The first human beings to reach North America were believed to have arrived many thousands of years ago. By traveling across the once-existing Bering land bridge, descendants from Asian ventured into Alaska, eventually traversing down the west coast of what is now the United States. Not long after, it is presumed that they had covered the entire continent, though the exact dates are unknown.
Once staking claim as the first Native Americans, various cultures began to develop, ranging in an eclectic country of different languages, customs, and communities. Several tribes began to experiment with different crops once the Ice Age had ended throughout North America. Those residing in what is now Mexico started perfecting corn and squash, in addition to raising llamas and turkeys for food.
In addition to their farming abilities, many Native Americans became skilled hunters and fishermen, harvesting bison, deer, fish, and various sea mammals. Even more impressive was their ability to attract these animals toward them. Tribes would regularly burn patches of land to keep them in harvest, thus leading to more animals grazing in those areas.
With goods being produced came the need for a legal system. States began to emerge with heads governing thousands of people, establishing trade routes across the entire continent and developing systems with other tribes. This also created a demand for faster transportation. Natives in lower regions used llamas as means of journeying across lands, while others used canoes and makeshift cargo rafts, traveling through rivers and canals. The cities that manifested in the wake of all this were as large and complex as those in Europe and Asia at the time.
With Europe’s cities and population growing as fast as they were, the need to colonize new land became evident, leading to Columbus’ discovery of America. This led to much conflict, with both sides fighting for land and blood being spilled for years to come. However, the military strategies that Europe implemented at the time (guns, horses, etc.) gave them the upper hand. These European colonies grew at such a rate that Native Americans were soon outnumbered. They were then forced to relocate to given reservations throughout the Americas.
Today, Native American descendants are far less populous than what they used to be, but numbers are rising. Leaders within the community are beginning to take much more political action in order to preserve their cultures and fighting for their rights as people. While the past may have been dark, it seems there is light ahead for Native American culture.