The Indigenous peoples of the Americas are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European settlers in the 15th century, and the ethnic groups who now identify themselves with those peoples.
. Some had varying degrees of knowledge of engineering, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, writing, physics, medicine, planting and irrigation, geology, mining, metallurgy, sculpture, and gold smithing.
boy, in the desert of Monument Valley, Arizona, United States of America. The Three Sisters buttes are visible in the background.
Application of the term "
linguistically distinct Indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions of the Americas—such as the Aleuts, Inuit, or Yupik peoples, who entered the continent as a second, more recent wave of migration several thousand years later and have much more recent genetic and cultural commonalities with the Aboriginal peoples of the Asiatic Arctic Russian Far East
—these groups are nonetheless considered "Indigenous peoples of the Americas".
The term Amerindian, a portmanteau of "American Indian", was coined in 1902 by the American Anthropological Association. However, it has been controversial since its creation. It was immediately rejected by some leading members of the Association, and, while adopted by many, it was never universally accepted. While never popular in Indigenous communities themselves, it remains a preferred term among some anthropologists, notably in some parts of Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean.
term of art used in some legal documents, including the Constitution Act, 1982, though in most Indigenous circles Aboriginal has also fallen into disfavor. Over time, as societal perceptions and government-Indigenous relationships have shifted, many historical terms have changed definition or been replaced as they have fallen out of favor. Use of the term "Indian" is frowned upon because it represents the imposition and restriction of Indigenous peoples and cultures by the Canadian Government. The terms "Native" and "Eskimo" are generally regarded as disrespectful, and so are rarely used unless specifically required. While "Indigenous peoples" is the preferred term, many individuals or communities may choose to self-describe their identity using a different term.
The Métis people of Canada can be contrasted, for instance, to the Indigenous-European mixed race
caboclos in Brazil) of Hispanic America who, with their larger population (in most Latin-American countries constituting either outright majorities, pluralities, or at the least large minorities), identify largely as a new ethnic group distinct from both Europeans and Indigenous, but still considering themselves a subset of the European-derived Hispanic or Brazilian peoplehood in culture and ethnicity (cf.ladinos
Spanish-speaking countries, indígenas or pueblos indígenas ('Indigenous peoples') is a common term, though nativos or pueblos nativos ('native peoples') may also be heard; moreover, aborigen ('aborigine') is used in Argentina and pueblos originarios ('original peoples') is common in Chile. In Brazil, indígenas or povos indígenas ('Indigenous peoples') are common of formal-sounding designations, while índio ('Indian') is still the more often-heard term (the noun for the South-Asian nationality being indiano). Aborígene and nativo is rarely used in Brazil in Indigenous-specific contexts (e.g., aborígene is usually understood as the ethnonym for Indigenous Australians). The Spanish and Portuguese equivalents to Indian, nevertheless, could be used to mean any hunter-gatherer or full-blooded Indigenous person, particularly to continents other than Europe or Africa—for example, indios filipinos
Indigenous peoples of the United States are commonly known as
The various Nations, tribes, and bands of Indigenous peoples of the Americas have differing preferences in terminology for themselves. While there are regional and generational variations in which umbrella terms are preferred for Indigenous peoples as a whole, in general, most Indigenous peoples prefer to be identified by the name of their specific Nation, tribe, or band.
Quechua women in festive dress, on the island of Taquile (Lake Titicaca).
Early settlers often adopted terms that some tribes used for each other, not realizing these were derogatory terms used by enemies. When discussing broader subsets of peoples, naming has often been based on shared language, region, or historical relationship.
endonyms from the native languages. Other terms arose during periods of conflict between the colonists and Indigenous peoples.
Since the late 20th century, Indigenous peoples in the Americas have been more vocal about how they want to be addressed, pushing to suppress use of terms widely considered to be obsolete, inaccurate, or
United States government responded by proposing the use of the term "Native American", to recognize the primacy of Indigenous peoples' tenure in the nation. As may be expected among people of over 400 different cultures in the US alone, not all of the people intended to be described by this term have agreed on its use or adopted it. No single group naming convention has been accepted by all Indigenous peoples in the Americas. Most prefer to be addressed as people of their tribe or nations when not speaking about Native Americans/American Indians as a whole.
Since the 1970s, Indigenous (capitalized when referring to people) has gradually emerged as a favored umbrella term. The capitalization is to acknowledge that Indigenous peoples have cultures and societies that are equal to Europeans, Africans, and Asians. This has recently been acknowledged in the AP Stylebook. Some consider it improper to refer to Indigenous people as "Indigenous Americans" or to append any colonial nationality to the term because Indigenous cultures have existed prior to European colonization. Indigenous groups have territorial claims that are different from modern national and international borders, and when labelled as part of a country, their traditional lands are not acknowledged. Some who have written guidelines consider it more appropriate to describe an Indigenous person as "living in" or "of" the Americas, rather than calling them "American"; or to simply call them "Indigenous" without any addition of a colonial state.
The precise date for the peopling of the Americas is a long-standing open question, and while advances in
DNA analysis have progressively shed more light on the subject, significant questions remain unresolved. While there is general agreement that the Americas were first settled from Asia, the pattern of migration, its timing, and the place(s) of origin in Eurasia of the peoples who migrated to the Americas remain unclear. The "Clovis first theory" refers to the hypothesis that the Clovis culture represents the earliest human presence in the Americas about 13,000 years ago.
