New Native Nation Technology

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Ancient Native Americans, Modern Technology
Who Were The Founders of The Technological Era?

By Shelley Garrett Smith

Text Color Code: black = January, 2007; maroon = February,2007; purple = March,2007; green = April, 2007 ; brown = May, 2007; blue = June, 2007; grey = July, 2007; khaki = August, 2007 ; teal = September, 2007 ; ;dark green = October

I was taught in grade school that Native Americans were hopelessly stupid and typically alcoholic yet my Native American father had a college degree and rarely touched alcoholic beverages. Thirty years later my children were taught that Native Americans were simple but noble savages with nothing to offer the modern world but mystical spirituality and pretty beadwork. Something was wrong with the information teachers were getting, but over the years I assumed they would correct that.
Just recently (2007) there was a discussion on a forum in which it was assumed that Europeans invented the modern world and all its technology and that Native American technology had been stone age primitive and 4 thousand years behind that of the European invaders. People were still misinformed about Native Americans, so I set about here to correct some of those misconceptions.
Modern technology developed from scientific discoveries all over the world and continues to advance as communication between people everywhere improves. Author and college instructor Kay Porterfield said, "A case can be made that contact with American Indians actually served as one of the catalysts for the Scientific Revolution in Europe." It was certainly more a meeting of equals than has long been taught in American schools, and much of Native American technology was superior to that of Europe in the 1400s and 1500s.
These are some of the contributions, accomplishments, and inventions of Native America.
Genetic Engineering:
-By the time Columbus landed, North, Meso-, and South American natives had developed at least 3,000 varieties of potatoes to suit a number of climates and had domesticated at least 300 grasses.
In contrast, European interest in plant genetics remained indifferent until the 20th century.
Non-Indians in the Americas have not discovered one important plant that was not first discovered and developed by native peoples.
-Corn does not exist in the wild and cannot survive without human care. It was engineered from a wild grass called teosinte 7 thousand years ago. Corn yields more grain per acre than any other cereal. (Other grains, such as wheat and barley, are slightly modified versions of wild plants that do exist in fully usable form in the wild and were first domesticated in 6,000 BC in Sumer, a country in what is now Iraq.)
Urban Development/Planning:
First people in the world to have mandatory education were those living in Tenochtitlan.
The road systems of the ancient Andeans were more sophisticated than those of Rome.
The grid pattern for urban planning originated with American Indians.
Pre-contact Calusa at Key Mound in Florida constructed urban areas on manmade islands.
-New World cities first appeared in Peru in 3000 BC (Old World cities first appeared in Sumer in 4000 BC)
-The Aztec capital, with a population of 250,000, was larger than any city of continental Europe at the time of contact. Cahokia had 20,000 residents at about the year 1200, larger than the City of London at that time.
-The Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, had running water, and botanical gardens unlike any capital in Europe. There was an organized force of a thousand public works employees that kept the crowded streets immaculate. (Conquistadors had never heard of city streets that weren't ankle-deep in sewage.)
Architecture:
-The Wampanoag traditional wetu (a type of dome home), made of cedar saplings covered with bark, works like a convection oven--it's so efficient that one can stand inside it in January without a coat.
-New World pyramids were first built in Peru 5 thousand years ago. (Old World pyramids were first built in Egypt nearly 500 years later.)
-Dome homes, a 20th century marvel of energy efficiency, were actually an ancient architecture common in Native America.
-Central heating is still not that common in buildings on the British Isles. The late Dr. Howard Hayden, a Thermodynamics specialist in the Physics Department at University of Connecticut, said, “Tipi dwellers are basically living in the chimney, a most direct form of central heating.”
Mathematics:
- The Peruvian abacus, the yupana, based calculations on the Fibonacci sequence and algebraic powers of 10, 20 and 40 as place values.
- The concept of the feed-back loop and the elements of Chaos Theory (attributed to Jacques Hadamard in 1898], both important to modern social and material sciences, economics, mathematics and business management, are ingrained in Native American traditional thought.
-The Olmecs discovered zero more than 600 years before India and more than 1200 years before Europeans.
-By 1000 AD the Aztec, Mayans, and Incas all had a calculator, called an abacus after the Chinese type invented earlier. It was entirely different in construction and used base 20 mathematics, indicating it was an independent invention.
