Urban Indians - Great Cities of Native America - Happy American Indian Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 4, 2010 04:30pm | Post a Comment
It's not that surprising, given our Hollywood history of Native Americans, that the media feel it necessary to coin a term like "Urban Indians." Since Native Americans exist in popular culture as stewards of nature who spend their lives camping under the stars and measuring times in "moons," the fact that millions of Native Americans live in cities doesn't jibe with our media-reinforced notions of race as it corresponds to population density. Thus "urban" is shorthand for black and "suburban" means white. Any exceptions would be similarly worth qualifying, like "suburban blacks" or "country Asians" (e.g. Henry Cho).

So anyway, Natives have a long history of being "urban." Before being decimated by disease, warfare, slavery and famine, Natives were responsible for creating some of the biggest, most-populated cities of their day. Here are some of my favorite Native American urban centers...




Caral was inhabited between roughly 2600 BC and 2000 BC and covered 66 hectares. It's one of the oldest towns in the Americas in what's today Peru) and was home to more than 3,000 members of what is now known as the Norte Chico Civilization



Kuelap was a fortress town built by the Chachapoyas, "People of the Clouds," originally to stop the expansion of the Inca Empire and later used to fight the Spaniards. It was built on the edge of a mountain in the 9th century CE (in what's now Peru) and included more than 400 homes, palaces and temples protected by a 70-foot-wall.


Chan Chan

Chan Chan was built by the Chimú in what's today Peru. Chan Chan covered 20 km² and was built around 850. At its height it was home to around 30,000 people. Chan Chan was the capital of their Chimor Kingdom which lasted roughly from 900 CE until 1470, when they were conquered by the imperialistic Inca.

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