Between 1865 and 1877 the U.S. government passed laws that helped protect the rights of all free people in the United States. This period was called Reconstruction, because it was supposed to lead to a reconstructed, or repaired, society that included people of all races.
Quite a few folks survived Custer’s Last Stand in The Great Sioux War of 1876. All of them were Native Americans, however. There was one survivor from Custer’s party, an Indian translator. However, the American government got its revenge—they used his defeat as an excuse to indiscriminately wipe out tribes in the area.
The goal of the invasion of Panama by the United States in December 1989 was to capture dictator Manuel Noriega and force him to stand trial in the United States for drug trafficking. Noriega had been a U.S. ally during the Central American civil wars of the 1980s, but was suspected of being a middleman […]
Mexican Americans suffered along with millions of other Americans during the economic catastrophe of the 1930s. Beginning in 1929 with the crash of the U.S. stock market, businesses closed, fortunes were wiped out, and many people, including Mexican Americans, were thrown out of work. Mexican Americans also suffered something worse: the anger of Anglos who […]
Living in an American Wild West town was not as dangerous as you’d think. As a matter of fact, the modern-day cliche of using the Wild West as a metaphor for the dangers of big cities does a grave disservice to the olden days. Take wild, wild Dodge City. Its absolutely worst year for violence […]
Why didn’t anyone object to the treatment of Native Americans during the Spanish colonization of the Americas?
A few did object to the treatment of Native Americans. Spanish missionary and historian Bartoleme de Las Casas (1474-1566) publicized the atrocities of the conquistadors. He urged that Native Americans be treated humanely and that forced labor be abolished. In 1542, he succeeded in getting the New Laws passed, which aimed to end the encomienda […]
During the French and Indian War, a group of Great Lakes Indians led by the Ottawa leader Pontiac began attacking British forts in their territory. In one of the most notorious events of Pontiac’s War, the Ojibwa staged a surprise raid on Fort Michilimackinac on present-day Mackinac Island, Michigan. With the permission of the British, […]
In July 1996, a college student stumbled upon something remarkable on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington State: a human skeleton that was more than 9,000 years old. Named Kennewick Man after a nearby town, five tribes in the region claim the skeleton as an ancestor. While non-Native scientists made plans to study […]
On March 5, 1770, an angry crowd gathered in the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, to protest the unfair taxes and laws in the American colonies. British soldiers rushed to control the crowd. Crispus Attucks, a black seaman and escaped slave, was the first to confront the British soldiers. When the soldiers retaliated, Crispus Attucks was […]
It’s possible but unlikely that the ancient Egyptians were the first American explorers who built the New World pyramids. True, the New World pyramids were built from 1200 B.C. to the 1500s, slightly overlapping the time when Egyptians were doing the same thing, from 2700 B.C. to 1000 B.C. However, the styles, building materials, shapes, […]
That’s slander and a damnable lie that the king never bathed. Historians tell us King Louis XIV of France bathed once a year, whether he needed it or not. The Sun King probably was ruler of France after all, and could do whatever he wanted.
The English word “buckaroo” for cowboy is a corrupt form of the Spanish word “vaquero.” The name fits, because Anglo cowboys learned a lot of their trade from Mexican Americans, who were experts in western-style ranching long before the Anglos arrived. Many of the cowboy techniques, equipment, and apparel we think of as distinctively American […]
Among many Northwest Native Americans, the most attractive feature a person could have was a sloped forehead. To ensure their children would be beautiful, they strapped their babies into a bed called a cradle board that had a piece of wood hinged to the top. The wood applied a gentle pressure to a baby’s soft […]
Only some Buddhist Monks wear yellow robes. There are many Buddhist sects, and each one has different rules governing the color of their dress. The Mahayanist monks of Vietnam wear brown, the Theravada monks wear dark saffron or yellow. Confucius’s followers were told to wear primary colors like yellow, blue, white, black, and red, rather […]
Crazy Horse (1842-1877) was considered one of the Lakota Sioux’s bravest and most intelligent warriors and raiders. He may have earned his name because he sometimes rammed his horse into that of an enemy to make his opponent fall to the ground. Widely respected by the young warriors of his tribe, he led them to […]
Not really, but it is hard to tell because race is such a fuzzy word. When someone talks about race, the speaker is distinguishing groups of people based on some standard he or she thinks is important and physically inherited. In the United States, people usually talk about the races as white, black (or African […]
Potlatches were usually held to announce that a new person was taking the position of chief. Some Native American groups, however, used them to celebrate more personal events, such as a marriage or the naming of a child. Occasionally, a chief might hold a small potlatch if he had been embarrassed in public. For instance, […]
There were two civil wars in Nicaragua. The first one, in 1978-1979, overthrew the government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. This revolution was led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), a left-wing group named for Augusto Cesar Sandino (1895-1934), who had waged a guerrilla war against U.S. occupation in the 1920s and 1930s. The Sandinistas […]
Ok, to be fair, it’s not like King Henry VIII of England executed all of his wives. Let’s go through the roster of King Henry’s wives that died or were murdered. Catherine of Aragon: marriage annulled, died a natural death shortly thereafter; Anne Boleyn: beheaded; Jane Seymour: died in childbirth; Anne of Cleves: marriage annulled; […]
The rocky tropical island where prisoners suffered untold miseries was located off the northeast coast of South America. But it did not belong to Spain. Founded in 1852, it was part of French Guiana. This French colony was part of a small strip of land settled by the Dutch, French, and English rather than the […]
Always in fear of droughts that would dry up their food supply, the Aztec people felt their future was uncertain. They believed that the only way to guarantee their survival was to please the gods they worshiped by offering them human sacrifices. During the dedications of temples and other ceremonies, tens of thousands of captives […]
The three branches of the Sioux (Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota), Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Pawnee lived in the central plains. To the south were the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache. To the north were the Blackfeet, Hidatsa, and Mandan. More than 150 years after they were created, George Catlin’s paintings provide glimpses into Native American life. The […]
William Penn, was one of the early settlers in America who was actually pretty good about such things, and believed in freedom of religion. He was a member of the Society of Friends, they were called Quakers by their enemies, and the name eventually stuck. The Quakers had been severely persecuted in Europe, and Penn […]
The Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 was the bloodiest battle fought on American soil. In three days 5,662 soldiers were confirmed killed, 10,584 were missing, and 27,203 were wounded. As mentioned, the Civil War was the bloodiest for Americans. More Americans died in that war than in all of its other wars combined. How bad […]
In their territory, very few plants could grow, so almost all of the Inuit’s food came from the fish they caught and the animals they hunted. These animals included whales, seals, walrus, and caribou, a species of deer with huge spiky antlers.
From the time of exposure, flea bite, animal bite, or exposure to mucus, to the onset of the first symptoms, headache, fever, nausea, aching, and swollen buboes, it took about six days on average for someone to die from the Bubonic Plague or Black Death. The next stage—hemorrhaging and respiratory problems stemming from severe pneumonia—came […]
There were probably more than 100 Native American tribes in California before non-Natives came to the region. In their own minds, however, California Indians probably did not consider themselves part of a tribe. Because their settlements were so isolated, they thought of themselves more as members of a village or of a small group of […]
Some Native American groups grew wealthy by acting as middlemen. The Chinook, for instance, who lived along the Pacific Coast near the mouth of the Columbia River, were the first Native Americans to meet trading ships that sailed into the region. The Chinook soon found that they could make a big profit by traveling inland, […]
Latin America and South America are not the same thing. South America is a continent connected by the narrow Isthmus of Panama to the separate continent of North America. South America extends from Colombia to Chile. To say “South America” is to talk about a geographical entity. Latin America is a cultural entity. South America […]
Why did Christopher Columbus call Native Americans “Indians” and Where did the term Indian come from?
Christopher Columbus called Native Americans indios, or “Indians,” because he felt sure that he had reached the Indies, the region we now call Asia. That is why the islands he explored are known to this day as the West Indies. Columbus never wanted to discover a New World: just to find a fast sea route […]
Vlad the Impaler’s father, also named Vlad, was inducted into a secret Catholic organization called the Order of the Dragon, sworn to battle the Ottoman Turks. When he became Prince of Walachia, his kingdom dubbed him Dracul, meaning, in Romanian, “The Dragon.” When Vlad the Second came to power, he called himself Dracula, or “Son […]
Synonymous with opulence is that salty, lumpy marine delicacy known as Caviar. The word is rich with princely connotations for almost everyone-including those with no idea what caviar actually is. For it has been said that those who respect Caviar’s place in the elite of epicurean treats far outnumber those who have actually tasted it. […]
The surname Windsor-Mountbaden was in tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s new husband, Phillip Mountbaden. She also decreed that all of her future descendents would take the name as well, except for princes and princesses, who would keep the Windsor name.
Viking and Norse explorer Leif Eriksson had two brothers, Thorvald and Thorstein. He also had a sister named Freydis. Leif Ericson, or Leifr Eiríksson, is regarded as the first European to land in North America five hundred years before Christopher Columbus. Leif was born about AD 970 in Iceland, the son of Erik Thorvaldsson, known […]
Before non-natives arrived in North America, Cahokia was the largest urban center north of present-day Mexico. Located near what is now St. Louis, Missouri, this Mississippian town was at its height in about 1100. It then stretched across more than 200 acres and was the home of nearly 40,000 people. The center also was visited […]
Probably some of the increase was an illusion. The earlier polls likely underestimated the actual number of Native Americans in California. In the early decades of the century, people were reluctant to say to pollsters that they were Native Americans because they were afraid of being treated badly by whites. But in the 1950s and […]