeans had conquered a largely deserted continent, thereby legitimizing their possessions. Since then, new, extremely deviating estimates have been made on a wide variety of methodological bases. They range from just over 8 million to over 110 million. More recent estimates use a very rough approximation of 50 million inhabitants, about half of whom lived in Mesoamerica and a quarter in the Inca Empire.

The thesis that the huge herds of bison observed later were grazing animals of the Indians shows how much the discussion got moving . Consequently, the herd size did not represent a natural balance , but was based on overbreeding that occurred in a few generations after the sharp decline in the human population. The Smithsonian Institute has tripled its estimate for North America to three million people.

The densest population certainly existed in the high cultures of Latin America, where the numerically greatest population losses were recorded. Hernán Cortés destroyed the Aztec empire with about 500 soldiers and numerous allied Indians, Pizarro that of the Incas . In the Caribbean , the population was almost completely wiped out within a few decades. Hernan de Soto brought devastating diseases to the area between Mississippi and Florida in 1539-1542.

The Iberian states, which had agreed on the division of the world and thus also the continent in the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 , sent numerous men overseas who connected with Indian women there. The number of descendants, who were called mestizos , grew rapidly . The ruling class was made up of Spaniards and Portuguese, the lower class were mestizos and Indians.

Nahua (Aztec) infected by smallpox, Bernardino de Sahagún ( Florentine Codex ), 1585
Mounted warrior ( Llanero ) from the Colombian steppe, mid-19th century

In North America, diseases such as smallpox , measles , and influenza were the main causes of catastrophic damage. It is believed that smallpox alone killed anywhere from a quarter to a half of the Native American population after the Europeans arrived. The Indians had no defenses against these diseases, which were new to them. Although the targeted spread of diseases was called for in rare cases and possibly attempted by means of smallpox-infected blankets, the risks were unforeseeable. However, at the moment when it was possible to vaccinate one's own population, as in 1862 in the Pacific Northwest , some politicians encouraged or tolerated the spread of the deadly epidemic.

Furthermore, in the British colonies in North America through the scalp proclamation of 1756, by 1749 already in Halifax and with the French, and in some US states such as Massachusetts (1744), the scalp premiums contributed to the destruction. In California , several thousand Native Americans were murdered in just two decades after the gold rush of 1849 .

Despite the effects of the epidemics and, in some areas, the slave hunt that should not be overestimated, that of the wars should not be underestimated. The most costly wars in the East were probably the Battle of Mauvilla (1540), the Tarrantine War (1607-1615), the two Powhatan Wars (1608-1614 and 1644-1646), the Pequot War (1637), the King Philip War (1675-1676), the French and Indian Wars (1689-1697, 1702-1713, 1754-1763) and the three Seminole Wars (1817-1818, 1835-1842 and 1855-1858). Then there were the Pontiac (1763-1766) and Tecumseh (ca. 1810-1813) uprisings. The French were in the Beaver Wars from about 1640 to 1701 , then in four wars with the Natchez (1716–1729), the Dutch in the Wappinger War and in the Esopus Wars (1659–1660 and 1663–1664), the Spanish against the Aztecs and Inca Empires, 1680 against the Pueblos and in numerous other battles. In the western United States, it was above all the uprisings of the Cochise (1861-1874), the Sioux (1862) and Lakota (1866-1867) or the Apaches under Geronimo (until 1886) that became known, as well as individual battles such as the at the Little Bighorn or the Wounded Knee massacre (1890).

Dead on the Wounded Knee battlefield. "Only a dead Indian is a good Indian." The word that has entered the parlance comes from General Sheridan . He replied to the statement of the Comanche chief Tosowi: "I am a good Indian" with: "The only good Indians I have seen are already dead."

What part economic exploitation and desolate social conditions, neglect, armed conflicts, epidemics, slave hunts, " ethnic cleansing " and attempted genocide actually played in this demographic catastrophe - the low point was only passed in the first decades of the 20th century - and in what relationship they relate to one another stood, can hardly be clarified exactly. The only thing that is certain is that numerous peoples were destroyed along with their culture and language. In terms of the number of victims, it was the greatest demographic and arguably cultural catastrophe in human history. Some researchers therefore speak of an "American Holocaust" , but this term is controversial because of the inherent relativization of the Holocaust of European Jews.

State, feudal system, church and slavery as factors of colonization

A comprehensive conflict arose over the question of the treatment of the Indians between the exponents Bartolomé de Las Casas as "defender general of the Indians" and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda , the missionary orders and the Council of India as well as the local feudal lords. The crown attempted to keep the grandees , who from the beginning tended towards independent rulership, under control through an alliance with the lower nobility, the hidalgos , and the church. The administration was to be carried out from Seville , and no one was allowed into the colonies without permission. At the same time, the Indians were to be proselytized, collected in encomiendas from 1503 and protected from excessive violence ( Laws of Burgos , 1512). They were intended as workers.

Indios panning for gold on a river, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo : Historia General y Natural de las Indias, Islas y Tierra-firme del Mar Océano , Madrid 1535, woodcut

In 1512/13 the Leyes de Burgos stipulated that the Indians should be handed over to the feudal lords - hence the term encomienda - but should not be considered slaves. However, they could be forced to work for wages. Through Indi(ani)sche law , Madrid tried to build up a certain protection against the brutal harassment of the Indios and the rapid collapse of the population through the encomienda system.

As early as the Inca Empire, the provinces were forced by the system of the mita to make workers available for public works in turn for a certain period of time. The repartimiento was linked to this system from 1549, although the encomienda system continued until after 1650, as in Chile, for example. The repartimiento or "allocation system" served primarily to provide forces for field work and life-threatening work in gold and silver mines ( Potosí ). It was not superseded until after independence from Spain, but it still represented a mitigation compared to the encomienda.

On the other hand, the so-called Paulistas or bandeirantes , slave hunters from São Paulo , supplied the slave market with Indians. To do this, they roamed vast areas, including Spanish ones, and depopulated them with the support of Tupi armies through kidnapping and expulsion. Successful efforts to protect the Indians from slave hunters, as in the Jesuit state of Paraguay , where Indians such as the cacique Nicolás Neenguirú successfully fought battles with the slave hunters - were the exception.

Missionaries , often taking advantage of their protective efforts against exploitation and killing, caused the Indians to abandon their beliefs . Their cultural idiosyncrasies were discredited by the missionaries as "uncivilized" or "unnatural."

In South America, religious missionaries had already learned Indian languages ​​in the 16th century and documented them in writing in order to be able to proselytize the natives. They thus indirectly contributed to the preservation of numerous languages. A corresponding university was established in Lima . The missions set up by Jesuits in the 17th century in the La Plata area (called “ reductions ”), in which they wanted to enable the Indians to develop according to European values ​​and understood paternalistically , but still independently and in a certain sense self-determined ultimately even led to Guarani being alive to this day and being recognized as an official language in Paraguay .

Even where Spanish conquistadors couldn't reach, apart from the epidemics, they triggered massive changes. They had introduced horses , some of which became feral and spread rapidly across the vast plains of South and later North America. They formed the basis for the emergence of Indian equestrian cultures , including the equestrian nomadism that characterized the Great Plains at the end of the 18th century . Horses made hunting and transport much easier and led to a change in the balance of power among peoples, and thus to large-scale migrations. In addition, the rider peoples opened up areas that were previously uninhabitable, and with the broken-in horses, a new trade object.