However, evidence of pre-Clovis cultures has accumulated and pushed back the possible date of the first peopling of the Americas.
Paleosiberian peoples and Ancient Native Americans, which later migrated towards the Beringian region, became isolated from other populations, and subsequently populated the Americas.
, had their own written languages and records. However, the European colonists of the time worked to eliminate non-Christian beliefs, and burned many pre-Columbian written records. Only a few documents remained hidden and survived, leaving contemporary historians with glimpses of ancient culture and knowledge.
According to both Indigenous and European accounts and documents, American civilizations before and at the time of European encounter had achieved great complexity and many accomplishments. For instance, the Aztecs built one of the largest cities in the world, Tenochtitlan (the historical site of what would become Mexico City), with an estimated population of 200,000 for the city proper and a population of close to five million for the extended empire. By comparison, the largest European cities in the 16th century were Constantinople and Paris with 300,000 and 200,000 inhabitants respectively. The population in London, Madrid and Rome hardly exceeded 50,000 people. In 1523, right around the time of the Spanish conquest, the entire population in the country of England was just under three million people. This fact speaks to the level of sophistication, agriculture, governmental procedure and rule of law that existed in Tenochtitlan, needed to govern over such a large citizenry. Indigenous civilizations also displayed impressive accomplishments in astronomy and mathematics, including the most accurate calendar in the world. The domestication of maize or corn required thousands of years of selective breeding, and continued cultivation of multiple varieties was done with planning and selection, generally by women.
Inuit, Yupik, Aleut, and Indigenous creation myths tell of a variety of origins of their respective peoples. Some were "always there" or were created by gods or animals, some migrated from a specified compass point, and others came from "across the ocean".
Cultural areas of North America at time of European contact
The European colonization of the Americas fundamentally changed the lives and cultures of the resident Indigenous peoples. Although the exact pre-colonization population-count of the Americas is unknown, scholars estimate that Indigenous populations diminished by between 80% and 90% within the first centuries of European colonization. The majority of these losses are attributed to the introduction of Afro-Eurasian diseases into the Americas. Epidemics ravaged the Americas with diseases such as smallpox, measles, and cholera, which the early colonists brought from Europe.
The spread of infectious diseases was slow initially, as most Europeans were not actively or visibly infected, due to inherited immunity from generations of exposure to these diseases in Europe. This changed when the Europeans began the human trafficking of massive numbers of enslaved Western and Central African people to the Americas. Like Indigenous peoples, these African people, newly exposed to European diseases, lacked any inherited resistances to the diseases of Europe. In 1520 an African who had been infected with smallpox had arrived in Yucatán. By 1558, the disease had spread throughout South America and had arrived at the Plata basin. Colonist violence towards Indigenous peoples accelerated the loss of lives. European colonists perpetrated massacres on the Indigenous peoples and enslaved them. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894), the North American Indian Wars of the 19th century cost the lives of about 19,000 Europeans and 30,000 Native Americans.
The first Indigenous group encountered by Columbus, the 250,000
Following years of mistreatment, the Taínos began to adopt suicidal behaviors, with women aborting or killing their infants and men jumping from cliffs or ingesting untreated cassava, a violent poison. Eventually, a Taíno Cacique named Enriquillo managed to hold out in the Baoruco Mountain Range for thirteen years, causing serious damage to the Spanish, Carib-held plantations and their Indian auxiliaries.[failed verification] Hearing of the seriousness of the revolt,
Emperor Charles V (also King of Spain) sent captain Francisco Barrionuevo to negotiate a peace treaty with the ever-increasing number of rebels. Two months later, after consultation with the Audencia of Santo Domingo, Enriquillo was offered any part of the island to live in peace.
The Spanish crown found it difficult to enforce these laws in distant colonies.
of conquest-era central Mexico suffering from smallpox
Epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the Indigenous peoples. After initial contact with Europeans and Africans, Old World diseases caused the deaths of 90 to 95% of the native population of the New World in the following 150 years.Smallpox killed from one third to half of the native population of Hispaniola in 1518. By killing the Incan ruler Huayna Capac, smallpox caused the Inca Civil War of 1529–1532. Smallpox was only the first epidemic. Typhus (probably) in 1546, influenza and smallpox together in 1558, smallpox again in 1589, diphtheria in 1614, measles in 1618—all ravaged the remains of Inca culture.
Smallpox killed millions of native inhabitants of Mexico. Unintentionally introduced at Veracruz with the arrival of Pánfilo de Narváez on 23 April 1520, smallpox ravaged Mexico in the 1520s, possibly killing over 150,000 in Tenochtitlán (the heartland of the Aztec Empire) alone, and aiding in the victory of Hernán Cortés over the Aztec Empire at Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City) in 1521.
There are many factors as to why Indigenous peoples suffered such immense losses from Afro-Eurasian diseases. Many European diseases, like cow pox, are acquired from domesticated animals that are not indigenous to the Americas. European populations had adapted to these diseases, and built up resistance, over many generations. Many of the European diseases that were brought over to the Americas were diseases, like yellow fever, that were relatively manageable if infected as a child, but were deadly if infected as an adult. Children could often survive the disease, resulting in immunity to the disease for the rest of their lives. But contact with adult populations without this childhood or inherited immunity would result in these diseases proving fatal.
Colonization of the Caribbean led to the destruction of the Arawaks of the Lesser Antilles. Their culture was destroyed by 1650. Only 500 had survived by the year 1550, though the bloodlines continued through to the modern populace. In Amazonia, Indigenous societies weathered, and continue to suffer, centuries of colonization and genocide.
Indigenous people at a Brazilian farm plantation in Minas Gerais
Contact with European diseases such as smallpox and measles killed between 50 and 67 per cent of the Indigenous population of North America in the first hundred years after the arrival of Europeans.
The Spanish Empire and other Europeans re-introduced horses to the Americas. Some of these animals escaped and began to breed and increase their numbers in the wild.
The re-introduction of the horse, extinct in the Americas for over 7500 years, had a profound impact on Indigenous cultures in the Great Plains of North America and in Patagonia in South America. By domesticating horses, some tribes had great success: horses enabled them to expand their territories, exchange more goods with neighboring tribes, and more easily capture game, especially bison.
Indian Residential Schools in Canada, including gravesites. This map can be expanded and interacted with. Confirmed discoveries of gravesites Investigations underway as of July 30, 2021 Investigations that concluded with no discoveries Other Indian Residential Schools
Indigenous historical trauma (IHT) is the trauma that can accumulate across generations that develops as a result of the historical ramifications of colonization and is linked to mental and physical health hardships and population decline. IHT affects many different people in a multitude of ways because the Indigenous community and their history is diverse.
Many studies (such as Whitbeck et al., 2014; Brockie, 2012; Anastasio et al., 2016; Clark & Winterowd, 2012; Tucker et al., 2016) have evaluated the impact of IHT on health outcomes of Indigenous communities from the United States and Canada. IHT is a difficult term to standardize and measure because of the vast and variable diversity of Indigenous people and their communities. Therefore, it is an arduous task to assign an operational definition and systematically collect data when studying IHT. Many of the studies that incorporate IHT measure it in different ways, making it hard to compile data and review it holistically. This is an important point that provides context for the following studies that attempt to understand the relationship between IHT and potential adverse health impacts.
Some of the methodologies to measure IHT include a "Historical Losses Scale" (HLS), "Historical Losses Associated Symptoms Scale" (HLASS), and residential school ancestry studies.: 23 HLS uses a survey format that includes "12 kinds of historical losses," such as loss of language and loss of land and asks participants how often they think about those losses.: 23 The HLASS includes 12 emotional reactions and asks participants how they feel when they think about these losses. Lastly, the residential school ancestry studies ask respondents if their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents or "elders from their community" went to a residential school to understand if family or community history in residential schools are associated with negative health outcomes.: 25 In a comprehensive review of the research literature, Joseph Gone and colleagues compiled and compared outcomes for studies using these IHT measures relative to health outcomes of Indigenous peoples. The study defined negative health outcomes to include such concepts as anxiety, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, polysubstance abuse, PTSD, depression, binge eating, anger, and sexual abuse.
The connection between IHT and health conditions is complicated because of the difficult nature of measuring IHT, the unknown directionality of IHT and health outcomes, and because the term Indigenous people used in the various samples comprises a huge population of individuals with drastically different experiences and histories. That being said, some studies such as Bombay, Matheson, and Anisman (2014), Elias et al. (2012), and Pearce et al. (2008) found that Indigenous respondents with a connection to residential schools have more negative health outcomes (e.g., suicide ideation, suicide attempts, and depression) than those who did not have a connection to residential schools. Additionally, Indigenous respondents with higher HLS and HLASS scores had one or more negative health outcomes. While there many studies that found an association between IHT and adverse health outcomes, scholars continue to suggest that it remains difficult to understand the impact of IHT. IHT needs to be systematically measured. Indigenous people also need to be understood in separated categories based on similar experiences, location, and background as opposed to being categorized as one monolithic group.
The domesticated plant species that were cultivated by the Indigenous peoples have greatly influenced the crops that were produced globally. Despite not being acknowledged for their contributions, they are still highly influential in the agricultural industry.
In the course of thousands of years, Indigenous peoples domesticated, bred and cultivated a large array of plant species. These species now constitute between 50% and 60% of all crops in cultivation worldwide.
grasses in the valleys of southern Mexico. Numerous such agricultural products retain their native names in the English and Spanish lexicons.
The South American highlands became a center of early agriculture. Genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivars and wild species suggests that the potato has a single origin in the area of southern Peru, from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex. Over 99% of all modern cultivated potatoes worldwide are descendants of a subspecies Indigenous to south-central Chile,Solanum tuberosum ssp. tuberosum, where it was cultivated as long as 10,000 years ago. According to Linda Newson, "It is clear that in pre-Columbian times some groups struggled to survive and often suffered food shortages and famines, while others enjoyed a varied and substantial diet."
