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Young Navajo Siblings Riding Their Horses

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Indigenous Peoples’ Day finally allows us to highlight Native Americans and their contributions to American society.

October 8, 2021, Joe Biden became the first president to acknowledge the holiday declaring it a national holiday, which we now celebrate on October 11. In a proclamation Biden said, “On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.”

The indigenous Americans helped shape everything we know about agriculture. They’ve influenced our art, our music, and even our way of life.

According to the USDA, 60% of the present world’s food supply comes from the American Indians’ agriculture, primarily consisting of corn and the so-called “Irish” potatoes. We’ve used their names for states, cities, streets, lakes, mountains, and rivers. Almost half of our states have Indian names. Indian lore taught us how to fish and hunt, and live off the land. Their teachings laid the foundation for groups like the Boys Scouts & Girls Scouts of America.

The U.S. Democracy was even influenced by Inca, Mayan, and Aztec culture. Many concepts in the United States Constitution can be traced back to the Iroquois Confederacy of 1142, the oldest living participatory democracy on earth.

Early Indians were Americans’ first explorers, traveling the northern and Southern Hemispheres, building pathways that would lead to our first roads and railways. Their historic knowledge of plant life would lead to our medicines, soaps, and clothes. American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have given so much to this country. Their contributions are invaluable and we wouldn’t have a country without them.

Quechua woman with alpaca wool and tool to spin it into yarn; El Parador de Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru.

Source: Greg Vaughn / VWPics / Getty

Here are 10 things you would have without indigenous people:

  1. The log cabin was an adaptation of the Indian log or longhouse
  2. Canoeing, lacrosse, and tug-of-war were sports created by Native Americans
  3. Corn, 14 different beans, maple syrup, wild rice, pumpkin, and avocado all started with Native American farmers.
  4. Native Americans invented the first Chewing gum
  5. Although snowshoes were invented in Central Asia, it was adopted by Native Americans in the Great Lakes region of the early Americas. They evolved the shoe into what it is today.
  6. Barbecues, hammocks, kayaks, and moccasins are all Native American words adopted into our modern culture.
  7. Native Americans developed and communicated with sign language. They used a system of hand signals to facilitate trades and other communications with other tribes.
  8. Tobacco, cigars, and pipe smoking we’re rich Native American traditions.
  9. Cotton was originally a Native American resource. Europeans saw its value and created an entire slave trade to produce it on a national scale.
  10. Native Americans were the first known culture to use rubber. They used it to make containers, as well as a ball they played games with.


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Indigenous Peoples’ Day: 10 Things You Wouldn’t Have Without Native Americans  was originally published on