Native American

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A picture of a Native American

Native Americans (also called Aboriginal Americans, American Indians, Amerindians or indigenous peoples of America) are the people and their descendants, who were in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands when Europeans arrived. There are many different tribes of Native American people, with many different languages. There are more than three million Native Americans in Canada and the U.S. combined. About 51 million Native Americans live in Latin America.

Sometimes these people are called Indians, but this is confusing, because it is the same word used for people from India. When Christopher Columbus explored, he did not know about the Americas. He was in the Caribbean but thought he was in the East Indies, so he called the people Indians.

Many Native Americans died after the Europeans came to the Americas, from diseases that came with the Europeans that were new to the Native Americans, in battle with the Europeans or because the Europeans made them work as slaves. Most of the native people were hurt or killed by settlers who took their lands.

The ancestors of Native Americans came to the Americas from Asia. Some of them may have come to America over 12,000 years ago when Alaska was connected to Siberia by the Bering land bridge.

Some Native American tribes of North America are Cherokee, Iroquois, Maya or Yucatec, Aztecs, Navajo and Sioux.

Some Native American tribes of South America are Aymara, Guarani, Quechua and Tupi.

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