wild rice

Coarse annual grass (Zizania aquatica) of the family Poaceae (or Gramineae) whose grain, now often considered a delicacy, has long been an important food of American Indians. Despite its name, the plant is not related to rice. Wild rice grows naturally in shallow water in marshes and along the shores of streams and lakes in northern central North America. Cultivated varieties are now grown in Minnesota and California. The plant, about 3–10 ft (1–3 m) tall, is topped with a large, open flower cluster. The ripened grains, dark brown to purplish-black, are slender rods 0.4–0.8 in. (1–2 cm) long.

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Nongreen herbaceous plant (Monotropa uniflora) that is saprophytic (living on the remains of dead plants). Clusters grow in moist, shady, wooded areas of North America and Asia. The entire plant is white or grayish, occasionally pink, and turns black as it dries out. A single odourless, cup-shaped flower droops from the tip of a stalk 6–10 in. (15–25 cm) tall. The leaves, which lack chlorophyll and do not perform photosynthesis, are small scales. The name reflects the resemblance of this plant to a miniature Indian peace pipe with its stem stuck in the ground.

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or paintbrush

Any plant of the genus Castilleja (snapdragon family), which contains about 200 species of partially or wholly parasitic wildflowers that obtain nourishment from the roots of other plants. The small, tubular, two-lipped flowers are surrounded by brightly coloured upper leaves, giving the plant the appearance of having been dipped in a pot of red, orange, yellow, pink, or white paint.

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Former territory, U.S. West, including most of modern Oklahoma. The Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, Cherokee, and Chickasaw tribes were forcibly moved to this area between 1830 and 1843, and an 1834 act set aside the land as Indian country. In 1866 its western half was ceded to the U.S.; this portion was opened to white settlers in 1889 and became the Territory of Oklahoma in 1890. The two territories were united and admitted to the Union as the state of Oklahoma in 1907.

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(June 18, 1934) Measure enacted by the U.S. Congress to decrease federal control of American Indians and to increase tribal self-government. The act sought to strengthen tribal structure by encouraging written constitutions and to undo the damage caused by the Dawes General Allotment Act by returning surplus lands to the tribes rather than homesteaders. It gave Indians the power to manage their internal affairs and established a revolving credit fund for tribal land purchases and educational assistance. It remains the basic legislation concerning Indian affairs.

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(May 28, 1830) First major legislation that reversed the U.S. policy of respecting the rights of American Indians. The act granted tribes unsettled western prairie land in exchange for their territories within state borders, mainly in the Southeast. Some tribes refused to trade their land, and U.S. troops forced tribes such as the Cherokee to march westward in what became known as the Trail of Tears (1838–39). In Florida the Seminoles fought resettlement in the Seminole Wars (1835–42).

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Body of salt water stretching between Africa in the west, Australia in the east, Asia in the north, and Antarctica in the south. With an area of 28,360,000 sq mi (73,440,000 sq km), it covers approximately one-seventh of the Earth's surface, and it is the smallest of the world's three major oceans (see Atlantic Ocean; Pacific Ocean). Its greatest depth (24,442 ft [7,450 m]) is in the Java Trench. Its chief marginal seas include the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, Andaman Sea, Bay of Bengal, and the Great Australian Bight. Its major islands and island groups include Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and the Mascarenes.

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or Congress Party

Broadly based political party of India, founded in 1885. The Congress Party was a moderate reform party until 1917, when it was taken over by its “extremist” Home Rule wing (see Bal Gangadhar Tilak). In the 1920s and '30s, under Mohandas K. Gandhi, it promoted noncooperation to protest the feebleness of the constitutional reforms of 1919. During World War II, the party announced that India would not support the war until granted complete independence. In 1947 an Indian independence bill became law, and in 1950 the constitution took effect. Jawaharlal Nehru dominated the party from 1951 to 1964. The Indian National Congress formed most of India's governments from 1947 to 1996, but at the end of the 20th century, its support plummeted. After several years out of power, it returned to government in 2004.

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or Sepoy Mutiny

(1857–58) Widespread rebellion against British rule in India begun by Indian troops (sepoys) in the service of the English East India Company. The mutiny began when sepoys refused to use new rifle cartridges (which were thought to be lubricated with grease containing a mixture of pigs' and cows' lard and thus religiously impure). They were shackled and imprisoned, but their outraged comrades shot their British officers and marched on Delhi. The ensuing fighting was ferocious on both sides and ended in defeat for the mutineers. Its immediate result was that the East India Company was abolished in favour of direct rule of India by the British government; in addition, the British government began a policy of consultation with Indians. British-imposed social measures that had antagonized Hindu society (e.g., a proposed bill that would remove legal obstacles to the remarriage of Hindu women) were also halted.

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or Great Indian Desert

Region of hot, dry desert, northwestern India and southeastern Pakistan. Its undulating surface is composed of sand dunes separated by sandy plains and low, barren hills. Several saline lakes are found there. Covering some 77,000 sq mi (200,000 sq km), it is bordered by the Indus River plain, the Aravalli Range, and the Punjab plain.

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Languages spoken by the original inhabitants of the Americas and the West Indies and by their modern descendants. They display an extraordinary structural range, and no attempt to unite them into a small number of genetic groupings has won general acceptance. Before the arrival of Columbus, more than 300 distinct languages were spoken in North America north of Mexico by an estimated population of two to seven million. Today fewer than 170 languages are spoken, of which the great majority are spoken fluently only by older adults. A few widespread language families (Algonquian, Iroquoian, Siouan, Muskogean, Athabaskan, Uto-Aztecan, Salishan) account for many of the languages of eastern and interior North America, though the far west was an area of extreme diversity (see Hokan; Penutian). It is estimated that in Mexico and northern Central America (Mesoamerica), an estimated 15–20 million people spoke more than 300 languages before Columbus. The large Otomanguean and Maya families and a single language, Nahuatl, shared Mesoamerica with many smaller families and language isolates. More than 10 of these languages and language complexes still have more than 100,000 speakers. South America and the West Indies had an estimated pre-Columbian population of 10–20 million, speaking more than 500 languages. Important language families include Chibchan in Colombia and southern Central America, Quechuan and Aymaran in the Andean region, and Arawakan, Cariban, and Tupian in northern and central lowland South America. Aside from Quechuan and Aymaran, with about 10 million speakers, and the Tupian language Guaraní, most remaining South American Indian languages have very few speakers, and some face certain extinction.

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Civil rights organization founded in 1968, originally to help urban American Indians displaced by government programs. It later broadened its efforts to include demands for economic independence, autonomy over tribal areas, restoration of illegally seized lands, and protection of Indian legal rights and traditional culture. Some of its protest activities involved violence and were highly publicized (see Wounded Knee). Internal strife and the imprisonment of some leaders led to the disbanding of its national leadership in 1978, though local groups have continued to function.

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