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These Incredible 9 Facts About Native Americans Will Change Your Perspective 

Quick history lesson: How many things do you know about native Americans?  

The world has seen the contributions of indigenous people from North and South America in many forms, from the construction of the Mayan pyramids to the development of sophisticated medical methods and long-lasting popular sports. Native American communities are on two continents, and they are all unique. Because of that, they are all deserving of recognition for their own cultures, customs, and achievements.

Some of the things on the list may seem familiar to you, while others will be nice to discover, so without further ado, let’s embark on a historical lesson about native Americans that you will be happy to attend.

native Americans
Photo by Brent Hofacker from Shutterstock

1. Native Americans invented popcorn

There is no such thing as a movie night without a big bowl of popcorn, right? But while you’re eating this snack, do you wonder where popcorn actually came from? Well, let us tell you a cute story: The popcorn-producing labyrinth was first tamed thousands of years ago by the native Americans.

In Peru, relics related to popcorn dating back 6,700 years were found. Remember this the next time you’re munching on your favorite snacks: you shouldn’t be grateful to simply Orville Redenbacher but also to the native Americans.

2. In the 19th century, the Cherokee people had exceptionally high rates of literacy

Cherokee language writing was introduced in written form in 1821 by Sequoyah, a leader of the Cherokee tribe in the American Southeast. He had been working on it for several years because he thought Cherokee people should have access to written language, just like English speakers did.

Sequoyah’s writing system, sometimes referred to as the Cherokee syllabary, was so clear-cut and easy to use that it immediately gained traction through the Cherokee culture. Cherokee speakers often needed up to three days to pick up the syllabary. As a result, Cherokee literacy increased dramatically in the 1820s, with estimates as high as 90%.

The Cherokee improved communal communication by utilizing their newly developed written language. The Cherokee Phoenix was the first newspaper published in Cherokee in 1828.

3. Native Americans’ houses were diverse

Many people have a misconception that all Native American tribes lived in teepees. This might be due to the lack of focus on Native American history in schools or a lack of curiosity to learn more about their culture and way of life. But we’re not here to judge! Here at Historical Files, we want to discover and share with our readers as much information as possible.

In reality, there were several tribes of Native Americans, each with its own language, culture, and way of life. While many tribes of Plains Indians lived in teepees, the Iroquois nation’s nations for example lived in longhouses, the Mesa Verde region’s tribes lived in cliffs, and the Taos tribes lived in pueblos.

4. When a toddler laughed for the first time, it was a reason to celebrate

This is probably the cutest and most pure celebration that marked a very important stage in children’s lives. The Navajo tribe used to have some party when the baby laughed for the first time. The person who saw the baby laughing was supposed to be the organizer of the ceremony, which had to be a fancy dinner. This was an attempt to model for the guests (including the infant) what a kind and giving tribe member needs to be like. A custom that needs to be upheld for many years!

Are you looking for a nice lecture to take you to the next level of learning about your ancestors? We’re here to help you by recommending a book called Native American History: A History from Beginning to End. This is a superb book with a plethora of topics based on native American customs, traditions, and influence in today’s world.

According to Goodreads, it has a good score of 4.3 stars. It’s available on Amazon for just $3.14 for the Kindle version. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still purchase the book, which is available in paperback and hardcover.

5. Echoes from old Mayan temples sound like a bird’s chirp

Another interesting fact about native Americans belongs to the Mayans and their temples. Central American Mayas have a highly developed culture. Their accomplishments included sophisticated technical marvels. In the modern world, the pyramids and temples they created are still considered marvels of architecture.

Located in Yucatan, Mexico, the El Castillo pyramid is one of their most striking structures. This pyramid was created to mimic the quetzal bird’s chirping, which was associated with the god Kukulkan.

6. Incans were the first to perform head surgeries

In today’s world, we have everything we need: antiseptics, scalpels, and other tools that help doctors perform surgeries. But have you ever imagined how life was before this? Well, recent studies show us that Incans from the 15th and 16th centuries performed successful surgeries despite having the tools we have now. Apparently, they succeed in performing trepanations, which is the process of drilling into the patient’s skull. Wow, how amazing is that?

Furthermore, these surgeries had an 80% survival rate, which was extremely good for that time. According to various bioarcheologists, they weren’t “just lucky” to succeed, but these native Americans were skilled!

native Americans
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

7. Native American women fought side by side with men

In most movies about native Americans, women were left at home cooking and taking care of their kids while men went off to battle. But this is just fiction. In reality, women were pretty brave to fight alongside men. Among some of the most famous figures is Buffalo Calf Road Woman, who was a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. She fought in various battles, but some of the most significant were the Battle of the Rosebud and the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The Northern Cheyenne tribe’s elders claim that she actually delivered Custer’s last, fatal blow.

8. North America’s oldest sport still played is Lacrosse

The Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Tuscarora are the six member nations that make up the Haudenosaunee, often known as the Iroquois Confederacy. Since they originated lacrosse, it is part of their common cultural heritage. Mohawk national player Leo Nolan told the CBC in 2020, “We are the game’s creators. We must share this game with others, which the Creator has given us.”
This sport is considered the oldest in America, dating back to the 12th century. The game of lacrosse was not limited to the six Haudenosaunee tribes, as men from Ojibwe and the Sauks utilized it as a means of entertainment in Fort Michilimackinac in present-day Michigan in 1763.

9. Together with lacrosse, hockey was also invented by native Americans

If you love hockey as much as we do, then you probably know its origins. If not, take a seat, because we have a cute story to tell.

Shinny was a game played by Native American tribes such as the Foxes, Saux, and Assiniboine people. The regulations of this game were comparable to those of hockey. A curved stick was used to hit a buckskin ball along the field. The game was played outside on ice throughout the winter.

The funny thing about this game is that you aren’t allowed to touch the hockey puck with your hands, so if you aren’t skilled enough to use the curved stick well, you might lose the game.
It grew into the contemporary sport that we know today as hockey because it was so well-liked and appreciated, even by the white settlers. Every state has a different name for hockey, derived from Native American languages.

Curious about other Native American facts? You’re going to dig this article: The Amazing History of Thanksgiving: What Happened on This Day?


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