-The Lakota used a complex geometry and several types of sundials in their annual migrations and to determine the proper annual, monthly, daily and hourly times for certain ceremonies.
- In the traditional Cayuga version of the game Dish, in which six peach stones blackened on one side are tossed, the point scores for each outcome of the toss are the exact whole number values calculated by probability theory.
-The Mayans had a 360-day calendar. By the 5th century B.C. Native American calendars were so precise that they were less than 20 minutes off.
Writing:
-Many pre-contact Native Americans had their own writing systems in South and Central America; including the Aztec, the Mixtec, the Zapotec, the Teotihuacano, the Ñuiñe, the Xochicalco, the Mixteca-Puebla, the Olmec, the Epi-Olmec ,the Izapan, the Maya, and the Inca.
In North America there were writing systems or standardized proto-writing systems among the Navajo, the Hopi, the Pueblo, the Ojibwa, the Lakota, the Dakota, the Nakota, the Lenapi, the Abenaki, the Winnebago, the Potawatomi and the Zuni; probably also among the Miqmac and the Cree, and possibly also among the Cherokee.
The Caral of South America developed a unique symbolic-communication system using knots at designated spaces in colored cords that served the same function and conveyed the same types of information as writing at 4600 years ago, only slightly later than cuneiform, the first old world writing system at 3000 years BC.
Astronomy:
-Ancient Native Americans knew the existence of a black hole in the Big Dipper. NASA only discovered it a few years ago.
- The ancestors of the Lakota knew that the earth is a body existing in space like stars, the sun and the other planets.
-Native American observatories existed pre-contact at Moose Mountain and Minton, Saskatchewan, 2,000 years ago in Medicine Mountain, Wyoming, at 2,500 to 3,000 BC in the Eastern US Woodlands and at other sites in North, Central and South America. These complicated constructs had accurate means of tracking the movement of sun, moon, planets, and stars.
Medicine:
- In 1519 the Mexica ("Aztec") physicians had a better understanding of the heart and circulatory system than Europeans. they also developed arthrocentesis, an operation to remove excess fluid from the knee joint. hundreds of years before Europeans and performed cataract removal with obsidian blades.
- Until 1850 most shoes were made with no difference between the right and the left shoe. Even since the advent of right and left fit, shoes have warped the “form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement”. In contrast, most moccasins custom fit specifically to the right and left foot. Podiatrist William A. Rossi, D.P.M., said “…the closest we have ever come to an "ideal" shoe was … the moccasin, … perfect in biomechanical function, and (with) no encumbrances to the foot or gait.”
- Diabetes medication was available to Native American diabetics by 1500 AD. (Europeans did not have a medication for this until the 1921-22 isolation of insulin; until then everyone with type I diabetes died.)
- Well before 1492, Native Americans were commonly changing and cleaning their infants at least once a day, sometimes more often. Soiled diapering material was disposed of and replaced with fresh clean material. (Medieval European babies were diapered in swaddling cloths, which remained unchanged for months. Bathing at that time was considered "the prelude to evil", although the monks at Cluny were required to bathe twice a year. By the 1600s the diapers of European infants were changed more frequently, but still not for several days at a time. Although the more progressive nobility sometimes bathed themselves as often as once a week, bathing infants was generally thought to be ill-advised because it was believed to "open the pores to the disease". Until sometime in the 1800s diapers were customarily dried but not washed before re-use. By the mid-1800s, common people now often bathed their infants and themselves once a week. Diaper rash and other skin maladies connected with soiled diapers can cause pain and scarring, and develop into life-threatening conditions.)
-The Incas invented and routinely used anesthetics as early as 1000 BC. Western physicians did not commonly use anesthetics until the 1800s AD.
-At about 1600 Eastcoast Native Americans successfully treated Europeans (who did not come up with their own cure until 1747) for scurvy.
-Western scientists did not invent oral birth control until 1950, although the Greeks in 600 BC claimed a rare plant grown only in what is now Libya probably did the trick. Native Americans had oral birth control before 1500.
-Pre-contact Native American healers understood the importance of keeping wounds sterile and used antiseptics. (Joseph Lister is credited with these discoveries in the 1800s)
-The Kwakiutl had invented antibiotics long before Sir Alexander Fleming noticed penicillin in 1928.
-The Aztecs conducted clinical trials of drugs in the 1500s.
-Indians in the North American Northeast first used digitalis to treat heart problems.
-Native Americans invented the medical syringe.
-The U.S. Pharmacopoeia, an official listing of all effective medicines and their uses, listed 200 American Indian botanical remedies including aspirin, quinine and ipecac.
