The month of November celebrates and honors the history of Native Americans.
"American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians are a
special part of the tapestry of our Nation's history," President Clinton said in a National American Indian Heritage Month proclamation on November 9. "This month, we celebrate the culture and contributions of the first
Americans. We also remember with sorrow the suffering they endured
because of past Federal actions and policies that had long-term and
often devastating consequences for Native Americans and their culture."
America's original inhabitants now number approximately 2.4 million, according to the
US Census Bureau. America's
total population is approximately 276 million. The 1990 Census estimate
groups together American Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts. The
2000 Census attempted to count each group separately. These totals are still being
As the 2000 Census data is computed, it will be added to the site's Native
The Smithsonian Institute has developed a detailed bibliography on the lives
North American Indians. The site
explains how many misconceptions about Indians began. The author,
a Native American, says each tribe has a unique identity. The image of a warrior dressed in feathers is
accurate for only a few.
The Hopi Indians
for example, base their lives on humility, cooperation and respect. The
Cherokees joined forces with white settlers to
overpower enemy tribes. Programs like the American Indian Studies Program at
California State University in Long Beach
study the histories of individual tribes. Some stories date back to the 1600s.
Many Indians now reside on reservations. In the 19th Century, most tribes
gave land to settlers from the New World, but reserved areas for
themselves. As the power of the settlers grew, the Indian reservations began
shrinking. In 1934, Indians possessed only 25 percent of their
original reservation land.
Earning an income on reservations has been a challenge in many
cases. Native American art, jewelry and music are an important source of revenue. Casinos have also proven lucrative.
Foxwoods High Stakes Bingo and Casino in Ledyard, Conn. is one of
the most profitable casinos in the Western Hemisphere, according to the
University of California at Berkeley.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe runs it.
For more information on American Indian Heritage Month or the history of
Native Americans, explore the following sites: