Native American Tribes

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by bnlemay
Last updated 3 years ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
American History
Grade:
3,4,5,6

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Native American Tribes

Native American Tribes

What name would you choose if you were a Native American? Although Native Americans gave their children names just as your parents did for you, they were very different. They also may have many names throughout their life. The elders named the children and adults within the tribe. Some came as dreams or visions from the elder which was a sign for naming the person. Others go along with thepersonality or characteristic of that person. A Native American name may tell about what the person does well or wants to do, something that may have happened onthe day of that person’s birth, or something else that has specific meaning relating to that person. Sometimes Native Americans didn’t like their names because they mayhave been degrading. Since animals were a large part of their religious world, they were often used when naming a person. Parts of nature were common too since NativeAmericans worshipped their land. Once the elder named the child or adult, they have a ceremonial feast and that elder and newly named person formed a bond.

There were many tribes within the Northeastern region. The tribes were grouped according to their language; Iroquoian, Algonquin, and Siouan. The most powerful group of Indians was the Iroquois League of Nations. Five nations (Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca) came together to form a powerful league of Native Americans who spoke the same language, believed in the same gods, had similar customs, and considered cooperation to be an important quality of everyday life. Within this league, there was a Great Council formed to represent each nation as a central government. Their primary purpose was to keep the Great Law of Peace where Iroquois should not kill each other. They also made important decisions and laws for eachtribe and village. The Native Americans in the Eastern Woodlands had many resources for survival. They had fertile soil to grow crops. They had rivers, lakes andcoastal waters to keep themselves and the animals they hunted hydrated and healthy. They had forests for animals to live. They also had moderate rainfall to help keep the crops flourished. With this area rich in natural resources, theNative Americans were able to be hunters, gatherers, fishermen, and farmers. Eastern Woodlands had a wide variety of animals to hunt. Animals roamed and built their own habitats throughout the Eastern Woodlands. Theyoften migrated in the forests and by streams. Some common animals hunted in these forests were bear, deer, raccoons, rabbit, and elk. Beaver and numerous kinds of fish swam in the nearby waters. Eastern Woodlandspeople would travel by foot and canoes made out of birch bark and tree gum while hunting and fishing. They were known for praying for the animals they killed. These Native Americans were able to gather foods grown in the wild andfarm their own foods. There was an abundance of different kinds of berries that were found on bushes and shellfish was gathered in the waters. Corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, and melons were planted and harvested. Since Eastern Woodlands people did not have to go far for food, their homes were sturdy and made for permanent residence. Most of them lived in long rectangular buildings called longhouses. They were made of tree and bark.Several families lived in one longhouse and they were owned by the women in the tribe. Others lived in smaller homes called wigwams. They had woodenframes and were covered by woven mats and sheets of birch bark to form a dome. Like all Native tribes, the Eastern Woodlands people had many beliefs andcustoms. They wore masks to scare the evil spirit out of a sick person. When someone in the tribe died, they held a Cry Ceremony that lasted five days. Face painting was worn for special occasions, war, and to express feelings. (Red- life, Black- death or grief, Purple- royalty or special events) Wampum belts were made from stringing shells together and used during ceremonies. Even though the Eastern Woodlands people practiced their Peace Lawwithin their nation, they were skilled at war with other tribes and Europeans. They used the tomahawk and bow and arrow. They were known for performing scalp dances when celebrating victories. The Mohawk nation is where the Mohawk hairstyle originated. They would pull or pluck their hair out (not shave like we do today) and wear it to taunt their enemies.

