Portal:Indigenous peoples of the Americas

The Indigenous peoples of the Americas Portal

Some Inuit people on a traditional qamutiik (dog sled) in Kinngait, Nunavut, Canada

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.

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Location of Mayan speaking populations

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.

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KunaWomanSellingMolas.jpg
Kuna woman selling Molas in Panama City
image credit: Markus Leupold-Löwenthal

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The following are images from various Indigenous peoples of the Americas-related articles on Wikipedia.

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Rigoberta Menchu 2009 cropped.jpg

Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Spanish pronunciation: [riɣoˈβerta menˈtʃu], born 9 January 1959) is an indigenous Guatemalan woman, of the K'iche' ethnic group. Menchú has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala's indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960–1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country. She received the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and Prince of Asturias Award in 1998. She is the subject of the testimonial biography I, Rigoberta Menchú (1983) and the author of the autobiographical work, Crossing Borders.

Menchú is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She has also become a figure in indigenous political parties and ran for President of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011.

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Raqchi archaeological site, Peru
image credit: AgainErick

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