Native American Tribes

Native American tribes are existing historical clans, nations or communities of indigenous peoples in the Americas. There are 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes in the United States. Every tribe has a  special culture and language.

Native American tribes have beautiful cultures which guide the people from one end of life to the other. Every part of their life is governed by a prayerful approach.

Most scientists believe ancestors of today's tribes came from Asia across a land bridge at the present Bering Strait of present Alaska. It may have been as long ago as 20,000 years that the first of several migrations occured.

Native American tribes gradually formed unique cultures from these peoples. Over time they grew and passed on ways to govern themselves.

From the earliest days of the United States the country has been enriched by the Native American tribes.Benjamin Franklin is said to have borrowed the ideas of the Iroquois Confederacy as a way to organize the original colonies. Many American cities began as Native American villages. They grew from there to trading posts and forts to what they are today. This was the case for Chicago. Detroit, Saint Louis and many other cities.

The tribes however were often times devastated by Caucasian diseases and policies. During the 18th and 19th centuries the U.S. government often forced Native Americans from their homelands to reservations. It wasn't until the l920s that the Snyder Act , due to many Natives Americans serving in World War I, recognized Native American people as citizens.

Many in the majority culture saw little value in Native American culture, and during the Boarding School Era tried to get rid of cultural ties with the Native American youth. This led in some cases to a breakdown of the Native family and tribal strength. Young adults began to move off the reservations.

The Native American tribes however struggled on. They knew the value of their culture and sought to preserve it. Their numbers gradually started to increase, and today many American tribes are building up their cultures.

During World War II over 24,000 Native Americans served in the military. The Navajo Codetalkers worked out a code the enemy could not crack, and brought honor on Native people. They and other Native servicemen returned to their reservation homes after the war, and became strong supports in tribal life and government.

Today about 22% of America's 5.2 million Native Americans live on tribal lands. There are problems with poverty, diseases like diabetes and alcoholism. However there are many positive signs.

Many tribes have constructed programs to teach their languages. Language is a major factor in culture,and there is a push to pass it on. Ceremonies have been emphasized and pow-wows bring native people together.

Native Americans excel in many areas, but art holds a special place. Their jewelry, beadwork, totem poles, pottery, and other art forms are well known.

The youth are carrying on traditions in many places. A new generation is being taught to take pride in their culture as they travel into the future.

States such as Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky and Missouri take their names from Native American language. Contact with Native Americans introduced many words into the English language such as toboggan,chipmunk, pecan, chocolate, poncho and potato. Native American tribes have enriched us in many ways. Maybe though we need to listen to them once again, on a deeper level. Their prayerful   approach to all areas of their lives is something the majority culture perhaps most needs today.