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Sat, 10.11.1000

The Indigenous People of the Americas, a short story

*On this date in c 1000 BCE, we affirm the Indigenous People of the Americas.  The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian societies of North, Central and South America, the Caribbean and their descendants.  This is also an international holiday sometimes called First People's Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Indian Day (Brazil), Columbus Day, or Native American Day. 

Although some indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers and many, especially in the Amazon basin, still are and 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 vegetation 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 epic architecture, large-scale organized cities, city-states, chiefdoms, states, kingdoms and empires. Among these are the Aztec, Inca and Maya states that until the 16th century were among the most politically and socially advanced nations in the world. They had a vast knowledge of engineering, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, writing, physics, medicine, planting and irrigation, geology, mining, sculpture and goldsmithing. 

The Native American name controversy relates to the dispute over acceptable ways to refer to the indigenous peoples of the Americas and to broad subsets thereof, such as those living in a specific country or sharing certain cultural attributes.  Early settlers often adopted terms that some tribes used for each other, not realizing these were derogatory terms used by enemies. When discussing broader subsets of peoples, naming may be based on shared language, region, or historical relationship.  Many English exonyms have been used to refer to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Some of these names were based on foreign-language terms used by earlier white explorers and colonists, while others resulted from the colonists' attempts to translate or transliterate endonyms from the native languages. Other terms arose during periods of conflict between the whites and indigenous peoples.  

The white-Europeans brought only African slave men and women with them during the Middle Passage.  They raped them and Taíno women, resulting in the first generation of “mestizo” mixed ancestry people. Since the late 20th century, indigenous peoples in the Americas have been more vocal about how they choose to be addressed, pushing to suppress use of terms widely considered to be obsolete, inaccurate, or racist. During the latter half of the 20th century and the rise of the Indian rights movement, the United States government responded by proposing the use of the term "Native American," to recognize the primacy of indigenous peoples' tenure in the nation.  As may be expected among people of different cultures, not all Native Americans/American Indians agree on its use. No single group naming convention has been accepted by all indigenous peoples. Most prefer to be addressed as people of their tribe or nations when not speaking about Native Americans/American Indians as a whole. 

Many parts of the Americas are still populated by indigenous peoples; especially Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. At least a thousand different indigenous languages are spoken in the Americas. Some, such as the Quechuan languages, 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. Like most cultures, over time, cultures specific to many indigenous peoples have evolved to incorporate traditional aspects but also cater to modern needs. Some indigenous peoples still live in relative isolation from Western culture and a few are still counted as un-contacted peoples. 

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