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Indigenous People of Americas

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, and their descendants. Pueblos indígenas (indigenous peoples) is a common term in Spanish-speaking countries. Aborigen (aboriginal/native) is used in Argentina, whereas "Amerindian" is used in Quebec and The Guianas but not commonly in other countries. Indigenous peoples are commonly known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, which include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Indigenous peoples of the United States are commonly known as Native Americans or American Indians, and Alaska Natives. The US government acknowledges the existence of 561 Native American tribes, which operate under their own forms of government.

The First Nations (French: Premières Nations) are the various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognized First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The total population is more than 850,000 people. Under the Employment Equity Act, First Nations are a "designated group", along with women, visible minorities, and people with physical or mental disabilities. First Nations are not defined as a visible minority under the Act or by the criteria of Statistics Canada.

Within Canada, "First Nations" (most often used in the plural) has come into general use—replacing the deprecated term "Indians"—for the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Individuals using the term outside Canada include supporters of the Cascadian independence movement as well as American tribes within the Pacific Northwest. The singular, commonly used on culturally politicized reserves, is the term First Nations person (when gender-specific, First Nations man or First Nations woman). A more recent trend is for members of various nations to refer to themselves by their tribal or national identity only, e.g., "I'm Haida," or "We're Kwantlens," in recognition of the distinctiveness of First Nations ethnicities.

Application of the term "Indian" originated with Christopher Columbus, who, in his search for Asia, thought that he had arrived in the East Indies. The Americas came to be known as the "West Indies", a name still used to refer to the islands of the Caribbean sea. This led to the names "Indies" and "Indian", which implied some kind of racial or cultural unity among the aboriginal peoples of the Americas. This unifying concept, codified in law, religion, and politics, was not originally accepted by indigenous peoples but has been embraced by many over the last two centuries. Even though the term "Indian" often does not include the Aleuts, Inuit, or Yupik peoples, these groups are considered indigenous peoples of the Americas.

North American indigenous peoples have cultures spanning thousands of years. According to the prevailing New World migration model, migrations of humans from Eurasia (in particular North Asia) to the Americas took place via Beringia, a land bridge which connected the two continents across what is now the Bering Strait. The majority of experts agree that the earliest migration via Beringia took place at least 13,500 years ago, with disputed evidence that people had migrated into the Americas much earlier, up to 40,000 years ago. These early Paleo-Indians spread throughout the Americas, diversifying into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and tribes. According to the oral histories of many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, they have been living there since their genesis, described by a wide range of creation myths.

Although some indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers—and many, especially in Amazonia, 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.

The total population is approximately 60.5 million. Many parts of the Americas are still populated by indigenous Americans; some countries have sizable populations: Mexico (14.7 million), Peru (13.8 million), Bolivia (6.0 million), Guatemala (5.8 million), Ecuador (3.4 million), United States (2.9-5 million), Chile (1.8 million), Colombia (1.4 million), Canada (1.4 million), Argentina (955,032), Brazil (817,963), Venezuela (524,000), Honduras (520,000), Nicaragua (443,847), Panama (204,000), Paraguay (95,235), El Salvador (~70,000), Costa Rica (~114,000), Guyana (~60,000), Greenland (~51,000), Belize (~24,501), French Guiana (~19,000), Suriname (~12,000–24,000).

At least a thousand different indigenous languages are spoken in the Americas. Some, such as Quechua, Aymara, Guaraní, Mayan languages, and Nahuatl, count their speakers in millions. Many also maintain aspects of indigenous cultural practices to varying degrees, including religion, social organization, and subsistence practices.
History of the North American Indigenous People
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Indigenous People of Americas

Tribe Related Tribes Major Areas of Distribution Typical Image Famous Leader Lifestyle
Abenaki Algonquian peoples
Atlantic Coast, Canada

