Native American Features: Physical Features Of Native Americans

Native American Features

Thousands of years before the ships carrying Christopher Columbus and his crew docked in the Bahamas; there was a different group of people who dominated America. These were the nomadic ancestors of the Native Americans we know today who were recorded to have hiked over a land bridge starting from Asia to a place that is now referred to as Alaska over 12,000 years ago. According to estimates, by the time the Europeans arrived, about fifty million people were inhabiting the Americas. Out of this number, about 10 million of them resided in the area that is now known as the United States of America. With time, the migrants and their descendants moved further towards the east and South. Today, we will take a look at the Native American Features and other related matters.

Native American features

Scientists think that there are three races namely the Negroid, Caucasoid and the Mongoloid. As the years passed by with each race settling in different regions, their physical features and skins evolved not only based on the nearby ethnicity but also by their immediate environment. The features of the Native Americans are deeply rooted in the Mongoloid race which features a skull that is quite round just like an egg without possessing the rather large bony upper brow like that of a Negroid skull. It is also not like the large bony upper brow and large jawline of the Caucasians. One distinct thing about the Native American race is that they possess dominant coloration, wide eyes, dark hair, and eyes that are almond-shaped. They also have a language that has the same melody as the Asians.

A Breakdown Of The Physical Traits Of Native Americans

There are quite several traits that suggest that a person has Native American ancestry. First and foremost, the cheekbones are quite high and easily get smudges at the bottom. Native Americans are also known to possess rather large and winged frontal dentition with a gap along. There are shovel-shaped teeth behind the tooth. As for the feet, Native Americans often possess an extra ridge off the bone on the outer part of the foot along with very high arches. It almost seems as though such feet were not created for shoes. One final feature is the presence of crooked fingers.

How Many Native Americans Are In The United States Today?

Based on data by the American Census Bureau, there are currently close to 5 million Alaska Natives and Native Americans in the United States. This stands for almost 2% of the total population.

What Was The State Of The Native Americans Upon The Creation Of The United States?

Upon the creation of the United States of America, the Native American Tribes were viewed as a semi-independent group of people because they resided in areas different from the British settlers. The federal government as at that time put pen to treaties on the government to government basis until the Indian Appropriation act of 1871 came into full force. This ended the recognition of independent native nations at which point they began treating them as domestic independent nations. The law ensured that privileges and rights agreed to under the treaties were preserved. This is the reason why several Native American reservations are viewed as independent of state laws and as such, the actions of such people are only subject to federal law and tribal courts.

What Is The Native American Culture In America?

Native American cultures spread over America are known for a wide array of regalia, lifestyle, beliefs, and art forms. It is a fact that the culture of the indigenous North American people is often defined by the concept of the Pre-Columbian culture. This is the geographical region wherein the shared cultural traits happen. The Northwest area, on one hand, has some shared traits which include salmon fishing, large towns or villages and a hierarchical social setup.

Even though there is a variation in language, cultural features, custom, and clothing, there are some elements which are shared by most of the tribes. For instance, scholars suggest that the Native Americans are a people dominated by clans.

What Was The Effect Of The Colonization Of The Americas By The Europeans?

The colonization of the Europeans on the Native Americans had a profound effect on them in what is referred to as the Columbian exchange. Also referred to as the Columbian interchange, the Columbian exchange involved the transfer of animals, plants, technology, human population and ideas between the Old world and the Americas. The Columbian exchange had a rather negative effect on Native American culture via a clash of culture. This lead to a situation where the European values of the family, private property and labor created some conflicts.

It is, however, important to note that the impact of the Columbian exchange was not entirely negative. For instance, the reintroduction of horses to North America brought a change to the way of life by making hunting, warfare and trading a lot more effective while also ensuring an improvement in the transportation system.

During the early years, as the native people had their encounters with the Europeans, there was an exchange of crafts, food, iron and steel, firearms, and a lot of other items.

What Does Indigenous Mean

The term indigenous simply refers to having the characteristics of a country or region where one originates from. It applies to animals, plants and human beings. It, therefore, suffices to say that no one can originate from a place if his or her ancestors are not from that place. Usually, the term indigenous is referred to in a political and international sense, however, more Native Americans appear to be adopting the term based on being native.

Is There Federal Recognition For The Native Americans?

When the first set of Americans docked at the shores of what is now referred to as the Turtle Island by the Indians, there were several thousand of bands and tribes of indigenous people.  This number, however, saw a drastic reduction with the presence of foreign ailments, government policies, and wars. The ones who survived went ahead to form relationships with the American government using tools like treaties.

Others kept on existing even though the United States refused to give them any form of recognition. These days, America decides which tribes it intends to go into official partnerships with via a process known as Federal recognition. There are about 566 federally recognized tribes in America. Some tribes have state recognition but do not have federal recognition.

What Factors Dictate The Membership Of A Tribe?

The Federal laws state that individual tribes have the full authority to determine what their membership composition would be. It simply means that they can adopt whatever standard to determine who gets the membership. A study showed that about two-thirds of tribes heavily depend on the blood quantum system which is a system that determines if you belong by finding out how closely related you are to a full-blooded ancestor.

The blood quantum system is, however, coming under a lot of criticism because several people view it as a problematic and inadequate way of determining tribal membership. The reason for this is that Indians are known to out marry more than any other group of Americans. However, even though the tribes now have the ability and right to determine who is their member, to determine who an American Indian is can be a rather daunting task. Currently, there are at least 33 legally backed definitions.


Although evolution and adaptation have led to a situation where humans are becoming more alike, it goes without saying that Native Americans will always possess features that stand them out from the crowd. They are a people with a rich cultural heritage that has seen them thrive for several centuries. Natives’ posses a unique type of nose, prominent jawlines which are quite rounded when they are young. They also have little body hair. They also possess a unique kind of hair which often remains black or dark brown for as long as they live. There have also been several notable personalities who have come from the Native American stock and seems like more will likely still come.

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