Native Cultures Revisited Essay

1156 words - 5 pages

Let us travel back in time when the air was clean, animals were plentiful, forests flourished with timber, and the water was pure. All of that sounds like a great place to be, perhaps even live and raise a family, but was the grass greener? During our trip we will view the lives of some of the first people who occupied what is now the United States: The Great Plains Indians and the Eastern Woodlands Indians. We will peer into their cultures, the nourishment that gave them strength, their social organization, who or what they worshiped, and how they adapted to sustain life.
Our adventure begins on the Great Plains of the Midwest where we will find the Great Plains Indians. Stretching from the northern to southern borders through the center of the Americas was a vast area of open land in which the Plains Indians called their home. Some being nomadic they lived most of their lives moving with the migration of large buffalo. These natives depended heavily on the buffalo for food, as well as much of their other basic necessities, such as housing, clothing, shoes, utensils for sewing, eating, materials for manufacturing weapons, and the making of spiritual headdresses. Along with the buffalo they hunted the natives also enjoyed various berries, fruits, vegetables, and roots in their diet. (Carlson, Paul H. 1998).
Wood from trees such as the Osage orange made up their primary weapon, the bow;(Carlson, Paul H. 1998) living in a strong warrior society they enjoyed the luxury of strong fast horses which they believed were given them by the spirits, to be utilized for transportation of homes, people, and hunting as well as in battle. Becoming a warrior was a great honor and came only after years of training followed by various tests and achievements, and was bestowed only by the chief of the tribe during a ceremonial ritual. It is believed that these warriors could accurately fire as many as twenty arrows per minute while on horseback.
Plains Indians made very good use of their environment, from the tall grass used by the women to weave baskets, the left over animal bones and hide for crafting toys for their children, to the stones that were sharpened and made to a fine point and fastened to pieces of bone or other hard materials to give them knives. Their shelters consisted of animal hide that had been dried in the sun and stretched over wooden poles; they were called tepees. Using materials from the land most were beautifully painted with scenery and designs, and were designed to be portable for constant movement. When the time to move arose, the poles of the tepees were fastened to their horses and acted much like a truck in today’s time, carrying their houses and personal effects to the next location.
With all objects on earth believed to have a spirit; (Carlson, Paul H. 1998) the plains Indians practiced various ritual dances asking the spirits to bring good fortune, or bring such things as rain or sun. Animal spirits were also prayed to for allowing...

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