The northern colonial powers triggered completely different long-distance changes by engaging in the fur trade . They not only changed the societies that traded with them, but also had an effect on their near and distant neighbors, whether through the arms trade and the associated shifts in power, or through the development of trade monopolies in the vicinity of the trading bases (forts) encamped tribes, be it by triggering mass migrations.

post-colonial history

For the Indians, the liberation from Portuguese, Spanish and British colonial rule in the decades around 1800 meant an intensification of internal colonization and an increase in immigration, especially in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. The land they inhabited thus stood in the way of the exploitation interests of local elites, which were no longer hindered by any intermediary power or the colonial administration.

In North America, Native Americans quickly became a minority as their numbers rapidly declined while whites increased. Even large coalitions, such as those under Pontiac and Tecumseh , resisted the advance in vain. By 1890 the last resistance had been broken.

The states tried to cover the costs of settlement, i. H. to build up an infrastructure, for example through transcontinental railway construction, administration and defence, police and courts in different ways. In the USA, the settlers appropriated land that was considered unworked (squatting) and later paid small sums for it, a procedure that was steered into more orderly channels in Canada (cf. Canada's Economic History ). Ultimately, however, this also resulted in settlers from Europe taking possession of the majority of the land, whose immigration was encouraged.

Indios Visiting a Fazenda in Minas Gerais , Johann Moritz Rugenda's painting, c.1824

In South America, colonial land grants were dissolved. The lands went to large landowners, who continued to run them mainly as haciendas or fazendas (Brazil). Numerous conflicts have flared up on this large landed estate to this day, because they gave many Indians small plots for subsistence farming, but demanded services in return - a reintroduction of feudal forced labor.

Resistance was broken with armed violence and hunger, the Indians in the USA even had to leave all land east of the Mississippi ( Indian Removal Act and Trail of Tears ), in Canada reservations were mostly set up in traditional areas ( reserves ), just like in the USA ( reservations). There, however, several tribes, which were often culturally far apart, were often forced into a reservation. By the end of the 19th century this process had been largely completed in the north, and the number of Indians had been reduced to a fraction.

While missionary work in the south was mainly carried out by Catholic orders in the 16th and 17th centuries, many tribes in the north only became Catholic in the course of the 19th century or joined one of the Protestant denominations. However, this was only the first step towards assimilation , which was to result in the annihilation of cultures considered inferior by Canada and the USA, but also by the churches. For several generations, however, this was of little use, so that the children were largely separated from the adults in order to teach them in boarding school-type schools ( residential schools ) such as existed throughout Canada. There they were forbidden not only from any traditional cultural expression, but above all from the use of their language. They were also forbidden to take legal action against legal and economic marginalization. Traditional rituals such as sun dance and potlatch were forbidden until the 1950s, the last of these schools were only dissolved in the early 1980s. The situation in the USA was similar.

Fishing and the right to hunt were also undermined. In particular, the mass hunting of game by the Americans, such as the slaughter of bison in the late 19th century or the decimation of the caribou herds after the construction of the Alaska Highway , threaten the contractually guaranteed way of life of numerous tribes. In addition, the construction of huge dams cut the migration routes of the herds, making the traditional way of life of the Indians even more difficult. Only towards the end of the 20th century did the tribes increasingly gain a say in this and manage parks and protected areas. However, the situation varies greatly from region to region.

Piled Bison Skulls, mid 1870s
"American Progress" (American Progress), painting by John Gast , 1872, which symbolically exaggerates the civilizational-religious task of the settlers

In the USA, this development led to a massive rural exodus and urbanization of the Indians, at the same time the reservations were converted into private property, which the impoverished residents often had to sell. In the 1930s, the tribes were given the opportunity to administer themselves and to exercise sovereign rights, but from 1953 to 1961 attempts were made to dissolve the newly created tribes and reservations and to induce the Indians to migrate to the cities (Termination Policy). In Alaska, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 created a system of holdings and cash flows, while Native Americans relinquished their reservations, apart from Metlakatla on Annette Island .

In Canada, too, the road to privatization has recently been taken. Many rights have been won in courts over the past few decades, including reparations and a share of income from their lands – such as from mineral resources or dams – and compensation for school abuse (see Residential School ). Nevertheless, every second Indian now lives in a city.

In South America, struggles against submission began much earlier, such as in the Mixtón War (until 1542), and lasted until the mid-20th century. After the destruction of the great empires, the Spaniards pushed far north and subjugated the Pueblo population along the Rio Grande . In 1680 they succeeded in an uprising that lasted until 1692. Maya resistance to land confiscation, enslavement, and humiliation was sparked by the execution of several Maya leaders on July 30, 1847. Known as the Caste War , the uprising swept across the Yucatan and lasted until 1901. The last Cruzoob , as the insurgents called themselves, did not join until 1935 Peace treaty with the government that still allows them to self-govern their villages. The Zapatista uprising, which began in Chiapas province in 1994, was also based on indigenous resistance, but used Western ideologies and guerrilla tactics .

In Bolivia, the only country in which the majority is made up of Indians, an Indian president has ruled since 2006. Evo Morales was confirmed in 2008 with 67% of the votes. Here, as in neighboring Peru, “poverty, poor access to educational and health facilities and a lack of integration into formal economic life” were the reasons for the resistance of the Indians – in addition to the lack of respect for their culture. The impoverished, non-indigenous rural area is increasingly allying itself against the centralized capitals of Lima and La Paz . Well-educated Indians, such as Alberto Pizango , who led 1,350 Amazonian villages, defended their claims before the courts and at the political level, as in North America. Fighting broke out in 2009, killing up to 250 Indians.

Dilson Ingarico , President of the Ingaricò Indigenous Council of Brazil
Member of the Rikbaktsa during the indigenous games in Olinda , Brazil

The situation is quite different in those South American states where the Indians have become a small minority, such as in Brazil. Land grabbing continues there, albeit more by mineral-seeking companies and landowners, such as against the Makuxi in the north or the Guarani in the south. The government is not doing enough to counteract this development, as the Supreme Court ruled on March 17, 2009. He ruled that the Raposa/Serra do Sol reserve in Roraima state belonged to the local ethnic groups. Although the reserve near the border with Guyana was granted to the Indians by President da Silva in 2005 , the government did not even intervene when fighting broke out. The Tremembé people in Ceará , Brazil, have been fighting a tourism project for their 3,100-hectare reserve since 2002. The Suruí , a tribe in the province of Rondônia that numbered 5,000 40 years ago and now only 1,300, have contacted Google Earth Outreach . They want to make the destruction of the rainforest visible via Google Earth and monitor their area. The largest forced resettlement is planned on the Rio Madeira , where GDF Suez , a semi-state-owned French company, is having the Jirau Dam built. The Lula government is planning something similar on the Rio Xingu , where filmmaker James Cameron has meanwhile gotten involved. Voith Hydro , Siemens and Andritz are supplying some of the technical equipment . Dam construction projects are also threatening Native American cultures in Canada, such as British Columbia, as have construction projects in the western United States since the early 20th century. They prevented salmon migration and thus deprived the dependent tribes of their livelihood.

The situation is particularly unfavorable for the around 100 isolated indigenous groups worldwide , who are to be spared any (further) contact because they would otherwise fall victim to diseases unknown to them. Such groups exist in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, as well as in the Chaco region of Paraguay, where the Ayoreo live, for example.


In ethnology , primarily for North America, more rarely for Central and South America, a rough classification of the indigenous cultures is made according to so-called cultural areas, in which ethnic groups with similar cultural-historical characteristics are summarized (see also: North American cultural areas and cultures of the indigenous peoples of South America ) .

Narrative, literature, writing

Aside from some Central American cultures that possessed pictographic writing, such as the Maya , who developed a true writing system, Western Hemisphere cultures left little written evidence. But in recent years, the oldest writings have been dated to around 900 BC. backdated. The so-called Cascajal stone from the early 1st millennium BC. BC shows 62 characters on an area of ​​36 by 21 cm. It shows that the Olmec were possibly the first to develop a writing system.

