Many thousands of years before Christopher Columbus’ ships landed in the Bahamas, a different group of people discovered America: the nomadic ancestors of modern Native Americans who hiked over a “land bridge” from Asia to what is now Alaska more than 12,000 years ago. In fact, by the time European adventurers arrived in the 15th century A.D., scholars estimate that more than 50 million people were already living in the Americas. Of these, some 10 million lived in the area that would become the United States. As time passed, these migrants and their descendants pushed south and east, adapting as they went. In order to keep track of these diverse groups, anthropologists and geographers have divided them into “culture areas,” or rough groupings of contiguous peoples who shared similar habitats and characteristics. Most scholars break North America—excluding present-day Mexico—into 10 separate culture areas: the Arctic, the Subarctic, the Northeast, the Southeast, the Plains, the Southwest, the Great Basin, California, the Northwest Coast and the Plateau. (Continue reading from History)
TikTok, the mobile application that quickly became a defining cultural aspect of 2020, is most known as a platform where dances and comedy videos go viral. But Native and Indigenous individuals are also using the app to challenge stereotypes about their cultures, and let the world know they are "not just relics of the past."
Over the past few months, the hashtag #NativeTikTok has racked up more than 1.3 billion views. One popular creator is James Jones, a performer, artist and cultural educator from Alberta, Canada, who identifies as Cree. Jones, who is known as @notoriouscree to his 2.4 million TikTok followers, told CBS News his goal is to use the platform to show the world that Native and Indigenous individuals are "still here."
"I think a lot of people, especially here in North America, are just being reminded that Indigenous people are still here, and we're not just relics of the past," Jones told CBS News. "That's one of the really good things I like about TikTok is that you get to see a lot of Indigenous creators, artists ... just in their everyday life. You get to see them doing everyday things."
He said his account is dedicated to putting a "cultural spin" on trending content. In his first viral video, Jones dressed in traditional regalia and showcased hoop dancing to the song "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd. The video, posted on April 1, has been viewed more than 2.4 million times, and Jones said he gained roughly 100,000 followers from that post alone. In several videos, Jones explains the hoop dance is done to tell stories and "for those in need of healing." "We tell stories with our hoops using the teachings of Mother Earth," the text reads on one video. "We're all in this togeather (sic), and we're only going to move forward by supporting and helping each other." (Continue reading from CBS News)
Recent announcements by Canadian First Nation Tribes — Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, Cowessess First Nation, Lower Kootenay Band and the Penelakut Tribe — of unmarked graves on the grounds of former Indian boarding schools where Indigenous children were mistreated understandably grabbed headlines and shocked many.
Sadly, most Americans are unaware that similar abuses took place across 30 states from 1869 through 1978. Hundreds of thousands of Native American children were removed from their tribal communities and forced to attend government and church-run boarding schools for the purpose of cultural assimilation into U.S. society. (Continue reading from The Hill)
Indigenous Peoples of Canada and United States (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Native Arts and Culture (National Endowment for the Arts)
Native Knowledge 360° (Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)
Indian Affairs: Frequently Asked Questions (US Department of the Interior)
Tribal Nations & The United States: An Introduction (National Congress of American Indians)
Arts as Culture: Native American Artists (Tenement Museum)
American Indian Tribes Today (National Park Service)
How Native Americans Shape the American Experience (University of Michigan-Dearborn)
American Indian Records (Ancestry)