American Indians

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American Indians:

see Americas, antiquity and prehistory of theAmericas, antiquity and prehistory of the,
study of the origins of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas. Archaeologists believe humans had entered and occupied much of the Americas by the end of the Pleistocene epoch, but the date of their original entry into the Americas is
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; Natives, Middle AmericanNatives, Middle American or Mesoamerican,
aboriginal peoples living in the area between present-day United States and South America.
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; Natives, North AmericanNatives, North American,
peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent. They have long been known as Indians because of the belief prevalent at the time of Columbus that the Americas were the outer reaches of the Indies (i.e.
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; Natives, South AmericanNatives, South American,
aboriginal peoples of South America. In the land mass extending from the Isthmus of Panama to Tierra del Fuego, Native American civilizations developed long before the coming of the European.
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.

Indians, American:

see Americas, antiquity and prehistory of theAmericas, antiquity and prehistory of the,
study of the origins of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas. Archaeologists believe humans had entered and occupied much of the Americas by the end of the Pleistocene epoch, but the date of their original entry into the Americas is
..... Click the link for more information.
; Natives, Middle AmericanNatives, Middle American or Mesoamerican,
aboriginal peoples living in the area between present-day United States and South America.
..... Click the link for more information.
; Natives, North AmericanNatives, North American,
peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent. They have long been known as Indians because of the belief prevalent at the time of Columbus that the Americas were the outer reaches of the Indies (i.e.
..... Click the link for more information.
; Natives, South AmericanNatives, South American,
aboriginal peoples of South America. In the land mass extending from the Isthmus of Panama to Tierra del Fuego, Native American civilizations developed long before the coming of the European.
..... Click the link for more information.
.

American Indians

 

the aboriginal population of America (with the exception of the Eskimos and Aleuts). The name “Indians” arose from the erroneous idea of the first European navigators (Christopher Columbus and others in the late 15th century) that the land they had discovered on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean was India.

Anthropologically, the American Indians belong to the American race. The Indian population in America totals more than 30 million (mid-1960’s estimate). The linguistic diversity of the Indians is great. Studies of the various Indian languages have not received equal treatment. The religious beliefs in the past consisted of various types of tribal worship (shamanism, worship of personal spirit-protectors, vestiges of totemism). Among the Indians of today, these cults have been preserved only by the tribes living in the more remote and inaccessible regions of America (for example, the Amazon River basin); most American Indians have adopted Christianity, primarily Catholicism in South America and various Protestant sects in North America.

The ancestors of the American Indians and the Eskimos are thought to have migrated from northeast Asia across the Bering Sea and Bering Strait to America 30,000–20,000 years ago. The cultural level of the first migrants corresponded to the late Paleolithic and Mesolithic cultures of the Old World. The process of peopling both continents and developing the new lands extended over a period of many thousands of years.

Prior to the European colonization (which began in the 16th century), most of the North and South American tribes were at various stages of the communal tribal system: the matrilineal clan organization prevailed among some (Iroquois, Muskogeans, Hopi, many tribes of the Amazon River basin) and the patrilineal among others (tribes in northwest and southwest North America and many tribes in South America). Some peoples were at various stages of the transition from a clan to a class society. The Indians of Central and South America (Aztecs, Maya, Incas) were already living in class societies.

Several cultural and historical regions were in existence by the beginning of European colonization in America: (1) The Arctic, a sea-hunting region (Eskimos and Aleuts). (2) The Northwest Coast of North America, a region of specialized fishing and sea hunting (Haidas, Tlingits, Wakashans, Salish). (3) California, a region of acorn-gatherers, hunters, and fishermen. (4) Subarctic (northern Canada and Interior Alaska), a region inhabited by Algonquian and Athapascan tribes, whose mainstay of existence was fishing and hunting for deer and caribou. (5) The Eastern Woodlands (eastern part of what is now the USA), inhabited by tribes of settled farmers (Eastern Algonquians, Iroquois, Muskogeans). (6) The Plains, a region characterized by a culture of buffalo-hunting on horseback, which developed after the discovery of America (the Sioux, Dakotas, Osages, Mandans, Arapahos, Cheyennes, Pawnees, Caddos, Wichitas). (7) The Southwest of North America (the present states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado), a region of well-developed agriculture with the use of artificial irrigation (Pueblos and Pimas); the cattle-raising culture of the Navahos, who borrowed much from the neighboring agricultural tribes, also originated here after colonization. (8) Middle America and the Andes, whose Indians achieved the greatest development in pre-Columbian America. Agriculture, with various farming methods, ranging from slash-and-burn (Maya) to complex irrigation (Aztecs) and terrace farming (ancient Peru), predominated in these regions. Maize, beans, squash, sunflowers, cacao, agave, tobacco, cotton, and, in the Andes, potatoes were cultivated since ancient times. Stock breeding (llamas and alpacas in the Andes) and metallurgy began to develop here. Centers of advanced culture formed here, and large slave-owning city-states sprang up. (9) The Tropical Forests of South America (the Amazon and Orinoco river basins and the Brazilian Highlands), a region inhabited by tribes that engaged in hoe farming (principal crops, manioc and maize) and by Indians who lived by hunting and gathering (Arawaks, Caribs, Tupí-Guarani, Ge). (10) The Argentine Pampas and Patagonia area, occupied by hunting tribes, which shared much in common with the Indians of the North American Plains culture; they took to hunting guanacos on horseback (with lasso and bola) during the 17th and 18th centuries. (11) The extreme southern regions of South America and the islands of Tierra del Fuego, inhabited by Indians (Onas, Yahgans, Alacalufs) who led the seminomadic existence of primitive fishermen, hunters, and shellfish gatherers.

