People lived in the United States long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the Europeans. These people and cultures are called Native Americans.
The first people to live in a land are called indigenous peoples, which means they were the original settlers. The Native Americans are the indigenous peoples and cultures of the United States.
Sometimes these peoples are referred to as Indians or American Indians. Since Columbus had first landed in America, he thought he had sailed to the country of India. He called the locals Indians, and the name stuck for some time.
Where did they live?
Native Americans lived throughout North and South America. In the United States, there were Native Americans in Alaska, Hawaii, and the mainland of the United States. Different tribes and cultures lived in different areas. In the middle of the country lived the Plains Indians, including tribes such as the Comanche and Arapaho. In the Southeast area of the country lived tribes such as the Cherokee and the Seminole.
The Native Americans contained tribes or nations, usually based on the area they lived in and their cultures, such as their religion, customs, and language. Sometimes smaller tribes were part of a larger tribe or nation. As best as historians can tell, these tribes were relatively peaceful before the arrival of Columbus and the Europeans.
Famous American Indians in History
- Sacagawea—As a teenage girl, Sacagawea helped the Lewis and Clark expedition into the west by serving as an interpreter. She also saved records and supplies when one of the expedition’s canoes capsized.
- Charles Alexander Eastman—A Sioux author Dr. Eastman, helped found the Boy Scouts of America.
- Ira Hayes—Hayes was a Pima Indian who served in the US Army in World War II. He was one of the American soldiers who raised the US flag over Iwo Jima.
- Will Rogers—Rogers is famous as a writer, actor, and social commentator. He was also of Native American descent and grew up on Oklahoma Indian territory.
Native American History for Kids: With 21 Activities by Karen Bush Gibson
As the first Americans, hundreds of indigenous bands and nations already lived in North America when European explorers first set out to conquer an inhabited land. This book captures the early history of these complex societies and their 500-year struggle to survive against all odds from war, displacement, broken treaties, and boarding schools. Not only a history of tribal nations, Native American History for Kids also includes profiles of famous Native Americans and their many contributions, from early leaders to superstar athlete Jim Thorpe, dancer Maria Tallchief, astronaut John Herrington, author Sherman Alexie, actor Wes Studi, and more.
Readers will also learn about Indian culture through hands-on activities, such as planting a Three Sisters garden (corn, squash, and beans), making beef jerky in a low-temperature oven, weaving a basket out of folded newspaper strips, deciphering a World War II Navajo Code Talker message, and playing Ball-and-Triangle, a game popular with Penobscot children. And before they are finished, readers will be inspired to know that the history of the Native American people is the history of all Americans.
- Buggy and Buddy show kids how to make a rainstick using a cardboard tube and some crafting materials. The kids loved making this homemade instrument and using it to explore sound!
- Raising Creative Thinker Art Bar helps kids create their DIY Dream Cathers
- Since American Indians loved nature, the kids will enjoy Outdoor Families’ 10 Easy Crafts for Kids Inspired by Mother Nature.