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Learn about the native American tribes, the Mayas and Incas. Also learn about the history of these tribes with the expeditions ...
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Learn About the Maya and the Inca Tribes
Beginning around 300 BC, a civilization of people known as the Mayas lived in parts of Southern Mexico, Guatemala and the Yucatán Peninsula. The Mayan cities were rules by Chiefs. Their succession through hereditary blood lines is usually passed on from father to son. The Mayas built huge stone temples to honor their gods. They are remembered for developing two calendars, one of which is quite similar to the ones we use today. Their economy was based on agriculture. The primary crops were beans, squash, cotton and mais, what we now call corn. They domesticated the dog and the turkey. Their recorded history was written as hieroglyphs, either on stone or paper. Many of these artifacts still exist today. In 980AD, the Toltec Empire of Mexico invaded the Yucatán Peninsula but the Mayans were able to survive under their rule. By the mid-16th century, the Spanish conquistadores had conquered most of the Mayan civilization. However, some independent Mayan communities were able to survive until the beginning of the 20th century.
On of the largest ancient empires was that of the Incus of South America. Around 1200 AD, they found that the capital city of Cuzco in what is now Peru. Over several centuries, the Incas defeated many of its neighbors and by the 16th century, their empire stretched from Northern Ecuador to Central Chile, some 2500 miles long and 500 miles wide. The head of their empire known as the Sapa Inca was treated like a god. Below him were regional governors, local rulers and the commoners who were mostly farmers and laborers. Their most important crops were potatoes and corn.
In 1532, Spanish explorer, Francisco Pizarro arrived on the coast with 180 armed men and began his conquest of the Incan Empire. Some of the more notable remains of the Inca civilization are the Temple of the Sun in Cuzco, The Walls of Sacsayhuamán and the famed ruins of Machu Picchu. Between the 14th and 16th century, the Aztec empire controlled most of Central and Southern Mexico. According to legend, they built their capital of Tenochtitlan on the site where priest had seen an eagle eating a snake perched atop a cactus. This, they believe was an ancient prophesy come to life. In 1428, Tenochtitlan formed a military alliance with neighboring city states, less than a century later. The Aztecs had assumed complete control of their lands. Aztec society was divided into three classes, Nobility, commoner and slave. In the Aztec religion, animals and humans were sacrificed to the gods by having priest cut out their hearts with sharp knives.
By 1519, the Great market in Tenochtitlan attracted 60, 000 people daily. It was here that a great number of goods were imported and exported. It was also during this time that the Spanish arrived in Mexico led by Hernan Cortes. The Aztec emperor Montezuma II thought Cortes to be the god Quetzalcoatl and openly welcomed them.
In 1520, Cortes had Montezuma killed and by the following year, the Aztec Empire was destroyed. Mexico City, the modern capital of Mexico is built upon the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Over 1 million ancestors of the Aztecs lived in that region to this day. Now that we have discussed the empires of Mexico and South America and the [3:15] of the Arctic, we will explore the history of the Indian tribes of North America. One of the oldest tribes was that of the Anasazi’s. Starting around 100 BC, their culture began to grow ion the Colorado Plateau. Their dwellings, some of which were built on the side of cliffs survive to this day. In the late 13th century, a sever drought afflicted the southwest and the Anasazis abandoned their region and eventually vanished as a people. Between the Mississippi river and the Rocky Mountains lies the great plains of America.
In the early 1300s, many tribes began to settle this vast area of land. They were the Panis and Wichita’s of Nebraska, the mandoms of the Missouri valley and the Sioux, Crow and Blackfoot, who settled in the northern plains. The Siouans moved into the Central plains and the Comanches settled the southern plains. The horse has not yet been exported to the new worlds so the plains Indians hunted buffalo by foot. Several tribes planted and harvested crops of corn, squash, beans and tobacco. This was their land, untouched by the outside world, but soon this would change. The Iroquois are group of tribes joined together by a common language, lived in the northeast region of America.
The Iroquois were mighty warriors forever waging war on their neighbors. This continued up until 1450 when Hiawatha, one of their chiefs, helped in the creation of the Iroquois League. This league consisted of five major tribes, the Mohawks, Cayugas, Senecas, Oneidas and Onondagas. The land was divided among the five tribes with each having a council to govern it. Major disputes were resolved by the great council. This council was composed of fifty representatives from the five tribes with one of those seats reserved for Hiawatha. This was one of the earliest forms of democracy in the new world. The wars in Iroquois were finally at peace.