-The Indians met by the Pilgrims bathed regularly and noted that the Pilgrims did not; Spaniards, who seldom if ever bathed, were amazed by the Aztec desire for personal cleanliness.
-Many prehistoric Andeans treated head injury and its complications with trephination (removing pieces of the skull). Evidence of long-term healing was present in 71 percent of Inca samples (500 BC) --a record Western medicine did not match in cranial surgery until the 20th century.
- The Navajo practiced systematic quarantine proceedures by isolating diseased people in "Male " hogans, which could later be purified. "Female" hogans, used for everyday living, thereby remained uncontaminated. This equated with the European practice of une quarantaine de jours begun in the 1300s.
Chemistry:
- Native Americans in prehistoric times developed a red dye called cochineal. In the 1700s this was the substance used to dye the red British uniforms.
- Native Americans invented petroleum jelly.
-The Ojibwa, the Blackfoot and the Kutenai contributed balsam to the science of hair conditioning. Other Native Americans contributed Jojoba.
-The Mayans were the first people to use latex gum.
-Four to five thousand years ago Native Americans discovered a process to detoxify manioc and began cultivating and eating it.
-Before 1500, Native Americans of Mesoamerica invented a four-step process to produce the flavoring vanilla. (Europeans did not figure out the process until the 1700s.)
-The Chinchoro in Chile were embalming and mummifying their dead by 5000 B.C., making them the world's earliest embalmers. (Egyptians began chemically and mechanically preserving their dead around 2000 B.C.)
-The Mayan people in Mesoamerica made and used rubber as long ago as 1600 BC. Pre-Columbian peoples of South and Central America and Haiti used rubber for containers, and shoes. They also waterproofed fabrics with it. The Olmec were the first people to use rubber balloons in B.C 1700 in the Yucatan Peninsula. A form of basketball was also played by the Olmec 3,000 years ago, following their creation of the rubber ball.
Geology:
-At the time of European contact in 1500 the Siouans who became the Lakota had long known that the world was round. (This was a fairly new concept to Europeans at that time, who had only recently uncovered the earlier Greek discovery.)
Physics:
-Cedar wood’s negative charge repels lightening strikes and it was commonly used in fires for this by Native Americans who lived where it grows.
-Concepts in modern physics found in traditional Native American thought:
* There is an implicate order to the universe.
* Everything that exists vibrates.
* Everything is in flux.
* The Principle of Complementarity.
* Quantum Potential.
-The Moche produced electricity by dipping copper into an acid solution somewhere between 200 B.C. and 600 A.D.
Metallurgy:
- Natives in the Andes used "authomatic" furnaces with what was essentially an automatic bellows that captured the winds of the upper mountains in order to raise smelting temperatures to high levels.
-Native Americans in the Great Lakes region of North America at 7,000 years ago were probably the oldest metal workers in the world. They also developed annealing.
-Other Native Americans and the Inuit in the Arctic and the Northwest Coast were making objects of hammered meteoric iron and copper before contact with Europeans.
-Native Americans in Middle America and South America smelted and made alloys of gold, copper, and silver long before 1500 AD
-The Chavin Indians of South America invented welding about 3 thousand years ago.
-Other pre-Columbian Native Americans knew how to solder, make foil, and make and use rivets to fasten metal together.
-Pre-contact Native Americans in Ecuador and Guatemala used a technique called sintering to work with platinum, a metal with an extremely high melting point. (Europeans could not work platinum until the 19th century.)
Transportation:
-The Haida developed masterpieces of marine engineering: canoes whose shape and mass enabled high speed across the ocean and long voyages without exhaustion.
Another Haida science was a way of navigating over long distances using patterns of stars, the pattern of waves and the direction of the wind.
-The massive Iroquois freight canoes were thirty feet long, had a capacity of 1 ton (or 18 passengers) and yet were so lightweight that, when emptied, they could be portaged by just three people.
-The Maya independently invented the wheel.
-The Inca built suspension bridges.
-Indian birch-bark canoes were faster and more maneuverable than any small European boat. In 1605 three Indians in a canoe literally paddled circles around the lumbering dory paddled by George Weymouth and his crew of seven.
-Europeans first encountered the Inca on an Inca ship sailing 300 miles from its homeport, under fine cotton sails. The size of a Spanish caravel, it carried a crew of 20.
- Snowshoes were invented by Native Americans.
- Inuits invented toboggans.
Agriculture:
-As much as two-thirds of the continental United States had once been farmed, the lands terraced, irrigated and/or built into settlements by the time European explorers arrived.
