Indian (English Indians, American Indians, native Americans or roofridge nation, in Canada also roofridge People; French India, Amérindiens or Première nation; Spanish indios and/or. indigenas) the common designation of all humans is pueblos,those the continent America (north, central and South America) already before European colonizing populated. These peoples arrived for their part gradually by people migrations on different ways of Asia and possibly even from further continents to America and have themselves theredevelops further variously. They are also called in contrast to European immigrants „native America “or „indigene peoples Americas “.

Tauschhandel mit Indianern, Kupferstich, 17. Jahrhundert
Bartering with Indians, copper pass, 17. Century

table of contents

the term

the designation „Indians “(originally Spanish: indios) decreases/goes back to a misunderstanding of Christoph Columbus , which believed, in India to have landed as it America in the year 1492 for the Europeans (again) discovered. „India “the European sailors at that time general Eastern Asia named, them overthe western sea route to reach looked for. Also after they had recognized their mistake, they maintained the term.

„Indian “is the German version of the English „Indians “, with which northEuropean colonial powers particularly meant the natives of North America. In south and Central Americaon the other hand the vorkolumbischen inhabitants on Spanish were calledIndios “. All these comprehensive terms used by Europeans stand for a multiplicity of different Ethnien, which deviate culturally partially very strongly from each other. Thus the colonial gentlemen standardized the inhabitants of the conqueredAreas.

The peoples Americas did not know an appropriate total designation before Columbus; they probably exclusively defined themselves over their respective group of peoples. In the course of the white supremacy, pursuit and Genozide particularly the Ethnien North America won however increasingly a Zusammengehörigkeitsgefühl. Today they usein the USA for itself the English terms American Indian (Indian) or native American (American natives), whereby first - particularly of politically active human right fighters - is preferred [1]. In Canada roofridge is nation (first nations) synonymously usual for it.

InContrast to the term Indian covers native American also the Inuit, Unangan and Yupik in Alaska and the northCanadian arctic. They arrived substantially later than the Indians in America and differ genetically and culturally strongly from thatprevious immigrants. This applies also to the natives Hawaiis, American Samoa and the Osterinsel. They are not included therefore usually into the term „Indians “. This applies also to the Métis, the descendants of European fur dealers andindianischen women.

In Latin America descendants of Europeans and Indianern are called „Mestizen “. For the natives prevails here the designation Pueblos Indígenas (Indigene of peoples south and/or. Central America) forwards. Indios is less common.

In the Brazilian Portuguese one understands under„Indio “generally „natives “. Accordingly there is „the Indio beside „the Indio latinamericano “there also „the Indio africano “or australiano “.

to settlement America

Indian 1916 in California

see major items: Settlement America

settling history America is strongly disputed. Is probablebut that the American continent in several immigration waves was settled and that these in the period of 28.000 v. Chr. and 9,000 v. Chr. America reached. The most frequently mentioned route led from Siberia across the Bering Strait to Alaska andfrom there to the south over the whole double continent. If one accepts an exclusive immigration over this route, then one would have had to find the oldest traces in Alaska. The oldest secured archaeological find (approx. 13,800 v. Chr.) comes however out Chile. The Inuit as inhabitants of the northernmost regions Americas arrived only with the last large before-European immigration wave there.

Therefore also different possible immigration ways come into question, approximately over Polynesien or the North Atlantic for earlier Ethnien (e.g. thoseGreenland bridge). For the latter speaks and. A. the striking similarity of stone blade of the Clovis culture with European stone blade the same time.

Adapted, became Indiani nut/mother with

infant, 1917 the Indians to her respective new environment Fischer, nomadische hunters and collecting tank or establishedField farmer. They bred plants such as corn, Kürbis and potato. In central and South America the Indians developed urban advanced cultures, majority by the Spanish Kolonisten were only destroyed. Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec realm, was before thatDestruction by Hernán Cortés 'troops one of the largest cities of the world, more largely than the European cities of the time. In North America existed in the eastern catchment area Mississippi complex community (Templemound cultures), however to short before arrival firstEuropean settler had disintegrated to a large extent, probably because of numerous pathogens, which had bring along early European discoverers. To their place stepped smaller community of survivors of the epidemic diseases, which lived agriculture in village communities and claimant. In the southwest of the today's USA partly developedmehrstöckige loam construction settlements with up to 500 areas, the Pueblos.

