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African Roots, Native Roots

Diverse societies flourished in Africa and the Americas for thousands of years before Europeans colonized them.

In this hemisphere, there were hundreds of Native nations, each with its own spirituality, language, system of government, and land base. In Africa, societies ranged from complex kingdoms to hunter-gatherer communities, with many tribal, religious, and linguistic differences.

But the peoples of these continents had many things in common. Many considered themselves stewards of their ancestral homelands. African and Native groups also held similar ideas about animal spirits, the guiding presence of ancestors, oral traditions, a living world, and extended family relationships.

Fulani Town

Fulani Town, a Fulani village in Guinea, by a European artist, 1500s

Fortified Village

A Fortified Village, a Timucua settlement in Florida, by the French artist Jacques Le Moyne, 1564

In these European views of two villages, the similarities between the two distinct peoples are compelling.

Top: Courtesy Library of Congress, Rare Books Division

Bottom: Courtesy Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida ©2002