The area of what is today Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize was an important and outstanding area where Mayas made their mark. They were great communicators and considered their artists very important elements in their societies. Great pyramids and temples with artistic and historical pictographs are part of their cultural heritage, but also they are still great weavers today.
Mesoamerica was an extensive region extending from the Southwestern region in North America all the way through Central America into Panama. At this point we meet another ancient civilization the Chibchas which occupied the northwestern top of South America in what is today Colombia. They were known as jewelers; their expertise was working with great skill in gold.
Moving further south on the western region of South America we encounter another great civilization, the Incas. They were a powerful and important culture, their influence and kingdom extending through Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile. Their great wealth was in silver and gold, and they were excellent potters as well as weavers.
At the southern most point in the Americas, in what is now Chile and Argentina, there were a group of fierce natives the Araucanians that were never conquered
Another group of natives who maintained their own identity and were able to maintain their culture were the Paranis in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil. Though they were not able to stop the conquering armies of Spain, they maintained their culture and managed to be recognized three hundred years later as a very important segment of the political life in Paraguay.
This leaves the northeastern region of South America, dominated mainly by the Amazon River and what is jungle which was almost impossible to penetrate by the conquerors. The natives of these areas up until fifty years ago had not really been penetrated by modern day societies; their customs and culture were still totally primitive without the influence of conquering cultures. Beautiful feather headdress and customs, as seen in an exhibit at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in l998 expressed their art.
It is believed that the Arawak natives who lived on the coasts of northeastern South America traveled through the strings of islands on the Caribbean Sea and populated the islands where the very first conquerors landed. Their artistic abilities were expressed in woodcarvings and their carved canoes which allowed them to travel freely throughout the islands.
Thus we have a picture and a review of the native populations of the land that was first colonized by Christopher Columbus and those who followed to emasculate the great civilizations native to this new continent.