Persistent drought around AD 850 coincided with the collapse of Classic Maya civilization, and the famine of One Rabbit (AD 1454) was a major catastrophe in Mexico.
Indigenous peoples of North America began practicing
Indigenous peoples began using fire in a controlled manner. They carried out intentional burning of vegetation to mimic the effects of natural fires that tended to clear forest understories. It made travel easier and facilitated the growth of herbs and berry-producing plants, which were important both for food and for medicines.
In the Mississippi River valley, Europeans noted that Native Americans managed groves of nut- and fruit-trees not far from villages and towns and their gardens and agricultural fields. They would have used prescribed burning further away, in forest and prairie areas.
Many crops first domesticated by Indigenous peoples are now produced and used globally, most notably
Studies of contemporary Indigenous environmental management—including of agro-forestry practices among ItzaMaya in Guatemala and of hunting and fishing among the Menominee of Wisconsin—suggest that longstanding "sacred values" may represent a summary of sustainable millennial traditions.
Indigenous peoples also domesticated some animals, such as
Cultural practices in the Americas seem to have been shared mostly within geographical zones where distinct ethnic groups adopting shared cultural traits, similar technologies, and social organizations. An example of such a cultural area is Mesoamerica, where millennia of coexistence and shared development among the peoples of the region produced a fairly homogeneous culture with complex agricultural and social patterns. Another well-known example is the North American plains where until the 19th century several peoples shared the traits of nomadic hunter-gatherers based primarily on buffalo hunting.
of South America and Panama (except Quechua, Aymaran, and Mapudungun (Mapuche´ languague)).
The languages of the North American Indians have been classified into 56 groups or stock tongues, in which the spoken languages of the tribes may be said to centre. In connection with speech, reference may be made to gesture language which was highly developed in parts of this area.
Of equal interest is the picture writing especially well developed among the Chippewas and Delawares.
Beginning in the 1st millennium BCE, pre-Columbian cultures in
Olmec hieroglyphs tablet has been indirectly dated (from ceramic shards found in the same context) to approximately 900 BCE-which is around the same time that the Olmec occupation of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán began to weaken.
phonetic syllabic symbols and logograms). It is the only pre-Columbian writing system known to have completely represented the spoken language of its community. It has more than a thousand different glyphs, but a few are variations on the same sign or have the same meaning, many appear only rarely or in particular localities, no more than about five hundred were in use in any given time period, and, of those, it seems only about two hundred (including variations) represented a particular phoneme or syllable.
The Zapotec writing system, one of the earliest in the Americas, was logographic and presumably syllabic. There are remnants of Zapotec writing in inscriptions on some of the monumental architecture of the period, but so few inscriptions are extant that it is difficult to fully describe the writing system. The oldest example of Zapotec script, dating from around 600 BCE, is on a monument that was discovered in San José Mogote.
Spanish mendicants in the sixteenth century taught Indigenous scribes in their communities to write their languages using Latin letters, and there are a large number of local-level documents in Nahuatl, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Yucatec Maya from the colonial era, many of which were part of lawsuits and other legal matters. Although Spaniards initially taught Indigenous scribes alphabetic writing, the tradition became self-perpetuating at the local level. The Spanish crown gathered such documentation, and contemporary Spanish translations were made for legal cases. Scholars have translated and analyzed these documents in what is called the New Philology to write histories of Indigenous peoples from Indigenous viewpoints.
Aboriginal syllabic writing, or simply syllabics, is a family of
feather pectoral, feathers, reed, copper, silver, hide, cordage, ca. 1350–1450 CE
Indigenous music can vary between cultures, however there are significant commonalities. Traditional music often centers around drumming and singing. Rattles, clapper sticks, and rasps are also popular percussive instruments, both historically and in contemporary cultures. Flutes are made of river-cane, cedar, and other woods. The Apache have a type of fiddle, and fiddles are also found among a number of First Nations and Métis
The music of the Indigenous peoples of Central Mexico and Central America, like that of the North American cultures, tend to be spiritual ceremonies. It traditionally includes a large variety of percussion and wind instruments such as drums, flutes, sea shells (used as trumpets) and "rain" tubes. No remnants of pre-Columbian stringed instruments were found until archaeologists discovered a jar in Guatemala, attributed to the Maya of the Late Classic Era (600–900 CE); this jar was decorated with imagery depicting a stringed musical instrument which has since been reproduced. This instrument is one of the very few stringed instruments known in the Americas prior to the introduction of European musical instruments; when played, it produces a sound that mimics a jaguar's growl.
federally recognized tribe. To support the ongoing practice of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures in the United States, the Ford Foundation, arts advocates and American Indian tribes created an endowment seed fund and established a national Native Arts and Cultures Foundation in 2007.
Indigenous man playing a panpipe, antara or siku
After the entry of the Spaniards, the process of spiritual conquest was favored, among other things, by the
liturgical musical service to which the natives, whose musical gifts came to surprise the missionaries, were integrated. The musical gifts of the natives were of such magnitude that they soon learned the rules of counterpoint and polyphony and even the virtuous handling of the instruments. This helped to ensure that it was not necessary to bring more musicians from Spain, which significantly annoyed the clergy.
The solution that was proposed was not to employ but a certain number of indigenous people in the musical service, not to teach them counterpoint, not to allow them to play certain instruments (brass breaths, for example, in Oaxaca, Mexico) and, finally, not to import more instruments so that the indigenous people would not have access to them. The latter was not an obstacle to the musical enjoyment of the natives, who experienced the making of instruments, particularly rubbed strings (violins and double basses) or plucked (third). It is there where we can find the origin of what is now called traditional music whose instruments they have their own tuning and a typical western structure.
Population history of Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The following table provides estimates for each country in the Americas of the populations of Indigenous people and those with partial Indigenous ancestry, each expressed as a percentage of the overall population. The total percentage obtained by adding both of these categories is also given.
Note: these categories are inconsistently defined and measured differently from country to country. Some figures are based on the results of population-wide genetic surveys while others are based on self-identification or observational estimation.
Indigenous populations of the Americas as estimated percentage of total country's population
Métis; the descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" are falling into disuse. In Canada, it is quite frowned upon to use the name "Indian" in casual conversation. "Eskimo" is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit and was said to mean "eater of raw meat".
Hundreds of Indigenous nations evolved trade, spiritual and
Self-Government provides the opportunity for First Nations to manage their own historical, cultural, political, health care
Although not without conflict, early European interactions in the east with First Nations and Inuit populations were relatively peaceful compared to the later experience of Indigenous peoples in the United States. Combined with a late economic development in many regions, this relatively peaceful history resulted in Indigenous peoples having a fairly strong influence on the early national culture, while preserving their own identity. From the late 18th century, European Canadians (primarily British Canadians and French Canadians) worked to force Indigenous peoples to assimilate into the mainstream European-influenced culture, which they referred to as Canadian culture. The government attempted violent forced integration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Notable examples here include residential schools.
National Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes the cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples of Canada. There are currently over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands encompassing 1,807,250 people spread across Canada, with distinctive Indigenous cultures, languages, art, and music.
National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the language of the Kickapoo, who immigrated from the United States, and recognizes the languages of the Indigenous refugees from Guatemala. The Mexican government has promoted and established bilingual primary and secondary education in some Indigenous rural communities. Nonetheless, of the Indigenous peoples in Mexico, 93% are either a native speaker or a bilingual second language speaker of Spanish with only about 62.4% of them (or 5.4% of the country's population) speak an Indigenous language and about a sixth do not speak Spanish (0.7% of the country's population).
The Indigenous peoples in Mexico have the right of free determination under the second article of the constitution. According to this article the Indigenous peoples are granted:
Estimates for El Salvador's indigenous population vary. The last time a reported census had an Indigenous ethnic option was in 2007, which estimated that 0.23% of the population identified as Indigenous. Historically, estimates have claimed higher amounts. A 1930 census stated that 5.6% were Indigenous. By the mid-20th century, there may have been as much as 20% (or 400,000) that would qualify as "Indigenous". Another estimate stated that by the late 1980s, 10% of the population was Indigenous, and another 89% was mestizo (or people of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry).
fertile land that was good for farming. The Spaniards were disappointed not to find gold or jewels in El Salvador as they had in other lands like Guatemala or Mexico, but upon learning of the fertile land in El Salvador, they attempted to conquer it. Noted Meso-American Indigenous warriors to rise militarily against the Spanish included Princes Atonal and Atlacatl of the Pipil people in central El Salvador and Princess Antu Silan Ulap of the Lenca people in eastern El Salvador, who saw the Spanish not as gods but as barbaric invaders. After fierce battles, the Pipil successfully fought off the Spanish army led by Pedro de Alvarado along with their Indigenous allies (the Tlaxcalas), sending them back to Guatemala. After many other attacks with an army reinforced with Indigenous allies, the Spanish were able to conquer Cuzcatlan. After further attacks, the Spanish also conquered the Lenca people. Eventually, the Spaniards intermarried with Pipil and Lenca women, resulting in the mestizo population that would make up the vast majority of the Salvadoran people. Today many Pipil and other Indigenous populations live in the many small towns of El Salvador like Izalco, Panchimalco, Sacacoyo, and Nahuizalco
Guatemala has one of the largest Indigenous populations in Central America, with approximately 43.6% of the population considering themselves Indigenous.
K’iche 7.8%, Mam 4.4%, Kaqchikel 3%, Q'anjob'al 1.2%, Poqomchi' 1%, and Other 4%. The Non-Mayan group consists of the Xinca who are another set of Indigenous people making up 1.8% of the population.
Other sources indicate that between 50% and 60% of the population could be Indigenous, because part of the Mestizo population is predominantly Indigenous.
The Mayan tribes cover a vast geographic area throughout Central America and expanding beyond Guatemala into other countries. One could find vast groups of Mayan people in Boca Costa, in the Southern portions of Guatemala, as well as the Western Highlands living together in close communities.
The Law of National Languages has been an effort to grant and protect Indigenous people rights not afforded to them previously. Along with the Law of National Languages passed in 2003, in 1996 the Guatemalan Constitutional Court had ratified the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. The ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, is also known as Convention 169. Which is the only International Law regarding Indigenous peoples that Independent countries can adopt. The convention, establishes that governments like Guatemala's must consult with Indigenous groups prior to any projects occurring on tribal lands.
