The Native Americans are a group of people who were the first to live in what later became the United States a long time before Columbus or the Pilgrims arrived. When Columbus came to America he thought he was in India and he named the people Indians, and later they were referred to as American Indians. Today, the correct term is Native Americans. Native means they were born on this land which later became known as America.
The Native Americans lived in both North and South America, including Alaska and Hawaii. There were different tribes and cultures living in different parts of the country. A tribe usually consists of families or communities that have common beliefs, customs, and language. Most historians believe the tribes were peaceful before the arrival of Columbus and other Europeans.
Some well-known tribes include the Cherokee, Apache, Cheyenne, Iroquois, and Navajo. There were many other tribes as well, and each tribe had its own culture, customs, ceremonies, home types, foods, tools, clothing and more.
The Native Americans were creative with the homes they built. Each was designed for the type of weather and area where the tribes lived. A teepee was built using long poles as the frame and tied together at the top, then spread out. The outside was wrapped with buffalo hide. Wigwams were 8 to 10 feet tall and made from wooden frames, covered with woven mats and sheets of birch bark, like a teepee but rounded. Some were covered with grass, called a grass house, but much larger.
Permanent homes were called longhouses, built from wood and bark in the shape of a long rectangle. Holes in the roof allowed smoke to escape and doors were on both ends. Tall poles from trees were used and curved for the roof then covered with bark. The houses were 80 feet long and 18 feet wide.
Pueblos, which were also called cliff dwellings, were built of bricks made from clay inside caves or on the sides of cliffs. Some were 4 to 5 stories high and ladders were used between floors. Other Native American homes included the wattle and daub, plank house, igloo, and chickee. The materials for each home depended upon where the tribes lived.
The Native American clothing also varied widely and depended on the resources available to each of the tribes. If it was a warm area, very little clothing was worn, and many layers were used in colder climates. A common material for clothing was animal skins. The soft leather of the animal hides was also used for shoes and covering for homes. They also used plants and cotton for clothing.
For food, many tribes hunted buffalo, caribou, deer and rabbits. Fishing also provided food, and farming was important to many of the tribes, especially in the warmer climates. Main crops included corn, beans, and squash.
The Native American art reflected the culture of the different tribes. Pottery was often a common type of art for its beauty and usefulness. Colorful baskets, blankets, and carvings such as totem poles were created, and some tribes were famous for sand paintings.
The Native Americans also had different traditions which involved religions, stories, entertainment and much more. Like every people and culture in the world, the Native Americans lived, worked, and played based on their beliefs and customs. Native Americans still live throughout the United States today.
To link to this Native Americans page, copy the following code to your site: