Native Americans were the natives of America before the white men discovered the place, came and started living there. When the Europeans settled, there was a considerable population of Native Americans. They had been living in that place for thousands of years.
They formed small groups or tribes, hunted, stayed and prospered on the land of North America. They are called by several names like Indians, Amerindians, Red Indians and also Amerinds. Some people also refer to them as Aboriginal or Original Americans. These people almost lost their identity in the crowd of settlers who overshadowed them.
They were basically peace-loving people who had a simple way of living life. They enjoyed being with the family or the tribe spending time in prayer and creativity. For them nature was the supreme origin of life and life preserving forces, therefore they appreciated and respected nature.
They treated the natural endowments as gifts of God to the human race therefore treated all the natural things with much reverence and care. It is believed that not all Americans who lived there, before the Europeans came, are actual inhabitants of that place.
They are from different parts of the world like some migrated from Siberia, some from Hawaii, and some from Alaska. Wherever they came from and whatever was their origin, they came to America and lived quite harmoniously with each other till the European settlers came into the picture.
Impact of European Settlement
Once the Europeans discovered America and started settling, the scheme of things started taking a complex turn. The native Americans were nearly forced out of their own land and were compelled to relocate. They had to suddenly deal with harsh treatment from colonists who barged into their peaceful lives and land.
They were traumatized with several diseases (like chickenpox and measles, which were brought, by the settlers) enslavement and wars. The wars that were fought were gory and the Europeans killed them indiscriminately. Therefore most of them, to avoid clashes, migrated to the west. All these factors gradually contributed to the decline of their population.
The rift between the various tribes of native Americans came to the forefront during the Revolutionary War wherein the settlers who formed the New America struggled with the British for the support of the natives and the nations east of the River Mississippi.
So most of the tribes joined the struggle to support the settlers with the hope that they would stop the colonial expansion. Nothing of that sort happened since the Europeans kept on expanding sometimes by force and sometimes by mutual understanding.
The Indian removal Act of 1830 actually took away the remnants of sovereignty and freedom that they had. They had to leave their own land for the settlers. It was always shown that the natives were leaving their land by their own volition, but that was not true.
Immense pressure was being put on them and they had to yield to it since their population was dwindling. They were being changed mentally and culturally so that they feel they are Americans and not Native Americans that they had been.
Yet the natives who still survive are proud of their history and have cut a niche for themselves though they are still struggling to achieve rights to be known as the Native Americans and not barbaric tribes who lived before the white man took the burden of "civilizing" them.