Cattle breeding could not develop under the indianischen cultures nearly, there it except the Lama, other Kameloiden such as Alpaca and Vicuña in the realm of the Inka, the Truthahn and no domestizierbaren animal species to the wolf gave. Why the kinds of sheep existing in North America were not domestiziert, is not clarified. One went to foot and transported loads themselves. Dignitaries in hierarchical societies of central and South America were carried every now and then also in gentle ones.As load animals dogs were only available for smaller loads beside the Lama of the Inka, which one clamped in North America into simple triangular towing gear, Travois.

The first occupied European settlement found around 1000 n. Chr. instead of, after oneGroup of Wikinger under Leif Eriksson the way to America had found. They created a colony in Newfoundland. Is unclear, how long this was populated. Indications point these on further European settlements Americas 1492 ago, are however vacant. For examplethe theory around the walisischen prince Madoc in 12. Century, which is considered to some as a founder of the trunk of the Mandan.

After the arrival of Christoph Columbus in America the double continent on a large scale by Europeans one settled.

colonial history

Indianer-Massengrab am Wounded Knee
To Indian mass grave at the Wounded Knee

see major items: Indians of North America, Indigene peoples of South America

European influence in America

the European Kolonisten changed the life of the Indians strongly. Many indianische groups of peoples completely became by war of extermination, brought in diseases, resettlements and enslavementdestroyed. Is disputed, as numerous the population was America before arrival of the Europeans. Population estimations took place often only, after large parts of regional populations had been already destroyed. Many peoples disappeared after 1492 by brought in epidemics, without a European themat all to face had gotten.

In 19. Century and into the center 20. Century estimations of präkolumbianischer populations were particularly reduced by US-American Anthropologen from generation to generation to fractions of previous estimations. Around 1940 one went to a publicationthe influential Anthropologen Alfred Kroeber officially of the fact out that altogether only eight million and north the Rio Grande only about one million humans lived 1492 in the entire western hemisphere (the US censuses of 1890 235,116 survivors had Indians registered). ThisEstimations were considerably politically motivated, since them let the taken place destruction of indianischer peoples appear as small as possible and the myth upright kept, the white ones a to a large extent deserted continent would have conquered. Into the 1960er years made itself the Berkely School with helpmodern methods to particularly reconstructing the präkolumbianischen populations of individual regions under the criterion of agricultural engineerings and Carrying at that time Capacities. Therefore the population of Hispaniola became alone on eight million estimated, those by central Mexico even on 25 million. Borah corrected thereforethe estimation for North America on 7.5 million. Dobyns later even determined a präkolumbianische population of North America of 18 million. Nowadays the majority of the prominent Anthropologen estimates that the total population of the western hemisphere around 1500 approx. 75 to 110 million humans amounted toand north the Rio Grande approx. 12 million humans lived. An explanation beginning means that late observed enormous herds of buffalo the pasture animals of the strongly dezimierten Indians were. The herd size represented by no means a natural equilibrium, but was based on in few generations more occurredOver übervermehrung after the strong decrease of the human population (third Volterra law). In this regard as very conservatively well-known Smithsonian institutes some time ago its estimation for North America trebled on three million humans.

Tote Crow Indianer 1874
Dead Crow Indian 1874

Hernán Cortésit succeeded with 180 soldiers and with allied Indians to completely destroy the powerful realm of the Aztecs. Also in the Karibik the population was nearly completely extinguished within shortest time. Also with other conquests, above all Peru, it cameto excessive massacres. Around the question of the treatment of the Indians in Latin America relax a comprehensive ideological conflict with the exponents Bartolomé de read Casas as „a general defender of the Indios “and Juán Ginés de Sepúlveda, that the Indios as oneKind Untermen regarded. Efforts for the protection of the Indios failed, instead the survivors were forced to the work for example in mines.

The Spanish and Portuguese Kolonisten in central and South America sent enormous amounts at gold, silver and other raw materials home.The motherlands in Europe sent for its part men to overseas, who connected themselves there with indianischen women. Rapidly the countries with Mestizen were populated. A two-class company developed: The Spaniards and Portuguese, the lower class the Mestizen formed the dominant classand Indians.

In North America above all diseases caused such as smallpox, masers and flu with the Indians catastrophic damages. The effects are not inferior to the victim numbers of the Spanish flu possibly. The Indians had no defense materials against these forit new diseases. European Kolonisten took advantage of this, by distributing smallpox-infected covers at Indians.

