The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America 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, city-states, chiefdoms, states, kingdoms and empires. Among these are the Aztec, Inca and Maya states that until the 16th century were among the most politically and socially advanced nations in the world. They had a vast knowledge of engineering, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, writing, physics, medicine, planting and irrigation, geology, mining, sculpture and goldsmithing.
Tak'alik Ab'aj is a pre-Columbian archaeological site in Guatemala. It was formerly known as Abaj Takalik; its ancient name may have been Kooja. It is one of several Mesoamerican sites with both Olmec and Maya features. The site flourished in the Preclassic and Classic periods, from the 9th century BC through to at least the 10th century AD, and was an important centre of commerce,trading with Kaminaljuyu and Chocolá. Investigations have revealed that it is one of the largest sites with sculptured monuments on the Pacific coastal plain.Olmec-style sculptures include a possible colossal head, petroglyphs and others. The site has one of the greatest concentrations of Olmec-style sculpture outside of the Gulf of Mexico.
Takalik Abaj is representative of the first blossoming of Maya culture that had occurred by about 400 BC. The site includes a Maya royal tomb and examples of Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions that are among the earliest from the Maya region. Excavation is continuing at the site; the monumental architecture and persistent tradition of sculpture in a variety of styles suggest the site was of some importance.
Finds from the site indicate contact with the distant metropolis of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico and imply that Takalik Abaj was conquered by it or its allies.Takalik Abaj was linked to long-distance Maya trade routes that shifted over time but allowed the city to participate in a trade network that included the Guatemalan highlands and the Pacific coastal plain from Mexico to El Salvador.
Language families of indigenous peoples in North America: shown across present-day Canada, Greenland, the United States, and northern Mexico
Indigenous people at a Brazilian farm plantation in Minas Gerais ca. 1824
Cultural areas of North America at time of European contact
Bill Reid's sculpture The Raven and The First Men. The Raven represents the Trickster figure common to many mythologies.
Mapuche man and woman. The Mapuche make up about 85% of Chile's indigenous population.
Current distribution of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (not including mestizos, zambos and pardos)
Eight Crow Nation prisoners under guard at Crow agency, Montana, 1887
Textile art by Julia Pingushat (Inuk, Arviat, Nunavut, Canada), wool, embroidery floss, 1995
Ethnic groups ca. 1300 to 1535 CE. (See the image for the numbered List of indigenous peoples)
Chimu culture feather pectoral, feathers, reed, copper, silver, hide, cordage, ca. 1350-1450 CE
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
Schematic illustration of maternal (mtDNA) gene-flow in and out of Beringia, from 25,000 years ago to present
Maya women from Guatemala
Brazilian indigenous man of Terena tribe
Two Maya women in the highlands of Chiapas
This map shows the percentage of indigenous population in different countries of the Americas.
Molly Brant (c.1736 - April 16, 1796), also known as Mary Brant, Konwatsi'tsiaienni, and Degonwadonti, was a prominent Mohawk woman in the era of the American Revolution. Living in the Province of New York, she was the consort of Sir William Johnson, the influential British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, with whom she had eight children. Joseph Brant, who became an important Mohawk leader, was her younger brother.
After Johnson's death in 1774, Brant and her children returned to her native village of Canajoharie on the Mohawk River. A Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War, she fled to British Canada, where she worked as an intermediary between British officials and the Iroquois. After the war, she settled in what is now Kingston, Ontario. In recognition of her service to the Crown, the British government gave Brant a pension and compensated her for her wartime losses.
Since 1994, Brant has been honored as a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada. She was long ignored or disparaged by historians of the United States, but scholarly interest in her increased in the late 20th century. She has sometimes been controversial, criticized for being pro-British at the expense of the Iroquois. A devout Anglican, she is commemorated on April 16 in the calendar of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church (USA). No portraits of her are known to exist; an idealized likeness is featured on a statue in Kingston and on a Canadian stamp issued in 1986.
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