European colonization interrupted the natural course of development of the Indians. Many Indians of North America were annihilated by the colonizers, and the remaining tribes were settled on reservations in the USA and Canada. Only in the extreme northern part of the continent do the local inhabitants (Indians) continue to carry on their seminomadic existence: they engage in trapping and depend exclusively on fur buyers, who exploit them mercilessly. A considerable number of Indians in the USA are being assimilated with Americans, filling up the ranks of the American urban and rural proletariat and poor farmers. Many Indian tribes were also exterminated in Latin America (the West Indies, Uruguay, Argentina). Only a small number of Indians have preserved their own culture and way of life, as in remote areas of the Amazon River basin. In a large number of Latin American countries, Indians played an important role in the formation of the present population (Mexicans, Guatemalans, Paraguayans, Peruvians). Indian languages coexist with Spanish in several countries (Quechua in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador; Guaraní in Paraguay, where it is the second official language). The Indian peoples are asserting their right to the development of a distinctive culture and are struggling for equal rights along with all the other peoples of America.

The contribution of the Indians to world culture is extremely significant: the peoples of the world have adopted from them the cultivation of corn (maize), potatoes, sunflowers, manioc, cacao, cotton, and tobacco. The Indians have created outstanding works of architecture, fine arts, and folk literature.

I. A. ZOLOTAREVSKAIA

Art. A highly developed artistic culture, which was destroyed by the conquerors, existed in Central America and the Andes region up until the European colonization, particularly among the Aztecs, Incas, Maya, Mixtecs, Olmecs, Zapotecs, Toltecs. The art of numerous tribes which were at the stage of a primitive communal system was closely associated with their mode of life and material production. It reflected the keen observations of hunters, fishermen, and farmers and embodied their mythological ideas and richness of artistic imagination. Indian dwellings were extremely varied: lean-tos, shelters, dome-shaped huts (the wigwams of the forest hunters in Canada), and conical tents (the tepees of the Plains Indians in Canada and the USA) made of poles covered with branches, leaves, reed mats, hides, or other material; clay or stone huts in the highland regions of South America; communal dwellings—houses made of planks—in northwest North America; the bark-covered frame long houses in the Great Lakes region; and the stone or adobe apartment-like houses (pueblos) in southwest North America. Wood carving, particularly extensive and varied along the northwest coast of North America (multicolored totem poles and funerary posts with pictures intermingling real and fantastic images), is also encountered among a number of South American tribes. Basketry, weaving, embroidery, decorative featherwork, and the making of ceramic and wood cooking utensils and figurines were widespread. Paintings include fantastic images, rich geometric designs, war and hunting scenes (Plains Indian designs on tepees, rattles, shields, buffalo hides). The striking, distinctive art of the American Indians was destroyed or doomed to extinction in a number of countries (USA, Canada, Uruguay, Argentina); in other countries (Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador) it became the basis of a national folk art during the colonial period and in modern times.

REFERENCES

Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem ‘i, chastnoi sobstvennosli i gosudarstva.In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 21.
Narody Ameriki, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1959–60. (Bibliography.)
Indeilsy Ameriki. Moscow, 1955. (Tr. In-ta etnografii AN SSSR: Novaia seriia, vol. 25.)
Atnerikanskii elnograficheskii sbornik. Moscow, 1960. (Trudy In-ta etnografii AN SSSR: Novaia seriia, vol. 58.)
Morgan, L. Doma I domashniaia zhizn’amerikanskikh tuzemtsev.Leningrad, 1934. (Translated from English.)
Foster, W. Ocherk politicheskoi istorii Ameriki.Moscow, 1953. (Translated from English.)
Wissler, C. The American Indian, 3rd ed. New York, 1950.
Appleton, Le Roy H. Indian Art of the Americas.London, 1950.
Covarrubias, M. The Eagle, the Jaguar, and the Serpent.New York, 1954.
Dockstader, F. J. Indian Art in America.Greenwich, Conn., 1961
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