The First Americans
“Learn the life and labors of the real first americans.”
Early American Indigenous People used pictographs to communicate between various nations.
Native American picture writing is found in caves, on trees, rocks, condolence canes, and beadwork, and hides records of important events, exploits, deeds, and adventures. People often made pictographs using organic material as part of the pigment – deer blood for dark red and charcoal to blend up a delicate blue. And organic matter can be dated through radiocarbon techniques.
These symbols are driven into the rock deep enough to cause an indention and expose unweathered material of a different color. Throughout the United States and Canada, there are thousands of pictographs and pictoglyphs, some as old as 2000 BC.
How do archeologists determine the date of ancient artifacts?
Professors Marvin W. Rowe and Marian Hyman, chemistry teachers at Texas A&M University, College Station, have traveled the globe using a method of carbon-dating minute particles of organic matter. They use an oxygen plasma to burn organic material in a tiny fragment of fabric, then send the results through an accelerometer mass spectrometer to count the C-14 atoms. They developed this method of dating artifacts in 1990. Since then, Rowe and Hyan have examined rock art dating from European cave paintings 11,000 to 12,000 years old.
Petroglyphs are the same symbols carved or pecked into rock surfaces.
Pictoglyphs found in Northeast Reno, Nevada created at least 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.
The Haudenosaunee People used pictographs.
The Five Nations (Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, and Cayuga) painted their stories inside their longhouses, animal hides, and various canes. They always peeled a large piece from some great tree, usually an oak, and upon the smooth side of this wood, they’d paint with red pigment whatever symbol would tell their story.
Pictogram of the Wolf Clan on the door.
Suggested Activities for Pictographs and Pictoglyphs
Watch this youtube video and learn to create your pictographs.
Let’s Draw Native American Pictographs! By Patty Fernandez
Write With Pictographs. Mr. B’s Art Room #37
The Buffalo Are Returning
Between 1848 and 1881, white men slaughtered buffalo for their hides and to control Native Americans who were systematically led to reservations away from their ancestral land. By 1900, only three hundred bison remained from the millions of roaming buffalo. A few scattered herds lived on private land, but the bison were nearly extinct. In 1902, a herd of 41 captive and wild buffalo were placed in Yellowstone National Park under federal protection. During the following hundred years, little occurred to protect these animals.
In 2007, the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, home to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, announced: “We want to restore these important bison to their historic Great Plains home.” To do so, the tribe looked to Yellowstone’s bison herd. After years of Montana politics, the first Yellowstone bison arrived in 2012-around 60 animals in all. Since then, more deliveries have been made, and the Fort Peck herd has become among the top 10 conservation herds in North America.
Two years after the first buffalo arrived in Fort Peck, 13 tribal nations-representing eight reservations both in the US and Canada signed a “Buffalo Treaty.” The Buffalo Treaty of 2014 outlined the importance of bringing back free-roaming bison to both the US and Canada. According to the census of 2017, an estimated 20,000 bison live on tribal lands. 183,780 bison in the United States reside on private ranches and farms. Due to Indigenous People’s efforts, American Buffalo are returning
Before the arrival of Europeans, 30-60 million buffalo roamed the Great Plains of North America from the Appalachians to the Rockies and from Alaska to Northern Mexico. Human inhabitants like the 3 million Native Americans and First Nations People of Canada populated the same area. The two melded into one. The Plains Indians became known as Buffalo People.
Buffalo provided a principal source of food, clothing, shelter, and material goods for the indigenous people. Tribes used every part of the animal, leaving nothing as waste. All edible meat was roasted, broiled, or dried. The Indian tanned and sewed buffalo skin into clothing and tipis; hides became rugs, blankets, cloaks, and rope, and bones were shaped into tools, spoons, and scrapers. Muscle and sinew became bowstrings, moccasins, and bags. The hoofs were made into glue, and buffalo dung served as fuel.
A pile of American bison skulls in the mid-1870s. Photo: Wikipedia
- National Bison Association. Bison by the Numbers 2022 Winter Conference Bison by the Numbers – National Bison Association (bisoncentral.com)
- Hance, Jeremy. How Native American Tribes are Bringing Back the Bison from the Brink of Extinction. Dec. 12, 2018. How Native American tribes are bringing back the bison from brink of extinction | Wildlife | The Guardian
Nelson, Amy. Bringing Back to Buffalo. Biohabitats: Lessons from Indigenous Peoples. Summer Solstice 2018.Biohabitats » Bringing Back the Buffalo
Beaver hunters, like the Native American peoples, traded beaver pelts to the Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Haudenosaunee traded pelts for iron, metal, glass, and riffles from the European settlers. Two hundred years of fur trade killed the beaver population until the American beaver became nearly extinct.
