Each region had different natural resources. Each culture group used the natural resources in its region to meet its needs.
Those who lived near deserts used clay or stones to build their homes. For this reason, Native American culture groups had different homes. Those who lived on the Plains used buffalo skins to make their homes. Still others lived near forests. They built their homes of wood.
Many Native American culture groups built their homes in villages or cities. These are the remains of an ancient Anasazi cliff village.
Other culture groups, like the Plains Indians, were nomadic. They could not live in one place. They had to move around to follow the buffalo.
The physical surroundings of each region also affected how each culture group got its food. Native Americans in the Eastern Woodlands were very lucky. That region had forests, lakes and rivers, a nearby ocean, and good climate. These Native Americans could farm, hunt, and fish for food.
There were no forests in the Southwest region. The land was rocky and uneven. There were many mesas, or large rocks with flat tops. The Indians who lived in this region were farmers. They planted their crops on the tops of mesas.
Native Americans in the California Inter- mountain region were known as gatherers.
There were few natural resources in this region. These Native Americans gathered acorns, seeds, and fruits. They also dug up plant roots to eat for food.
Indians from the Northwest Coast hunted sea animals in the Pacific Ocean. There were many salmon in the rivers for them to eat. They also hunted animals in nearby forests.
Buffalo were a natural resource in the Plains region. The meat was used for food. The skins were used for shelters and clothing. The bones were used for tools.
The physical surroundings of the regions affected each culture group’s way of life in other ways, too. There was much clay in the Southwest. Native Americans that lived in this region used the clay to make beautiful pottery.
The Northwest Coast region had many forests. The Native Americans in this region used wood from the forests to carve tall totem poles. The carvings on each totem pole told about a family’s history.
There were many buffalo in the Plains region. Native Americans who lived in this region were hunters. The Plains Indians had special ceremonies before big hunts. They danced to the music of drums. They thought this would bring them good luck on the hunt.
Native Americans in the California Inter- mountain region were expert basket weavers. They made beautiful baskets out of grasses and plants.
Physical surroundings affected how the Indians traveled, too. All Indians walked. Plains and Southwest Indians got horses from Spanish explorers. Indians in the Eastern Woodlands, Northwest Coast, and California Intermountain regions used canoes.
Native American culture groups had different ways of life due to their different physical surroundings and natural resources. Let’s review. We know: Native Americans were the first Americans. Native Americans respected nature. Native Americans used natural resources. Native Americans lived in different regions. Native Americans had different homes. Native Americans got food in different ways.
Photo Credits Page 1 - Spotted Tail’s family Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library Page 14 – Fruit gatherer Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis's 'The North American Indian': the Photographic Images, 2001. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award98/ienhtml/curthome.html