The Native American

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The Native American
The story of the Native American — or American Indian — is one that is unique tragic and ultimately inspiring. It is unique because the Indians were the original inhabitants of the American continent and experienced every phase of its European settlement. It is tragic because the conflict between the Indians and whites paralleled the experience of traditional peoples throughout the world who live come in contact with expanding, industrialized societies. It is an inspiring story because the Native Americans, although dispossessed of much of their land in the 19th century, have survived have asserted their political and economic rights, and have succeeded in retaining their identity and culture despite the onslaught of modern civilization.

Today Native Americans are full citizens of the United States. They are proud of their own cultural heritage, which they are trying to protect and maintain it.

Marks of that heritage can be found all over the United States. Many of the names on United States maps — Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas — are Indian words. Indians taught the Europeans how to cultivate crops such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco. Canoes and moccasins are all Indian inventions. Indian hand-crafted artifacts such as pottery, silver jewelry, paintings and woven rugs are highly prized.

About half of the Indians in the United States live in large cities and rural areas scattered throughout the country. The remainder live on about 300 federal reservations (land set aside for their use). Together, the reservations comprise 52.4 million acres (21 million hectares) of land, or about 2.5 percent of the land area in the United States. Most reservations are located west of the Mississippi River.

From 1970 to 1980 the native American population in the United States increased by 72 percent. Today, there are about 1.4 million Native Americans, which is believed to be more than there were when the first European explorers arrived in the New World. At that time, about one million Native Americans were living in North America. These people were soon overwhelmed by a flood of European settlers.

As European civilization spread rapidly across the continent, the native population declined. Decease and warfare took their toll. By 1920, the Indian population had fallen below 350,000. For a time it seemed the Indians would vanish.

The transfer of land from Indian to European — and later American — hands was accomplished through treaties, war and coercion. It was accompanied by a long struggle between the Indian and European ways of life. In many ways the history of the United States is the story of this struggle.

  1. Answer the following questions:

  1. Why is the story of the Native American unique, tragic and inspiring?

  2. What marks of the Indian heritage can be found on the US maps?

  3. What did the Indians teach the Europeans?

  4. Where do the Indians live nowadays?

  5. How many federal reservations are there in the USA?

  6. What danger did the Indians face by 1920?

  7. How was the land transferred from the Indians to the Europeans?

  1. Find the following word combinations in the text. Give Russian equivalents to them:

the original inhabitants of the continent; to come in contact with; to assert political and economic rights; to succeed in smth; to teach smb. smth; to be overwhelmed by smb; the onslaught of modern civilization; cultural heritage; hand-crafted artifacts; rural areas; reservations; European settlers; civilization spread rapidly across the con­tinent; to accomplish ... through treaties.

  1. Make up a plan of the text in the form of questions.

  2. Retell the text, using the plan in Task 4.

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