Native American Culture and History
The history of North America’s original inhabitants after the advent of European settlement has been a frequently tragic one, marked for the most part by centuries of thievery, betrayal, destruction, institutional racism, and outright genocide on the part of settlers and their governments, in the United States and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in Canada. It has only been in recent decades—since toward the end of the 20th century, in fact—that the governments of the United States and Canada have repealed some of the most egregious discriminatory laws and begun to recognize indigenous peoples’ right to political and cultural autonomy. It is important to remember and acknowledge this history.
But it is also important to remember that the people collectively known as Native Americans or American Indians (or, in Canada especially, First Nations), have persisted, and many have retained and nurtured their traditions in the face of strong countervailing pressure. In the U.S. alone, there are over 560 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages, distinctive cultures with unique language, history, and traditions—even unique foods and styles of housing and dress. We recognize this resilience and diversity—and offer a small window into it—with the following titles: