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This unifying concept, codified in law, religion, and politics, was not originally accepted by the myriad groups of indigenous peoples themselves, but has since been embraced by many over the last two centuries.
The impact of their agricultural endowment to the world is a testament to their time and work in reshaping and cultivating the flora indigenous to the Americas.
Although some societies depended heavily on agriculture, others practiced a mix of farming, hunting, and gathering.
In some regions the indigenous peoples created monumental architecture, large-scale organized cities, chiefdoms, states, and empires.
Many parts of the Americas are still populated by indigenous peoples; some countries have sizable populations, especially Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Greenland, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian peoples of the Americans and their descendants. "indigenous peoples") is a common term in Spanish-speaking countries, and pueblos nativos or nativos (lit.
"native peoples" in the sense of descendants of non-immigrants) may also be heard, while aborigen (aborigine) is used in Argentina, and pueblos aborígenes (aboriginal peoples) is common in Chile.
The term "Amerindian" (short for "'Indians' of the Americas)" is used in Quebec, The Guianas, and the English-speaking Caribbean.
Indigenous peoples are commonly known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, which includes not only First Nations and Arctic Inuit, but also the minority population of First Nations-European mixed-race Métis people who identify culturally and ethnically with indigenous peoplehood.
This is contrasted, for instance, to the American Indian-European mixed-race mestizos of Hispanic America (caboclos in Brazil) who, with their larger population (in most Latin American countries constituting either outright majorities, pluralities, or at the least large minorities), identify largely as a new ethnic group distinct from both Europeans and Indigenous Americans, but still considering themselves a subset of the European-derived Hispanic peoplehood in culture and ethnicity.
Indigenous peoples of the United States are commonly known as Native Americans or American Indians, and Alaska Natives.
Eventually, the Americas came to be known as the "West Indies", a name still used to refer to the islands of the Caribbean Sea.
This led to the blanket term "Indies" and "Indians" (Spanish "indios") for the indigenous inhabitants, which implied some kind of racial or cultural unity among the indigenous peoples of the Americas.