Abenaki woman

Abenaki chief

Abenaki village

Achomawi woman
Achomawi man
Achomaw basket maker
Algonquin Abenaki, Innu, Anicinàpek (Nipissing, Ojibwa, Mississaugas, Saulteaux, Odawa and Potawatomi)
Great Lakes Region

Algonquin woman
Algonquin family
Algonquin wigwam
Anishinaabe (Anishinabek) Algonquin (Nipissing), Ojibwa (Chippewa, Saulteaux, Mississaugas), Odawa, Potawatom, Oji-cree
Great Lakes Region

Anishinaabe man

Anishinaabe chief

Anishinaabe Women
Apache Navajo, Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, Plains Apache (Kiowa-Apache, Naishan Dene)
Southwestern USA

Apache man

Chief Geronomo

Medicine Man
Assiniboin Dakota, Stoney
Western Canada


Chief Long Fox

Chief on Horseback
(Gros Ventre, A'ani, A'aninin, Haaninin)
Arapaho, Cheyenne
Montana (USA)

Atsina running fisher

White and Yellow Cow

Atsina moving camp
Aymara Quechuas, Urus
Bolivia, Peru, Chile

Ayayma man

Aymara woman

Aymara grandmother
Aztec Mexica, Acolhua, Tepanecs
Central America

Aztec warriors


Aztec traditional ceremony
(extinct people)


Beothuk warrior

Beothuk family
Blackfoot Siksika ("Blackfeet"), Kainai ("Bloods"), Northern Piegan, Pikuni
Western Canada
Blackfoot man
Chief Crowfoot

Medicine Man
Blood (Kainai) Siksika ("Blackfeet"), Kainai ("Bloods"), Northern Piegan, Pikuni
Alberta (Canada)
Blood woman
Chief Red Crow

Blood Horseman

Brule - Little Hawk

Leader Crow Dog

Brule warriors
Cherokee Siksika ("Blackfeet"), Kainai ("Bloods"), Northern Piegan, Pikuni
Cherokee girl
Chief Crowfoot

Cherokee meeting
Cheyenne man
Chief Black Kettle

Cheyenne warriors 1905
Chipewyan Dene, Yellowknives, Tłı̨chǫ, Slavey, Sahtu
Northern Woodlands
Chipewyan woman
Chief Allan Adam

Chipewyan teepee
Cree Métis, Oji-Cree, Ojibwe, Innu, Algonquin Northern Woodlands
Cree Woman


Moose Hunter
Eyak Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian
Pacific Northwest Coast

Eyak man

Chief Marie Jones

Eyak man & kayak
Gitxsan Nisga'a, Tsimshian, Wet'suwet'en
Pacific Northwest Coast

Gitksan woman

Elmer Derrick

Gitxsan dancers
Guarani Guaycuru, Caingang, Chaná Timbu
South America

Guarani people

Chief Ladio Veron

Guarani community
Haida Tlingit, Tsimshian, Nishga, Gitksan, Nuu-chah-nulth, Haisla, Heiltsuk, Kwakwakw'wakw, Salishan
BC-Alaska Coast

Haida of Kung

Ernie Yeltatzie

Haida Catching Fish
Southwest & Arizona

Hopi girl

Snake Priest

Girls getting water
Inca Inca
Andes Region

Inca weaver

King Atehualpa

Inca marketplace
Innu Cree
Quebec, Labrador

Innu Children

Chief Joseph Riche

Innu Family 1881
Innuit (Eskimo) Yupik, Inupiat, Labrador Inuit, Ungava (New Quebec Inuit), Igloolik, Caribou, Netsilik, Copper, Western Arctic Inuit
Arctic Region

Innuit Woman

Innuit Women

Innuit Family
Iroquois Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora
Great Lakes

Iroquois woman

Chief James Logan

Iroquois family
Kainai Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainah (Blood), North Peigan, and South Piegan
Alberta, Montana