Chronicles existed among the Plains Indians that used graphic symbols to represent important events. These chronicles could not be understood without verbal commentary. The most important pictorial writing is the tribal saga recorded on tree bark by Lenni Lenape , known as Walam Olum , who lived in the eastern United States . The tradition was therefore largely oral. Oral tradition , however, was able to preserve events from centuries and sometimes millennia ago. Another technique of commemoration is the erection of memorials, such as totem poles , which were erected on the Northwest Coast to commemorate the notable deceased.

Sequoyah with a table of the Cherokee script he developed . After a painting by Charles Bird King

Early on, missionaries developed scripts intended to render the sounds of the Native American languages ​​more appropriately than the limited possibilities of the Latin and Cyrillic characters would allow. There were also independent developments, such as the Cherokee alphabet developed by Sequoyah from 1809 . Today, numerous tribes, such as the Cree, have their own script.

From 1828 to 1834, Gallegina Watie (Elias Boudinot), a Cherokee, was able to publish a newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix , which appeared weekly in English and Cherokee .

North America

In contrast to the narratives of oral culture, literary production is overwhelmingly based on the colonial languages, which paradoxically have become the primary media of communication among Indians. In addition to the main stream of literature, native literature represents the tradition of the ethnic groups in North America. Despite being translated (into English and French) and written down, it is deeply rooted in oral traditions.

However, the written tradition that began in the 17th century and was translated into English or French had a distorting effect due to Christian moral reservations and misunderstandings. In addition, numerous stories are owned by lineages and may only be told in certain ritual contexts. Most of them are neither publicly available nor translated.

William Apes : The Experience of William Apes, a Native of the Forest , 1831

The independent literary tradition dates back at least to the early 19th century, as evidenced by William Apes' The Experience of William Apes, a Native of the Forest of 1831. Apes (1798–1839) was Pequot and counts among the early examples of American literature , along with George Copway , an Anishinabe , and Chief Elias Johnson, a Tuscarora . This tradition can be extended to Joseph Brant , whose name was Thayendanegea (1742–1807), who translated the Anglican Catechism and the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language . Oliver La Farge 's isolated work , the novella Laughing Boy from 1929, represents a further attempt at departure, as does the daughter of a Mohawk chief Emily Pauline Johnson (1861–1913) with works such as The Song My Paddle Sings , Flint and Feather or The White Wampum , which have also been published in the US and UK. She dedicated an Ode to Brant to Thayendanegea/Brant .

Emily Pauline Johnson : The White Wampum , 1895

The Kiowa N. Scott Momaday received the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn , Vine Deloria published Custer Died For Your Sins. An Indian Manifesto . Dee Brown's 1970's Bury My Heart at the Bend of the River finally burst onto the national scene . Now authors such as Norval Morrisseau with legends ( Ojibwa Legends of My People , 1965), Dan George and Rita Joe with poetic ones (My Heart Soars, 1974 and Poems of Rita Joe, 1978), but also political works (Harold Cardinal: The Rebirth of Canada's Indians , 1977) in the North recognition. The recovery of cultural autonomy after the bans on central traditions such as the potlatch (George Clutesi: Potlatch , 1969) also played an important role. Overall, attempts to connect with the remnants of one's own cultures increased (John Snow: These Mountains Are Our Sacred Places 1977, Beverly Hungry Wolf: The Ways of My Grandmothers , 1980). Autobiographical approaches played an important role (Rita Joe: Song of Rita Joe: Autobiography of a Mi'kmaq Poet ).


The Dresden Codex, 39 leaves, approx. 20 by 10 cm, approx. 1200 to 1250, p. 9 of the Förstemann edition

Mesoamerica, the region with a long written tradition, absorbed both Spanish and Mayan traditions, such as those preserved in the inscriptions of the ruler of Palenque , K'inich Janaab' Pakal (615–683), in the Temple of Inscriptions . The connection between text and illustration is very close, similar to the four surviving Maya codices , which were written on the inside of processed tree bark, especially from the fig species Ficus glabrata, from the 5th century onwards. Among them, the Codex Dresdensis (1st half of the 13th century) is considered the most important.

Codex Borgia , p. 71, probably created shortly before the Spaniards arrived in Puebla, facsimile edition 1898. The codex was probably used by priests to carry out their duties. Shown are the sun (left), moon (right) and morning star (small symbol) and the 13 birds (= hours) of the day

Bishop Diego de Landa had most of the Mayan codices burned from 1562 onwards. Nevertheless, as with the Aztecs , where around 500 of them were made during the colonial phase and where at least parts of them still exist today, a tradition of codex production has persisted. The codices of the Aztecs usually do not contain any written characters, or only later entered in Latin script and in Nahuatl . Missionaries wrote the first grammars and dictionaries in this language. The history and prophecy books Chilam Balam were already influenced by both cultural roots . In this way, pre-Hispanic, more pictographic traditions were combined with colonial-era written ones, with the latter slowly gaining the upper hand.

In the more ritualistic performance of oral text recitation, singing played a different role than in Europe. In the 16th century, 91 Aztec songs were recorded in the Cantares Mexicanos , which means that around half of the song texts have been handed down. The only surviving songs of the Maya are found in the Cantares de Dzitbalché from the 17th century. The mixture of Spanish and Indian traditions is called mestizaje . The literature of the Chicano , which emanated from the emigrants to the USA and refers strongly to the Indian roots, refers to this culture of the mestizos.

Similar to North America, Mexico created a literary image of the Indian that was subject to similar changes.

South America

In the south of the continent there was no literary-pictographic tradition that went back as far as there was in Mesoamerica. While there was the quipu, a memorization device made of knots, which those skilled in knot cords, quipucamayos, mastered, the purpose of the cords remains unclear. Nonetheless, oral traditions and the persistence of indigenous traditions had a strong impact on written and literary development.

Indigenismo emerged in the 20th century, the most important protagonist of which was José María Arguedas from Peru. He was of Quechua descent and raised with them. As an ethnologist, he published the 16th -century Waruchiri manuscript in Spanish in 1966, thereby making it known to a wider audience, although flawed - it had already been translated into German by Hermann Trimborn in 1939. It is considered the most important monument of early colonial Quechua literature . It is also the only collection of texts in Quechua and deals with myths and descriptions of religious ceremonies in the hinterland of Lima - probably penned by the clergyman of Indian-Spanish origin Francisco de Avila (before 1608). At that time, the establishment of reductions ordered by Viceroy Toledo, i.e. the concentration and resettlement of the Indians, had already been carried out. The piece was written at a time when Indian and Spanish traditions were already heavily overlapping.

One of the traditions written in Quechua, the Comentarios reales de los incas (1609) by El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega , shows a high level of competence in the author's native language, despite decades of use of Spanish. Similar to Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala's Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (around 1615), the work still shows strong indigenous features and combines oral and written forms.

Apu Ollantay , a drama probably from the 18th century, which deals with the forbidden love of the eponymous Inca general for the Inca princess Kusiquyllurs, enjoyed considerable popularity, especially during the independence movements. Spaniards living in Cuzco in particular, who were demanding a solution from the colonial powers, may even have considered Quechua the appropriate language for their movement.

In the meantime, Quechua has become an independent literary language – Aymara less so – into which more and more people are being translated. In 1975 Jorge Lira processed the stories he had collected (Isicha Puytu). Tales from Urubamba followed later , then Unay pachas by Rufino Chuquimamani , Pirumanta qillqasqa willakuykuna by Carmelón Berrocal and in 1992 Unay willakuykuna by Crescencio Ramos.

Among the better known works is the autobiography of Gregorio Condori Mamani and Asunta Quispe Huamán, recorded by Ricardo Valderrama Fernández and Carmen Escalante Gutiérrez in 1982.

