The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian peoples of the Americas and their descendants.
Although some indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers—and many, especially in the Amazon basin, still are—many groups practiced aquaculture and agriculture. The impact of their agricultural endowment to the world is a testament to their time and work in reshaping and cultivating the flora indigenous to the Americas. Although some societies depended heavily on agriculture, others practiced a mix of farming, hunting and gathering. In some regions the indigenous peoples created monumental architecture, large-scale organized cities, chiefdoms, states and empires.
Nahuatl, known historically as Aztec, is a language or group of languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by an estimated 1.5 million Nahua peoples, most of whom live in central Mexico. All Nahuan languages are indigenous to Mesoamerica.
Nahuatl has been spoken in central Mexico since at least the seventh century CE.It was the language of the Aztecs who dominated what is now central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican history. During the centuries preceding the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs had expanded to incorporate a large part of central Mexico, and its influence caused the variety of Nahuatl spoken by the residents of Tenochtitlan to become a prestige language in Mesoamerica. At the conquest, with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl also became a literary language, and many chronicles, grammars, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in it during the 16th and 17th centuries. This early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan variety has been labeled Classical Nahuatl and is among the most studied and best-documented languages of America.
Today, Nahuan languages are spoken in scattered communities, mostly in rural areas throughout central Mexico and along the coastline. There are considerable differences among varieties, and some are mutually unintelligible. Huasteca Nahuatl, with over 1 million speakers, is the most-spoken variety. They have all been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern Nahuan languages are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are generally more closely related to it than those on the periphery
Current distribution of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (not including mestizos, zambos and pardos)
Mapuche man and woman. The Mapuche make up about 85% of Chile's indigenous population.
Textile art by Julia Pingushat (Inuk, Arviat, Nunavut Territory, Canada), wool, embroidery floss, 1995
Schematic illustration of maternal (mtDNA) gene-flow in and out of Beringia, from 25,000 years ago to present
Two Maya women in the highlands of Chiapas
Drawing accompanying text in Book XII of the 16th-century Florentine Codex (compiled 1540–1585), showing Nahuas of conquest-era central Mexico suffering from smallpox
Chimu culture feather pectoral, feathers, reed, copper, silver, hide, cordage, ca. 1350–1450 CE
Maya women from Guatemala
Cultural areas of North America at time of European contact
The Tolaba Family - Proprietors of Roadside Cafe en route to Cachi - Argentina.jpgnail
Proprietors of a roadside cafe near Cachi, Argentina
Bolivia and Peru have majority-Native American populations, including mestizos.
This map shows the percentage of indigenous population in different countries of the Americas.
Brazilian indigenous man of Terena tribe
Indigenous people at a Brazilian farm plantation in Minas Gerais ca. 1824
Language families of indigenous peoples in North America: shown across present-day Canada, Greenland, the United States, and northern Mexico
Eight Crow Nation prisoners under guard at Crow agency, Montana, 1887
Bill Reid's sculpture The Raven and The First Men. The Raven represents the Trickster figure common to many mythologies.
Ethnic groups ca. 1300 to 1535 CE
Pocahontas (born Matoaka, known as Amonute, and later known as Rebecca Rolfe, c. 1595 – March 1617) was a Virginia Indian notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tsenacommacah, encompassing the Tidewater region of Virginia. In a well-known historical anecdote, she is said to have saved the life of an Indian captive, Englishman John Smith, in 1607 by placing her head upon his own when her father raised his war club to execute him.
Pocahontas was captured by the English during Anglo-Indian hostilities in 1613, and held for ransom. During her captivity, she converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca. When the opportunity arose for her to return to her people, she chose to remain with the English. In April 1614, she married tobacco planter John Rolfe, and in January 1615, bore him a son, Thomas Rolfe. Pocahontas's marriage to Rolfe was the first recorded interracial marriage in North American history.
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