who Christopher Columbus was, but very few know the name of the
first Native who welcomed Columbus. to the Americas. The main
objective of the "Amauta.Info" is to educate people about the
little known history of the America's Indigenous people.
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The President of the United States, Barack
"America's journey has been marked both by bright times of
progress and dark moments of injustice for American Indians and
Alaska Natives. Since the birth of America, they have contributed
immeasurably to our country and our heritage, distinguishing
themselves as scholars, artists, entrepreneurs, and leaders in all
aspects of our society. Native Americans have also served in the
United States Armed Forces with honor and distinction, defending the
security of our Nation with their lives. Yet, our tribal communities
face stark realities, including disproportionately high rates of
poverty, unemployment, crime, and disease. These disparities are
unacceptable, and we must acknowledge both our history and our
current challenges if we are to ensure that all of our children have
an equal opportunity to pursue the American dream. From upholding
the tribal sovereignty recognized and reaffirmed in our Constitution
and laws to strengthening our unique nation-to- nation relationship,
my Administration stands firm in fulfilling our Nation's
President of USA Barack Obama on October 29, 2010
National American Indian Heritage Month Proclamation
The President of the United States, George
W. Bush said:
"The strength of our Nation comes from its people. As the
early inhabitants of this great land, the native peoples of North
America played a unique role in the shaping of our Nation's history
and culture...I call on all Americans to learn more about the
history and heritage of the Native peoples of this great land. Such
actions reaffirm our appreciation and respect for their traditions
and way of life and can help to preserve an important part of our
culture for generations yet to come."
President of USA George W. Bush on November 19, 2001
National American Indian Heritage Month Proclamation
The President of the United States, William J.
"So much of who we are today comes from who you have been for long
time. Long before others came to the shores there were powerful and
sophisticated cultures and societies here--yours. Because of your
ancestors, democracy existed here long before the Constitution was
drafted and ratified...I believe in your rich heritage and in our
common destiny. What you have done to retain your identity, your
dignity and your faith in the face of often immeasurable obstacles
is profoundly moving--an example of the enduring strength of the
President of USA Williams J. Clinton on April 29, 1994
From the Book: Native Time written by Lee Francis, pp. 328-329
USA SENATE RESOLUTION/76
NATIVE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM AND THE EVOLUTION OF DEMOCRACY
THE GREAT BINDING LAW, GAYANASHAGOWA
TESTIMONY OF JOSEPH DE LA CRUZ, CHAIRMAN, QUINAULT INDIAN NATION
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA, SENATE RESOLUTION 177
NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN MONTH PROCLAMATION IN 2000
NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN MONTH PROCLAMATION IN 2001
THE INFLUENCE OF INDIAN CULTURE IN THE CULTURES OF THE WORLD:
had a great influence in the cultures of the world. While Native
life and culture were greatly affected by European "conquest" and
settlements, at the same time many elements of the Indian's own
culture have been incorporated into the way of life of their
"conquerors." Later, the knowledge and benefits acquired from
Natives was transfer to the way of life and culture of the world.
Assistance to Early Settlers:
In the beginning, the Native Americans made possible
the first precarious existence of the first settlers in the
"New World." The Natives supplied to the new neighbors with food,
teaching them how to plant, fish, and hunt with Indian's methods,
guiding them through the wilderness over Indian trails and in
Indian-style boats, and introducing them to Indian implements,
utensils, tools, clothing, and ways of life that made their
existence easier and more secure.
Trade and Wealth:
By friendly trade Indians supplied the settlers with furs and
other goods that helped revolutionize styles and materials in the
Old World; and Indian art forms, crafts, and cultural objects
heavily influenced certain aspects of European artistic and
intellectual life. The plunder of native American gold and other
treasures helped to finance the courts armies, and navies of
European rulers and nations. At the same time, the wealth of
Natives people made possible a strong banking system and later the
Native American Foods:
Probably the most important contribution of Native Americans
to the rest of the world were corn and potatoes. These crops are
major portion of the world food supply. Corn and Potatoes were first
domesticated by American Indians. Cassava, or Manioc from the
tropical regions of the Americas and the sweet potatoes were also
Indian crops. Native Americans introduced other domesticated
plants, including peanut, habas, quinoa, amaranth, squash, pumpkins,
melons, peppers, paprika, wild rice, sassafras, turnips, cucumbers,
beets, chiles mangos, papayas, pineapples, pomegranate, chayote,
avocados, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries,
strawberry, several varieties of grapes, chestnuts, edible
mushrooms, vanilla, tapioca, tomatoes, pumpkin, sunflower, many
kinds of beans and sugar maple.