About five percent of the population are of full-blooded Indigenous descent, but as much as 80 percent of Hondurans are
Indigenous peoples of Panama, or Native Panamanians, are the native peoples of Panama. According to the 2010 census, they make up 12.3% of the overall population of 3.4 million, or just over 418,000 people. The Ngäbe and Buglé comprise half of the indigenous peoples of Panama.
In 2005, Indigenous population living in Argentina (known as pueblos originarios) numbered about 600,329 (1.6% of total population); this figure includes 457,363 people who self-identified as belonging to an Indigenous ethnic group and 142,966 who identified themselves as first-generation descendants of an Indigenous people.
(Ona) people are now virtually extinct in its pure form. The languages of the Diaguita, Tehuelche, and Selknam nations have become extinct or virtually extinct: the Cacán language (spoken by Diaguitas) in the 18th century and the Selknam language in the 20th century; one Tehuelche language (Southern Tehuelche) is still spoken by a handful of elderly people.
This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(April 2012)
In Bolivia, the 2001 census reported that 62% of residents over the age of 15 identify as belonging to an Indigenous people. Some 3.7% report growing up with an Indigenous mother tongue but do not identify as Indigenous. When both of these categories are totaled, and children under 15, some 66.4% of Bolivia's population was recorded as Indigenous in the 2001 Census.
The largest Indigenous ethnic groups are:
(the National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu), draw ethnic boundaries within the Quechua- and Aymara-speaking population, resulting in a total of 50 Indigenous peoples native to Bolivia.
Large numbers of Bolivian highland peasants retained Indigenous language, culture, customs, and communal organization throughout the Spanish conquest and the post-independence period. They mobilized to resist various attempts at the dissolution of communal landholdings and used legal recognition of "empowered caciques" to further communal organization. Indigenous revolts took place frequently until 1953.
ILO Convention 169 and to begin the still-ongoing process of recognizing and giving official title to Indigenous territories. The 1994 Law of Popular Participation
granted "grassroots territorial organizations;" these are recognized by the state and have certain rights to govern local areas.
Some radio and television programs are produced in the Quechua and Aymara languages. The constitutional reform in 1997 recognized Bolivia as a multi-lingual, pluri-ethnic society and introduced education reform. In 2005, for the first time in the country's history, an Indigenous Aymara, Evo Morales, was elected as president.
Morales began work on his "Indigenous autonomy" policy, which he launched in the eastern lowlands department on 3 August 2009. Bolivia was the first nation in the history of South America to affirm the right of Indigenous people to self-government. Speaking in Santa Cruz Department, the President called it "a historic day for the peasant and Indigenous movement", saying that, though he might make errors, he would "never betray the fight started by our ancestors and the fight of the Bolivian people". A vote on further autonomy for jurisdictions took place in December 2009, at the same time as general elections to office. The issue divided the country.
At that time, Indigenous peoples voted overwhelmingly for more autonomy: five departments that had not already done so voted for it; as did Gran Chaco Province in Taríja, for regional autonomy; and 11 of 12 municipalities that had referendums on this issue.
Indigenous peoples of Brazil make up 0.4% of Brazil's population, or about 817,000 people, but millions of Brazilians are mestizo or have some Indigenous ancestry. Indigenous peoples are found in the entire territory of Brazil, although in the 21st century, the majority of them live in Indigenous territories in the North and Center-Western part of the country. On 18 January 2007, Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI) reported that it had confirmed the presence of 67 different uncontacted tribes in Brazil, up from 40 in 2005. Brazil is now the nation that has the largest number of uncontacted tribes, and the island of New Guinea is second.
The Washington Post reported in 2007, "As has been proved in the past when uncontacted tribes are introduced to other populations and the microbes they carry, maladies as simple as the common cold can be deadly. In the 1970s, 185 members of the Panara tribe died within two years of discovery after contracting such diseases as flu and chickenpox, leaving only 69 survivors."
, due to their fierce resistance to the Incan expansion. Their architecture remains were later destroyed by Spaniards and the Incas.
Between 55% and 65% of Ecuador's population consists of Mestizos of mixed indigenous and European ancestry while indigenous people comprise about 25%.
Panzaleo, the Chimbuelo, the Salasacan, the Tugua, the Puruhá, the Cañari, and the Saraguro
. Linguistic evidence suggests that the Salascan and the Saraguro may have been the descendants of Bolivian ethnic groups transplanted to Ecuador as mitimaes.
Coastal groups, including the
In 1986, Indigenous peoples formed the first "truly" national
CONAIE) has been the primary political institution of Indigenous peoples since then and is now the second largest political party in the nation. It has been influential in national politics, contributing to the ouster of presidents Abdalá Bucaram in 1997 and Jamil Mahuad
According to the 2017 Census, the Indigenous population in Peru make up around 26% approximately. However, this does not include Mestizos of mixed indigenous and European descent, who make up the majority of the population. Genetic testing indicates that Peruvian Mestizos are of predominantly indigenous ancestry. Indigenous traditions and customs have shaped the way Peruvians live and see themselves today. Cultural citizenship—or what Renato Rosaldo has called, "the right to be different and to belong, in a democratic, participatory sense" (1996:243)—is not yet very well developed in Peru. This is perhaps no more apparent than in the country's Amazonian regions where Indigenous societies continue to struggle against state-sponsored economic abuses, cultural discrimination, and pervasive violence.
