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Some examples of American Indian accomplishments.  American Indians contributed much to the world’s common fund of knowledge  Textbooks, novels, movies.

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Presentation on theme: "Some examples of American Indian accomplishments.  American Indians contributed much to the world’s common fund of knowledge  Textbooks, novels, movies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Some examples of American Indian accomplishments.  American Indians contributed much to the world’s common fund of knowledge  Textbooks, novels, movies and television portray the first peoples of the Americas as primitives who were incapable of complex ideas or inventions.

2  On initial contact, Europeans wrote detailed descriptions about the accomplishments of the people they encountered. These accomplishments were often judged to be as good or better than anything in their homelands.

3  Within twenty years after contact, conquistadors and colonists alike denied that the American Indians, whom they had begun calling ‘savages’, were responsible for these accomplishments.

4 Who?  Lost colony of Christians  Lost tribe of Israelites  Hebrews, Phoenicians  Welsh prince, Madoc  Early vanished race of superior people  Alien life-forms from space

5 Example:  The Shoshone invented an effective form of oral contraception.  Were masters of orthopedic techniques.  They practiced asepsis hundreds of years before western medicine found that a sterile field was crucial to surgical success.  Reporter, Mark Twain, saw the Shoshone as “the wretchedest type of mankind I have ever seen ”, a people with no redeeming social value.

6  Indians in the North American Northeast used foxglove [digitalis purpurea] to treat heart problems. They administered it with extreme care since high doses were needed and the plant was highly toxic.  Manioc, a staple food crop, is poisonous in its natural state. 4/5 thousand years ago indigenous people developed a process to detoxify the plant.

7  Indigenous people invented a four-step process to cure vanilla, transforming it into a flavoring ingredient—vanilla processing was not developed in Europe until the 1700’s.  The Andean road system was more extensive than that of Rome.  More than 200 plants that American Indians used as remedies became part of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia.

8  Two of the four places where ‘agriculture’ independently originated in the world are located in the Americas. After contact the introduction of crops that American Indians had cultivated for hundreds of years provided a nutritional boost that caused a population boom in Europe, which had not fully recovered from the bubonic plague two centuries before. Today potatoes, corn, and manioc have become a major source of nutrition for people around the globe.

9  The Maya had wheeled toys but the wheel as a mode of transportation was an inappropriate technology given the lack of suitable draft animals in the Americas so it never really ‘caught on’.  The agave plant provided detergent, syrup, sugar, vinegar, is an antibiotic, roofing tiles, plates, dishes, fences, thorns used for tacks and nails,laxative, treat chapped lips, burns, etc., paper, twine, sandals, used the fibers for cloth, body paint. Today is also used commonly for aloe vera skin soother and tequila.

10  Alpacas were domesticated circa 4000 B.C. also llamas. The former used for wool primarily, the latter used for food and for pack animals.  Historical records: Not only oral tradition but also-petroglyphs, books[ Maya, Aztec,Olmec ], pottery, quipu [knotted string], wampum belts, winter counts [pictures on buffalo hides]  Domesticated: dogs, guinea pigs, llamas, alpacas, turkeys, vicunas, ducks, parrots, bees. [not draft animals—the bison had extremely strong herd instinct and llamas not heavy enough.]

11  Annealing is the process of heating metal until it is red-hot and then allowing it to cool in order to make it soft and malleable years ago around the Great Lakes area, [according to carbon-14 dating] discovered this process that allowed more versatility than that of previous metallurgical technology, such as cold hammering, bending or rolling, all of which cause metals to lose tensile strength and become more brittle.  Aquaculture for at least 3 ½ to 4 thousand years ago including blue-green algae.  Aqueducts ca B.C. Some still in use today.[ Roman aqueducts about 300 B.C.]

12  Architects: [ca. A.D. 600] many buildings show evidence of sophisticated planning— Tlingit, Tsimshian, Haida, Inca, Hohokam, Quecha, Maya, Anasazi, among others.  Treatments for arthritis, asthma, seizures, dental problems, also arthrocentresis [removing fluid from knee joints].  Asphalt—caulking for canoes, on baskets, shell inlay on stone, bone, and wood.

13  Rubber balls, solid and hollow.  Rafts, bridges from balsa wood.[also had suspension bridges] [corbeled arches]  Base 20 mathematical system [31 B.C.E]  Laminated bows; Bow drills  Used the oil from nuts for cooking, lamps, and soap-making

14  Anesthetics: (p.13)  Anesthetics are substances that cause partial or total loss of sensation or loss of consciousness. American Indians used these for surgery.. including brain surgery as early as 1000 B.C.. (Coca, Peyote and datura are three of the many used by American Indians.)  Not until Carl Kohller’s 1884 experiments in Germany did the non-Indian world discover the use of Coca’s anesthetic properties.  Willow contains high levels of acetylsalicylic acid, which is commonly known as aspirin.... American Indians used the tea as a remedy for colic and fever.

15  Antibiotic Medications: ( p.15)  Substances that destroy bacteria. The Aztec used sap from the maguey varieties of AGAVE, to dress wounds, demonstrating a clear knowledge of its ability to prevent and cure infection.

16  Penicillin was used by natives but Europeans, although discovered in 1927, did not use to begin curing or treating infection with this antibiotic until  The Makah used yarrow as an antibiotic. The Zuni used sage to treat foot infections, and American Indians in the Eastern Woodlands and Northwest used cranberries and blueberries for infection cures.

17  Deodorants: (p. 82)  Deodorants are substances that are applied the body to neutralize or mask body odor. The Aztec wore fragrant flowers for this purpose. Indians of the Great Plains also were aware of body odor. They would store sweet grass with their buckskin clothing. In addition, daily bathing was routinely practiced. 

18  Diuretics: (p. 84)  Medications that cause an increase in the output of urine, are routinely prescribed by modern physicians to treat water retention which causes: edema, or swelling. American Indian physicians were knowledgeable about the diuretic properties of various plants. The Blackfeet used juniper and black currant, The Creek used sarsaparilla, and the Dakota preferred wintergreen.

19  Bathing: (p. 132)  Indians throughout the Americas bathed on a daily basis long before contact with the Europeans. This practice included infants, children and adults. Bathing was seen as a good heath practice, both to prevent illness and to help treat illness. American Indians also brushed their teeth on a regular basis.

20  European hygiene habits at that time were much less involved and much less frequent. The Western European attitude toward bathing persisted into the 19th and 20th centuries. They viewed bathing as something that would endanger their heath, rather than improving it. A law passed in Boston as late as 1845 forbade bathing unless a doctor prescribed it.

21  Obstetrics: (p. 189)  Obstetrics is a branch of medicine that is concerned with pregnancy and birth. American Indians developed many techniques to help with the birth process. These included prenatal care, labor induction, remedies for stopping uterine bleeding, pain relief and massage techniques for expelling the placenta. These same practices are used in Modern medicine today.

22  Mesoamerican physicians performed Cesarean sections, which were invented independently from that practiced earlier by the Romans.  The Aztec viewed prenatal care as extremely valuable, and trained midwifes to assist with labor.

23  Asphalt: (p. 22)  The lowest grade of crude oil is called asphalt. Brownish black in color, it is solid or semi-solid. Evidence exists that cultures east of the Missouri river were using it as a waterproofing agent as early as 8000 B.C.. Calking for canoes was one of the most important uses for the substance. The Chumash of Southern California crumbled dry asphalt and heated it with pitch to make the sealant.  The use of asphalt for road surfaces didn’t begin in the United States until 1870.

24  Concrete: (p.68)  Concrete, a mixture of sand or gravel, lime and water is used in construction projects including building and roads. The Maya, whose culture arose in Mesoamerican in about 1500 B.C. are the first indigenous Americans known to make concrete, inventing it independently of the Romans and the Egyptians.

25  Plumbing: (p.208)  Plumbing refers to pipes and fixtures used to conduct water into a building or to remove wastewater. The Olmec, whose culture arose in the Yucatan Peninsula of what is now Mexico in about 1700 B.C., were the first known American Indians to use plumbing. They developed it independently of plumbing systems in the Middle East and Mediterranean and long before the Romans built aqueducts to deliver fresh water to cities they established throughout Europe.

26  The Aztec were very worried about sanitation. Many residences had personal restrooms, and there were public restrooms as well. There were canals for conveying urine out of the community and for bringing fresh water into it. Human waste was transported out of the community manually as well. These canal systems which consisted of dual, plaster-lined canals, allowing one to be cleaned or repaired while the other continued to bring in fresh water.

27  In contrast to the sanitation practices of indigenous Americans, Europeans had made minimal improvements on the plumbing conduits the Romans had built throughout the continent hundreds of years before. In North America, colonists relieved themselves in forests and chamber pots that they emptied on the streets. Outhouses either had a bucket or a pit to hold waste. Boston, one of the first cities to provide water for its dwellings, did so in the mid 1800’s and made pipes out of wood.

28  Basketball (p.28)  Basketball is an all American game that most people believe was invented about 100 years ago. In truth, it was played by American Indians about 3,000 years ago. The Olmec, who lived in what is now southern Mexico and Central America from about 1700 B.C to 400 B.C., originated the game because latex producing trees grew in their area and they had developed the technology to create balls made from rubber.

29  Because this game is the first one known to have used a rubber ball, many anthropologist consider it to be the forerunner of all modern games that use bouncing balls, including basketball, soccer and football.

30  The general reference for this information is The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World.  Additionally, each entry is referenced within the encyclopedia itself giving the sources used in putting together the encyclopedia.


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