By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on September 25, 2022
I have often written about my Native-American heritage. Native American blood runs in our family in my mother's and father's lineage. The Carmichael/Varnado/Watkins family is a mixture of African-Americans, white Americans, and Native-Americans dating back to the early 1800s.
The ancestors of living Native-Americans arrived in North America about 15,000 years ago. As a result, a wide diversity of communities, societies, and cultures finally developed on the continent over the millennia.
The population figure for Indigenous peoples in the Americas before the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus was estimated at 70 million or more.
About 562 tribes inhabited the contiguous U.S. territory. The ten largest North American Indian Tribal Nations were: Arikara, Cherokee, Iroquois, Pawnee, Sioux, Apache, Eskimo, Comanche, Choctaw, Cree, Ojibwa, Mohawk, Cheyenne, Navajo, Seminole, Hope, Shoshone, Mohican, Shawnee, Mi’kmaq, Paiute, Wampanoag, Ho-Chunk, Chumash, Haida.
A tribal map of Pre-European North America, Central America, and the Caribbean by Michael Mcardle-Nakoma (1996) is featured below. It is an important historical document for those of us who have Native-American blood running through our veins.
This map gives a Native-American perspective on the events that unfolded in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean by placing the tribes in full flower ~ the “Glory Days.” It is pre-contact from across the eastern sea or, at least, before that contact seriously affected change.
Stretching over 400 years, the time of contact was quite different from tribe to tribe. For instance, the “Glory Days” of the Maya and Aztec came to an end very long before the interior tribes of other areas, with some still resisting almost until the 20th Century.
At one time, numbering in the tens of millions, the Native peoples spoke close to 4,000 languages.
The Americas’ European conquest, which began in 1492, ended in a sharp drop in the Native-American population through epidemics, hostilities, ethnic cleansing, slavery, and the Indian Removal Act of 1830. An estimated 60 million Native-Americans were killed by this combination of events.
When the United States was founded, established Native American tribes were viewed as semi-independent nations, as they commonly lived in communities separate from white immigrants.
Today, American Indians and Alaskan Natives account for 9.7 million people, according to the 2020 Census.
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