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Myths About Indians

All Indians are alike.

Many non-Indians view Indians or Native Americans as a single group. This is certainly not accurate. There are three very distinct ethnic groups among Native Americans—American Indians, Aleuts and Eskimos. The Aleuts and Eskimos are in Alaska, along with three Indian tribes. Of the 560 federally-recognized tribes, 333 are in the “lower 48 states” and 227 are in Alaska. While there were over 600 distinct native languages at the time of Columbus, today only 150 extant native languages are spoken in tribal communities.

The difference among the tribes is underscored by their ethnocentric focus. Often the name a tribe gives to itself can be translated as “The People” or “the Principal People.” This ethnocentricity is probably why tribes still exist today. Other differences include:
• Religion
• Type and structure of Government
• Size and nature of land base & natural resources
• Unique history
• Unique political relationship with the U.S. Government
• Art forms and culture

Kirke Kickingbird

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