In 1994 José Oregón Morales published eight short stories (Loro qulluchi – Fighting the Parrots), dealing with his village childhood in the Andes and varying fairy tales. Porfirio Meneses Lazón wrote Quechua poems (Suyaypa llaqtan, 1988) and short stories (Achikyay willaykuna (Tales of the Dawn, 1998)) in which he contrasts his narrative style with the folksy dialogues.

Macedonio Villafán Broncano (* 1949) received the Premio de cuento del Concurso Nacional de Literatura Quechua literary prize in 1997 for his short story Apu Kolkijirka (Mr. Silberberg). Apu, a mountain deity, appears as a first-person narrator and tells the story of "his" place Cutacancha ( Ancash region ).

Art, craft, ritual

According to the interaction of the natural environment and cultural development, the traditions were extremely diverse. While the monumental cultures between the Mississippi and the Andes often used stone and clay as the starting material, the forested regions of the north preferred wood and other organic materials.

Today, Native American art is growing in an expanding art market. Works of traditional carving, such as the totem poles of Pacific coastal cultures, have become collector's items.

Sculpture by Bill Reid : Haida creation story in which the raven finds humans in a shell (photo: Joe Goldberg)
Tlingit totem pole in Ketchikan , Alaska

In Canada and Alaska the West Coast Native Art dominates - these were masters of the Haida, Tsimshian and Kwakiutl , then Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish - and the "Woodlands" school of the "Legend Painters" - above all Norval Morrisseau, an Ojibwa who has occasionally been called the "Picasso of the North."

By the 17th century at the latest, the bartering of works for travellers, such as moccasins or small carvings, began. Even today, this art is offered in all quality levels. Traditional art often covers the expectations of art that are brought to it, but at the same time tries to find a compromise between the traditions. It often serves to produce a work that is not considered art, but rather serves ritual, often hidden purposes. Artists such as Tony Hunt and Bill Reid (1920-1998) continued - despite the ban on public rituals such as the potlatch - in the traditions of the Haida Charles Edenshaw (around 1839-1920), Willie Seaweed (1873-1967 ) and Mungo Martin (1879/82–1962) were inherited from the Kwakiutl .

In 1973, seven artists formed the "Indian Group of Seven". Alongside contemporary influences, they incorporated Algonquin pictographic traditions and Canadian Shield petroglyphs . In contrast, many artists who work with non-traditional techniques consider themselves artists first and are reluctant to be labeled "Native American artists".

Similar to the north, objects such as hats, blankets, baskets were the focus in today's USA, as were elaborately decorated weapons and whistles, in some regions a highly developed art of construction. However, the objects were not art production in the Western sense and were not intended for a market. That changed from the 1820s, when the natural basis of life of the Indians was increasingly destroyed. Thus was born the Iroquois Realist School among the Haudenosaunee of New York City , led by David and Dennis Cusick. Edmonia Lewis (c. 1845–1911), an artist of African and Native American ancestry (Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation) with a studio in Rome , carved the 1877 portrait of President Ulysses S. Grant . Angel DeCora (Hinook-Mahiwi-Kilinaka, 1871–1919), who studied at Hampton University, was involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement (around 1870 to 1920, mainly in the USA and Great Britain) and conveyed to her students the importance of art in the Development of self-esteem and resistance to state assimilation policies. Another important group were the Kiowa Five from Oklahoma, who exhibited in Prague for the first time in 1928 .

Seated Quimbaya cacique, made between the 2nd and 10th centuries

The artistic-ritual traditions of Central and South America adopted new materials introduced by the colonizers early on. Don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxóchitl , a direct descendant of Ixtlilxochitl I of Texcoco , was already painting with ink and watercolor on paper in the 16th century (Codex Ixtlilxochitl).

The arts of metal and stone processing can be traced back much further. The main metals used were gold and copper. Numerous relics attest to the craftsmanship, although many works were melted down by Spaniards interested only in gold and who dismissed the symbolically laden artifacts.


See: History of Architecture in the United States#Native American Architecture


Mural painting in Temple 1 at Bonampak , a Maya city in Chiapas , ca. 790

Systematic collections of music did not begin in the North until about 1900. In 1911 these were Malecite and Mi'kmaq songs from Kahnawake and Lorette. At the same time, scholars recorded songs of the Huron , Algonquin, and Iroquois, Delaware , and Tutelo . But only the anthropologist and dancer Gertrude Prokosch Kurath (1903-1992) succeeded in developing a notation system for the Iroquois dances. Investigations into ritual dances (William Fenton: The Iroquois Eagle Dance , 1953) and the medical societies ( The False Faces of the Iroquois , Norman, Oklahoma 1987) followed.

The music of the Cree and the Ojibwa, the Blackfoot and the Sarcee followed, with researchers from the USA making important contributions as early as the 1900s. Both traditional and adapted Blood country and western music, as well as Christian hymns, were examined.

James Teit recorded songs of the Sikani , Tahltan , Tlingit, Carrier , Okanagan and Nlaka'pamux , in 1913 collections were made from the Sikani to the Great Slave Lake . More followed in the 1970s and 1980s at Coast Salish in British Columbia and Washington.

It was not until the 1980s that the First Nations began to conduct research themselves. There were also labels worn by Indians.

In addition to drums and various flutes, the Maya used maracas and ocarinas . There is also a stringed instrument that has been shown to imitate the voice of a jaguar. The connection to dance and ritual, as everywhere in America, was much closer than in Europe.

A total of six areas are distinguished in North America: that of the Inuit and the Northwest Coast, then California and Arizona, the Great Basin, the Athapasque, Plains and Pueblo and the Eastern Woodland. Basically, the singing is in the foreground, instruments form a rhythmic accompaniment. The singing is more dominant in the north, especially east of the Rocky Mountains, and more subdued in the south. Drums and rattles (Maraca in South America) predominate, and in Meso- and South America there were various flutes, finally as a special form of drum, the teponaztli .

In the North, a complex ritual music culture developed on the Northwest Coast, with extensive dance rituals and lengthy lyrics memorized. Melodies and lyrics in California and the Great Basin are simpler and shorter, falsetto was preferred. Costumed dances predominate here, which are rare among Athabaskan groups, except for the Pueblo-influenced Apaches. Among the Navajo, singing was also used for healing. Music was never an activity in itself, but was strongly integrated into social frameworks of action. The music of the prairies is the most researched and common at the popular powwows .

Little is known about the pre-Hispanic music of South America. Especially in Patagonia, polyphonic singing was developed. Traditional music with singing, flute and percussion still exists in Brazil and the adjacent tropical forest areas .

museums, libraries


A Medicine Wheel , a Sacred Site and National Historic Landmark in Wyoming

Ethnic religions of North America , Aztec religion , Maya religion , Contemporary ethnic religions in Mesoamerica , Inca religion , Indigenous religions of South America

The majority of the ethnic religions in America were based on the idea that natural phenomena had a universal soul ( animism ). In high cultures there was a rule of priests ( theocracy ), which manifested itself in huge buildings between Mississippi and the Andes. Schools for priests also emerged here, while older people trained to become medicine men , but also in secret societies that passed on their knowledge to their members.

To a large extent, this was based on a close relationship with the natural environment, so that the focus was on weather, plants and animals, earth and sky, but also stars and the calculation of events over the course of the year. Creation myths and the collective memory of a common ancestor, often from the animal kingdom, were common, as was sometimes the belief in a creator god (which, however, mostly no longer had any influence on humans). Some tribes worshiped an impersonal life energy that expressed itself, for example, in the sun, as fertility of the earth, as wisdom or strength, expressed in bears, wolves, ravens, snakes or the Quetzalcoatl .

