If you were born in the United States, then you are an American citizen for sure, but are you a Native American? You might be a native American, but not a Native American. Do you see the difference?
A native American (small “n” on native) is anyone who was born in the United States. A Native American (capital “N” on Native) is a member of a small group of people who have lived in the United States for thousands of years. Native Americans – or Native American Indians – lived here long before people arrived from Europe.
Here are some more interesting facts about Native American Indians:
When Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas, he thought he was in India. For that reason, he called the people here “Indians.” We still use the word Indians when we talk about Native Americans. You can call them Indians, Native Americans, or Native American Indians.
- There are more than 500 different Native American tribes in the United States. A tribe is a group that probably has the same language, ancestors, customs, beliefs, and leaders. They may also live in the same area and work together like a large family.
- There are over 300 Indian reservations in the United States. A reservation is an area of land managed by Native Americans. A reservation might have different laws from the area around it. For example, casinos (places for gambling, like the ones in Las Vegas) are illegal in North Carolina. However, the Cherokee reservation in western NC has a casino.
- When the Europeans arrived, they brought foreign diseases with them. These diseases killed many Native Americans.
- In 1838, the U.S. government forced millions of Native Americans to leave their homelands and travel west. They did this because the government wanted to use the land near the east coast for its own purposes. This migration of the Indians is called the “Trail of Tears” because it was a very sad journey for them, and many died.
- Even though Native Americans were here long before the United States became a country, they did not become U.S. citizens until 1924.
What did you learn today about Native Americans? What would you like to know about them? Search the internet for more information, and share it with us in the comments!