Most Venezuelans have some degree of indigenous heritage even if they may not identify as such. The 2011 census estimated that around 52% of the population identified as
, who lived in the Venezuelan Andes. Historians estimate that there were between 350 thousand and 500 thousand Indigenous inhabitants at the time of Spanish colonization. The most densely populated area was the Andean region (Timoto-cuicas), thanks to their advanced agricultural techniques and ability to produce a surplus of food.
The 1999 constitution of Venezuela gives indigenous peoples special rights, although the vast majority of them still live in very critical conditions of poverty. The government provides primary education in their languages in public schools to some of the largest groups, in efforts to continue the languages.
Other parts of the Americas
Indigenous peoples make up the majority of the population in Bolivia and Peru, and are a significant element in most other former Spanish colonies. Exceptions to this include Uruguay (Charrúa). According to the 2011 Census, 2.4% of Uruguayans reported having Indigenous ancestry. Some governments recognize some of the major Indigenous languages as official languages: Quechua in Peru and Bolivia; Aymara also in Peru and Bolivia, Guaraní in Paraguay, and Greenlandic in Greenland.
Since the late 20th century, Indigenous peoples in the Americas have become more politically active in asserting their treaty rights and expanding their influence. Some have organized in order to achieve some sort of
In Colombia, various Indigenous groups have protested the denial of their rights. People organized a march in Cali in October 2008 to demand the government live up to promises to protect Indigenous lands, defend the Indigenous against violence, and reconsider the free trade pact with the United States.
Genetic history of Indigenous peoples of the Americas
Y-DNA haplogroups in Indigenous peoples of the Americas
Schematic illustration of maternal (mtDNA) gene-flow in and out of Beringia, from 25,000 years ago to present
matrilineal line, from mother to offspring of both sexes. Neither recombines, and thus Y-DNA and mtDNA change only by chance mutation at each generation with no intermixture between parents' genetic material.Autosomal "atDNA" markers are also used, but differ from mtDNA or Y-DNA in that they overlap significantly. AtDNA is generally used to measure the average continent-of-ancestry genetic admixture in the entire human genome and related isolated populations.
Genetic comparisons of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of some Native Americans to that of some
Sayan mountains that are genetically closest to" Indigenous Americans.
Some scientific evidence links Indigenous peoples of the Americas to North Asian peoples, specifically the
The most popular theory among anthropologists is the
haplogroup Q (Y-DNA) mutations, however are distinct from other Indigenous peoples of the Americas with various mtDNA and atDNA mutations. This suggests that the earliest migrants into the northern extremes of North America and Greenland derived from later migrant populations.
A 2013 study in
archaeological Mal'ta-Buret' culture suggest that up to one-third of the ancestry of Indigenous peoples may be traced back to western Eurasians, who may have "had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought" (with the rest tracing back to early East Asian peoples).
"We estimate that 15 to 30 percent of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population", the authors wrote. Professor Kelly Graf said:
"Our findings are significant at two levels. First, it shows that Upper Paleolithic Siberians came from a cosmopolitan population of early modern humans that spread out of Africa to Europe and Central and South Asia. Second, Paleoindian skeletons like Buhl Woman with phenotypic traits atypical of modern-day indigenous Americans can be explained as having a direct historical connection to Upper Paleolithic Siberia."
A route through Beringia is seen as more likely than the Solutrean hypothesis. Kashani et al. 2012 state that "The similarities in ages and geographical distributions for C4c and the previously analyzed X2a lineage provide support to the scenario of a dual origin for Paleo-Indians. Taking into account that C4c is deeply rooted in the Asian portion of the mtDNA phylogeny and is indubitably of Asian origin, the finding that C4c and X2a are characterized by parallel genetic histories definitively dismisses the controversial hypothesis of an Atlantic glacial entry route into North America."
Genetic analyses of HLA I and HLA II genes as well as HLA-A, -B, and -DRB1 gene frequencies links the
A 2016 study found that Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Polynesians most likely came into contact around 1200.
A study published in the Nature journal in 2018 concluded that Native Americans descended from a single founding population which initially split from East Asians at about ~36,000 BC, with geneflow between Ancestral Native Americans and Siberians persisting until ~25,000BC, before becoming isolated in the Americas at ~22,000BC. Northern and Southern Native American subpopulationes split from each other at ~17,500BC. There is also some evidence for a back-migration from the Americas into Siberia after ~11,500BC.
A study published in the Cell journal in 2019, analysed 49 ancient Native American samples from all over North and South America, and concluded that all Native American populations descended from a single ancestral source population which split from Siberians and East Asians, and gave rise to the Ancestral Native Americans, which later diverged into the various Indigenous groups. The authors further dismissed previous claims for the possibility of two distinct population groups among the peopling of the Americas and concluded that both Northern and Southern Native Americans are closest to each other, and do not show evidence of admixture with hypothetical previous populations.
