Thousands of years before the Europeans colonized the Americas, millions of Indigenous folks lived in tribes across North America, living off the land. Upon the arrival of settlers, their lives were uprooted, as their interaction that began with a period of goodwill and trade soon turned hostile.
By the 1700s, Native Americans were still adjusting to the new settlers, migrating as those accustomed to residing on the east coast where the Europeans had set up shop now looked for other lands to make their home. This caused strife between some tribes, but even as some traded with the Europeans and others avoided them, Native American life in the 1700s took a turn as Indigenous folks became newly wary of other ways of life.
The millions of Indigenous folks in the Americas were grouped into hundreds of tribes that were spread out across the various regions of land, each living off what the terrain and climate allowed to thrive. Going into the 1700s and lasting halfway through the century, colonial wars between European colonizers tormented North America. Several Indigenous tribes became involved in the conflict, having to pick sides and fight on behalf of their settler of choice.
For those Native Americans who lived between the French and the British settlements that were set up along the East coast and the Mississippi river, their homes were locked in the middle of the constant battles between the two European powers. By 1754, when the two main European powers went to war for the last time in North America, Indigenous lands were their battlefield. This created a hostile environment for these groups, who were caught in the middle of the conflict.
With all the Christian European influence from settlers on Indigenous groups, by the 1700s, Native American life was irrevocably changed from what it had been for hundreds of years. However, for the tribes outside of this direct conflict, life was a little less harrowed. In what is now Texas, the Alabama-Coushatta tribe has resided since the 1700s as one of the area’s oldest tribes. Today, the reservation sits on 4500 acres and is home to a tribe of 1100 members.
The story is similar for the hundreds of tribes whose land was slowly made smaller, as what is now the U.S. grew in population. Their land was reduced to what are now reservations, which are small portions of entire states that were once theirs. Throughout the 18th century, native tribes continued to adjust their lives to conform to the white man, who criticized their home life and the responsibilities and roles of men and women, which were quite different from their own.
As this happened and through the European-centered turmoil, tribe leaders attempted to retain traditions and continue their ways of life. Alas, the remaining reservations of native populations show evidence of longsuffering and their diminishing culture. Today, Indigenous tribes are among the highest populations of teen drug abuse. Only 1.2 percent of the U.S. population is Native American and they continue to be underrepresented in the American workforce. Indigenous folks remain due for reparations and compensation for the long and grueling history of early settlers that changed the lives of Native Americans.
About the Author
Frankie Wallace contributes to a wide variety of blogs and writes about many different topics, including politics and the environment. Wallace currently resides in Boise, Idaho and is a recent graduate of the University of Montana.