Category: indigenous peoples

Kiowa Buckskin Mixes Modern And Traditional



It shows Kiowa warriors fighting United States troops. Circa 1879-1907

In the offhand chance you aren’t sure what this is by the shape, it is a tipi cover.

Extensively decorated with modeled imagery, …

Extensively decorated with modeled imagery, duct flutes of Veracruz are characterized by one or two connected sounding tubes.  This flute has a peccary – a distant relative of the pig – at its center.

Veracruz flutes are notable for having clay pellets inside their tubular chambers. The small clay balls produce an eerie, warbling sound when the flute is played.

Circa 600s to 900s CE, Veracruz Culture.

Languages of South America

The Americas’ Linguistic Diversity

There were dozens of language families, each the equivalent of the Indo-European family, before 1492. This map is a “simplified” one. In today’s California, for instance, languages that are spoken by neighboring tribes are as different as French and Chinese.

Why did the Americas develop such linguistic diversity? Many linguists suspect that at least some of these separate families date back to separate migrations of different tribes from Asia who originally spoke unrelated languages.  Linguistic and archaeological data hint at more than one migration from Asia into the Americas, all of them through Alaska.

Extra Fun Fact: see “Eskimo-Aleut” in northern North America? It is not colored because there is no evidence those languages are related to any other indigenous American languages!

Why Did New Guinea Warriors Prefer Daggers Mad…


The indigenous people of Papua New Guinea did not develop metalworking before modern contact. Instead, they fought with sharpened bone daggers. Here there was a choice: fight with daggers crafted from human thighbones or daggers crafted from cassowary thighbones – giant, flightless, dinosaur-like birds. The preferred weapon in Papua New Guinea was human bone daggers.

And a new study suggests why: the dagger fashioned from human bone is stronger than the giant bird’s thighbone, largely because of the way the warriors of New Guinea carved the weapons. The human bone daggers retained more of the natural curves of the bone, making them stronger than the flatter, less curved cassowary bone daggers. Given that cassowary daggers are easier to replace than human-bone daggers, it makes sense that the human daggers were carved with greater care to make them stronger.

Taino Woman’s DNA Yields Clues About Modern Ca…

Researchers mapped the genome of an ancient Taino woman using DNA from one of her teeth. She was buried 1,000 years ago at a site called Preacher’s Cave on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

She is most closely related to present-day Arawakan speakers in northern South America, where her ancestors likely originated. But the study revealed that she is also partly related to some modern Puerto Ricans. The findings support some continuity in the western Caribbean between the modern population and their pre-Columbus ancestors.

historical-nonfiction: “Eskimo Girl Wearing Cl…


“Eskimo Girl Wearing Clothes of All Fur.”

Taken in 1915, this photograph and its title comes from an American cultural anthropologist’s collection of photographs and negatives. Eskimos today are known by their own word for themselves, Inuit, which means ‘people.’ The Inuit are the main indigenous people of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia.

A couple followers pointed out that this post contains a word used as a slur for Inuit, and that slur not be used. Thank you for that! And I agree. Unfortunately, when this was taken, the title given by the photographer contained the slur.

As an attempt to correct that, and perhaps to help educate people, I included both the name of the photograph and an explanation for why “Inuit” should be used instead.

The Mapping of Massacres

The Mapping of Massacres:

Place names can be damning evidence of colonial history. On a map of Australia, you’ll see Murderers Flat, Massacre Inlet, Haunted Creek, and Slaughterhouse Gully.

Now, historians and artists are working together to record exactly where indigenous people were killed – and make clear how widespread the killing was.

Scientists Discover First American Palimpsest

Everyone recycles! Even pre-Columbian Mixtec. The Codex Selden, also known as the Codex Añute, dates from the mid-1500s and is a five-meter-long strip of deer hide covered in glyphs and human figures. It is one of fewer than 20 known Mexican codices to have survived from pre-colonial and early colonial Mexico. And it is the first known pre-Columbian palimpsest!

What’s that you ask? It means the deer hide once had a different document on it, which was scraped off, so the parchment could be reused for what we know today as the Codex Añute. Thankfully the scrapping was imperfect, allowing modern-day scientists to uncover the traces of imagery that remain. That’s all we know right now. Tests are currently being conducted to reconstruct what was written or drawn, and to try and figure out what it meant.

Horrific Aztec Plague Identified Using Modern …

DNA analyses from a mass grave, dating to the end of the Aztec Empire, shows they died of an epidemic of salmonella. Salmonella enterica Paratyphi C, a pathogen that causes enteric fever, is the likely culprit. This is the first time science has been used to identify the epidemic which the Spanish at the time called “full bloodiness.” Its indigenous name was the cocoliztli epidemic.

The epidemic hit regions of Mexico and Guatemala from 1545-1550, and symptoms included intense fever, pain, vomiting and bleeding from eyes and nose. The death toll is estimated to be between 5 and 15 million Native Americans – that’s up to 80% of a population which had no resistance to this, or a host of other diseases, which had suddenly arrived on their continent.