Kainai man

Chief Red Crow

Kainai camp
Kwakiutl Haisla, Heiltsuk, Wuikinuxv
Pacific Northwest Coast

Kwakiutl man

Chief Mungo Martin

Kwakiut sailing boats
(Wolastoqiyik, Malecite)
Mi'kmaq, Passamaquodd, Penobscot
New Brunswick

Maliseet woman

Maliseet leader

Maliseet wooden hut
Maya Yucatec, Huastec, Lacandón, K’ichean peoples, Mamean peoples, Q’anjobalan peoples, Tzotzil and Tzeltal peoples, Cholan peoples
Central America

Mayan woman

Mayan leader

Mayan shamans
Mi'kmaq / Micmac other Algonquian peoples
Eastern Woodland

Mi'kmaq woman

Margaret LaBillois

Mikmaq community
Nahuatl Nahua peoples

Nahua family

Nahuatl, Guerrero

Nahua people
Nez Percé other Sahaptin peoples
Idaho (USA)

Nez Perce matron

Nez Perce Chief Joseph

Nez Perce tribe
Nisga'a Canada
Pacific Coast, BC

Nisga'a man

Nisga'a Council Leaders

Nisga'a Dance Group
Nunivak Inuit
(Kuujjuamiuq, Dorset, Thule)

Nunavut, Canada

Nunavik Woman


Nunavik Drummer
(formerly known as Nootka, Nutka, Aht, Nuuchahnulth, or Tahkaht)
Kwakwaka'wakw, Haisla, Nitinaht, Makah, & other Wakashan peoples
Pacific Northwest Coast

Nuu-chah-nulth woman

Cliff Atleo Sr.

Nuu-chah-nulth potlatches
Ojibwe Ottawa, Potawatomi and other Algonquian peoples
Canada, USA

Ojibwe Little Cloud

Chief Ne-bah-quah-om

Ojibwe woman
Piegan other Blackfoot peoples (Kainai and Siksika Nations), and Algonquian peoples
Plains (Canada, USA)

Piegan woman

Piegan Weasel Tail

Piegan medicine pipe
Quechua Aymaras

Quechua man

Hilaria Supa

Quechua woman
Salish Kootenai,
Pend d'Oreilles tribes

Pacific Northwest Coast

Salish woman

Salish Chief Eagle

Salish family
Sarcee/Sarsi Dane-zaa, Siksika, Cree and Stoney
Alberta (Calgary)

Sarcee man

David Crowchild

Sarcee camp
Shoshoni (Shoshone) Timbisha, Tohono O'odham, Ute, Washo, Goshute
Western USA

Shoshoni Woman


Shoshone camp
Sioux Assiniboin, Stoney (Nakoda), and other Siouan peoples: Santee (Eastern Dakota), Yankton-Yanktonai (Western Dakota or Wičhíyena), Lakota (Teton)

Sioux (Dakota) woman

Chief Sitting Bull

Sioux people
Sisika other Blackfoot peoples (Kainai, South Peigan, and Northern Peigan) and Algonquian peoples
Alberta (Canada)

Sisika (blackfoot) family

Chief Curley Bear

Sundance encampment
Slavey Sahtu (North Slavey)
Western Canada

Slavey girls

Slavey tribe

Slavey camp
Tlicho (Dogrib) Behchoko, Whati, Gameti, Wekweeti, Dettah, N'Dilo
Northwest Territories

Tlicho (Dogrib) women

Chief Eddie Erasmus

Tlicho community
Wishham Huron, Tionontate
Great Lakes

Wishham girl

Wishham Kashhila

Wishham man
Wyandot Huron, Tionontate
Great Lakes

Chief Leaford Bearskin

Chief Hen-Tah

Wyandot camp
Yakima Klickitat

Yakima youth

Yakima - Wishnai

Yakima - Inashah
Yokut Maidu, Miwok, Ohlone, Wintu peoples
Central California

Yokut woman

Yokut Yauelman

Yokuts and the Tules
Zuni Hopi, Pueblo people
Southwest USA

Zuni girl with jar

Zuni govenor

Zuni pople at the door

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