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" Estimates of the pre-Columbian population of what today constitutes the U. vary significantly, ranging from William M Denevan's 3.8 million in his 1992 work The Native Population of the Americas in 1492, to 18 million in Henry F Dobyns's Their Number Become Thinned (1983). or forced) became a consistent policy through American administrations.
After the thirteen colonies revolted against Great Britain and established the United States, President George Washington and Henry Knox conceived of the idea of "civilizing" Native Americans in preparation for assimilation as U. During the 19th century, the ideology of manifest destiny became integral to the American nationalist movement. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, authorizing the government to relocate Native Americans from their homelands within established states to lands west of the Mississippi River, accommodating European-American expansion.
While technically referring to the era before Christopher Columbus' voyages of 1492 to 1504, in practice the term usually includes the history of American indigenous cultures until they were conquered or significantly influenced by Europeans, even if this happened decades or even centuries after Columbus' initial landing.
Native American cultures are not normally included in characterizations of advanced stone age cultures as "Neolithic," which is a category that more often includes only the cultures in Eurasia, Africa, and other regions.
The majority of Indigenous American tribes maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for use of the entire tribe.
Europeans at that time had patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights with respect to land that were extremely different.
Even before the European settlement of what is now the United States, Native Americans suffered high fatalities from contact with new European diseases, to which they had not yet acquired immunity; the diseases were endemic to the Spanish and other Europeans, and spread by direct contact and likely through pigs that escaped from expeditions.
At the time of the first contact, the indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-industrial and mostly Christian immigrants.
Some Northeastern and Southwestern cultures, in particular, were matrilineal and operated on a more collective basis than the Europeans were familiar with.
Expansion of European-American populations to the west after the American Revolution resulted in increasing pressure on Native American lands, warfare between the groups, and rising tensions. This resulted in the ethnic cleansing of many tribes, with the brutal, forced marches coming to be known as The Trail of Tears.
As American expansion reached into the West, settler and miner migrants came into increasing conflict with the Great Basin, Great Plains, and other Western tribes. Contemporary Native Americans have a unique relationship with the United States because they may be members of nations, tribes, or bands with sovereignty and treaty rights.