第1集 - 《建国史话》系列节目概况
第4集 - 美洲土著居民及其文化
Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English. I'm Shirley Griffith.
This is Rich Kleinfeldt.
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
And this is Sarah Long with the MAKING OF A NATION, a VOA Special English program about the history of the United States. Today, we tell about early Native Americans.
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
And I'm Steve Ember. Today history repeats itself. We start our series over again. The last time we were at the beginning was in February of two thousand three.
Scientists believe that the native peoples of America came here thousands of years ago during the last ice age. These people settled the land from the cold northern areas to the extreme end of South America.
THE MAKING OF A NATION has a loyal following. In fact, listener research finds it the most popular weekly program in VOA Special English.
As the groups of people settled different parts of the land, they developed their own languages, their own cultures and their own religions. Each group's story is important in the history of the Americas. However, it is perhaps the tribes of the central part of the United States that are most recognized. They will be our story today.
It started in May of nineteen sixty-nine. Some people can remember when THE MAKING OF A NATION was on the radio two times a week. People who grew up listening to it are old enough now to listen with their own children, or even their grandchildren.
The series tells a story. You can think of it not just as a series of programs about the history of America and its people, but a series of lessons. The subjects include exploration, revolution, civil war, social and political change, the rise of industry and modern technology, and more.
In eighteen-oh-four, Merriwether Lewis and William Clark led a group of explorers to the Pacific Ocean. They were the first educated Americans to see some of the native tribes of the Great Plains. And they were the first white people these Native American people had ever seen.
We ended last week at program number two hundred thirty-eight. The subject was the presidential election of two thousand four. As time adds to the story, we add new programs to the series.
When the group of explorers neared the eastern side of the great Rocky Mountains, they met with a tribe of Indians called the Shoshoni. Merriwether Lewis was the first to see them.
In a sense, THE MAKING OF A NATION is a living history. Yet some of the announcers are no longer even alive after all these years.
Let us imagine we are with Merriwether Lewis near the Rocky Mountains almost two hundred years ago. Across a small hill, a group of sixty Shoshoni men are riding toward us.
Here and there, too, the language may sound a little dated. For example, some of the programs call black people Negroes. The use of that term may be historically correct, but today the socially accepted name is African-American.
Technology has also changed. Today THE MAKING OF A NATION is not just on radio but also on the Internet. At www.unsv.com, you can download MP3 files and transcripts. That way you can listen anytime or anyplace -- and read along. The site also includes archives, in case you ever miss a program.
The first thing we see is that these men are ready for war. Each is armed with a bow and arrows. Some carry long poles with a sharp knife on the end.
So how was the nation made? Why did loyal citizens rebel against one nation and start their own, with different laws? THE MAKING OF A NATION answers these and other questions about American history.
We tell the story of how a group of farmers, businessmen and lawyers wrote a document they called the Constitution of the United States. On September seventeenth, seventeen eighty-seven, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia met one last time to sign it.
They are riding very fast. Some horses seem to be without riders. But a closer look shows that the men are hanging off the sides, or under the horse's neck. They are using the horses' bodies as protection.
We explain why that document is still extremely important today -- and not just to Americans. Other governments have used it as a guide to creating a modern democracy.
The horses are painted with many different designs that use blue, black, red or other colors. Later we learn that each design has a special meaning for the man who owns the horse. Each one tells a story.
For example, the man riding one horse is a leader during battle. Another has killed an enemy in battle. One of the designs protects the horse and rider.
We explore why the writers of the Constitution included guarantees of freedom of speech and religion, and the right to a fair and public trial.
As they come nearer, the Shoshoni group sees that we are not ready for war. They slow their horses but are still very careful. Merriwether Lewis holds up a open hand as a sign of peace. The leader of the Shoshoni does the same. They come closer.
We also talk about the reasons for the American Revolution. One of the most important was the idea that citizens of a country should have a voice in its decisions.
The Shoshoni are dressed in clothes made from animal skin. Most of these skins are from deer or the American buffalo. The shirts they wear have many designs, and tell stories like the designs on the horses. One shows a man has fought in a battle. Another shows a man has been in many raids to capture horses. Still another shows the man saved the life of a friend.
British citizens in the American colonies paid taxes but had no representatives in the British Parliament. Taxation without representation led to growing anger in the American colonies.
The leaders of the revolt made important changes. They decided that any free citizen could be a candidate for public office. And they made sure that all free men who owned land and paid taxes were permitted to vote.
Captain Lewis smiles at these men. He again makes a hand sign that means peace. The signs are now returned. Lewis and the Shoshoni chief cannot speak each other's language. They can communicate using hand signs.
Not until nineteen twenty did the Constitution give women the right to vote. Later, another change lowered the voting age for Americans from twenty-one to eighteen.
One young Shoshoni man comes near. He drops to the ground from his horse. He is tall and looks strong. His hair is black in color and long. He wears one long bird feather in the back of his hair. Some of his hair is held in place by animal fur.
Our programs explain the thinking behind these and other rights. They also tell the story of each presidential election and presidency in American history.
His arms have been painted with long lines. We learn that each line represents a battle. There are many lines. But we leave the Shoshoni without him adding another one.
THE MAKING OF A NATION explores the good and the bad in American history. For example, how could slavery exist in a nation whose people declared that "all men are created equal" and with a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Many programs tell about the ideas and issues that have shaped the United States. But most importantly, they tell about the people.
The Shoshoni were only one of many tribes of native people who lived in the Great Plains area. The life, culture and society of these tribes developed because of the land that was their home.
The Great Plains today is still huge. Even in a car, traveling at one hundred kilometers an hour, it can take two long days of driving to cross the Great Plains. The plains reach from several hundred kilometers north in Canada across the middle of the continent to Mexico in the south. In the East, the Great Plains begin near the Mississippi River and go west to the huge Rocky Mountains. It is the center of the United States.
For example, George Washington was a farmer before he became a military commander. He became president because the citizens of the new country wanted him as their first leader.
There are big rivers here, deserts and mountains. Other areas are so flat that a person can see for hundreds of kilometers. Millions of kilometers of this land were once covered by a thick ocean of grass.
After two terms, he gave up power by his own choice. He once again became a farmer and a private citizen. In his farewell address in seventeen ninety-six, he warned Americans about the dangers of political parties.