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American life    .

American Indians - who are they?

 A short text in intermediate level English .

Sometimes they are called "native Americans", sometimes "Amerindians"; but much of the time they are known as American Indians. These are the people whose ancestors lived in North America before the first Europeans arrived.
    
American Indian in ceremonial costume
An American Indian in traditional dress... for a special occasion.
 Once, before Europeans began moving to North America in the 16th century, the continent was inhabited by a small number of native tribes. Some of these were sedentary, living in established villages; but most of these "Indians" were nomadic people, living in teepees or other movable homes. The first European settlers called them "Indians", because they had dark skin like people from India.

Although these "Indians" had nothing to do with India, the name remained, and is still used today. The word "Indian" is still used in many official contexts, even by Indians themselves; but several other terms are also used, including "Native Americans".

Five hundred years ago, when the first Europeans reached North America, there were about ten million Native Americans living north of today's Mexican border.

In three hundred years, their population fell to less than half a million. Many were killed in battles, but the biggest cause of their decline was disease. European settlers brought diseases with them from Europe, which were fatal to American Indians. Whole tribes disappeared, after catching diseases from European settlers.

Since the twentieth century, the Native American population has been growing again, and today there are over two and a half million Native Americans in the U.S.A. (The exact number depends on how the term "native Americans" is defined.)  Indians can be found in all parts of American society, including the federal administration

American Indians in politics
Deb Haaland (in blue) is a Native American from New Mexico; she is Secretary of the Interior, one of the top positions in the US Administration.

About a quarter of all Indians live on "reservations". These are large areas of land controlled by Indian nations. In many cases, Indians living on these reservations do not pay taxes to the U.S. government, nor to the states in which they are situated. Reservations have their own laws and their own administration.

However most Reservations are in poor parts of the western U.S.A., and the people who live there cannot earn a lot of money, even when they can find a job. Unemployment is a serious problem on many reservations, and on average (on reservations or off them) Indians earn 30% less money than white Americans. On reservations, poverty is a serious problem.

Here and there, on the other hand, Indian communities have started to operate profitable businesses. Many reservations now have "Indian Bingo", casinos that offer super prizes. They can offer bigger prizes than non-Indian casinos, because they do not pay state taxes! On other reservations, Indians operate factories, big supermarkets, farms, and other businesses.

Tourism and Native American culture are also important activities in some places. Indians are proud of their historic culture, and enjoy celebrating their traditions.

Today, the situation of Native Americans is slowly improving. Today's young Indians are better educated than their ancestors, and have plenty of ideas. They are looking forward to a future that is better than their past.

 

Word guide
WORD GUIDE (A - Z)
border: frontier - contexts; names, documents - disease: illness, sickness - factory: industrial building - inhabit: live in - natives: people born in a place - on average: generally - sedentary: living in fixed homes - settler: person who comes to live in a place - tribe: clan, large group of people - unemployment: not having a job


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Student Worksheet

American Indians - who are they?

Interactive - replace the words that are missing from this extract from the article.

    Since the twentieth century, the Native American population has been  again, and today there are over two and a half  Native Americans in the U.S.A. (The exact number depends  how the term "native Americans" is defined.)  Indians can be found in all parts of American society,  the federal administration.
   About a quarter or all Indians live on "reservations". These are large  of land controlled by Indian nations. In many cases, Indians  on these reservations do not pay taxes to the U.S. government,  to the states in  they are situated. Reservations have laws and their  administration.

   However most Reservations are in poor parts of the western U.S.A., and the people who live  cannot  a lot of money,  when they can find a job. Unemployment is a serious problem on many reservations, and on  (on reservations or  them) Indians earn 30%  money than white Americans. On reservations,  is a serious problem.

Interactive  - Questions from answers


Write appropriate questions for each of the answers provided, using the prompts given

1. Why
    Because they had dark skins, like people from India.

1. How many
    About ten million.

1. How many
    Over two and a half million.

1. What proportion
    About a quarter.

1. Do
    No, they earn about 30% less than the national average.
.
1. Why
    Because they do not pay state taxes.

Teachers:

The exercises above can be used individually by students, or else used as class exercises if projected onto an interactive whiteboard.
If your classroom is suitably equipped, open up this document twice, in two windows;  project the text in one window and the interactive exercises in the other, placing them side by side.

Pay attention to the examples of the words there and their. These two words are frequently confused, even by native English speakers. Pay attention also  to the word million used in the plural within a number; remind pupils that no s is required in numbers. See grammar, numbers. This second point is featured in both of the exercises above.


This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress renewed 2022
Fully revised from an item originally published in Horizon, the Low-intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised



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