Founded by the Great Peacemaker in 1142, the Iroquois Confederacy is the oldest living participatory democracy on earth. The US constitution was inﬂuenced by the political system developed by the Iroquois Confederacy.
The first native to greet the settlers at Plymouth colony not only spoke English, he boldly walked into their camp to say hello and ask if they had beer. His name was Samoset, and along with Squanto, he spent several years teaching the colonists to farm, hunt and survive in the New World.
The Lakota language, spoken by the Lakota people of the Sioux Native American tribes, is gendered and that for ‘Dances With Wolves,’ Kevin Costner and many Native actors spoke the female-gendered language because the language tutor on set was a woman.
In 1763, King George III issued a royal proclamation that forbade British settlement in North America west of the Appalachians, reserving the land for indigenous peoples.
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.