Before trading, the trapper scrapped and rubbed the inner sides of the dead beaver with animal marrow; the pelts were then sewn into robes and worn with the fur side inward. Europeans, however, made hats, cloaks, perfume, and medicine from the animal.
Beavers are rodents. They have thick fur, webbed feet, and flattened scale covered tails with powerful jaws and strong teeth that can fall trees. Beavers need water to survive. They live in freshwater ponds, lakes, rivers, marshes, and swamps. They make their home, called a lodge, from woven sticks, grasses, and moss plastered with mud. They fell trees, particularly poplar trees using their large incisor teeth. They eat the leaves, roots, and bark from aspens, willows, maples, and poplar trees.
After about a three-month pregnancy, the female beaver gives birth to a litter of from one to four kits that weigh around 9-21 ounces and are weaned around two weeks after birth. Kits can Swim 24 hours after birth. Their bodies are made for water. Their rudder-like tail and webbed feet propel them through the water at five mph. They can stay underwater for around 15 minutes at a time. When predators appear, beavers slap their tails in the water as a warning. Beavers do not hibernate. Be careful. They are wild animals that will attack if threatened.
Native American Veterans
Native Americans have played an essential role in the history of the United States as far back as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Statistics show they have volunteered and served in higher percentages than any other ethnicity. After 9/11, almost 19% of Native Americans served in the Armed Forces.
National American Veterans Memorial
The National Native American Veterans Memorial opened on November 11, 2020, on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. This tribute to Native heroes recognizes for the first time on a national scale the service of Native Americans, Alaskans, and indigenous Hawaiian people. A distinguished group of Native and non-Native jurors unanimously selected the design concept Warrior’s Circle of honor by Harvey Pratt from among more than 120 submissions.
The design of the National Native American Veterans Memorial is simple and powerful. The design is an elevated stainless-steel circle balanced on an intricately carved stone drum. The design incorporates water for sacred ceremonies, benches for gathering and reflection, and four lances where veterans, family members, tribal leaders, and others can tie cloths for prayers and healing.
October 12 is Indigenous People Day
An effort to recognize, celebrate, and protect indigenous people began in 1977 at a United Nations Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations. With controversy surrounding the National Holiday Christopher Columbus Day, many scholars and Native American groups propose honoring America’s indigenous people on that day. In 1992, Berkeley, California, celebrated the first Indigenous People Day to coincide with Columbus Day’s 500th Anniversary. Since then, many states, cities, and municipalities have agreed.
The Indigenous people of Florida are Native American Indian.
- The Apalachee tribe
- The Calusa tribe
- The Choctaw tribe
- The Creek tribe
- The Miccosukee tribe
- The Tequesta, Jeaga and Ais tribes
- The Timucua tribe
National Indigenous People Day
Where are these people today?
- Wars nearly destroyed the Apalachee people in the 1700s. The 2000 census notes 300 people claiming to be Apalachee living in Alabama and Louisiana.
- Wars and disease killed the Colusa people. They became known as the lost tribe. At one time, there were 50,000 Colusa people. None have survived.
- The Choctaw people were moved from their land to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw nation has a total of 223,279 registered members across the United States. Eighty-four-thousand-six-hundred- seventy live in Oklahoma.
- The Creek tribe, also known as the Muskogee, met the Spanish explorer Hernando and was defeated in wars and moved to Indian territory in Oklahoma. Two small groups of Muskogee live in Louisiana and Texas. Many creeks joined the Seminole tribe.
- Miccosukee tribe Of Florida is a federally recognized Native American tribe in the US state of Florida. They were part of the Seminole nation until the mid-20th century, when they organized as an independent tribe, receiving federal recognition in 1962. Present tribal members now number over 600 and are direct descendants of those who eluded capture. The Miccosukee adapted to living in small groups in temporary hammock style camps spread throughout the Everglades to survive in this new environment.
- The Tequesta, Jeaga, and Ais tribes were peaceful tribes of few people who died from disease and starvation. None exist today.
- The Timucua tribe died out due to war and disease. Those who survived intermarried and joined the Seminole tribe.
- The Seminole tribe was not originally a single tribe. They were an alliance of northern Florida and southern Georgia natives that banded together in the 1700s. They included the Creek, Miccosukee, Hitachi, and Oconee tribes. The Seminoles retreated into the Everglades and still Live there today. The Seminole Nation has five different reservations in Florida. The same tribe governs all of them. The Seminole government’s seat is in Hollywood. The largest reservation is located in Big Cypress.
- Native American day is November 3.
- November is Native American month.
- Fifty-seven-thousand (57,000) Americans have registered as Native Americans with heritage from 39 different tribes in Florida.
Today over 5 million Native Americans live in the United States, 78% live outside reservations
Available For Speaking Engagements
Unsung Hero Author: Margaret Allyn Greene Best
Peggy Best is available for speaking engagements telling her story for your organization, special event, or celebration ceremony.
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