Indigenous Insights: 35 Fascinating Facts About Tribal Cultures

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1Nongqawuse

Nongqawuse

A young Xhosa girl named Nongqawuse had a vision instructing the tribe to kill all the cattle and destroy the crops, as a sacrifice to the ancestors who would rise up and drive the white settlers into the sea. Thus began the 'Great Cattle Killing' after which over 40,000 Xhosa died in the resulting famine.


2. In 1763, a vigilante group named the Paxton Boys massacred the Conestoga Indian tribe, near Lancaster Pennsylvania. The few tribesmen that survived were put in jail to protect them. The jail was later broken into and the Indians were slaughtered.


3. Tommy Prince was a Native American who served in World War 2. He was known to be very quiet because of his pair of moccasins. Sometimes instead of killing Germans, he'd steal something from them. Other times, he’d slit their throats and not make a sound.


4. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Tribe is the richest Native American Tribe, with each member being paid $1 million per year in casino profits. There is a voluntary 99.2% unemployment rate within the tribe.


5. When General Lee surrendered at the end of the Civil War, he saw that Grant's military secretary, Ely Parker, was a Seneca Indian and said: “ I am glad to see one real American here,” to which Parker responded: “We are all Americans”.


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6Cherokee Indians

Cherokee Indians

The Cherokee Indians have a creation myth where a man slaps a woman with a fish and children appear.


7. Some Native American tribes intentionally bent trees to mark trails and many bent trees still remain today hidden in many national parks throughout USA.


8. Words such as moose, skunk, raccoon, pecan, and squash, all originate from the language of the now-extinct Algonquian tribe, which inhabited what is now Roanoke Island.


9. Certain Native American tribes recognized a third gender separate from male and female. A two-spirit is one who's body manifests both masculine and feminine spirits simultaneously. They were often male and married other males but they weren't seen as homosexual among their tribe.


10. Cherokee Native Americans owned slaves, some of whom were even forced to walk the Trail of Tears with their owners. Their descendants were legally recognized as tribe members until 2007 when a Cherokee constitutional amendment requiring Cherokee blood for membership ousted thousands of them.


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11Cherokee Civil War

Cherokee Civil War

Many Cherokee Indians sided and fought with the Confederacy during the American Civil War, both because many were black slave owners themselves and also because they resented the Union for their treatment during the Trail of Tears.


12. The first native American named Samoset to meet the Pilgrims walked into the Plymouth settlement and welcomed them in English and asked them for a beer.


13. The Cheyenne chief Black Kettle was a major advocate for peace and coexistence between white settlers and Native Americans. He was twice attacked by American troops despite explicit agreements of non-hostility, resulting in the death and mutilation of he and at least two hundred Cheyenne villagers.


14. There are a group of Native Americans named Tarahumara people in Mexico who run 200 miles in one session and hunt by running their prey to death.


15. There is a place in Mongolia named Ikh Khorig that was declared sacred by Genghis Khan. The only people allowed to enter were the Mongol Royal Family and a tribe of elite warriors, the darkhat, whose job it was to guard it, punishment for entering being death. They carried out their task for 697 years, until 1924.


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16Treaty of Canandaigua

Treaty of Canandaigua

The Bureau of Indian Affairs still sends bolts of cloth every year to New York Indian tribes as part of the debt owed from the Treaty of Canandaigua of 1794.


17. The Kalash people are white-skinned, blue-eyed tribe in the back country of Pakistan, who claim to be descendants of the ancient Greeks.


18. An Indonesian tribe successfully uses the "Gandarusa" bush as a form of male birth control. Scientists say the plant prevents pregnancy by slowing down the activity of certain enzymes in the sperm that help them wriggle into a female’s ovum.


19. The people of an isolated tribe in Zimbabwe only have two toes. They are also known as the ostrich people.


20. The word "Sioux" is not actually a word. It is a partial word from "Nadowessioux" which is an insult that means "little snakes." The tribes associated with this nomenclature are actually the Dakota, the Lakota, and the Nakota.


21Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

The US Government took the land on which Mt. Rushmore was built from the Sioux nation, and developed Mt. Rushmore on sacred Sioux grounds without any compensation. The US Government has offered over $1 billion in compensation, but the Sioux refuse to take it, saying the land was never for sale.


22. The White House didn't have a 4th of July celebration until 1801. Cherokee chiefs were invited and cockfighting was part of the celebration.


23. Several Native American tribes fought on the side of the British in the Revolutionary War, including the Mohawk and the Cherokee.


24. After the removal of the Creek and Cherokee from their lands, the state of Georgia held a series of public lotteries to give away the property to White settlers.


25. From 1956 to 1996 the Mormon Church operated a program where Native American kids would be baptized and placed in Mormon foster homes, thinking it would "lighten" them. It was based on the Mormon belief that Native Americans were originally white until God punished them by making them darker.

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