The Hardships of Settlement

New settlers in North America had a difficult time learning how to grow food and harvest crops to sustain their colonies through the land's harsh winters. The Native Americans, on the other hand, were accustomed to the climate and the land's nuances, and were familiar with what types of food were available to them during the different times of the year. They did

RATES (%) OF OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY IN MALE AND FEMALE NATIVE AMERICANS COMPARED TO ALL U.S. RACES

(in years)

Overweight: American Indians/ Alaska Natives (%)

Overweight: all races in U.S. (%)

Obese: American Indians/ Alaska Natives (%)

Obese: all races in U.S. (%)

Males

Total (18+)

33.7

24.1

13.8

9.1

18-24

21.5

13.1

11.0

5.5

25-34

31.8

19.5

11.2

7.6

35-44

37.8

27.0

11.2

10.4

45-54

49.1

33.8

28.2

14.1

55-64

45.5

33.1

16.5

13.0

65 +

25.2

23.0

11.1

5.4

Females

Total (18+)

40.3

25.0

16.6

8.2

18-24

25.2

11.5

11.7

3.9

25-34

45.1

17.4

13.8

6.0

35-44

48.5

28.1

19.7

10.8

45-54

54.0

32.0

18.7

10.9

55-64

45.6

36.2

18.8

11.5

65+

45.6

30.1

20.7

7.7

SOURCE: Broussard, et al. (1991). "Prevalence of Obesity In American Indians and Alaska Natives." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

SOURCE: Broussard, et al. (1991). "Prevalence of Obesity In American Indians and Alaska Natives." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

not go hungry as the settlers did. The Native Americans were skilled agriculturists, nomadic hunters, and food gatherers who lived in relatively egalitarian communities where both the women and men had equal responsibilities.

The portal that Columbus opened when he first stepped foot on the soil of the New World in 1492 triggered a steady influx of European settlers, indelibly affecting the lives of Native Americans. However, it was Thomas Jefferson's purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 that fundamentally changed the course of Native Americans' future in North America. Hoping to expand the nation's size, Jefferson urged the Creek and Cherokee nations of Georgia to relocate to the newly acquired land. This began an era of devastating wars over land. The many years of struggle between Native American tribes and the U.S. government resulted in the near extinction of many Native American tribes.

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