Native AmericansNames

EasternWoodlands

GreatPlains

Southeast

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There were many tribes within the Southeast region. The five civilized tribes were the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. A popular tribe was the Cherokees. They had two kinds of chiefs. A red chiefwas a leader in war. When they weren’t in war, they were training the warriors. A white chief was the leader during the peace times. This person served on a council to help make decisions for the tribe. Unlike many tribes back then, the Cherokee women were warriors. They held thepower over their families, participated in government, and fought in wars. The Native Americans in the Southeast had many resources for survival. They had a moderate climate with fertile soil to grow crops. They had rivers, lakes and coastal waters to keep themselves and the animals theyhunted hydrated and healthy. They had forests for animals to live. They also had mostly sunny days with sufficient amounts of rainfall to help keep the crops flourished. With this area rich in natural resources, the NativeAmericans were able to be hunters, gatherers, fishermen, and farmers. Southeast had a wide variety of animals to hunt. Animals roamed and built their own habitats throughout their land. They often migrated in theforests and by streams. The most popular animal hunted in these forests was deer. Other animals like turkey, rabbits and turtles were also favorites. Numerous kinds of fish swam in the nearby waters. Southeast people would travel by foot, rafts and canoes while hunting and fishing. They were known for using every part of the animals they killed. For example, they used the turtle eggs and meat for food and their shells for rattles. It was not a game to them, it was a necessity. They used bows and arrows, spears, nets,and animal traps to help them catch food. These Native Americans were able to gather foods grown in the wild andfarm their own foods. There was an abundance of different kinds of berries that were found on bushes and shellfish was gathered in the waters. Corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, and many other crops were planted and harvested. They used their exquisitely designed baskets to collect their food. Since Southeast people did not have to go far for food, their homes were sturdy and made for permanent residence. They lived in villages with a villagesquare for meetings and ceremonies. Tall poles surrounded the homes and were tied together to form a stockade. Cherokee families owned two homes in different villages. In the summer, they lived in long rectangular buildings madeof tree and bark called longhouses. They were large, cool and airy. Several families lived in one longhouse and they were owned by the women in the tribe. In the winter, they lived in homes called wigwams. They had wooden framesand were covered with sheets of birch bark, mud, sticks and grass to keep the cold out. Like all Native tribes, the Southeast people had many beliefs. Before goingto war, they would fast for three days, then drink snakeroot potion. This would cause them to vomit to help purify their bodies’ spirits. The Cherokee worshipped the Deer God. They would only kill what they needed for theirfamilies in fear that the Deer God would get angry with them and not provide food for their families. The Cherokees wore animal skins in hopes of obtaining that animal’s skills. They also had an annual Green Corn Ceremony. When thecorn was ready to eat, they held the ceremony to thank their gods for their good fortune and to continue their luck.

There were many tribes within the Great Plains region. Some of the more important tribes were Sioux, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Mandan, Kiowa, Crow, andPawnee. The Native Americans in the Great Plains had resources for survival. They had some rivers and streams, wild fruit to gather, and an abundance of buffalo to hunt. Even with these resources, they suffered many hardships due to the dry land, hot summers, and heavy snows in the winters. When they received rainfall, it often flooded the region. Natives chose to live near rivers and streams because the grasslands and mountains didn’t provide fertile soil needed for growing crops. It was also difficult to travel far by foot when hunting buffalo. No wonder many of the early Native American chose to live elsewhere! Although there was small game to hunt, the Great Plains main source of food was the buffalo. Since the buffalo roamed all over the region, many people of the Great Plains became nomads (wanderers). The buffalo not only provided them with food, but they found ways to use every part of the buffalo for clothing, blankets, pots, tools, and utensils. Even their stomachs were used for medicine bags, bowls, and buckets! When the Europeans began to bring horses over for trade, more people moved to the Great Plains. The horses provided better transportation to hunt the buffalo. They used bows and arrows for hunting even after the Europeans introduced guns. To carry the buffalo back to camp, they used a travois, a frame made from poles and skins where the large animal was placed on top and dogs pulled. Although most of their diet consisted of meat, these Native Americans were gatherers and farmers too. They gathered berries and cherries found on bushes and trees. Corn, beans, squash, and pumpkins were planted andharvested along the rivers and streams. The Great Plains people had two kinds of housing. Since they followed the buffalo, the hunters used a temporary type of home called the tepee. It was made from buffalo hide and poles. The opening of the tepee always faced east.They would decorate the outside of the tepee by painting pictures of animals and other symbols. They were built so that rain would not seep in and smoke could creep out. In their village, they lived in lodges which were large round huts built over a deep hole. These were more permanent housing. Like all Native tribes, the Great Plains people had many beliefs and customs. They held powwows which were celebrations or prayers to the Great Spirit.They would dance and have ceremonies. Many powwows are still held today. Another important ceremony was the Sun Dance. This took place in the summer months. The celebration lasted for four days where the dancers performed the same moves without eating or drinking the whole time. Theywould also stare at the sun as long as they could tolerate it. Some men would pierce their chests with wooden spears!Great Plains were very brave and daring warriors. They would raid other tribes and steal from them. When they scalped someone, they would brag and parade around with them as war trophies. They also were famous for “counting coup.” This was the act of touching or scaring the enemy with a knife or bow and arrow, then trying to escape unharmed. It was considered a prestigious act and more of an honor to escape unharmed than to kill the enemy. If a warrior was successful at counting coup and coming outunscathed, he was permitted to wear an eagle feather in his hair.

