CHAPTER Three - NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURES

     

      There is little universal commonality among Native Americans.  To consider Native Americans all to be the same would be to stereotype them.  There is, however, a few areas of commonality:
1. All Native Americans have Mongolian ancestry from Asia
2. All Native Americans had a profound understanding and close relationship with nature
      Beyond that ... they were different.  Only relative few tribes lived in tipis,  Not all tribes raised corn.  Not all tribes wore feathers.  Not all tribes were peaceful, nor were all tribes warlike.  Not all Native Americans were even members of tribes.  Let us explore some of the political organizational structures of the Native American cultures:
Tribe An often nomadic cultural group with a common language, economy, religion, and government
Nation A typically sedentary sovereign cultural group with all of the elements of a tribe but which owned or controlled specific territories
Family group A cultural group consisting of an immediate or extended family which was typically nomadic with otherwise all of the elements of a tribe
Village state A sedentary cultural group which had all of the elements of a nation except for the existence of certain religious or economic obligations imposed by a greater culture of which they were a component
Confederacy A nation comprised of one or more tribes or nations which had fused and may or may not feature a common language or religion
      And so let us explore four cultures, three pre-Columbian, and one post-Columbia, a product of the advent of horses, the availability of the buffalo, and the stress of the Beaver Wars which we will discuss in the next chapter:
Pre-Columbian Indian Macro-Cultures
 
 

 

Southeastern Culture was comprised primarily of large hunter/farmer nations such as the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Muskhogee.  The Creek were a component of the southeastern culture and were a confederacy of mostly Muskhogean speaking tribes which came together beginning about 1715.  The members of the southeastern culture practiced many of the same ceremonies, including the green corn dance, told many of the same stories, had similar religious beliefs, but were nonetheless, often at war with each other.  Along with the relatively constant warfare, all of the southeastern nations were communal, practiced polygamy, were matrilineal, and counted coup.  All tended to live in cabin in villages of about 100 which included a chief, one or more shamans, and ten or so extended families.  Their ties to other villages within their nations were close and ceremonies would often bring numerous villages together.
Pueblo Culture was comprised of hunter/farmer nations, each occupying a single apartment style rock and plaster palisaded village.  The Pueblos included the west to east, the Hopi, Zuni, Tewa, Tiwa, Pior, Tano, and Pecos.  The Pueblos were peaceful, were advanced potters, were matrilineal, practiced a Kachina religion, were communal, were monogamous, and had almost identical creation stories.  The Pueblos all descended from the Anasazi.  The Pueblos farmed a greater number of crops than did any other culture in the present United States.  They domesticated and raised turkeys for meat and feathers.
Northwest Culture was comprised of at least four sub-cultures including the Northwest Coast Culture, the Northwest maritime Culture, the Chinookan Culture, and the California/Oregon Northwest Culture.  The Northwest Culture was comprised of sedentary hunter/gatherers who relied heavily on fishing, particularly for salmon.  Acorns were an important food source.  Houses were constructed of cedar planks and were large except for the California/Oregon Culture.  Canoes were dugout from cedar, redwood in the south, and some were ocean going.  All were excellent carvers though totem poles did not appear until after 1780, influenced by Polynesian and South Pacific sailors.  The Northwest Culture were active traders and most practiced slaving.  Each nation was one or more villages which were totally capitalistic, had no government, were usually monogamous, and practiced the potlatch.
Plains Culture was comprised of nomadic hunter/gatherer tribes.  All had been driven westward from the Northeastern Woodlands by the Beaver Wars except for the Comanche and Kiowa who were driven out onto the plains from the Rockies by other plains tribes.  The other plains tribes included the Sioux (Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota), Assiniboin, Crow, Blackfeet (Piegan, Blood, Siksika), Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Gros Ventre.  The Plains Culture was highly mobile, tipis were used for housing, and the primary source of food was the buffalo.  The Plains Culture did not exist until about 1650 when the Blackfeet and Arapaho were forced onto the Plains.  Once horses proliferated onto the plains, more Eastern Woodland tribes joined the culture.  As they did as when they were Eastern Woodlands tribes, all of the tribes were communal, practiced polygamy, were matrilineal, and counted coup.  The Plains tribes practiced the Sun Dance.  Men wore decorative feathers which were often trophies of counting coup as were scalps.
 

Chapter Three Review Questions                                      Name ___________________________

 

1. Which culture was capitalistic?  __________________________________
2. Which culture practiced the Green Corn Dance?

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3. Which culture domesticated turkeys?

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4. Which two culture counted coup?

__________________________ and  ______________________________

5. Name a culture which in NOT listed as one of the four above cultures.

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6. To which culture did the Cheyenne belong?

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7. What is it called when a husband has more than one wife?

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8. Do nomads stay live in just one place? (Circle one)  Yes   No
9. What are the three Sioux tribes?

__________________, __________________, and _________________

10. What is it called when two or more tribes or nations join together?

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