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America's Fascinating Indian Heritage
The First Americans: Their Customs, Art, History and How They Lived
By: The Reader's Digest
The Indians you encounter in this book may well be strangers to you. They are not the familiar characters of romantic legends, of western movies and television shows, of "covered wagon" novels. As you will discover they were, instead, a remarkably ingenious, imaginative people who, long before Europeans arrived in the New World, had developed numerous cultures--that differed as widely as those of the various nations of Europe--some 200 languages, and the ability to survive in all the environments that exist between the Arctic Circle and subtropical Mexico.
Although we often refer to the Indians as native Americans, they were--and are--the descendants of immigrants. Some 30,000 to 50,000 years ago Asian hunters most likely crossed over to the Western Hemisphere via a land bridge that then existed between Siberia and Alaska. Over the centuries their progenies spread out over the two continents.
To survive in the various, widely divergent environments existing in North America, the Indians had to devise new weapons and techniques for hunting, learn to utilize the many natural medicines the earth provided, design and build canoes and boats suitable for everything from traveling on placid rivers to killing whales in the ocean, find ways to survive by foraging for food in areas where game was scarce, develop group fishing skills and ways of preserving the catch to provide a year-round supply. Some tribes became expert farmers and built excellent irrigation systems.
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