V. The Americas and Native Americans Today

A. Nations of the Americas

European colonialism came to an end at various times in the Americas and Native Americans or Indigenous people came under jurisdiction of new government agencies of each of the new nation republics. Native American status varied depending on various treaties in the colonial times and whether those treaties were recognized by the new governments. Then a series of new treaties were usually implemented with the new government(s). The various policies of the Spanish, French, English, etc. contributed to the demographics of survival coupled with disease, marriage patterns and cultural response to conquest and colonization. In some areas Native Americans were victims of genocide, segregation and neglect. In other areas Native Americans were wanted as second class citizens or slaves. When Native American slaves died off new slaves were brought from Africa. When slavery was abolished various parts of the world, especially Asia was tapped for more laborers. In some cases penal colonies imported indentured workers like Georgia. Notice in these statistics that definitions of part indigenous makes it very difficult to generate accurate figures. it is generally agreed that the 114 million Native Americans were reduced by ~ 90% by the early 1900s and have gained some populations in some areas, but many people are obviously mixed bloods. America in general is made of of many diverse Native American and immigrant populations.

Indigenous populations of the Americas1
as estimated percentage of total country's population
Country Indigenous Part indigenous Combined total
Argentina11 1.1% 3–15% 4.1–16.1%
Belize[51] 16.7% 33.8% 50.5%
Bolivia 55% 30% 85%
Brazil² 0.4% 30%[52] 30.4%
Canada³ 2.4% 1.2% 3.8%
Chile 5% 65% 70%
Colombia 3.4%5 82.1% 85.5%6
Costa Rica7 1% 90% 91%
Cuba7 1% 20% 21%
Dominica 2% 2-6% 4-8%
Dominican Republic 1% 40–60% 41–61%
Guatemala 40% 45% 85%
Ecuador 25% 55% 80%
El Salvador 1% 90% 91%
French Guiana 3-4% n/a 3-4%
Guyana 9.1% n/a 9.1%
Suriname 2% n/a 2%
Honduras 7% 90% 97%
Mexico 12% 60-75% 72-87%
Nicaragua 5% 69% 74%
Panama 6% 70% 76%
Paraguay 5% 93.3% 98.3%
Peru 45% 37% 82%
Puerto Rico 0.4% 61.2% 61.6%9
Saint Lucia 3% 2-3% 5-6%
Trinidad and Tobago 0.6% 0.8-1% 0.8-1%
Venezuela 2% 49% 51%
USA10 .74 – .9% .57 – .74% 1.31 – 1.64%
Uruguay 0% 8% 8%

1 Source : The World Factbook 1999, Central Intelligence Agency unless otherwise indicated.
² 2000 Brazil Census
³ Canada 2006 Census
5 DANE 2005 National Census
6Yunis, Emilio y Juan José Yunis (2006) quoted by Bejarano, Bernardo El 85,5 por ciento de las madres colombianas tiene origen indígena
7 indigenous peoples mixed into the general population; NA = "not available".
8 Of Amerindian and "predominantly" Amerindian as reported in the CIA Factbook. National statistics report a 12% of pure Amerindian.[53]
9 Kearns DNA
10 2000 U.S. Census
11 Primeros Resultados de la Encuesta Complementaria de Pueblos Indígenas (ECPI)


Image:Amerind population.png

 Here are some nations in the Americas with their current Native America/Indigenous people and official government agencies. Only Canada and US have Native Americans that are not American Indian. M=mestizo

Country Native American/Indigenous Profile Native American Populations Government Agency
Canada Inuit, American Indian, Metis 100 gps 3.8 % Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
United States Yupik, Inuit, Aleut, American Indian/Pacific Islanders, 300 gps 2% Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
Mexico Aztec, Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya 13-30% (M 60%) Department of Indigenous Affairs
Belize Maya; some Caribbean refugees 10.6%  (M 34%)  
Costa Rica Bribri, Brunka, Guaymi, Terraba, Maleku, Huetar, Cabaecar, Chorotega <1% (M 80%) Comision Nacional de Asuntos Indigenas
El Salvador Pipil, Lenca, Maya <1% (M85%)  
Nicaragua Miskito 5% (M 56%)  
Caribbean Taino/Carib 1-3% (M 15-60%)  
Guatamala Maya, Xinca, Garifuna 40% National Commission of Indigenous Affairs of Guatemala (CDI)
Venezuela 29 gps 2% (M 52%)  
Columbia 85 gps, Chibcha 4% (M 80%)  
Ecuador Quechua, plus 20 other gps 25 %  (55%)  
Peru Quechua, Aymara, Moche/Amazonians:Boro, etc. 52%  (M 45%) Indigenous Affairs Department
Chile Mapuche 5% (M 65%)  
Bolivia Quechua, Aymara, Guarini 55% (M 30%) Ministry of indigenous Affairs and Originary Peoples
Paraguay Guarini    
Uruguay   0% (M 8%)  
Brazil 200 gps 67 gps uncontacted 0.4%  (M30%) Fundacao Nacional do Indio (FUNAI)
Guyana, Suriname, Fr. Guiana 20-30 gps 2-9% (M-~20%)  


