The Indigenous peoples of the Americas Portal
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.
Although some indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers—and many, especially in the Amazon basin, still are—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 flora 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 monumental 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 Mayan languages form a language family spoken in Mesoamerica and northern Central America. Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million Maya peoples, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name,and Mexico recognizes eight more within their territory.
The Mayan language family is one of the best-documented and most studied in the Americas.Modern Mayan languages descend from the Proto-Mayan language, thought to have been spoken at least 5000 years ago; it has been partially reconstructed using the comparative method. The proto-Mayan language diversified into at least 6 different branches, the Huastecan, Quichean, Yucatecan, Qanjobalan, Mamean and Ch'olan-Tzeltalan branches.
Mayan languages form part of the Mesoamerican language area, an area of linguistic convergence developed throughout millennia of interaction between the peoples of Mesoamerica. All Mayan languages display the basic diagnostic traits of this linguistic area. For example, all use relational nouns instead of prepositions to indicate spatial relationships. They also possess grammatical and typological features that set them apart from other languages of Mesoamerica, such as the use of ergativity in the grammatical treatment of verbs and their subjects and objects, specific inflectional categories on verbs, and a special word class of "positionals" which is typical of all Mayan languages.
Kuna woman selling Molas in Panama City
image credit: Markus Leupold-Löwenthal
The following are images from various Indigenous peoples of the Americas-related articles on Wikipedia.
Eight Crow Nation prisoners under guard at Crow agency, Montana, 1887
Two Maya women in the highlands of Chiapas
Language families of indigenous peoples in North America: shown across present-day Canada, Greenland, the United States, and northern Mexico
Indigenous people at a Brazilian farm plantation in Minas Gerais ca. 1824
Ethnic groups ca. 1300 to 1535 CE. (See the image for the numbered List of indigenous peoples)
Schematic illustration of maternal (mtDNA) gene-flow in and out of Beringia, from 25,000 years ago to present
This map shows the percentage of indigenous population in different countries of the Americas.
Cultural areas of North America at time of European contact
Drawing accompanying text in Book XII of the 16th-century Florentine Codex (compiled 1540–1585), showing Nahuas of conquest-era central Mexico suffering from smallpox
Mapuche man and woman. The Mapuche make up about 85% of Chile's indigenous population.
Maya women from Guatemala
Brazilian indigenous man of Terena tribe
Chimu culture feather pectoral, feathers, reed, copper, silver, hide, cordage, ca. 1350–1450 CE
Bill Reid's sculpture The Raven and The First Men. The Raven represents the Trickster figure common to many mythologies.
Textile art by Julia Pingushat (Inuk, Arviat, Nunavut, Canada), wool, embroidery floss, 1995
Current distribution of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (not including mestizos, zambos and pardos)
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