Other Native American Products:
Cacao (chocolate), chicle (gum), and tobacco were also raised by
Native Americans. Many varieties of cotton with higher quality than
the cotton of the old world were already produced by Native
Americans. Native Americans also extracted drugs from many plants,
they were used by Native people and later, because of their
medicinal value, these plant were accepted in modern pharmacology.
These drugs include cocaine, a pain reliever obtained from
coca leaves; curare, a muscle relaxant from the bark of a
South American tree; cascara, a cathartic from the shrub
cascara sagrada; atropine, a heart stimulant from the weed
datura and quinine, from the bark of the cinchona.
Other Contributions of Native Americans:
Many Native American devices were adopted by the new
settlers, including hammock, canoes, kayaks, dog sleds, toboggans,
snowshoes, moccasins, pipes, and ponchos. Native Americans designs
affected many manufactured goods, such the rubber tires, rain coat,
and rubber balls. Some Native Americans games such lacrosse were
also adopted for the new neighbors.
Native American Names and Words:
Half of the
names of the States in United
States have Indian names. There are
also thousands of names for cities,
lakes, mountains, rivers, and other geographical sites. European
languages contain many words that derive from Indian languages.
Among the hundreds of Native words incorporated to the English
language are tobacco, barbeque, wigwam, succotash, tobogan, papoose,
opossum, skunk, hickory, squash, moccasin, chipmunk, moose, macknaw
Amauta Series Lectures
FICTIONS AND FACTS
Ten Lies About Indigenous Science by Kay Marie Porterfield
(Co-Author of the Book Encyclopedia of American Indian
Contributions to the World)
Europeans "discovered" scientific knowledge, but American Indians
"stumbled upon" it – they didn’t know what they were doing.
Fact: All scientific knowledge
comes from a process of trial and error – a messy guessing game that
involves many false starts and much stumbling. Scientists first make
an educated guess based on their observations. Then they test it and
carefully observe the results to see if the guess was correct. If it
wasn’t, they guess again. The haphazardness of this process led
Albert Einstein to say, "If we knew what it was we were doing, it
would not be called research, would it?"
Indians used trial and error, carefully observing the results of
these trials. Three pieces of evidence, selected from many, are:
Indians in the North American Northeast used foxglove (Digitalis
purpurea) to treat heart problems. They administered it with
extreme care since high doses were needed and the plant is highly
Manioc, a staple food crop of Mesoamerican, Circum-Caribbean and
South American Tropical forest peoples, is poisonous in its
natural state. Four to five thousand years ago indigenous people
discovered a process to detoxify the plant and began cultivating
Indigenous people of Mesoamerica invented a four-step process to
cure vanilla, transforming it into a flavoring ingredient. Vanilla
processing plants were not established in Europe until the 1700s
because Europeans couldn’t figure out the indigenous process.
Using loaded language to hide the
fact that pre-contact American Indians gained knowledge in the same
way all scientists do is not only biased scholarship – it is racist
American Indian knowledge and inventions sprung from hunches or
intuitions, rather than rigorous and systematic study. Hunches and
intuitions aren’t valid; linear thinking is.
Fact: Undoubtedly many American
Indian scientific discoveries were initially based on intuition, as
are many modern Western discoveries today. Intuition is a critical
part of science. If knowledge based on hunches, intuitions and
lightning bolts of inspiration doesn’t count, then organic chemistry
is invalid. (Freidrich August von Kekule’s dream of a snake biting
its tail enabled him to visualize the structure of the benzene
molecule and birth the field of organic chemistry.) So is the
periodic table of elements, an inspiration revealed to Russian
chemist Mendeleev in a dream.
We can forget about
neurochemistry. (A dream showed Nobel prizewinner Otto Lowei that
the chemical messengers, we now call neurotransmitters, are
responsible for the flow of information in the human brain.) We can
write off pasteurization, penicillin, and hundreds of other modern
discoveries and inventions while we’re at it.
Alexander Graham Bell
used intuitions that he called "a conquering force within" to invent
the telephone and Henri Poincare, the mathematician who created the
science of topology, said, "It is through science that we prove, but
through intuition that we discover."
Holding American Indians to a
narrower definition of the scientific discovery process than is used
for Europeans is not only unfair scholarship – it is racist
Fiction: American Indians did
not know about the scientific method, so their knowledge and
inventions could not be scientific.
Fact: Even if the scientific
method were the only way to make discoveries, American Indians can’t
be faulted for not using it before 1492. Europeans didn’t use it
either because it hadn’t yet been invented. Historical researchers
seldom mention this critical fact.
Most scholars credit
Francis Bacon, an English philosopher and statesman who lived from
1561 to1626, as the father of the scientific method. Sometimes
Galileo, an astronomer, who lived from 1564 to 1642, is also
credited. Both were born well after Columbus landed in the Americas.
The fact that Galileo was arrested by the Catholic Inquisition in
1633 for heresy and held prisoner until he died in 1642 indicates
that the scientific method was not only unwelcome in Europe for at
least 150 years after 1492 – it was considered a sin and a crime.
Insisting that pre-contact American
Indians ought to have used the scientific method before it existed
is not only sloppy scholarship – it is racist scholarship.
Fiction: American Indians (the
Maya) independently invented the wheel, but it isn’t a real
invention because they only used it for toys.
Fact: Many European scientific
inventions started out as toys or "curiosities." These include the
telescope and the microscope. "We are more ready to try the untried
when what we do is inconsequential," wrote philosopher Eric Hoffer.
"Hence the remarkable fact that many inventions had their births as
Scholars who use
wheeled transportation as a benchmark for measuring civilization
rarely take the natural environment into account. Suitable draft
animals did not exist in the pre-contact Americas. The two largest
animals – bison and llamas – weren’t easily domesticated to pull
carts or chariots
Terrain was another
factor that discouraged the development of wheeled transportation in
the Americas. European new to North America often found their
wheeled wagons inappropriate for the land they were trying to cross.
Frequently they traded this clumsy transport for American Indian
forms of transportation – the canoe, snowshoes and toboggans.
Indigenous people throughout the Americas used runners to deliver
communications. The Inca built a road system that included
suspension bridges for their runners.
Failing to consider the environmental
context in which American Indian science arose is not only
superficial scholarship – it is racist scholarship.
American Indian people were living in Stone Age culture at
the time of conquest.
Fact: Although the polar Inuit
near Baffin Bay did use meteorites to make iron blades, for the most
part, other American Indians did not work with iron (a prerequisite
for entering the Iron Age). American Indians did begin making metal
tools before Europeans did. The people of the Old Copper Culture in
the Great Lakes region of North America 7,000 years ago are
considered by many scientists to have been the oldest metal workers
in the world. They developed annealing to strengthen the tools they
workers invented sophisticated techniques for working with other
metals. Pre-contact metallurgists living in what are now Ecuador and
Guatemala learned how to work with platinum, a metal that has the
extremely high melting point of 3218 degrees by developing a
technique called sintering. Europeans were unable to work platinum
until the 19th century. Metal workers in other parts of the Americas
knew how to solder, could make foil and used rivets to fasten pieces
of metal together.
In areas where no
metal deposits lay close to the surface, American Indians made tools
of bone, wood and stone. The blades of their flint surgical
instruments were so thin that the incisions they made could not be
duplicated until the advent of laser surgery.
Focusing on the Iron Age while
failing to mention the metallurgical abilities of many American
Indian culture groups is not only ignorant scholarship – it is
The Aztec use of ritual sacrifice proves they were bloodthirsty and
barbaric. This deserves our attention, not their accomplishments.
Fact: The Aztec did practice did
practice ritual sacrifice, using large numbers of prisoners of war
in these rituals. The Old World has a history of ritual sacrifice
and killing prisoners that could just as easily be termed
bloodthirsty and barbaric.
considered a sign of emerging civilization by scholars, established
the death penalty in Babylon for 25 crimes in the Eighteenth Century
B.C. By the Seventh Century B.C., the Greeks of Athens had
established the Draconian Code that established death as the
punishment for all crimes. Roman law in the Fifth Century B.C.
mandated drowning, impalement, live burnings, drowning or beating to
death for executing prisoners.
According to limited
archaeological evidence, some groups of the Celts, a dominant tribe
of Western Europe that settled in what would become the British
Isles, practiced both ritual sacrifice and headhunting. By the
Eleventh Century A.D. William the Conqueror outlawed the death
penalty except during war, but in the Sixteenth Century, Henry VIII
ordered an estimated 72,000 people executed. Favored methods were
burning at the stake, boiling, beheading hanging and drawing and
quartering. In the 1700’s Britain had 222 crimes punishable by death
including stealing a rabbit and cutting down a tree.
begun by the Catholic Church in the early 13th century and that
peaked between 1550 and 1650, focused on eliminating heresy.
Researchers who studied court documents estimate that between 50,000
and 100,000 people were put to death in Europe. Many more were
tortured. Victims included midwives, herbal healers, single women
who owned property and lived alone, pagans, people whose neighbors
didn’t like them, and those who were in the wrong place at the wrong
Emphasizing Aztec sacrifice in order to minimize the culture’s
accomplishment while turning a blind eye to European historical
violence is not only self-serving scholarship – it is racist
European scientific knowledge was more advanced than that of
Indigenous Americans at the time of contact.
Fact: Pre-contact American
Indian healers had developed a sophisticated system of medical
treatment compared to European healers of the time, who relied on
bloodletting, blistering, religious penance, and concoctions of
lead, arsenic and cow dung to treat disease. In addition to
performing surgery, American Indians from several culture groups
understood the importance of keeping wounds sterile and used
botanical antiseptics. They made syringes out of bird bones and
animal bladders to administer plant medicine.
Indians of North,
Meso and South America had developed so many botanical medications
by the time of contact that the Spanish King, Philip II sent
physician Francisco Hernando to the Americas in 1570 to record Aztec
medical knowledge and bring it back to Europe. Eventually 200
American Indian botanical remedies were included in the U.S.
Pharmacopoeia, an official listing of all effective medicines and
Another area of
scientific knowledge in which American Indians excelled was plant
breeding. American Indian farmers, who had formed a working
knowledge of plant genetics between 5200 and 3400 B.C., used seed
saving to create hundreds of varieties of food crops.
Europeans showed little interest in plant genetics. In 1865 when
Gregor Mendel made public his experiments with hybrids, the European
scientific community scorned him. Not until the early 1900s did
European scientists begin to take agricultural experimentation
Omitting the scientific and technical
accomplishments of American Indian while ignoring the
shortsightedness of the European science is not only incomplete
scholarship – it is racist scholarship.
American Indians have invented a number of positive things, but they
also invented scalping.
Fact: American Indians probably
learned the practice of scalping from the Europeans. Although
archaeologists have found a few prehistoric human remains in the
Americas that show evidence of cut marks on the skulls, they
disagree about whether these marks are evidence of scalping.
Absolutely no evidence exists that scalping was a widespread
practice in the Americas before European contact. If it was
practiced, it was done by very few tribes and then very
On the other hand,
scalping was a well-established tradition for Europeans. Ancient
Scythians (Russians) practiced it. Herodotus, the Greek Historian,
wrote of them in B.C. 440, "The Scythian soldier scrapes the scalp
clean of flesh and softening it by rubbing between the hands, uses
it thenceforth as a napkin. The Scyth is proud of these scalps and
hangs them from his bridle rein; the greater the number of such
napkins that a man can show, the more highly is he esteemed among
them. Many make themselves cloaks by sewing a quantity of these
Much later the
English paid bounties for Irish heads. Because scalps were easier to
transport and store than heads, Europeans sometimes substituted
scalping for headhunting. Records show that the Earl of Wessex
England scalped his enemies in 11th century.
In 1706 the governor
of Pennsylvania offered 130 pieces of eight for the scalp of Indian
men over twelve years of age and 50 pieces of eight for a woman’s
scalp. Because it was impossible for those who paid the bounty to
determine the victim’s sex – and sometimes the age – from the scalp
alone, killing women and children became a way to make easy money.