-American Indians of North, Meso-, and South America were the first to domesticate 60 percent of the food we eat today around the world; including pinto beans, tepary beans, lima beans, black raspberry, strawberry, tapioca, bell peppers, jalapeños, paprika, chili peppers, allspice, papaya, guava fruit, quinoa, yerba buena, lemon verbena, jerusalem artichoke, stevia sweetener. achiote, annatto, Maize (corn), Potato (3,000 varieties), Sweet potato, Chenopods, Manioc/Cassava, Avocado, Tomato, Pineapple, Sunflower, Peanut/Groundnut, and Cocoa/Chocolate, chicle (gum of the sapodilla--chief ingredient of chewing gum), artichokes, cashews, and maple syrup and maple sugar, kidney beans, navy beans, green beans, black beans, butter beans, great northern beans, wax beans, zuchini, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, crookneck squash, summer squash, winter squash, butterbut squash, green peppers, banana peppers, passion fruit, vanilla, hickory nuts, cayenne peppers, pumpkin, wild rice, persimmons, arrowroot, blueberry, cranberry, sassafras (Tea, & flavoring of Root Beer), catnip, wintergreen, pecan, beechnut
-Several other plants and animals first domesticated by Native Americans include tobacco, a form of cotton, aloe vera, guinea pigs, balsa wood, gourds and turkeys. Indigenous people from Peru domesticated llamas around 5000 B.C. Modern dogs bred by native Americans pre-contact include the xochiocoyotl (coyote), Mexican hairless, chihuahua, the Carolina dog, and the Alaskan malamute. Several other Native American dog breeds are now extinct. After contact, Native Americans created two unique horse breeds popular today; the Appaloosa and the Pinto.
-In Mesoamerica Maize was grown in an intricate system of planting multiple crops together that would be nutritionally and environmentally complementary. In North America the Native American three sisters method combined physical and bio-chemical properties of maize, beans and squash in polyculture agriculture. This is now known as companion planting, a technique widely encouraged in the 1970s as part of the modern organic gardening movement.
-Native Americans set annual fires to reduce underbrush, encourage nut-bearing trees and open the land to berry bushes that fed sizable herds of deer. In this way Indians retooled entire ecosystems to grow bumper crops of elk, deer, and bison.
-North American Indian maize agriculture used sophisticated techniques that kept the land fertile in ways that Europeans had not seen. In the Amazon River basin, they added charcoal and fish fertilizer to improve huge tracts of soil.
-Pre-contact Amazonian Indians centered their agriculture on the Amazon's extremely diverse assortment of fruit, nut, and palm trees, gaining twenty years of productivity out of their work instead of two or three. In pre-Columbian California there once were vast acorn orchards, painstakingly tended by Native Americans (acorns are edible and nutritious if processed to remove toxins).
Miscellaneous Native American
Contributions to the Modern World:
- hominy
- hominy grits
- tortillas
- mesquite
- the bola
- clamchowder
- the marimba
- shinny
- the threaded screw-top jar
- button hummers
- First person to die in the
Revolutionary War - Crispus
Attucks, whose mother was
a Natick Indian.
- mezcal
- tequila
- brer rabbit,
a blend of Native American
and African folktales
- kayaks
- peanut butter,
attributed as the invention of
an unknown doctor in 1890,
was made by Incas as early
as 950 B.C.
- barbecues
- field hockey
- parkas
- potato chips
- sarsaparilla
- cigars
- chewing gum,
introduced to colonists by New
England American Indians and
at that time made of sap from
spruce trees
- lacrosse
- popcorn
- ginger beer
- camoflage
- blow guns
- tabasco sauce
- clambakes
- hammocks,
later adopted by Europeans for
use onboard their ships
- maracas
- birch beer
- duck decoys
- ponchos,
claimed by some as a 16th century
European invention but found in
Peruvian archeological sites
dated at 200 BC
- sports helmets
- snow goggles
- moccasins
- root beer
- salsa
Miscellaneous Independent Inventions of Native America
- fetilizer
- gloves
- lawn darts
- stone masonry
- badminton
- the fiddle
- Tic-Tac-Toe
- juggling
- rattles
- the bullroarer
- flutes
- multistory apartment buildings
- dentistry, including silver fillings
- freeze-dried food
- pickup sticks
- tweezers
- toothpaste
- distillation
- pipes for smoking
- the bow and arrow
- the weaving loom
- sandals
- accounting in commerce
- accurate land records
- public management through the use of orderly, precise records
- pottery
- concrete
- asphalt
- umbrellas
- tax systems
- scales
- optics
- aquaducts
- bath soap
- labor laws
- textiles, including lace
- lamination
- sign language
- laundry detergent
- libraries
- lighthouses
- insect repellents
- board games
- mirrors
- toothbrushes
- scalpels
- gears
- government-funded hospitals
- stockaded forts
- semi–subterranean structures
- shampoo
- the use of tar for waterproofing
- paper
Modern Native American Place Names
Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
Connecticut Illinois Iowa Kansas
Kentucky Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Nebraska North & South Dakota
Ohio Oklahoma Tennessee Texas
Utah Wisconsin Wyoming Chesapeake
Mexico & New Mexico Idaho Chicago Ottowa
Adirondack Appalachian Allegheny Okefinokee
Malibu Seattle Tacoma Oshkosh
Niagara Ontario Québec Saskatchewan
Yosemite Appomattox Manhattan Alcatraz
Tulsa Walla Walla Canada Muskogee
Manitoba

