Credit Where Credit is Due

Dina Hughes, Reporter

Many know a loose version of the history of Thanksgiving, that it was a mutual collaboration between the Pilgrims and Native Americans in which they both benefitted. Native Americans cared for the land and developed here for centuries, inventing tools and objects that eventually benefitted the colonizers. Many of these valuable contributions went unnoticed and uncredited.  A dedication to what Native Americans have invented and how it has impacted the success of America is necessary.

Native Americans influenced many parts of modern America including agricultural practices, medicine, and even our government system. 

Canoes were developed by tribes along the Pacific Northwest including the Chinook, Tlingit, and Haida tribes. The Indigenous who settled in the Caribbean are credited with the creation of Hammocks. The development of rubber was created by those who lived in South America, they learned how to extract sap from the Hevea brasiliensis tree, and turn it into rubber. This is one  of the main materials used in almost everything today.

The Indigneous peoples of America were extremely advanced in their agriculture and are credited with many practices still used today. One of these practices, invented by theIroquois, was called the Three Sisters method. This process involves planting corn, squash, and beans in the same area. They then complement each other in the growing process and help the crops thrive. When colonizers came to the New World, many of them learned this method and depended on it to live in such a different environment. 

Native Americans had a vast and revolutionary knowledge of medicinal practices. According to Technology in America: A Brief History by Alan Marcus. Alexander Wood is credited with inventing the syringe that we use now, the indigenous created the first version of the medical device using small bird bones and animal bladders. 

Native Americans also developed herbal medicine focusing on pain relief especially. This includes using willow bark which includes the same chemical that is used today in Aspirin. The knowledge of plants and herbs extended far beyond pain relief, for thousands of years, they would apply a mixture of plants and water to create homeopathic sunscreen. The modern day tools and medicines that we use are now more safe, however credit should be given to those who created the innovations that were improved.

Many tribes in the Northeast contributed ideas that became fundamental  in the making of America’s government. The inspiration for much of the Constitution and process of our government was called the League of Iroquois. This was an alliance between the Cayuga, the Seneca, the Onondaga, the Mohawk and the Oneida tribes. This Confederacy had a Constitution called the Great Law of Peace which included ideas of democracy, federalism, and  human rights and responsibilities.

Everything was stolen from the Native Americans, all of their innovations and discoveries have been forcefully taken in a way that left them with nothing. It is necessary to recognize where the objects of our everyday use come from and understand the impact they have. Credit needs to be given where credit is due.


Iroquois Tribe lived in settlements called Longhouses, pictured here. (Stock Montage/Getty Images)