Mt. Rushmore was traditionally known as the Six Grandfathers (Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe). Named by Lakota medicine man after a vision of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above, and below; said to represent kindness and love, full of years and wisdom, like human grandfathers.
In 1670 a native American tribe decided to travel to Europe to sell pelts after being scammed by colonists. They built a fleet of canoes, as they thought that England lay just over the horizon so they could easily row there. And the ship that found them and rescued them was a British slave ship. The British who then sold them into slavery.
In 1883 Sitting Bull made a speech in Sioux, not English, to US officials, generals, and railroad barons that began: “I hate all the White people, you are thieves and liars,” and got worse from there. He would stop periodically to smile and bow, and the audience applauded enthusiastically.
Navajo was once in danger of losing a lot of speakers, but the Navajo nation set up programs to teach the language as well as many bilingual schools. Now there are even institutes, community colleges, and technical universities with classes in the Navajo language.
The Navajo have a tradition around celebrating a baby’s first laugh. Around three months, they watch the baby closely for that first real giggle. The person who has the good fortune of eliciting that first laugh is then responsible for throwing a party.
A drug company tried to avoid legal challenges to one of its patents by transferring its patent rights to a Native American tribe (and exclusively licensing them back) so they could claim sovereign immunity against any patent lawsuits. It didn’t work.
150k+ First Nation kids were removed from their homes, over a span of 100 years, in order to “get rid of the Indian problem in Canada”.
Kids from the Ho Chunk nation receive $200,000 upon turning 18 and graduating. The money comes from profits from the casinos. Many of the recipients end up blowing the money fast with little to show for it.
The legendary Johnny Cash fought for the rights of Native Americans and dedicated an entire album to them. Radio stations refused to play any of the album. In retaliation, Cash bought an ad on Billboard asking: “Where are your guts?”
The Ket people is an isolated population of 1200 in Siberia. Their language is strikingly similar in structure to the Native North American languages, and they are one of the last true hunter and gatherer societies on Earth.