Just Monday, Pottermore and J.K. Rowling revealed that there would be four new stories on the North American wizarding world, and Tuesday they delivered: The first new J.K. Rowling "Magic In America" story is here, and it follows North America from the 14th to the 17th century. Prepare for your grade school history class minds to be blown.
It turns out that Christopher Columbus was very late on that whole "discovering America," thing (aside from being generally horrible). While Muggles were unaware of this "New World," European wizards had been in contact with Native American wizards since the middle ages. And J.K. Rowling uses the Native American legend of "skin walkers," or people who can transform into animals, to tell the story of these early wizards.
Rowling explains the legend, which in her Potterverse is based in fact:
A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi, that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure
Further, Native American wizards are super skilled at plant magic, and they are extremely famous for their potions, which are better than any Europe had ever seen. And it's particularly incredible because these Native American wizards did not use wands.
We'll have to check back in Wednesday for more information on the North American wizarding world.