In our schools, students will most certainly study United States history. They will usually hear the names of Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, etc. However, while we study American history, there is an important aspect of that very history that is not so well studied; the history of the first Americans, the Indians. There are not many students would would probably know the names of John Ross (Cherokee), Wahunsenacawh (Powhatan), Tecumseh (Shawnee), or Manuelito (Navajo). Students would probably recognize the name of Pontiac, but I do not have much faith that wouldn’t be because it’s a car.
Many that I have spoken to about the subject of American Indians usually give stereotyoical descriptions about groups of peoples who were only nomadic hunter gatherers; this is not universally true. There were Pre-Columbian Indians who built cities, for example, there was the city of Cahokia which was built by the mound builders, and there were the Anasazi who also were city builders. Both of these ancient American Nations inhabited land in the Present United States.
The learning of American history cannot be complete without learning about the people that had first inhabited this continent for several thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans in 1492. Such learning would aid to repair the stereotypes we have about the Indian peoples.
Though there are not many classes on the subject of Native American history, there are several useful resources to start off with. Below is an except of the documentary series called “500 Nations”: