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Native Americans

  • By: Barbara Gurr
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The term Native Americans refers specifically to the descendants of people living in what is now the contiguous United States prior to the mass arrival of settlers from other continents. The United States Census combines Native Americans and Alaskan Natives for statistical purposes, although each tribal nation is culturally, linguistically, and politically distinct. Native Americans is also used to refer to indigenous peoples from Central and South America. Other terms to refer to Native Americans include American Indian, Indian, Amerindian, Native, and Indigenous. Generally speaking, Native Americans prefer their individual tribal affiliation over the more general term of Native Americans.

Traditional Social Systems and Change

Historically, the social, political, and economic systems of Native American culture groups were tremendously diverse, ranging from hierarchical systems based on ...

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