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Native Americans Outside of the United States

Native Americans in Canada
In Canada, the most commonly preferred term for Native Americans is 'The First Nations'. First Nations peoples make up approximately 3% of the Canadian population. The official term – that is, the term used by the act regulating benefits received by members of First Nations, and the register defining who is a member of a First Nation – is Indian.

The term First Nations excludes Inuit and Métis, who are instead recognized as aboriginal peoples.

Native Americans in Mexico
The territory of modern-day Mexico was home to numerous Native American civilizations prior to the arrival of the European conquistadors: The Olmecs, who flourished from between 1200 BC to about 800 BC in the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico; the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs, who held sway in the mountains of Oaxaca and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; the Maya in the Yucatán (and into neighbouring areas of contemporary Central America; and, of course, the Aztecs, who, from their central capital at Tenochtitlan, dominated much of the centre and south of the country (and the non-Aztec inhabitants of those areas) when Hernán Cortés first landed at Veracruz.

In contrast to what was the general rule in the rest of North America, the history of the colony of New Spain was one of racial intermingling (mestizaje). Mestizos quickly came to account for a majority of the colony's population; however, significant pockets of pure-blood indígenas (as the native peoples are now known) have survived to the present day.

With mestizos numbering some 60% of the modern population, estimates for the numbers of unmixed Native Americans vary from a very modest 10% to a more liberal (and probably more accurate) 30% of the population. The reason for this discrepancy the Mexican government's policy of using linguistic, rather than racial, criteria as the basis of classification.

In the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca and in the interior of the Yucatán peninsula the majority of the population is indigenous. Large indigenous minorities, including Nahuas, Purépechas, and Mixtecs are also present in the central regions of Mexico. In Northern Mexico indigenous people are a small minority: they are practically absent from the northeast but, in the northwest and central borderlands, include the Tarahumara of Chihuahua and the Yaquis and Seri of Sonora.

While Mexicans are universally proud of their indigenous heritage (generally more so than of their Spanish roots), modern-day indigenous Mexicans are still the target of discrimination and outright racism. In particular, in areas such as Chiapas – most famously, but also in Oaxaca, Puebla, Guerrero, and other remote mountainous parts – indigenous communities have been left on the margins of national development for the past 500 years. Indigenous customs and uses enjoy no official status. The Huichols of the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Zacatecas and Durango are impeded by police forces in their ritual pilgrimages, and their religious observances are interfered with.

Native Americans in Belize
Mestizos (European with Native American) number about 45% of the population; unmixed Mayans make up another 10%.

Native Americans in Guatemala
The Native Americans of Guatemala are of Maya stock. Pure Mayans account for some 45% of the population; although around 40% of the population speaks an indigenous language, those tongues (of which there are more than 20) enjoy no official status.

In 1951 Jacobo Arbenz was elected with popular support due to his land reform policies. "Foreign capital will always be welcome as long as it adjusts to local conditions, remains always subordinate to Guatemalan laws, cooperates with the economic development of the country, and strictly abstains from intervening in the nation’s social and political life." — Arbenz, in his inaugural address.

American corporations didn't like what they heard and by 1954 the CIA was involved in the overthrow of Arbenz and the installation of General Castillo Armas. A long line of dictators followed him as did genocidal policies again the indigenous population to suppress revolutionary movements.

Native Americans in other parts of America
Native Americans make up the majority of the population in Bolivia and Peru, and are a significant element in most other former Spanish colonies. Exceptions to this include Costa Rica, Cuba, Argentina, Dominican Republic, and Uruguay. At least three of the Amerindian languages (Quechua in Peru and Bolivia, Aymara also in Bolivia, and Guarani in Paraguay) are recognized along with Spanish as national languages.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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