Native Americans were the first occupants of the American continent and their descendants. In 1492, explorer Christopher Columbus think I have reached the West Indies when he has arrived in America. Because of this error, we continue to use the word "Indian" to refer to people of the New World. With the work of cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in the early sixteenth century, we begin to talk about "American continent", in honor of Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, its inhabitants become the "American Indian" to distinguish populations of India.
In the absence of consensus that makes name sometimes used expressions "First Nations" or "first peoples". The phrase "Red Indians" is old and is never used in the U.S. where the preferred expressions Native Americans (Native Americans), Native peoples (indigenous origin), American Indians (Native Americans ), First Nations (First Nations), Aboriginal Peoples (Aboriginal peoples), Indigenous Peoples of America (Indigenous Peoples of America), Amerindians (Native Americans) or Amerinds, but none is really satisfactory because of the diversity of people and because they reject them and prefer to use their name or nation tribune 1.
The arrival of Europeans in North America from the sixteenth century caused a significant impact on Native Americans: their numbers have collapsed because of disease, war and abuse. Their lifestyle and culture underwent mutations. With the advance of the frontier and the settlement of white Americans, they lost most of their territory, were forced to integrate reserves. Their demographic, social and economic stopped deteriorating. Since the 1970s, the Indian community is experiencing a certain revival: population increase, poverty declined slowly revive traditions. If the Indians are now full citizens, they are still lagging behind the U.S. development.