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America Before Columbus

The Native Americans were the first inhabitants of the Americas. They settled in different regions and formed independent tribes with distinct cultures. By 1492 there were over 300 separate native languages. When Christopher Columbus landed on October 12, 1492, he thought he had reached India, and called the native people Indians, a name which gave them a collective identity.
The Indians, Columbus reported, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone...."
Drake's entertainment by the King of the Countrey.
127 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2

Their manner of fishing in Virginia

Native men and women in a canoe fishing while others in the background stand in the river and spear fish.

[The Englishmen's arrival in Virginia]

Map showing the coast of Virginia with many islands just off the mainland, two Native territories, Secotan and Weapemeoc, and the Native community of Roanoak on an island at the mouth of a river.

[How they catch fish]

Native men and women in a dugout canoe fishing while others in the background stand in the river and spear fish.

[How they cook their fish] / T.B.

Native men cooking fish on a wooden frame over a fire.

[A weroans, or chieftain, of Virginia]

Full-length, front and back portraits of a Native chief in Virginia, with bow and arrow; hunting scene in the background.

[The tomb of the weroans]

An Algonquian burial house showing bodies on a raised platform and a priest squatting by a fire beneath the platform.

[How the chief ladies of the town of Dasamonquepeio dress and carry their children] / T.B.

Full-length, front and back portraits of a Native woman of Dasamonquepeio showing manner of dress and way of carrying a child on her back; view of river and landscape in the background.

[An old man in his winter clothes] / T.B.

An aged Native man from Pomeiock, full-length portrait, facing front, wearing winter garment; landscape scene with village in the background.

[How they build boats] / T.B.

Native men making dugout boats by burning and scraping with seashells.

[The town of Pomeiock] / T.B.

Fortified Native village the manner of construction of the buildings and the enclosing stockade.

[The dances at their great feasts]

Native men and women dancing around a circle defined by posts with carved faces, three Native women stand together in the center of circle.

[A noblewoman of Pomeiock] / T.B.

Native woman of Pomeiock carrying a clay vessel, and her daughter holding a doll and a rattle.

[Killing alligators]

Natives attack and kill alligators by ramming a pole down it's throat, turning it over, beating it with clubs, and shooting it with arrows.

The Natives of Florida worship the column erected by the commander on his first voyage

Chief Athore with René Laudonnière, commander of the second French expedition to Florida, standing by column erected by Jean Ribaut during first expedition, showing Natives worshiping the column and many offeri... more

[The widows approach the chief]

Native youths shooting arrows, throwing balls at target placed atop tall pole, and running races.

[Exercises of the youths]

Native youths shooting arrows, throwing balls at target placed atop tall pole, and running races.

[Trophies and ceremonies after a victory]

Natives gathered at designated place to celebrate victory over their enemies, with Chief Holata Outina standing in foreground with French soldiers.

[The French arrive in Florida]

The arrival of the French expedition under Laudonnière at the River of May (St. John's) in Florida.

Gallorum ad Maij flumen navigatio

French expedition under Jean Ribaut enter the River of May (St. John's) in Florida.

[The queen-elect is brought to the king]

Native men carrying the queen seated on a throne supported by a litter; trumpeters lead the procession which is followed by young women carrying baskets of fruit and by a contingent of bodyguards.

[How the Natives collect gold in the streams]

Native men using hollow rods which they drive into the sandy bottom of streams to collect gold and other metals.

[A fortified village]

A Native village with the chief's house in the center, surrounded by huts of other principal men, and fortified by a circular arrangement of tall palings that spiral to a narrow opening at the entrance.

[Florida Indians, disguised under deerskins, hunting deer]

Native men wearing deerskins while hunting deer.

[A method of hunting deer in the Northeast]

Natives using devices for making noise to drive deer and other game towards a fenced area.

The figure of the Indians' fort or palizado in New England and the manner of the destroying it by Captayne Underhill and Captayne Mason / RH.

The village of the Pequot Indians which was attacked and destroyed by Captain Underhill and Captain Mason in 1637.


Snowshoes and Natives wearing snowshoes while hunting deer.