Another study published in the Nature journal in 2021, which analysed a large amount of ancient genomes, similarly concluded that all Native Americans descended from the movement of people from Northeast Asia into the Americas. These Ancestral Americans, once south of the continental ice sheets, spread and expanded rapidly, and branched into multiple groups, which later gave rise to the major subgroups of Native American populations. The study also dismissed the existence of an hypothetical distinct non-Native American population (suggested to have been related to Indigenous Australians and Papuans), sometimes called "Paleoamerican". The authors posited that these previous claims were based on a misinterpreted genetic echo, which was revealed to represent early East-Eurasian geneflow (close but distinct to the 40,000BC old Tianyuan lineage) into Aboriginal Australians and Papuans.
^"Censo de Población y Vivienda 2020: Presentación de resultados"(PDF) (in Spanish). Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía. p. 49. Retrieved 29 January 2022. Note: Indigenous population was identified as the total population in households where the head of the household, his or her spouse or any of their ascendants claimed to speak an indigenous language.
^ ab"Perú: Perfil Sociodemográfico"(PDF) (in Spanish). Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática. p. 214. Retrieved 30 April 2021. Sum of people who identify as Quechua (5,176,809), Aimara (548,292), Native or indigenous from the Amazon (79,266), Ashaninka (55,489), Part of another indigenous or originary peoples (49,838), Awajun (37,690) and Shipibo Konibo (25,222).
^"Terminology of First Nations Native, Aboriginal and Indian"(PDF). the Office of the Aboriginal Advisor for Aboriginals. Archived from the original(PDF) on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2009. Native is a word similar in meaning to Aboriginal. Native Peoples or First peoples is a collective term to describe the descendants of the original peoples of North America.
^Fitzhugh, Drs. William; Goddard, Ives; Ousley, Steve; Owsley, Doug; Stanford, Dennis. "Paleoamerican". Smithsonian Institution Anthropology Outreach Office. Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
. Retrieved 27 October 2018. It is clear that in pre-Columbian times some groups struggled to survive and often suffered food shortages and famines, while others enjoyed a varied and substantial diet.
Gill, Richardson Benedict (2000). "5. Famine and Social Dissolution". The Great Maya Droughts: Water, Life, and Death (revised ed.). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press (published 2001). p. 123.
. Retrieved 27 October 2018. In Tenochtitlan, during the famine of 1 Rabbit in 1454, Moctezuma Ilhuicamina distributed food from the royal granaries to the poor. When the stores ran out, he gave permission for the populace to leave the city to find food elsewhere and people left. The populations of Texcoco, Chalco, Xochimilco, and Tepanecapan also fled their cities. The Maya Lowlands appear to have suffered a famine at the same time, and the cities of Chichen Itza, Mayapan, and Uxmal appear to have been all abandoned simultaneously [...].
. Using demographic modelling, we infer that the Ancient Beringian population and ancestors of other Native Americans descended from a single founding population that initially split from East Asians around 36 ± 1.5 ka, with gene flow persisting until around 25 ± 1.1 ka.
. Quote 1: Genetic studies of the Pleistocene peopling of the Americas have focused on the timing and number of migrations from Siberia into North America. They show that ancestral Native Americans (NAs) diverged from Siberians and East Asians ~23,000 years (~23 ka) ago and that a split within that ancestral lineage between later NAs and Ancient Beringians (ABs) occurred ~21 ka ago. Subsequently, NAs diverged into northern NA (NNA) and southern NA (SNA) branches ~15.5 ka ago, a split inferred to have taken place south of eastern Beringia (present-day Alaska and western Yukon Territory). Quote 2: Our finding of no excess allele sharing with non-Native American populations in the ancient samples is also striking as many of these individuals—including those at Lapa do Santo—have a “Paleoamerican” cranial morphology that has been suggested to be evidence of the spread of a substructured population of at least two different Native American source populations from Asia to the Americas (von Cramon-Taubadel et al., 2017). Our finding that early Holocene individuals with such a morphology are consistent with deriving all their ancestry from the same homogeneous ancestral population as other Native Americans extends the finding of Raghavan et al., 2015 who came to a similar conclusion after analyzing Native Americans inferred to have Paleoamerican morphology who lived within the last millennium.
. It is now evident that the initial dispersal involved the movement from northeast Asia. The first peoples, once south of the continental ice sheets, spread widely, expanded rapidly and branched into multiple populations. Their descendants—over the next fifteen millennia—experienced varying degrees of isolation, admixture, continuity and replacement, and their genomes help to illuminate the relationships among major subgroups of Native American populations. Notably, all ancient individuals in the Americas, save for later-arriving Arctic peoples, are more closely related to contemporary Indigenous American individuals than to any other population elsewhere, which challenges the claim—which is based on anatomical evidence—that there was an early, non-Native American population in the Americas. Here we review the patterns revealed by ancient genomics that help to shed light on the past peoples who created the archaeological landscape, and together lead to deeper insights into the population and cultural history of the Americas.
^Sarkar, Anjali A.; PhD (18 June 2021). "Ancient Human Genomes Reveal Peopling of the Americas". GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. Retrieved 15 September 2021. The team discovered that the Spirit Cave remains came from a Native American while dismissing a longstanding theory that a group called Paleoamericans existed in North America before Native Americans.
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