In the Southwest, the people were called Pueblos, which were descendants of the ancient Anasazi people or “ancient ones”. The name Pueblo is a Spanish term for “town” or “village”. Therefore, Pueblo wasn’t atribe name, it was a village name. The more popular Pueblo villages were the Hopi, Taos, and Zuni. Unlike the Iroguois league who had a similar language, the different Pueblo villages did not share the same language. Following inthe footsteps of their ancestors, each Pueblo village had its own government. The clans within the villages would choose a leader to represent them on theVillage Council. Then, when many villages needed to meet for larger issues at a tribal council, each village chose a representative to speak for them in order for each village to have a voice in the decisions. The Southwest region did not have many natural resources for survival. The land was dry and arid lacking trees and rivers. They often suffered from periods of droughts. To help with their hardship, Pueblo people were creative in ways to get water to their crops. They would sometimes go to the top of a snowy hill and roll giant snowballs down the crop areas. Did you know they were also the first to develop their own irrigation system? They dug waterways to get water from the rivers to the areas for harvesting crops. The Pueblos were brilliant people. Pueblo people were creative in other ways too. They grew cotton and the men in the clans weaved clothing. The women used clay and paints to make beautiful pottery. They were considered to be the most skilled potters.Women also made fascinating baskets from willow and yucca. The people of the Southwest were hunters, gatherers, and farmers. Although Pueblo people had some game to hunt like rabbits and elk, and wild berries to gather, their main source of food came from harvesting crops.They were probably the best farmers! They grew crops such as squash, beans, and corn. Corn or “maize” was the bulk of their diet. They dried, ground, and stored it. They grew over 24 difference varieties of corn with yellow and blue being the most popular. A person was designated as a “sunwatcher” to let the farmers know when to plant and harvest the crops. Most of the Southwest people lived in villages called pueblos. These were multi-story houses made of adobe (clay and straw baked into hard bricks). They were built on top of mesas (hills with flat tops) to keep away enemies. Their housing was very similar to apartment buildings today. It sometimes held an entire clan and each family had their own unit. The property was owned by the women. Adobe homes were easy to build in their dry climate because the mixture would mix and dry quickly. Since early Pueblo people were mainly farmers, they traveled by foot and used these homes as theirpermanent residence. Like all Native tribes, the Southwest people had many beliefs and customs. The Hopis would have Snake Dances. They used poisonous andnonpoisonous snakes, but it wasn’t to worship them. This was a ceremony to worship ancestors and to help bring rain for a good harvest. Ceremonies and other special meetings were held in secret underground rooms calledKivas. They were dug under the each house. Some ceremonies used Kachina dolls to help teach their religion to the children in the clans. The dolls were made to represent different spirits they worshipped and often timesthe men would dress up like these dolls while they chanted and danced.

Southwest


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