The descendants of the third wave are so ethnically distinct from the remainder of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas that they are not usually included in the terms "American Indian" or "First Nations".
In recent years, anthropological evidence of migration has been supplemented by studies based on molecular genetics.
Native Americans (American Indians, Amerindians, or Red Indians) are indigenous peoples, who lived in the Americas prior to the European colonization; some of these ethnic groups still exist.
The name "Indians" was bestowed by Christopher Columbus, who mistakenly believed that the places he found them were among the islands to the southeast of Asia known to Europeans as the Indies. Canadians generally use the term First Nations (or sometimes aboriginals) to refer to Native Americans.
The second immigration wave comprised the Athabascan people, including the ancestors of the Apachess and Navajos; the third wave consisted of the Inuits, the Yupiks, and the Aleuts, who may have come by sea over the Bering Strait.
The Athabascan peoples generally lived in Alaska and western Canada but some Athabascans migrated south as far as California and the American Southwest, and became the ancestors of tribes now there.
The Native Americans are widely believed to have come to the Americas via the prehistoric Bering Land Bridge. Some archaeologists believe that the migration consisted of seafaring tribes that moved along the coast, avoiding mountainous inland terrain and highly variable terrestrial ecosystems.
Other researchers have postulated an original settlement by skilled navigators from Oceania, though these American Aborigine people are believed to be nearly extinct.
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Over the next 400 years, the experiences of other Native Americans with Europeans would not always amount to genocide, but they would typically be disastrous for the Native Americans.
In the 15th century Spaniardss and other Europeans brought horses to the Americas.
Some of these animals escaped their owners and began to breed and increase their numbers in the wild.
Ironically, the horse had originally evolved in the Americas, but the last American horses died out at the end of the last ice age.