The religious content was location- and family-specific and had no claim to universal validity . The focus was on the sacredness of places, rituals, knowledge and stories, dances and music as well as people. Advanced civilizations developed complex public rituals in which thousands of people took part.

The initiation and training was often the task of the elders, with necromancers and medicine people this often happened through spontaneous visions. Even as children, in some tribal groups - such as the Coast Salish - the "historians" of the families and tribes were selected and taught. In the written cultures of the Maya and Aztecs, rituals were recorded in writing and the religious content recorded symbolically.

In Latin America, the orders and the crown pushed for proselytizing , a task that the conquerors only superficially took on (conquistador proclamation), often in order to be able to "lawfully" subdue or kill the pagans who did not speak Latin and were therefore unintelligent and reluctant. At the same time, the Spanish state had largely detached the ecclesiastical organization from Rome and transformed it into a state church , which had a dreaded weapon at its disposal in the form of the Inquisition . Accordingly, the Crown promoted missions throughout Latin America, while at the same time using the Church to keep the grandees under control and to prevent the penetration of Reformation forces into the colonies.

Claude d'Abbeville: Histoire de la Mission , Paris 1614, frontispiece; with Latin quotation from Isaiah 49, 22

This also strengthened the religious orders further north, where at the same time they, especially the Jesuits, were active for France. Thus, the religions of the Latin American Indians and, to a lesser extent, those of New France were confronted with Catholic rituals, and there were frequent resettlement and reunions that encouraged a strong mixing of previously separate groups, as with the Guaranì in Paraguay. In doing so, missionaries often linked up with the caciques, the respective elites, and the Jesuits even entrusted them with military leadership tasks.

The conversion of the Indians was initially unsuccessful, since the people generally saw no reason to give up their "proven" faith. Moreover, the striving for conversion was completely foreign and incomprehensible to them. Christianity was therefore mostly only accepted in the north as a form of spiritual healing after devastating epidemics or cultural uprooting . Indian blessed and saints like Kateri Tekakwitha then served as models. The Jesuits initially played a major role in missionary work, followed by the Oblates in the 19th century . A few Protestant groups, such as Methodists and Baptists , did missionary work in the English-speaking part of America, and there were Russian Orthodox missionaries in Alaska. As a result, Native Americans are predominantly Catholic today, but form a dense patchwork quilt in the Northwest. There, as in Latin America, eclectic forms developed, such as the Indian Shaker Church , or, as in Peru, groups that kept the memory of the Incas alive. Syncretistic "mixed religions" often arose; the largest in North America is the Native American Church , also known as peyotism due to the worship of an intoxicant . Syncretistic forms of religion formed the basis for the oracle known as the Speaking Cross , which Jose María Barrera called on October 15, 1850 to continue the caste war against the Mexican government. The cross grew on the roots of a kapok tree , the sacred tree of life, which in turn grew out of a cave that represented a sacred place located at a cenote (ts'ono'ot), a site of the rain gods Cháak . Crescencio Poot (1875–1885) and María Uicab († 1872), the “Queen of Tulum”, were among the guardians of the cross and thus important leaders of the uprising .

Numerous features of pre-European spirituality have been preserved or revived and developed. Many rituals are still only practiced within limited groups or by secret societies. This applies, for example, to the sun dance of the prairie cultures or the medicine societies of the Iroquois . In the north, the concept of “ medicine ” plays an important role. Since at least the 16th century, secret societies of the Algonquin tribes have often been using birch bark, on which spiritually significant knowledge was scratched in code, to record complex processes or historical events. The Speaking Cross is still worshiped today, but only among the Mayans.

In view of the contradictory roles played by the mission and the church towards the Indians, it is not surprising that in May 2007 the Brazilian indigenous people accepted Pope Benedict XVI's statement. rejected that the Catholic Church had redeemed the Indians in Latin America. In 1992, even his predecessor John Paul II admitted that he had made mistakes in evangelization .


The governments of North America have established institutions responsible for Indian affairs, but these have often emerged from the War Departments. In Canada, this is the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (also Indian and Northern Affairs Canada ), in the USA since 1824 the Bureau of Indian Affairs , which is now subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior . Each province and most states, in turn, have a ministry or department that also deals with this issue.

On the other hand, there are a number of political parties in Canada and the Assembly of First Nations as the umbrella organization. It is the mouthpiece of all First Nations, conducts processes and is now active beyond national borders, for example at the United Nations , when it comes to human rights issues. Tribal councils, which sometimes represent only a few, sometimes several dozen tribes , keep archives , conduct treaty negotiations and usually represent the linguistically and culturally close tribes vis-à-vis the government.

Below this level two systems are in conflict, namely the government-mandated system of elected chiefs and their advisers on the one hand, and that of the traditional chiefs. In many tribes, the government-sponsored elective chiefs dominate the tribal councils, which in turn award numerous positions of political and economic importance. Then there are the young adults and children, whose numbers are growing rapidly, but who are not sufficiently represented in either group. The proportion of the urban population is also steadily increasing. In the US, many tribes have had self-government rights and run police and courts on their reservations since the 1930s.

The question of the possibility of quasi-state sovereignty with corresponding territories stands in stark contrast to the attempt to treat the tribes as a sum of individuals in both Canada and the USA. A part of their traditional territory is to be returned to the tribes of Canada, but no longer as collective property, like the reservations, but as private property that can be sold. Given the widespread poverty, it is foreseeable that this would lead to the sale of large parts of Indian land, an assimilation strategy that the USA has long pursued.

These groups are hit particularly hard by social problems such as poverty, illness, alcohol and drug problems, the breaking up of family structures and the threat to subsistence farming from restrictions on fishing and hunting rights, as well as ecological problems and the consequences of numerous forced resettlements. These existential problems have led to a greatly increased suicide rate, especially in the USA and Canada. In the US it is 70% higher than the US average. Native American youth between the ages of 15 and 24 kill themselves three times as often as their American peers. At the same time, gang violence is on the rise on some reservations.

Efforts of economic and cultural recovery have been going on for a long time. On the one hand, the latter revolves around the language and the rituals, and in some tribes around the restoration of the traditional social systems.

In Mexico, the Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CDI), the "National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples" is responsible.

Members of different ethnic groups protest against their poor living conditions in the Vale do Javarí on the border between Peru and Brazil, January 2008

In Brazil, the responsible institution is called the Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI) , which reports to the Ministry of Justice. It was founded in 1910 by Cândido Rondon , under his direction the first reserve was created in 1961 (on the Rio Xingu ). After that, FUNAI became almost meaningless and the Ministry of Justice has controlled the legislation last updated in 2008 since 2002 (). FUNAI assumes 5.6 million Indians around 1500 and 1,300 languages, today 460,000 in about 215 known nations, 100 to 190,000 of them live in cities. A distinction is made between 180 known languages ​​and supports the difference after centuries of assimilation. It was not until 1953 that Brazilian anthropology, later the Associação Brasileira de Antropologia , founded in 1955, developed a naming convention for all tribes.

Organizations such as the Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin and the Indian Council of South America are trying to strengthen Indian rights across countries, similar to the International Indian Treaty Council for all of America. There are also representations at the UNO or the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization .

In some countries, the neglect of entire regions and the lack of land reforms meant that indigenous groups supported the left-wing, sometimes militant, opposition, such as the Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru , which takes its name from the last Inca ruler. Even in states where the Indians represent a small minority, such as in Colombia, they try to protect their country against privatization, for example by resource companies. Thus Martín von Hildebrand helped them to give constitutional status to the protection of their culture, languages ​​and reservations. On August 23, 2011, the Peruvian Congress approved a bill that would make consultation with the regional indigenous group mandatory for any company wishing to extract or log local resources.

