[Native American mortuary customs: row of Indians carrying bodies over their shoulders to fires, platform with skeletons hanging above and bones below on benches, and groups of Indians standing around fires and poles hung with cloth or skins]
Illus. in: Moeurs des sauvages ameriquains, comparées aux moeurs des premiers temps / Joseph Francois Lafitau. Paris : Saugrain l'aîné [etc.], 1724, v. 2, pl. 22, opp. p. 456.
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...."