The Skalpprämien continued to contribute later to the destruction of the Indians, in some Federal States to in the British colonies in North America and in the US Federal Statesinto the 1880er years. A Skalp was regarded as proof for the killing of an Indian and remunerated financially. By this system the mass murder at Indians became a lucrative industry, which got along without the employment of the army. In California for exampleafter gold fever of 1849 within only two decades several ten thousand Indians were murdered in such a way.

„Nur ein toter Indianer ist ein guter Indianer.“ Das in den Sprachgebrauch eingegangene Zitat entstammt einer Aussage von General Sheridan zu Comanchen-Häuptling Tosowi. Originaltext: Tosowi:„Ich bin ein guter Indianer“ Sherdian:„Die einzigen guten Indianer, die ich gesehen habe, sind schon tot.“
„Only a dead Indian is a good Indian. “Quotation the entered linguistic usage comes of to a statement of general Sheridan to Comanchen chieftain Tosowi. Original text:Tosowi: „I am a good Indian “Sherdian: „The only good Indians, whom I saw, are already dead. “

Economic exploitation and desolate social conditions, military conflicts, epidemic diseases and planned Genozid at this demographic disaster actually had which portion and in which relationship itstood to each other, probably durably an ideological controversy will represent, which cannot do itself due to source situation lacking material. It stands firmly only that hundreds of peoples were completely destroyed with its culture and language and the destruction of the indianischen peoples thoselargest demographic disaster in the history of the human species represents.

Both in north as well as central and South America contributed mission acres of most different Christian religious communities the their to the destruction of the indianischen cultures. Often Indians were forced, their traditional faith to favourto give up the Christianity. With it the prohibition of cultural peculiarities was connected. Like that men had to cut their hair, Polygamie were just as little permitted like the use of the master language.

Spanish ones and partly also different European Kolonisten led horses with itself, from which some fledand particularly in the wilderness of the North American Plains spread. Rapidly so indianische rider peoples developed. The horses erleicherten the hunt and the transport of the nomadischen peoples uncommonly and led to a changed balance of power among the peoples.

In North America those lastedResistance fights of indianischer peoples against subjecting by the white ones to toward end 19. Century. Since that time all are subordinate the Canadian respectively US-American government authority.

perception in Europe

early one European reports over Indians spoke barbarians of these as „a savage “, „“and „heaths “. In these formulations the general attitude of the Europeans, which Indians consider to be and these destroy, reflected itself displaces and to missionieren to be allowed. This attitude developed due to military and technical superiority and from the transmission consciousness of the Christian missions.

The knowledge of the Europeans over the Indians came on the one hand from the distorted reports of the first visitors Americas, on the other hand from freiwilligen or forced attendance of the Indians in Europe. As the Spanish Konquistador Hernando de Soto starting from 1539 with itsArmed force from the today's Florida the inside of North America explored, found it the hoped for gold not. But it met everywhere on Indians. In thousands Kanus paddelten it over the rivers and harvested corn of their fields. The whole country, was astonished deSoto, was „closely from large cities pulled through “. Completely different picture was offered to the French discoverer René Robert Cavelier de La Salle, than it came nearly 150 years later into the area. 200 miles drove it and its men thatMississippi down - and saw not one Indian settlement. Diseases must have dahingerafft the population estimated on 120 million. For the understanding of the indianischen culture before the arrival of the first Europeans it is necessary to use only the all first reports.

The sailor Amérigo Vespucci returned with 200 Indians from South America to Spain, Gaspar Corte Reals crew around 1500 with 50 North American Indians to Portugal. Approximately to the same time Sebastian Cabot brought the first Indians to England and Jacques Cartier 1534first to France. These Indians were demonstrated as attraction at the yards.

To the first critics the European attitude opposite the Indians Bartolomé de belonged read Casas and Michel de Montaigne in 16. Century and Gabriel saying pool of broadcasting corporations in 17.Century. Toward end 18. Century began to tilt the European view of the Indians in the opposite. The Indians - particularly the North American - were designated no longer abschätzig than „savage “, but increasingly romantisierend than „„“noble savage “. Characteristics, which the Indiansdistinctive by the Europeans, became now no longer negative, but interpreted positive. Thus the Europeans regarded the Indians no longer than primitively, putridly and childlike senselessly, but than undemandingly, calmly and innocently.

