Updated March 2017

NATIVE AMERICANS FROM A-Z


FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT

A fact about Native Americans for each letter of the alphabet
Click on highlighted word for more information

When Columbus arrived in America, he thought he had landed in India
and called the people Indians.
These people had lived in America for over 12,000 years,
and archeologists call them Paleo-Indians.
Their descendents are known as American Indians, Native Americans, and Indians.

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A IS FOR ART
Picture of Native American Art The ART of Native Americans is part of America. Native Americans began decorating canyon walls, rock shelters, and boulders with rock art several thousand years ago. The Sioux kept a chronological, pictographic account of each year which included the Leonid meteor shower. There are many well known Native American artists. In 1990 the Indian Arts and Crafts Act was signed to promote and protect Native American Artists and Crafters. The Native Art Network promotes authentic Native American Art.

B IS FOR BIA
Bureau of Indian Affairs Logo The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is a government agency providing information and services to Native Americans. The League of Indian Nations is an organization that provides services for Native Americans and their families.

C IS FOR CULTURES
Picture of Culture There are many Native American CULTURES. People living on reservations have a different culture than those living off reservations. Cultural property includes land and other tangible property, ideas, and traditions. Native American Cultural Heritage sites are located through the country. The Heard Museum in Arizona has collections of Native American fine art and cultural art that are considered among the finest in the world.

D IS FOR DANCE
Picture of Native American Dance courtesy of indian-nations.com Native American DANCE is not only a way to have fun but spiritual in itself. Native American music reflects the sounds of nature and communication. It is also linked to oral tradition and history. Instruments include flutes, drums, and horns.

E IS FOR EDUCATION
Picture of Native American Geometry Opportunities for EDUCATION are provided by The Bureau of Indian Education Programs in accordance with a tribes needs. The National Indian Education Association was founded to give Native Americans a voice in obtaining educational opportunity. The Sherman Indian High School is an off-reservation boarding high school for Native Americans. Legends, myths, and tales were an important way to teach and to pass down history. Geometry is taught using Native American culture and history. Kids can do some Native American Crafts

F IS FOR FOOD
Picture of Corn Every Native American tribe prepared and preserved its FOOD and stored it for future use. Before European settlers arrived carrying metal utensils, the natives made the majority of their cooking tools from stone, clay, bone, wood, and animal hide. Baskets were made for storage, holding water, and cooking. There are many recipies for Native American food. Corn was unknown to the Europeans before they met the Indians.

G IS FOR GAMES
Picture of Rice Bowl Game GAMES of chance and skill have always challenged Native Americans. Some games were part of ceremonial activities and some used as teaching tools for children. Many states have Native American Indian casinos with bingo and gaming.

H IS FOR HOUSE
Picture of a Hammock Every Native American tribe built some form of HOUSE depending on the environment. The houses of Native American had very little furniture as home life was simple and wants were few. One item Native Americans used that is still popular throughout the world is the hammock.

I IS FOR INDIAN TRIBES
Map of United States There are more than 500 federally recognized INDIAN TRIBES in the United States including about two hundred Alaskan native villages and groups and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Island Groups. Many tribes have their own flag. Over 500 tribes are raising bison and renewing traditions in which this animal played a role.

J IS FOR JEWELRY
Picture of a Shell Necklace Wearing or presenting JEWELRY had many social, economic, political and religious implications for Native Americans. The style of clothing, symbols used in designs, colors in bead work, and other ornaments helped identify the wearer’s tribe or family.

K IS FOR KACHINAS
Picture of Kachina Doll A KACHINA is a friendly spirits of several tribes and plays an important part in various religious ceremonies. The Kachina doll was originally carved as a gift and learning tool for children.

L IS FOR LANGUAGES
Picture of Indian Symbols About 200 Native American LANGUAGES are spoken today. Native Americans developed sign language to understand other tribes and communicate with visitors. Sequoyah created a written version of the Cherokee language. Symbols and designs had special meanings. The Code Talkers used their language for sending coded messages in World War II and were awarded a medal. Only a few Native American languages are written.

