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Native American Heritage


There have been many names given to the describe the people who have occupied this land long before Columbus "found" it. The debate has been ongoing and the political correctness has changed over the years. 

United States 

  • "Indian" and "American Indian" (since 1492)
    • Europeans at the time of Christopher Columbus's voyage often referred to all of South and East Asia as "India" or "the Indias/Indies"
  • "Native American" (since the 1960s)
    • The use of Native American refers to peoples indigenous to the Americas came into common use during the civil rights era of the 1960s and 1970s
  • "Indigenous" (1980s)
    • According to The American Heritage Dictionary, "indigenous specifies that something or someone is native rather than coming or being brought in from elsewhere: an indigenous crop; the Ainu, a people indigenous to the northernmost islands of Japan"

  • "Aboriginal" and "Aborigine"
    • Until about 1910, these terms were used in English to refer to various indigenous peoples
  • "Alaska Native"
    • "Alaska Native" refers to the indigenous peoples in Alaska, including the Aleut, Athabascan, Alutiiq, Cup'ik, Haida, Inuit, Iñupiat, Tlingit and Yup'ik peoples
  • "Amerind" or "Amerindian"
    • The term "Amerind"/"Amerindian" is a portmanteau of "American Indian", though it can also be parsed as a blend of "American" and "Indigenous". It was coined in 1902 by the American Anthropological Association.


  • "Canadian Indians" (1700s–late 20th century)
    • The Canadian Indian Act, in defining the rights of people of recognized First Nations, refers to them as "Indians"
  • "Aboriginal peoples" (since 1900) and "Indigenous peoples"
    • In Canada, the term "Aboriginal peoples in Canada" is used for all indigenous peoples within the country, including the Inuit and First Nations, as well as the Métis
  • "First Nations" (since the 1980s)
    • "First Nations" came into common usage in the 1980s to replace the term "Indian band"
    • The term came into common usage in the 1970s to avoid using the word “Indian”, which some people considered offensive. 
  • "Native Canadians"
    • Generally used in conversation or informal writing 
  • "Inuit" (since 1977)
    • As a result of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference meeting in Barrow, Alaska, in 1977, the Canadian government has replaced the term Eskimo with Inuit


Miami, January 1790 - August 1795

Tippecanoe, 21 September - 18 November 1811

Creeks, 27 July 1813- 9 August 1814 and February 1836 - July 1837

Seminoles, 20 November 1817 - 31 October 1818, 28 December 1835 - 14 August 1842 and 15 December 1855 - May 1858

Black Hawk, 26 April - 30 September 1832

Comanches, 1867-1875

Modocs, 1872-1873

Apaches, 1873 and 1885-1886

Little Big Horn, 1876-1877

Nez Perces, 1877

Bannocks, 1878

Cheyennes, 1878-1879

Utes, September 1879-November 1880

Pine Ridge. November 1890- January 1891

For a detailed description of each event please visit the U.S. Army Center of Military History 

History Study Center

Use this database to find lots of study units on an array of topics. Each unit has primary sources, references, images, articles and other media to help support your topic. 

Here are some to consider:

  • Natives and Settlers in colonial America
    • "A period of uneasy cooperation between European settlers and Native Americans was shattered in 1622 when Powhatan tribesmen massacred colonists at Jamestown, Virginia, after colonists tried to encroach onto very fertile lands belonging to the Native Americans..." 
  • The Subordination of American Indians and the Dispersal of the Tribes
    • "From the early seventeenth century, when the first white settlers arrived on the shores of the previously undiscovered lands of America, relations between Native Indians and Westerners were strained. Western presence gradually began to interfere with native culture and practices as traders sought to exploit their resources and missionaries sought to evangelise them...."

There are many places you can go to learn more! Check out some of the links below for more information

Omaha Indian Music

  • Presented here are selections from the American Folklife Center's collections documenting Omaha music traditions

History of Survivance: Upper Midwest 19th-Century Native American Narratives

  • The following is an exhibit of resources that can be found within the Digital Public Library of America retold through the lens of Native American survivance in the Minnesota region

Federally Recognized Indian Tribes and Resources for Native Americans

  • Federally recognized tribes, cultural resources, housing resources, and legal resources for Native Americans

Native American Cultures

  • The history of the nomadic people of present day Canada and United States

Tribal Nations & the United States: An Introduction

  • The guide "Tribal Nations and the United States: An Introduction" developed by the National Congress of American Indians seeks to provide a basic overview of the history and underlying principles of tribal governance