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Introduction

Native American ethnic and political diversity

Dahteste became a mediator between the U. Cavalry sometimes serving as their scout and Geronimo. She played an important role in his final surrender in Lozen can be seen in this picture with Geronimo and other warriors 6th from the right in the upper row.

Lozen was a famous warrior and prophet of the Chihenne Chiricahua Apache. She was also the sister of an important chief called Victorio. She was born into the Chihenne band during the s. On one occasion, her brother Victorio described her importance during the battles:. Lozen is a shield to her people. According to the legends and stories that surround her name, she was able to use her spiritual powers in battle. She called on the favor of the gods to learn the location and movement of the enemy. She participated in many fights on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona together with her brother.

Lozen was part of many battles.

The New Warriors: Native American Leaders Since 1900

In some accounts, it is said that she is probably the same person as Pine Leaf. When she was 10 years old, a Crow raiding party took her from her tribe the Gros Ventres and a Crow warrior adopted her. From an early age, she showed interest in some activities that were usually male. Later in her life, her husband was killed by some Crow Warriors. Allegedly, the Sun Spirit told her that she would have great power in wars until she restrains herself from sexual relations with another man.

He noted that, during the reliably recorded epidemics of the 19th century, introduced diseases such as smallpox had combined with various secondary effects i. He then used this and other information to calculate from early census data backward to probable founding populations.

39 Remarkable Native American Portraits

Some of his critics fault Dobyns for the disjunctions between physical evidence and his results, as when the number of houses archaeologists find at a site suggests a smaller population than do his models of demographic recovery. Others, including the historian David Henige, criticize some of the assumptions Dobyns made in his analyses. For instance, many early fur traders noted the approximate number of warriors fielded by a tribe but neglected to mention the size of the general population.

This group notes that severe epidemics of European diseases may have begun in North America in the late 10th or early 11th century, when the Norse briefly settled a region they called Vinland. Yet another group of demographers protest that an emphasis on population loss obscures the resilience shown by indigenous peoples in the face of conquest. Most common, however, is a middle position that acknowledges that demographic models of 15th-century Native America must be treated with caution, while also accepting that the direct and indirect effects of the European conquest included extraordinary levels of indigenous mortality not only from introduced diseases but also from battles, slave raids, and—for those displaced by these events—starvation and exposure.

This perspective acknowledges both the resiliency of Native American peoples and cultures and the suffering they bore. Determining the number of ethnic and political groups in pre-Columbian Northern America is also problematic, not least because definitions of what constitutes an ethnic group or a polity vary with the questions one seeks to answer.

Ethnicity is most frequently equated with some aspect of language , while social or political organization can occur on a number of scales simultaneously.


  • Native American ethnic and political diversity.
  • External Liberalization in Asia, Post-Socialist Europe, and Brazil.
  • Nature and Culture in D. H. Lawrence;
  • North America and Europe circa 1492;

Thus, a given set of people might be defined as an ethnic group through their use of a common dialect or language even as they are recognized as members of nested polities such as a clan , a village, and a confederation. Other factors, including geographic boundaries, a subsistence base that emphasized either foraging or farming, the presence or absence of a social or religious hierarchy , and the inclinations of colonial bureaucrats , among others, also affected ethnic and political classification; see Sidebar: The Difference Between a Tribe and a Band. The cross-cutting relationships between ethnicity and political organization are complex today and were equally so in the past.

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And both the hypothetical Germanic speaker and the hypothetical Iroquoian speaker live or lived in nested polities or quasi-polities: families, neighbourhoods, towns, regions, and so forth, each of which has or had some level of autonomy in its dealings with the outside world. Recognizing that it is difficult to determine precisely how many ethnic or political groups or polities were present in 15th-century Northern America, most researchers favour relative rather than specific quantification of these entities.

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The outstanding characteristic of North American Indian languages is their diversity—at contact Northern America was home to more than 50 language families comprising between and languages. At the same moment in history, western Europe had only 2 language families Indo-European and Uralic and between 40 and 70 languages.

In other words, if one follows scholarly conventions and defines ethnicity through language, Native America was vastly more diverse than Europe. Politically , most indigenous American groups used consensus-based forms of organization. In such systems, leaders rose in response to a particular need rather than gaining some fixed degree of power. The Southeast Indians and the Northwest Coast Indians were exceptions to this general rule, as they most frequently lived in hierarchical societies with a clear chiefly class. Regardless of the form of organization, however, indigenous American polities were quite independent when compared with European communities of similar size.

Just as Native American experiences during the early colonial period must be framed by an understanding of indigenous demography, ethnic diversity , and political organization, so must they be contextualized by the social, economic, political, and religious changes that were taking place in Europe at the time.

These changes drove European expansionism and are often discussed as part of the centuries-long transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism see Western colonialism. Many scholars hold that the events of the early colonial period are inextricably linked to the epidemics of the Black Death , or bubonic plague , that struck Europe between and Perhaps 25 million people, about one-third of the population , died during this epidemic.

The population did not return to preplague levels until the early s. The intervening period was a time of severe labour shortages that enabled commoners to demand wages for their work. Standards of living increased dramatically for a few generations, and some peasants were even able to buy small farms. These were radical changes from the previous era, during which most people had been tied to the land and a lord through serfdom.

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These conflicts created intense local and regional hardship, as the roving brigands that constituted the military typically commandeered whatever they wanted from the civilian population. In the theatres of war, troops were more or less free to take over private homes and to impress people into labour ; famine , rape , and murder were all too prevalent in these areas. Further, tax revenues could not easily be levied on devastated regions, even though continued military expenditures had begun to drain the treasuries of western Europe.

As treasuries were depleted, overseas trade beckoned.