M IS FOR MUSEUMS
Picture of a Powhatan Renape Nations'a American Heritage Museum in New Jersey courtesy of the tribe The country has many Native American places to visit including MUSEUMS, heritage centers, historical sites, monuments, cultural libraries, art galleries, and exhibitions. The Chulalissa Archeological Museum has a reconstructed Indian Village. The Sherman Indian Museum offers class tours. The National Museum of the American Indian is in Washington, D.C.

N IS FOR NAMES
Picture of Indian Names Book There has been some controversy over the NAMES for Native American. Some communities have begun to use more meaningful and accurate names. Many rivers, lakes, mountains, towns, and states have Indian names.

O IS FOR OJIBWE
Picture of Ojibwe The OJIBWE tribe is the largest Indian group north of Mexico. Their language is thousands of years old and very specific in meaning.

P IS FOR PEOPLE
Picture of Pocahontas There are many famous Native American PEOPLE. Native Americans have served in Congress, the United States Senate and in the House of Representative. Charles Curtis, a Kaw Indian, served as Vice President of the U.S. under President Hoover. There were also great Chiefs and Leaders. According to legend, Pocahontas saved the life of Captain John Smith. Standing Bear was responsible for getting the American Indians recognized as people. Sacajawea helped Lewis & Clark on their expedition.

Q IS FOR QUARTER
Picture of Indian Head quarter The Indian Head QUARTER eagle and the half eagle stand out from all the rest of United States coinage because their relief is incuse. The Buffalo nickel became available in June 2001 in a special one-dollar commemorative version. The Sacagawea Golden Dollar debuted in January 2000. The Indian cent was first introduced in 1859.

R IS FOR RESERVATION
Map of Reservations An Indian RESERVATION is an area of land specifically reserved for use by Native Americans and there are over 300 throughout the country. For many, life on a reservation was and is a constant struggle.

S IS FOR SPIRITUALITY
Picture of Native American Astrological Chart Followers of Native American SPIRITUALITY do not regard their spiritual beliefs and practices as a religion. Many communicated with the Creator through nature. Although beliefs differ among tribes, many similarities are shared both with one another and with major religions around the world. In 1993 a bill was introduced to Congress that would assure religious freedom to Native Americans. A pow-wow is a spiritual ceremony.

T IS FOR TOTEM
Picture of Native American Totem Pole The TOTEM is both religious and social. It is a Native American term for objects which members of a community regard with respect and becomes a social bond. Totem Poles were originally an important part of the Potlatch ceremony and served as the emblem of a family. The only Native Americans that made totem poles lived in the Northwest coastal area.

U IS FOR UNIVERSITIES
Picture of Rice University American Indian Studies programs were created at a number of UNIVERSITIES throughout the United States beginning in the late 1960s. Many universities and colleges have special Native American Programs. There are Tribal Colleges and Universities throughout the United States.

V IS FOR VOTE
Picture of Voting Box Native Americans have the right to VOTE on the same basis as other citizens of their respective states. In 1924 Congress granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. Yet some were not allowed to vote because the right to vote was governed by state law. It took over forty years for all fifty states to allow Native Americans to vote.

W IS FOR WAMPUM
Picture of Wampum Many American Indians had sophisticated forms of trade and currency. WAMPUM means white shell beads and it was used for decoration and for barter by Native Americans living on coastal areas and used as a form of money when trading with settlers.

X IS FOR XMAS
Picture of Animated Christmas Bells XMAS is the abbreviation of Christmas. Christmas for Native Americans did not start until the Europeans came to America. September 28th is Native American Day in many states. November is National American Indian Heritage Month.

Y IS FOR Y-GUIDES
Picture of Y-Guides Logo The Y-GUIDES (formerly known as the Y-Indian Guides) is a program designed to bring parents and their children together.

Z IS FOR ZOOS
Picture of Animal in a Cage Many ZOOS throughout the country have areas devoted to American Indians. The Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania features the culture of Native Americans.

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