Erie

Kalamazoo

and countless counties, rivers,
and other landmarks,
countries, provinces and cities.

Windham County Algonquian Placenames
as Locational Markers in Subsistence Rounds

A study of how place names can be used to discover the past.

Ancient Architects of Georgia
free read online book
Prehistoric Textile Fabrics of the United States
Native American Words
Now Part of Modern English
abalone alpaca anorak atlatl caribou carnauba cassava cashew jaguar jerky kayak lagniappe lima llama macaw
avocado barbecue bayou buccaneer cayenne cavy chocolate chigger chili chinchilla chipmunk cigar caiman cannibal canoe
caucus husky igloo iguana ipecac cocoa condor copal cougar coyote curare dory enchilada grouper guacamole
guano guarana gaucho guava hammock high muckamuck tobacco tomahawk toboggan tomato hickory hoatzin hominy hurricane ocelot
opossum papaya parka maize malamute mangrove manioc maraca mescal mesquite moccasin moose mugwump mukluk muskrat
poncho potato potlatch powwow pawpaw pecan peccary persimmon sagamore totem hey chinook petunia peyote piranha
pirogue sachem okay blizzard wampum puma quahog quinine raccoon podunk manatee yankee pone saguaro sasquatch
savannah shack Winona woodchuck yucca uh-uh shark skunk squash sockeye tonka toucan vicuña wapiti succotash
tamale tamarack tamarin tanager tapioca tapir terrapin mahogany


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http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/IroquoisVillage/villagethree.html
http://www.diaperjungle.com/history-of-diapers.html
http://www.mapleridge.org/community/heritage/bathrooms_bathing.html
http://www.cleaning101.com/sdalatest/html/soaphistory1.htm
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http://www.sacklunch.net/placenames/A/AlleghanyorAllegheny.html
http://www.sacklunch.net/placenames/A/AppalachianMountains.html
http://www.sacklunch.net/placenames/O/OkefinokeeSwampGeorgia.html
http://www.sacklunch.net/placenames/Y/Yosemite.html
http://www.sacklunch.net/placenames/A/Appomattox.html
http://www.sacklunch.net/placenames/I/Idaho.html
http://www.sacklunch.net/placenames/K/Kalamazoo.html
http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=3708&term_type_id=2&term_type_text=Places&letter=O
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