What is an Indian

Indians in North America

Not all Indians are created equal. There are over 500 Indian tribes that differ greatly from one another. For example the Cree in the far north, the Cheyenne in the middle or the Hopi in the south of North America. Some tribes used to be sedentary farmers, others, for example, hunters.

Where does the name Indian come from?

How the word Indian came about is not clearly understood. When Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, he believed he had landed in India. So it could be that the Europeans called the indigenous people they met “Indians”. That is Spanish and in German means something like Indian. But it could also be that the name Indian originated from the old Spanish "en dio", which translates as "in God". In a letter to the Spanish royal family, Columbus reported how much he was impressed by the godliness of the natives.

War against the Indians

The Europeans who came to North America wanted the indigenous land to themselves. Sometimes they tried to buy land from the Indians. But the Indians didn't want to sign the treaties. They believed that the earth belonged to everyone and could not imagine how a river, a piece of land or a forest could be owned by one person. Many Indians refused to leave their country and were forced to do so by force of arms and driven out or killed by the whites.

Indians today

Today only two percent of Americans are of Native American origin. Many of them live in cities and have normal jobs there, others live on reservations. This is the name given to the small areas of land that the Indians were allowed to keep after the clashes with the European settlers. In the reservations, the Indians govern themselves and they also have their own laws. Because there is simply not enough work for everyone in some reservations, some people there are poor.

Even today, most of the indigenous people care about their traditions. Powwows, for example, are dance festivals in which the participants compete against each other in traditional clothing. In the past, the indigenous people used their ritual dances to ask for a successful hunt, for healing in the event of illness or for rain. Today the Powwos are a good opportunity for many Indians to see friends, acquaintances and relatives again and to exchange ideas, as they are scattered all over North America.

By the way, there are over a hundred Indian languages ​​that are as different as Chinese and German, for example. That is why the Indians invented a sign language that almost all tribes understand and that is very similar to sign language.

Status: 23.03.2010, 11:56