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The term Native American is a common term we used to describe the people that were here when the European explorers arrived. The term Indian came about when explorers thought they had landed in the “Indies” of the Asian continent. We refer to the Natives of this country as Native Americans nowadays, even though they do not see themselves as this group. You see, the American Natives prefer to be identified by their tribes, for example, Apache, Cherokee, Shoshone, and Cheyenne.
The Apache people are said to come from Alaska and Canada and are considered close relatives to the Navajos. The Apache’s ancestors arrived here in the United States a little after the fourteenth century, and before 1540. They would eventually set up settlements on the Four Corners and dealt with severe political and economic disruptions. These disruptions came from the Spanish explorers first, and then the Camacnhes tribe later. By the early 1700s, the Comanche tribe would devastate many Apache settlements and it would not get better from there. By 1886 after the defeat of Geronimo, many Apaches became prisoners of war and were shipped to multiple American states. Modern-day Apaches can be found in Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico with a population of 30,000.
The ancestors of the Cherokee tribe can be traced back to around 800-1600 A.D. in Georgia U.S. For much of the 18th century, the Cherokee tribes were actually close allies to the British that were here in the United States. In this alliance, there was much trading for tools, weapons, and other European technology in exchange for deerskin. During the Seven Years’ War, the Cherokees sent 1,000 warriors to help the British route out the French in Ohio, but the American Revolution was a little different. During the American Revolution, the Cherokees were split into two, one siding with the British and the other siding with the Americans. By the early 1800s, the Cherokees were driven out by the State of Georgia and the Trail of Tears became a harsh reality. Nowadays the Cherokee population is at 300,000 most residing in Oklahoma.
The Shoshone tribe which is also called the Shoshoni tribe originally lived in the Great Basin and Great Plains. The Shoshone tribe is closely related to the Comanche, the Ute, and the Paiute Indians. By the 18th century, the Shoshone were outgunned and outran by other tribes with guns and horses. The Shoshone were pushed south from the northern plains. By the 1840s the Shoshone tribe was decimated by smallpox and other diseases brought to them by white settlers moving into their territory. By 1939 the Shashone’s land went from 5 states to 1/20th of the original size! Today their population is more or less 10,000 spanned across Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming.
The Cheyenne tribe was one of the most prominent of the Plains tribes. They mainly hunted on hills and prairies and called themselves “Tsitsistas”. Before the 1600s, they lived in permanent settlements in log houses. During the 1600s, though they migrated because of conflict with neighboring tribes. By the 1700s, they were hunters, gatherers, and nomads. They acquired horses from the Spanish and continued to move due to conflict. By the 1860’s they began attacking camps, wagon trains, and anything that had value to it. Many battles happened afterward like the Sand Creek massacre and the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. 1884 was the last of the big events in Cheyenne history, that is when they got their reservations. Their population is now about 17,000 and they live on two big reservations in Montana and Oklahoma.
In conclusion, many people have a certain image of the Native Americans in their heads. In old movies and comic books, the Indians were always the bad guys scalping the white man, and stealing from them. The truth is the Indians were the true victims and I hope their legacy and rich history continue to live on, and the negative stereotypes get pushed aside. In the end, they were the first true Americans and I believe they should be remembered as so.
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