During the French and
Indian Wars and later during the war between the British and the
Colonists, both the British and the French encouraged their Indian
allies to scalp their enemies providing them with metal scalping
The practice of
paying bounties for Indian scalps did not end until the 1800’s.
Disparaging American Indian culture
by blaming Indians for scalping while omitting reference to the long
standing European tradition of bounties for scalps is not only
partial scholarship – it is racist scholarship.
Syphilis originated in the Americas. This cancels out any positive
contributions American Indians made.
Fact: Archeological evidence
provides strong evidence that syphilis was present in Europe before
Columbus and his men returned from their first voyage to the
Excavations at a
friary in Hull, England, have uncovered at least a dozen skulls
displaying evidence of three-stage syphilis. These have been carbon
dated to between 1300 and 1450 A.D. Pre-Columbian skeletons with
syphilis have also been found elsewhere in Europe, including
Ireland, Naples and Pompeii, as well as at an excavation in Israel.
This physical evidence lends credence to historical writings from
Europe that place syphilis in Europe between 150 and 200 years
before Columbus set sail on his first voyage.
Proponents of the
theory that syphilis originated in the Americas often cite
historical reports that an epidemic of syphilis laid waste to French
soldiers in 1494. Because the damage that syphilis does to the body
progresses at a slow rate, it is unlikely that it could have been
contracted the year before.
Authors who claim as
fact that syphilis originated in the Americas, often fail to note
that an estimated 65 percent or more of American Indians died from
small pox, typhoid, scarlet fever, influenza, dysentery, diphtheria,
chicken pox and cholera brought to the America by Europeans.
(Smallpox alone had a mortality rate of 90 per 100 cases.)
Claiming that syphilis originated in
the Americas is not only scholarship that draws hasty conclusions
from flimsy evidence – it is racist scholarship.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas were defeated by the European
military because the Europeans were intellectually superior to the
Fact: Indigenous populations of
North, Meso and South America were decimated by disease brought from
Europe, diseases against which they had no immunity. Modern military
historians believe that disease was the major factor in the military
defeat of American Indians.
By 1495, two years
after Columbus’ first voyage, fifty-seven to eighty percent of the
native population of Santa Domingo had died from small pox according
to R.S. Bray, author of Armies of Pestilence-The Impact of Disease
on History. (1994). By 1515, two-thirds of the Indians of Puerto
Rico were dead from the disease.
Ten years after
Cortez arrived in Mexico, 74 percent of the indigenous people there
had died from disease so that only six million remained. Indians
living in New England and Canada also died in great numbers. All the
time, more Europeans continued to arrive on the continent.
Later small pox would
sweep across the North American continent, leaving death in its
wake. According to some estimates that about one million one hundred
and fifty thousand Indians lived north of the Rio Grande in the
early sixteenth-century. By the early 1900s only about four hundred
thousand Indians lived in this area. Most died from European
Not only were
American Indians outnumbered, one can only imagine the fear, grief
and social disruption these plagues caused them. In addition to
taking lives and land, Europeans took Indian technological
knowledge, claiming it as their own.
Asserting that European military
domination of American Indians occurred because Europeans were
intellectually superior and, at the same time, ignoring the hundreds
of Indian inventions that Europeans co-opted is not only shoddy
scholarship – it is racist scholarship.
Fiction: Europeans had guns.
Indians didn’t. This proves Europeans were far more intellectually
advanced than Indians.
Fact: While it is true that
European colonizers had firearms, this technology was a relatively
new invention. After obtaining guns from traders and trappers,
American Indians quickly became expert marksmen. Despite their skill
using guns and keeping them in working order, they were not able to
manufacture them or able to get their hands on as many guns as the
books often leave the impression that Europeans were accomplished
gun manufacturers well before contact, firearm technology was still
in its infancy when Columbus set sail. The English did not have
handguns until the 1375. The Italians did not have them until 1397.
The first mechanical device for firing the handgun was not invented
until 1427. Europeans used crossbows as weapons of war until 1485
when half of the English army was equipped with guns. Europeans did
not use guns for hunting game until 1515.
Basing a claim of
innate superior intelligence on an invention that was only 117 years
old and not in general use in 1492 is not only is not only
ridiculous scholarship – it is racist scholarship.
Ten Lies About
Indigenous Science by Kay Marie Porterfield (Co-Author of the Book
Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World)