Indigenous peoples of the Americas
Painting of various ethnic groups from the
Americas, early 20th century.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas
are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the
Americas, their descendants, and many eth-
nic groups who identify with those peoples.
They are often also referred to as Native
Americans, First Nations, Amerigine, and
by Christopher Columbus’ geographical mis-
take Indians, modernly disambiguated as the
American Indian race, American Indians,
Amerindians, Amerinds, or Red Indians.
According to the still-debated New World
migration model, a migration of humans from
Eurasia to the Americas took place via
Beringia, a land bridge which formerly con-
nected the two continents across what is now
the Bering Strait. The most recent point at
which this migration could have taken place
is c. 12,000 years ago, with the earliest peri-
od remaining a matter of some unresolved
contention. These early Paleoamericans
soon spread throughout the Americas, diver-
sifying into many hundreds of culturally dis-
tinct nations and tribes. According to the
oral histories of many of the indigenous
peoples of the Americas, they have been liv-
ing there since their genesis, described by a
wide range of traditional creation accounts.
Application of the term "Indian" originated
with Christopher Columbus, who thought
that he had arrived in the East Indies, while
seeking Asia. This has served to imagine a
kind of racial or cultural unity for the abori-
ginal peoples of the Americas. Once created,
the unified "Indian" was codified in law, reli-
gion, and politics. The unitary idea of "Indi-
ans" was not originally shared by indigenous
peoples, but many over the last two centuries
have embraced the identity.
While some indigenous people of the
Americas were historically hunter-gatherers,
many practiced aquaculture and agriculture.
The impact of their agricultural endowment
to the world is a testament to their time and
work in reshaping, taming, and cultivating
the flora indigenous to the Americas. So