Celebrating Native American History and Culture

Native american buffalo skulls

What’s often referred to as “American” history is in fact, Native American history, African American history, and a combination of the histories of ethnic groups that occupied, or were brought against their will to North America.

Prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus, who is heralded as the brave explorer who discovered North America, North America was occupied by a variety of native tribes, each with their own intricate system culture, religion, and societal values. In no way as North America “discovered” by Columbus; it was merely stumbled upon and mistaken for another body of land.

Native American art, culture, and religion were completely foreign to Columbus and his conquistadors. In fact, their spiritual, subsistence and nature-based way of leave was deemed inferior by Columbus, and the Native Americans were considered vicious, uncivilized savages. Quite the contrary. Native American tribes have a complex culture, perhaps moreso than that of the conquistadors. The native peoples of American based their religion and values on cycles found in nature, and celebrated the Earth’s bounty, only taking what they needed. This is because they were more aware, and highly in tune with the natural world, and saw that it was something to be revered, not to be taken advantage.

As such, Native American arts and crafts reflected these beliefs, and depicted scenes from nature. Much of Native American crafts pay homage to several animals, such as bear, eagles, and deer, all of which were considered holy, powerful animals to many tribes. Instead of having a bounty for buffalo skulls like the conquistadors and European colonists — who nearly drove the buffalo population to extinction — Native American tribes held this sentient animal in high regard, and did not kill it for sport.

As the Thanksgiving holiday is rapidly approaching, now is a good time for Americans to reflect on the many historical contributions Native Americans have made to American history, society, and culture. Many Native American weapons, such as the tomahawk axe, are sill used today. Several Native American customs, traditions, and words have been incorporated into modern American culture.

So much was taken away from Native Americans, yet their culture lives on in the modern world.

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