B. Native American/ Indigenous Organizations in the Americas

Since the nations in the Americas did such a poor job of managing trust responsibilities of treaties with Native Americans, did not support or enhance economic development for Native Americans or defend the human rights of Native Americans various autonomous organizations have emerged to try to correct or augment the failure of government agencies. Bartolome de las Casas was one of the first but many outsiders who worked to change conditions for Native American people. Missionaries and educators have tried to bring education to Native Americans but often European culture has been the main focus. In the United States some of our oldest colleges were set up to train Native Americans, such as William and Mary (1693) and Dartmouth College. Boarding schools, like Carlisle Indian School (1879-1918) in an old barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, were bent on military discipline. The founder Captain Richard Pratt thought only discipline could rid the Indian of their savage ways. Many children died of disease or were beaten for speaking their native language and grieving for lost friends. Many ran away from the boarding schools. At Carlisle a football program emerged under coach Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner and with players like Jim Thorpe they defeated even the Ivy League teams.  (Thorpe and his teammates in 1908; middle row/3rd from the left)

Other progressives like Helen Hunt Jackson who published her report on the horrible conditions for California Indians in A Century of Dishonor (1881) found that no one listened until she published a fictional work called Ramona (1884). In the early part of the 20th century various organizations that combined resources from outsiders and Native American came into being. In California the Mission Indian Federation fought for treaty rights and owed resources, especially water. Some were considered socialistic or radical. After WWII and with the development of the civil rights movement this trend continued but by 1975-76 Native Americans began to form their own political, cultural, educational and legal organizations. The idea spread throughout the Americas and then the world. Now that the internet has brought ideas and people together instantly many of the older organizations have found new audiences on the internet. Also, organizations dealing with or by Native American have popped up exclusively on the internet.

Examples of Native American Indigenous Peoples Organizations not usually officially based in the governments of the country of that particular group or beyond the borders of any single country.

North America  
National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 1944 Mainstream US American Indian Groups
Native American Rights Fund (NARF) 1970 initiated NAGPRA
Confederation of Aboriginal People of Canada Reserve based
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples Off Reserve
Meso America  
Indigenous & Compesino State Council Of Chiapas (CEOIC)  
Zapatista Army of National Liberation  (EZLN) The web sites are fairly radical, and have weird commercial  links, thus I did not create linksl. The oppression is still pretty severe in the area (see IV, C 5 Maya Rebellion 1994)
InterAmerican Indigenous Congress  
Coordinating Body for Indigenous Organizations and Nations of the Continent  
Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations cross border issues and coordination
Caribbean Organization of Indigenous People (COIP) 1987
South America  
Indian Council of  South America (CISA) 1980
Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) coordinates nine national Amazonian indigenous organizations
National Encounter of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations  
Coordinator Of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) 1984 coordinates nine organizations; based in Quito, Ecuador

There are a number of search engines and internet sites that are available :

Index of Native American Organizations on the Internet mostly North America
Village of First Nations Canada and US
Native Web Resources for Indigenous cultures


C. Global Indigenous Issues and the UN

As Native Americans became more active in the 1970s so to did other indigenous people of the world. There were numerous uprisings and rebellions throughout the world when European powers decided to leave home and colonize the world. Some were well organized and had brief moments of victory or power. In Africa the great Zulu nation shocked Britain with a rather decisive defeat in 1878. The Hawaiians and Maori tried various means of maintaining their sovereignty. The Balinese tried to quell the greed of the Dutch in 1890s. After World War II many of the European colonial power gave up the direct colonial exploitation and 'allowed' nations to be formed. In some cases the ethnic mix was ignored and turned volatile. In a number of countries there were remnants of indigenous people with European transplants still dominating the newly founded nation. Many of the indigenous people felt like they were isolates or nations within the newly founded country not of there own creation and often not of their own specific territory. This was true in the United States, Australia Bolivia and other nations of the Americas. In some cases the indigenous group was so large that the European nation construct was too small. Such was the case for the Quechua of the Andes and the Kurds of the Middle East. Indigenous people began to start their cases at the United Nations in spite of the major control by industrial powers and the fact that they were not officially sovereign. After 22 years, beginning in 1982, issues of discrimination against indigenous people evolved into a Commission on Human Rights subgroup which put together a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Finally, on 13 Sep 2007 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed the declaration. This declaration is not legally binding but it represents a awareness and commitment to take further action. the four nations with indigenous populations  that voted against the declaration were the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Most of their criticism was related to definitions of indigenous people and land issues which they know could lead to the questioning of broken treaties and theft of indigenous lands.

The other global awareness issue facing indigenous people is the environment and global climate changes. The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Junero, Brazil brought considerable participation of indigenous people especially from Amazonia. The United States was also notable for its lack of attendance.


Cultural Survival A journal and organization to promote the value of cultural diversity and preserve culture and language. This was started by David and Pia Mayberry-Lewis at Harvard U., Cambridge, MA
Center For World Indigenous Studies/ World Council For Indigenous People (WCIP) document site started by Dr. R.C. Ryser (Cowlitz) and Chief George Manuel (Shuswap) for WCIP.
World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education (WIPCE) an organization that promotes cultural preservation through education WIPCE 2008 conference in Australia

Most recently Indigenous representatives requested to be included in current talks at the UN about global warming.

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Copyright: S. J. Crouthamel