I recently finished reading the 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann. It was a fascinating book that gave me insight into the history of the people that inhabited the American continent. These people created civilizations which were in many ways different from the Euro-Asian models many of us might hold as examples of civilized societies. A common link between these cultures that once inhabited America, was land design and management: they used ingenious ways to shape the natural landscape that surrounded them. So much so, that the European settlers could not realize that the natural landscape they saw, was to an extent a vast garden that was consciously and deliberately planned.
In its conclusion the book makes an interesting and fascinating claim. It supports that the native Indians greatly influenced the culture and values of what would become the United States. In fact several of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution had frequent and extended interactions with the native Indian cultures. Many European settlers had lived side by side with Indians, and had observed the great freedom that the Indians valued and enjoyed, as compared to the authoritarian social systems of the European states of the time. Perhaps our modern day societies owe much more to the Indian cultures than what has been thought of before.