North American Indian
Native Americans is the term used to describe the North American Indian tribes, those that resided all across what is now known as the present day United States before the arrival of the white European settlers in the 15th century. They are said to have migrated across the Bering Strait from Asia over time, spreading east and south from present day Alaska.
The various waves of migration are what account for the various language strains between tribes and Nations, and help to explain the different physical characteristics between them. As a matter of fact, most historians agree that the North American Indian as it is known now can date back more than 25,000 years.
Languages of the Native American Indian
There are a number of languages that are and were spoken by North American Indian tribes. Many of them have become extinct, but a great number of them are still spoken today. There is no other part of the world that has as many different languages as the Western hemisphere and that is due to the influence of the Native American Indian on history. There are three major groups of linguistic families, those that belong to the North American Indian, the Central American Indian (and Mexico) and the South American and West Indian languages.
It is hard to determine the ways that these languages were spoken before the arrival of the white settlers. It is said that as many as 1800 different tongues were spoken before the arrival of the Europeans by more than 40 million people.
The Impact of the European Settlers
By the mid-20th century, the arrival of the white settlers had changed everything. Two thirds of the native tongues of the North American Indian had died. Over time, the impact of these settlers as well as the diseases they brought with them had decimated a large portion of the native population. The bison became extinct. Whole tribes were decimated, and war ensued. Eventually, tribes were forced to retreat to lands designated just for them called 'reservations.' To this day, many members of the Native American tribes live on reservations.