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Information from TeacherVision Books
          Native Americans
     Adapted by Selina Wertman
Native Americans were the first people to live in America.
Native Americans are also called Indians and when they
made their homes throughout North America they settled
into four regions thus making four groups called culture
areas. These culture area groups are, the Coastal Indians,
the Desert Indians, the Woodland Indians, and the Plains
           Coastal Indians

The Coastal Indians lived along the forest region from
Alaska to northern California and from the Pacific Ocean to
the Rocky Mountains. They were hunters, gatherers, and
              Plank Houses

Coastal Indians lived in shelters known as plank houses.
These varied in shape and design according to the tribe that
was building it. The house was made primarily from wood
pieces found along the wooded areas near the sea or water
body. The homes were built, dismantled, and relocated
near waters following the spawning of salmon.

The Coastal Indians lived right on the coast, ate mainly
food from the sea. They ate salmon, seals, sea otters,
whales, and other types of shellfish from the water.
In the fall, during the "salmon season," the people could
catch enough fish to feed their families for the whole year.
Coastal Indians followed the patterns of salmon as a source
of food.

Just like all other native people, the people of the Pacific
Northwest dressed in materials found in the region where
they lived. In hot weather, men wore breechcloths made of
animal skins or woven grass or reeds. When it got cold and
rainy in the winter they added animal skin or woven cedar
shirts and leggings. Women wore skirts and capes of woven
cedar strips. In the winter, clothing was made of animal
skins. Even in winter, people often went barefoot.
                Totem Poles

Totem Poles were carved out of giant cedar trees. These
are like a book that you read, each section of the pole
passing a story from generation to generation. The figures
are symbols often representing tribes, clans, families, or
           Desert Indians

The Desert Indians lived in the southwestern part of the
United States. They were villagers, farmers, and wanderers
who lived by hunting.
       Hogans and Pueblos

Desert Indians lived in areas that were dry and rocky, the
land was covered with sagebrush, cactus, and desert plants
and so they had to build their homes with materials that
were available.
One kind of desert home was a Hogan. A Hogan has 8
sides and is made from logs and mud, with grass used for
the roof. The doorway of the Hogan always faced east
toward the rising sun.
The second kind of desert home was called a pueblo. The
walls of the pueblo were made with stones from the desert
and mixed with desert clay, black river earth, and straw.
Pueblos were often 3-4 stories high and had as many as 200

Desert Indians grew what we now call “Indian corn.” This
was their main crop and grew in many colors, blue, white,
yellow, red, pink, and purple. The corn was used in many
ways such as making soups, stews, tortillas, piki bread, and
a drink called pasole.

The Desert Indians also had to use resources around them
and in the rocky terrain mountain sheep were plentiful.
The Desert Indians would use the wool from these sheep to
create clothing, headbands, bedding, and jewelry.

The Desert Indians believed in friendly spirits called
kachinas. They were not gods, they were kind and loving
spirits what were the go-between for the people and nature.
Kachinas helped people live a good life and respect the
beauty and power of nature. Kachinas were often carved
from cottonwood roots or woven from wool and were given
as gifts to children to teach them about power, love and the
spirits of the kachina.
Woodland Indians

The Woodland Indians lived in the region that stretches
from the border of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and from
the Mississippi River to the east coast and Atlantic Ocean.
They were farmers, woodsmen, and hunters. These were
the Indians that the Pilgrims met when they first landed at
Plymouth Massachusetts.
             Wigwams and

Woodland Indians had 2 different kinds of homes, which
kind they lived in depended on the location of their tribe
and the trees available.
The first home is called a wigwam. These were dome
shaped homes and they were made from young, green
saplings. Wigwams were usually homes for just one
The second kind of home is called longhouses. These were
made of a pole framework that was covered with large
slabs of rough elm bark. The longhouse was usually about
20 feet wide and 120 feet long and home to as many as 20

Woodland Indians lived off the land. They learned to plant
food such as corn, harvest wheat, hunt, and fish from the
ponds and streams. The Woodland Indians taught the
pilgrims how to hunt, plant corn, and use plants for

Woodland Indians wore clothing made from animal skins
and fur. Preparing the animal hide for making clothing was
a long and hard job. After the men had skinned the animals,
the women prepared the hide. First the skin was soaked in
water for many days to soften it, then it was wrung out and
laid over a log and the women used sharp-edged stones to
scrape off the hair and fat. This process was repeated until
all the hair and fat were removed and the skin was smooth
and soft. Once this was done the skin was tanned by
heating and smoking if over low burning fire which would
seal the skin and protect it from being eaten by bugs. After
this was done the skin was sewn into clothing.
           Plains Indians

The Plains Indians lived in the region between the
Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, from Canada
to Mexico. They were farmers, fishermen, hunters, and

Plains Indians were nomad hunters and so they needed
homes that were easily moveable and could be carried as
they followed the buffalo. The tipi looks like a cone-
shaped tent with bare ground floors. The walls of tipis are
made with tanned buffalo skins. The average sized tipi,
was about 18 feet high and 14 feet across, and uses about
10-12 buffalo hides to cover the frame.

The buffalo gave the Plains Indians everything they needed
to survive, every part of the buffalo was used for
something. The hides were used for clothing, moccasins,
and coverings for tipis. The horns and bones were used for
spoons and other utensils. The hair was used to make rope.
The muscles and tendons were dried and used as string and
thread. Even the stomach was used as a pot for carrying
and cooking food and water. Meat that was not eaten
immediately was dried in the sun or over smoking fires to
be made into Pemmican, which we call jerky.

Plains Indians used the skins of buffalo to make their
clothing. They would tan the hides in the same manner as
for their tipis and then decorate the clothes with dyes from
plans and beads and stones.
           Picture Writing

There were many different tribes of Indians living on the
Great Plains and each tribe had their own spoken language.
To understand and communicate with each other they used
sign language and picture writing. This writing was used to
decorate their homes and often painted on buffalo hides to
record important events in the life of the tribe. Usually
stories were written in circles instead of lines like we use.
Cover Photo

North American Tribal Map

Plains Indians

Woodlands Indians

Desert Indians

Coastal Indians

Plank house

Coastal Indians Information




totem pole


desert Indians




hide tanning



plains clothes