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Native American & Alaska Native Heritage Month: Historical Perspective

Interested in learning more about Native American & Alaska Native Heritage Month? You have come to the right place.

Native Nations

Native Nations

Long before their contact with the Europeans, Indigenous people populated the Americas. While it is difficult to determine with certainty the number of Native Nations that lived on the lands that are now known as the United States, what is indisputable is that these lands were extensively occupied. This map shows some of the diverse Native peoples, governments, and societies that lived and thrived on their homelands before contact with Europeans and Americans.

Source: “Native Knowledge 360°- Northern Plains Treaties: Is a Treaty Intended to Be Forever?” Native American Treaties: Northern Plains | Teacher Resource, Smithsonian Institute, https://americanindian.si.edu/nk360/plains-treaties/#.

European Nations

European Nations

European nations viewed the homelands of Native Nations as territory to be taken and used for profit and settlement. By the early eighteenth century, several powerful European nations laid claim to vast territories that were already inhabited by many different Native Peoples and Nations.

Source: “Native Knowledge 360°- Northern Plains Treaties: Is a Treaty Intended to Be Forever?” Native American Treaties: Northern Plains | Teacher Resource, Smithsonian Institute, https://americanindian.si.edu/nk360/plains-treaties/#.