Of any population in the US, Native Americans have the highest rate of overdoses in the US opioid crisis . In January 2022, four pharmaceutical companies agreed to pay Native Americans $590 million after a lawsuit brought by 400 Native American tribes. That compensation fund would be open to all 574 officially recognized Native American tribes in the United States, even if they had not filed any lawsuits.


Charrúa on the Río de la Plata with a bola , a hunting weapon. Hendrick Ottsen: Iovrnael oft daghelijcx-register van de voyagie na Rio de Plata (1603, 1617). Ottsen had traveled to South America from 1598 to 1601.

Hunting and fishing are often used for subsistence, but commercial fishing is only possible to a limited extent. Many fish stocks are declining and governments tend to favor commercial fishing, which Indians are often forbidden to fish. In the north, the timber industry is in crisis as large quantities of surplus timber are forced onto the market by the catastrophic losses caused by the mountain pine beetle . In South America, considerable amounts of forest are being destroyed for biodiesel , so that Guarani, for example, have been forcibly resettled in Paraguay. Soaring commodity prices from 2006 to 2008 fueled existing conflicts, increasing pressure on tribes to issue mining permits. However, the natural environment is a prerequisite for the preservation of the cultural diversity that characterizes the Indian cultures.

Self-government and tourism have created jobs for many reserve residents in numerous parks that have been created in recent decades, which neither destroy natural resources to the extent previously nor keep them dependent on state welfare.

Alongside the traditional ways of economy, the cession of land to resource and energy companies, and the fact that the Native Americans seek to exploit their rural economic base through logging, hydroelectric power generation , wind and solar power , resource extraction, tourism, handicrafts and agriculture, two are growing Areas in North America particularly fast: gambling and economic contacts with other indigenous peoples.

In Meso and South America, agriculture, which has historical roots there, is much more in Indian hands than in the north. Indio has become almost synonymous with campesino , rural dwellers, in many areas, with subsistence farming often predominating. However, the range of products is very different from that outside of the Indian metropolitan areas. Thousands of potato varieties, for example, represent almost the entire diversity of varieties in the world. The spectrum of export goods ranges from mate tea and coffee to coca and poppy seed products , which reach the illegal world market in a variety of ways.

The Mohegan Sun , the casino run by the Mohegan
Avi Resort and Casino in Nevada

Starting in the USA in 1979, casinos are playing an increasing role, which are increasingly becoming tourism and entertainment businesses. While there were only 17 casinos in Canada in 2008, there were over 400 so-called Indian casinos in 27 states in the USA. Of these, 54 are in California alone, 73 in Oklahoma , where a clear concentration of US Indians is located, and another 115 are in the northernmost states along the Canadian border. Altogether, North American casinos employ around half a million people and had a turnover of around $20 billion in 2005 , much of which benefits Native American owners.


In Canada and the USA, television and radio stations offer airtime in the local Native American languages, but the Internet has become particularly important. The first TV stations of their own emerged in the USA, such as the North West Indian News (NWIN) or the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network . Since the end of 2009, the first television station in Ecuador has also been broadcasting a program that is offered in Quechua.


Susan La Flesche Picotte († 1915), was the first American Indian woman to earn a doctorate (MD) degree.

Access to the labor market depends on the type of training, access to education and accessibility of the workplace. The indigenous people living in rural areas face considerable problems.

After the boarding school systems in the English-speaking countries of the north had been dissolved since the 1960s, Indian groups often took over the schools themselves. Especially for the often very rural reservations, the connection to the Internet is now of great importance.

It is striking that the proportion of students who achieve a higher educational qualification is significantly lower compared to the rest of the population. According to a Canadian government report, only around 27% of 15- to 44-year-olds obtained a so-called post-secondary certificate , diploma or degree , a proportion that is otherwise 46%. The transition to higher education is hampered by bureaucratic hurdles and often by the long distances to the educational institution. In Latin America, the situation of rural areas is even less favorable in this respect, especially when they are very isolated, as in the Andes. In addition, the type of training and education that comes from the cities can only be transferred to rural or even traditional Indian ways of life to a limited extent. In addition, the languages ​​of education are also the colonial languages.

A national First Nations University in Regina , Saskatchewan , has been providing university education in Canada since 2003 . In addition, numerous colleges teach various aspects of indigenous cultures, many work together with research institutes, museums, universities and private companies, especially in the archaeological field.

Even the simplest collection of statements about education, such as the question of literacy , poses enormous methodological problems. Nevertheless, Bolivian President Evo Morales announced at the end of 2008 that 820,000 people in his country had learned to read within three years. This means that the UNO specified mark of more than 96% literacy has been reached, and Bolivia is free from illiteracy .

Intercultural and bilingual education has been taught in Bolivia since 1994. At the beginning of 2007, around 1.2 million schoolchildren received state aid. In societies with extremely different cultural groups, the goal of mere literacy proves to be too one-sidedly oriented to needs that are already aligned with the global economic structure. The discussion about the culturally appropriate educational paths, means and content determined by the groups themselves is only just beginning at the state level.

See also



  • Patricia Roberts Clark: Tribal names of the Americas. Spelling variants and alternative forms, cross-referenced , McFarland, 2009. ISBN 0-7864-3833-9 (for North, Central and South America)
  • Gord Hill: Five Centuries of Indigenous Resistance in North, Central and South America , Verlag Edition AV, 2012 ( 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance , Oakland (California) 2009 - the author is Kwakiutl ; the work was written until 1992 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary celebrations). anniversary of the "discovery" of America).
  • Susanne von Karstedt: actors, ideologies, instruments. A comparison of the main features of US American and Argentine Indian policies (1853–1899) , Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, Berlin 2006.
  • Wolfgang Lindig, Mark Münzel: The Indians. Cultures and history of the Indians of North, Central and South America. dtv, Munich 1978.
  • Charles C. Mann: America Before Columbus. The Story of an Undiscovered Continent . Rowohlt Verlag GmbH, 2016, ISBN 978-3-498-04536-4 , p. 720 .
  • Museum of Ethnology Hamburg, Eva König (ed.): Photographic journeys from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego: Indians 1858 - 1928 , 1st edition, catalog for the exhibition of the same name from 04/28/2002 - 06/15/2003 in the Museum of Ethnology Hamburg, Edition Braus, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-89904-021-X .
  • Steven T. Newcomb: Pagans in the Promised Land. Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery , Fulcrum Publishing, 2008.
  • Luis Alberto Reyes: El pensamiento indigenousa en America. Los antiguos andinos, mayas y nahuas . Biblos, Buenos Aires 2008, ISBN 978-950-786-647-0 .

web links

Wikiquote: Indians  - Quotes
Commons : Indians  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Indians  – explanations of meaning, word origin, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Native Americans  - sources and full texts


  1. ^ Gaertner, Peter; “Native Americans” – A Term Doomed to Extinction?; Leipzig, 2020; in: Quetzal - Culture and Politics in Latin America
  2. See entry Indian and American Indian in Merriam-Webster ; accessed 7 January 2022.
  3. See Red Indians in Merriam-Webster.
  4. Nancy Shoemaker: How Indians got to be red. , published June 1997 at American Historical Review ; Retrieved July 12, 2016
  5. Preference for Racial or Ethnic Terminology . In: Info please . Retrieved February 8, 2006.
  6. Juliana Ströbele-Gregor: Indigenous emancipation movements in Latin America , in: From politics and contemporary history (Federal Agency for Civic Education, APuZ 51-52/2006).
  7. Seth Garfield, Indigenous Struggle at the Heart of Brazil. State Policy, Frontier Expansion, and the Xavante Indians, 1937–1988 , Duke University Press, 2001.
  8. This and the following according to CIA World Factbook, February 2009
  9. Raymond Colitt, Brazil sees traces of more isolated Amazon tribes , Reuters 17 January 2007
  10. Sistema Nacional de Información Estadística y Geográfica (SNIEG) . Broken down by province: Población hablante de lengua indígena de 5 y más años por entidad federativa según sexo, 2000 y 2005
  11. On the spread of languages ​​in America, see Johannes Reese: The states and territories of the world and their linguistic situation. America ( September 6, 2007 memento at Internet Archive )
  12. Rick Kearns: Indigenous languages ​​added to new Ecuadorian constitution. In: Indian Country , 22 August 2008.
  13. David Reich, Nick Patterson, et al.: Reconstructing Native American population history , Nature 2012, published online: 11 July 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11258
  14. Christine Papp: The Tehuelche. An ethno-historical contribution to a centuries-long non-encounter , Diss. Vienna 2002, p. 75.
  15. Berthold Seewald: German researchers find huge pyramid in Peru , in: Die Welt, October 19, 2006 and Peru: South America's oldest building uncovered .
  16. Cf. Horst Pietschmann : State and state development at the beginning of the Spanish colonization of America , Münster 1980 and Hans-Jürgen Prien: The history of Christianity in Latin America, Göttingen 1978
  17. Massimo Livi Bacci offers a comprehensive overview: Conquista: La distruzione degli indios americani , Bologna 2005.
  18. Cortés, Hernán: The Conquest of Mexico. Three reports to Emperor Karl V. p. 85
  19. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Smallpox (variola, smallpox) . In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Encyclopedia of Medical History . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-097694-6 , p. 1172 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  20. For the debate on the genocide question, see Guenter Lewy: Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide? , History News Network, 22 November 2004 .
  21. See David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World , Oxford University Press 1993; Russell Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492 , University of Oklahoma Press 1987; Lilian Friedberg in Dare to Compare: Americanizing the Holocaust , in: American Indian Quarterly 24.3 (2000) 353-380 ( Online ( Memento of 29 May 2013 at the Internet Archive )); Guenter Lewy : Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide? In: History News Net. January 22, 2007.
  22. On the role of the church, see Hans-Jürgen Prien: The History of Christianity in Latin America , Göttingen 1978.
  23. Johannes Winter, André Scharmanski: Are the Andean States ungovernable? Causes of the political crisis in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru , in: Development Policy Journal 14 (2005) 30-34, here: p. 30.
  24. Der Zorn des Urwalds , Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 13, 2009 ( Memento of June 16, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  25. Up to 250 Indigenous Peruvians Killed in Bagua, Says Leader Miguel Palacin , in: groundreport, June 11, 2009 .
  26. The Indians of Raposa–Serra do Sol, Survival International website
  27. Tremembé de Almofala ( Memento of 9 July 2010 at the Internet Archive )
  28. Surveillance of one's own territory , in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, July 28, 2009
  29. Tribe teams with Google to make stand in Amazon , in: San Francisco Chronicle, October 18, 2009.
  30. Illegal Logging: Indigenous peoples in Brazil Harassed, Threatened , April 18, 2008
  31. Lula's Steamroller , in: Die Tageszeitung, December 29, 2009
  32. Cf. Ancient civilizations in Mexico developed a writing system as early as 900 BC, new evidence suggests , BBC 14 September 2006 and oldest document discovered in America , Spiegel Online 15 September 2006 . As early as 2002, a cylinder with characters from around 650 BC was found. ( 'Earliest American writing' unearthed , BBC 5 December 2002 ).
  33. Stanley Guenter: The Tomb of K'inich Janaab Pakal: The Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque (PDF; 4.4 MB).
  34. After (PDF; 36.3 MB) Commentary by Eduard Seler (PDF; 38.4 MB)
  35. Cf. Antje Gunsenheimer : Historical tradition in the Yucatec Chilam Balam books. An Analysis of the Origin and Development of Selected Historical Accounts , Diss . Bonn 2002. PDF
  36. Conrado Gilberto Cabrera Quintero: La creación del imaginario del indio en la literatura mexicana del siglo XIX , 2005.
  37. Ricardo Valderrama Fernández and Carmen Escalante Gutiérrez: Gregorio Condori Mamani - Autobiografía , Centro Bartolomé de las Casas: Cuzco 1982. In addition Nora Valeska Gores: The Hispano-American testimonio in criticism. Examines the example of Gregorio Condori Mamani Autobiografia and Canto de Sirena , Magister thesis, Berlin 2007.
  38. See Morrisseau, 'Picasso of the North,' dead at 75 ( memento of 6 February 2008 at the Internet Archive ). I follow Joan M. Vastokas: History of Indigenous Art in Canada ( English, French ) In: The Canadian Encyclopedia . 4 March 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2019. Also: Janet Catherine Berlo, Ruth B. Phillips: Oxford History of Art: Native North American Art , New York: Oxford University Press 1998.
  39. Women in History: Edmonia Lewis ( Memento of 27 January 1999 at the Internet Archive ). An image of the Grant portrait can be found here ( memento of 15 October 2009 at the Internet Archive ).
  40. Sarah McAnulty, Angel DeCora: American Artist and Educator , first in: Nebraska History 57/2 (1976) 143-199.
  41. The Jacobson House. Native Art Center: About The Kiowa Five ( December 3, 2013 memento at Internet Archive )
  42. La musique chez les peuples indigenes de l'Amerique du Nord (Etats Unis et Canada) , Paris 1911.
  43. Robert Witmer, The Musical Life of the Blood Indians , Ottawa 1982
  44. Alden J. Mason, Notes on the Indians of the Great Slave Lake area , New Haven 1946.
  45. Wendy Bross Stuart: Gambling Music of the Coast Salish Indians , Vancouver 1972. Herman Karl Haeberlin 's approach to the Washington Coast Salish was nullified by his early death (cf. Herman Karl Haeberlin /Helen Roberts: Songs of the Puget Sound Salish , in: Journal of American Folklore 31 (1928) 496-520).
  46. Wendy Wickwire; Theories of ethnomusicology and the North American Indian: retrospective and critique , in: Canadian University Music Review 6 (1995) 186-221.
  47. Cf. Horst Gründer: Christian message of salvation and secular power. Studies on the relationship between mission and colonialism , LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster 2004, Chapter Conquista and Mission .
  48. Isaiah 49:22: haec dicit Dominus Deus ecce levo ad gentes "manum meam et ad populos exaltabo signum meum" et adferent filios tuos in ulnis et filias tuas super umeros portabunt - Thus says the Lord God: Behold, to the tribes I lift my hand, to the peoples I set up my sign. They bring their sons in robes and carry your daughters on their shoulders.
  49. Una Mirada al Pasado. María Uicab – La Santa Patrona de Tulum, Archivo General del Estado de Quintana Roo ( Memento of October 16, 2008 at the Internet Archive )
  50. Kenneth E. Kidd, Birch-Bark Scrolls in Archaeological Contexts , in: American Antiquity 30/4 (1965) 480-483.
  51. For example, Die Presse reported: Pope's speech "insulting and frightening" .
  52. INAC website
  53. BIA website
  54. Coyote—Native American Present No. 81, Spring 2009, page 6
  55. Gangs in Indian Country, Daily Yonder, September 17, 2009
  56. CDI website
  57. Fundação Nacional do Índio ( Memento of 11 August 2007 at the Internet Archive )
  58. Peru Congress passes consultation law unanimously , Reuters, 24 August 2011.
  59. Opioid crisis: US drug companies accept settlement - $590 million to Native Americans . In: The Mirror . February 1, 2022, ISSN  2195-1349 ( [accessed February 2, 2022]).
  60. Cf. Christine Fuchs: Attacke der Käfer , report by the ZDF foreign journal of September 13, 2007 ( Memento of January 5, 2008 in the Internet Archive ).
  61. Indian Gaming . S.a. National Indian Gaming Commission
  62. NWIN website ( Memento of 26 September 2008 at the Internet Archive )
  63. ↑ S. Aboriginal Peoples Television Network website .
  64. Quechua language TV hits the airwaves in Ecuador , in: Indian Country Today, December 4, 2009
  65. This emerged in the parliamentary debate of June 18, 2007 .
  66. Bolivia reads!

other remarks

  1. For traces on the California Channel Islands dating back to 13,000 BP , see Troy W. Davis, Jon M. Erlandson, Gerrit L. Fenenga, Keith Hamm: Chipped Stone Crescents and the Antiquity of Maritime Settlement on San Nicolas Island, Alta California , in : California Archeology 2.2 (December 2010) 185–202, here: p. 186.
  2. Each of us "comes from a people who has also had the experience of facing the forces of colonization by outsiders and has been subjected to attempts at physical and cultural genocide. Each knows the pressure to assimilate to other cultural patterns, and the pain of loss that has been handed down across the generations of people since contact … So it is that coming from such diverse cultures, we can join together to say, we are one. ( Gail Tremblay at a contemporary art exhibition, We Are Many, We Are One , ed. by Jaune Quick-to-SeeSmith, 1997.)
  3. For identification of individual tribes, see Indian Reservations in the Continental United States . For the status of land claims (1978), see Indian Land Areas Judicially Established 1978
  4. For a list of recognized tribes by state, see Federal and State Recognized Tribes , as of February 2015.
  5. A list can be found here: US Federally Non-Recognized Indian Tribes - Index by State .
  6. ^ See List of Native American Tribes Recognized in Canada .
  7. The official list of US reservations excluding Alaska, along with tribal lists and a map, can be found here , the list of Alaska Natives here .
  8. Not for nothing did John Eliot title his Indian Grammar in 1666 with the title: The Indian grammar begun: or an essay to bring the Indian Language into Rules, For the help of such desires as to Learn the same, for the Furtherance of the Gospel among them , Cambridge 1666. See fig. ( Memento of 13 May 2008 at the Internet Archive ) (, 13 May 2008).
  9. FirstVoices offers one of the most comprehensive collections of teaching materials .
  10. ^ Native Languages ​​of the Americas: Preserving and promoting American Indian languages gives an impression of over 800 languages
  11. Footprints from between 21,000 and 19,000 BC. in the White Sands National Park of New Mexico, which belong directly to the same layer as dateable organic materials, suggest a much earlier settlement (Maya Wei-Haas: Stunning footprints push back human arrival in Americas by thousands of years , in: National Geographic , September 23, 2021).
  12. The dating of the finds in Chilean Monte Verde to around 13,800 BC does not fit into this pattern. However, methodologically, this dating is highly disputed.
  13. In 2008, a team of researchers determined that teosinte was the parent variety in the central valley of the Río Balsas in southern Mexico. In the Xihuatoxtla shelter there, 8,700-year-old traces of teosinte and gourd (possibly Cucurbita argyrosperma ) were found, as well as corresponding tools. See Dolores R Piperno , Anthony J Ranere, Irene Holst, Jose Iriarte and Ruth Dickau: Starch grain and phytolith evidence for early ninth millennium BP maize from the Central Balsas River Valley, Mexico , in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , ed. Jeremy A Sabloff, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia 2009.
  14. ↑ In detail: George Weber: Los Toldos sites (Santa Cruz, Argentina) ( Memento from January 20, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  15. General information on the settlement of South America: Poblamiento Prehistórico de América y de Patagonia
  16. For comprehensive traumatization and healing approaches, see Cynthia C. Wesley-Esquimaux and Magdalena Smolewski: Historic Trauma and Aboriginal Healing , The Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series 2004, ISBN 0-9733976-9-1 .
  17. This attempt is repeatedly the subject of non-scientific discussion. Thomas Brown, for example, commented on this: Did the US Army Distribute Smallpox Blankets to Indians? Fabrication and Falsification in Ward Churchill's Genocide Rhetoric , in: plagiary 1/9 (2006) 1-30 or [Guenter Lewy: Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide? , History News Network, November 22, 2004]. See also Peter d'Errico: Jeffrey Amherst and Smallpox Blankets , University of Massachusetts 2007
  18. ↑ In 2010 he traveled to Brazil to speak out against the displacement of 12,000 residents and the destruction of their culture. James Cameron, in real life, fights to save indigenous groups from massive dam construction in Brazil , Mongabay, April 1, 2010 and Tribes of Amazon Find an Ally Out of 'Avatar' , New York Times, April 10, 2010
  19. On Anglo-Canadian literature: Daniel David Moses/Terry Goldie: An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English , Oxford University Press 1992. Conceived more for scholarly needs: Penny Petrone: First People First Voices , University of Toronto Press 1984, ISBN 978-0 -8020-6562-9 . Overall: American Indian Literature: an Anthology , ed. Alan R. Vellie, University of Oklahoma Press 1991. Blue Dawn, Red Earth: New Native American Storytellers , ed. Clifford Trafzer, New York 1996. In addition, the Internet Public Library has its own Native American Authors section ( Memento from 6 March 2009 at the Internet Archive ).
  20. The codex can be downloaded as a Förstemann or Kingsborough version from here .
  21. It is in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid. About the manuscript: Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz: Indian Quechua traditions from the colonial era between oral and written form. Habilitation, University of Bonn, 2003. urn : nbn:de:hbz:5-02538 , Shaker Verlag: Aachen 2003 (CD-ROM), ISBN 3-8322-2154-9 .
  22. An English translation is provided by Clements Markham . German published under Ollanta. An Inka drama Edition Viktoria 2007, ISBN 978-3-902591-00-5
  23. The five were James Auchiah (1906-1974), Spencer Asah (1905-1954), Jack Hokeah (1902-1969), Stephen Mopope (1898-1974) and Monroe Tsatoke (1904-1937).
  24. This and the following, from the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada ( Memento of 14 January 2009 at the Internet Archive ), First Nations Research Sections, 1900–1980 and 1980–1990.
  25. An example of Mi'kmaq music, dance, and language (voiced by Joel Denny).
  26. An Example of Cree Music and Song , August 2008.
  27. In 2004, the Princeton University Museum launched a website ( Memento des Originals from April 20, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. available that allows you to listen to individual instruments. @1@2Template: web archive/IABot/
  28. For music samples from across America, see the Smithsonian Institution's website , Smithsonian Global Sound From the Andes to the Arctic. Explore American Indian Heritage through Music ( Memento dated August 27, 2009 at Internet Archive )
  29. The website of the Ministry of Justice can be found here: Legislação Indigenista Brasileira e Normas Correlatas . A map of the Indio areas can be found here ( Memento of April 18, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 6.4 MB).
  30. The website is available in five languages, namely Spanish ( memento of 12 July 2007 at the Internet Archive ), English ( memento of 13 July 2007 at the Internet Archive ), Portuguese ( memento of 12 July 2007 at the Internet Archive ), French ( Memento of 13 August 2008 at the Internet Archive ) and is in the process of being created in Dutch ( Memento of 30 March 2010 at the Internet Archive ).
  31. For example, a two-year conflict erupted over the Burnt Church First Nation 's lobster catch in eastern Canada.
  32. Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have none, British Columbia has one, Alberta has two, Manitoba has three, Saskatchewan has six, Ontario has two, and New Brunswick has three. (Status: August 2008)
  33. Index of Native American Media Resources on the Internet or Native Media provide lists