At the same time indianische visitors were inEurope no more than attraction of importance, but than research objects. To the scientists, who examined non-European natives, the Netherlands physician belonged Peter Camper and the German Johann Friedrich flower brook and Christoph Meiners.

lives of the Indians into the present

central and South America

Indios im Reservat Maraiwatséde der Xavantes
Indios in the reservation Maraiwatséde of the Xavantes

see major items: Indigene of peoples of South America

in many states of central and South America form descendants of the Indians today a large part of the population. In Mexico the indigene becomesPopulation on 10-30 per cent estimated;Mestizen constitute approximately 60 per cent of the total population. 10 per cent of humans in Belize are Indigene, 45 per cent half blood. In Guatemala 45 per cent is descendants of the Maya. In Bolivia and Peru the Indigenen placesthe majority. They are a little numerous in Costa Rica, Cuba, in the Dominican republic and in Uruguay.

Only few indigene languages are officially recognized, exceptions are Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia and Peru as well as Guaraní in Paraguay.In Guatemala Maya speak 40 per cent of humans, nevertheless apply them not as official office language.

to North America

see major items: Indians of North America

in North America often live the Indians in reservations or reservations. In Canada the reservations are originala follow-up of the contracts (treaties), the Indians with the government signed, and which to the Indians certain pieces country for their own purposes gave „“and on those them live may, without paying taxes. Many Indians are however into thatlast years into cities moved, likewise in the USA.

The Indian politics of the USA were wankelmütig and changed depending upon government. As result the Indians live today usually disillusioned in poverty. In the USA Indians are rather a fringe group with fewto no acknowledgment. In accordance with the census in the year 2000 the Indians and Indigene Alaska constitute approximately 1 per cent of the total population, on which about 85 per cent lives outside on reservations, usually in cities.


the indianischen peoplesAmericas differed before subjecting by the European immigrants strongly from each other. Some were hunters and collecting tanks, others lived from fishing or operated agriculture. Some lived in small groups, others highly developed nations had formed.

Despite the clear culturalDifferences between the individual cultures can be determined some elements, which are similar with most indianischen Ethnien. As well as in addition belong the wide-spread faith in animal spirit, vision acres chamfered the myth that America on the back of one Water turtle established was. This myth is to be found across the whole double continent.

In North America the cultures are usually divided into ten culture areas.

Maya-Pyramide in Chichen Itza
Maya pyramid in Chichen Itza

although by widely distributed commercial nets was covered for America, proved the large deserts of north Mexicoand the impenetrable jungles of Central America as substantial barriers for the technology exchange in the western hemisphere. Except some Central American cultures, which possessed a kind picture writing ( the Maya developed these to a genuine writing system), left the cultures of the western hemisphere nonewritten certifications of the past. Among the prairie Indians existed chronicles, which used graphic symbols for the highlight of each yearly within a group. Without verbal comment these chronicles were however not understandable. The most important picture writing is on barkheld master legend of the Lenni Lenape resident in the east of the today's USA, admits as Walam Olum. Indiani excessive quantity therefore took place majority verbally whereby factual reports and myths turn into often flowing into one another. In recent time archaeological and geological finds have howeverproven that indianische orally history centuries and partly thousands of years retained past events.

to language

former spreading of the native languages of North America

see major items: Indigene American languages

according to estimations were common in South America around 1500 approximately 1500 languages,of it today still 350 exists. Contrary to North America the South American Indigenensprachen is still little investigated. In North America the languages are divided in approximately 30 language families, some under it are disputed. Approximately 10% of the North American Indians speak still their traditional master language.

see also


  • Bitterli, Urs: The “wild ones” and “civilized”. Fundamentals of a spirit andCulture history of the European-overseas meeting. C.H.Beck, Munich, 2004 (first edition: 1976), ISBN 3-406-35583-8
  • Fagan, Brian M.: Ancient North America - The Archaeology OF A Continent (3rd OD), 2000
  • Hurst Thomas, David (Hrsg.): The world of the Indians. History, art, culture of the beginningsup to the present.
  • Josephy, Alvin M. (Hrsg.): America 1492. The Indian peoples before the discovery, S. Fischer, Frankfurt/a.M., 1992, ISBN 3-10-036712-X
  • Sturtevant, William C.: Handbook OF North American Indians. Smithsonian institution (Hg.), Washington D.C., 1978 until today
  • Werner of arene, Hans Martin brown:“The Indians of North America”, Beck, 2004, ISBN 3406508308
  • Charles C. Man: 1491: New Revelations OF the Americans Before Columbus, Alfred A. Button, 2005, ISBN 140004006X,

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