Adapting to a Changing Environment

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Native Americans were the first people to live in America. Learn more about they lived and adapted to their changing environment.

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Natural Environment

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Native Americans of the plains considered 'the Bison' a lifeline, giving them their identity. The bison provided their food, clothing, shelter and tools. The Native Americans utilized every part of the bison.

Natural Environment

They spread from Alaska to the tip of South America. These people were not alike. They must have come from different parts of Asia and they must have come at different times. They certainly settled in different types of places in this New World and adapted themselves to the lands they settled.

Life Style

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Life Style

As in most Indian societies, Louisiana Indians carried out tasks defined along gender lines. Men ruled and defended the tribal communities and hunted and constructed buildings and canoes with tools they made. Women cared for children and the elderly, planted crops, and made clothes and utensils, which they used to prepare foods and decorate their homes and religious centers.

Life style

There were no tepees in Louisiana. Rather, Louisiana's first families lived and worshipped in palmetto-thatched houses, beehive-shaped grass houses, wood frame houses, and wattle-and-daub houses and temples. Women prepared and cooked the food that they gathered and grew and  the men hunted and fished. The Indians boiled, roasted, baked and parched their food. Native American women also manufactured all the clothing. Popular clothing materials were feathers, bark, cloth, and hides, as well as furs from deer, bear, bison, and small hunted animals. Both men and women fashioned such body ornaments as necklaces, bracelets, armbands, rings, and ear and nose plugs from locally available shells and pearls and imported copper.

Hunting and Dancing

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Hunting was economically pivotal as a source of food, clothing, tools and jewelry. Indians stalked deer, bear, bison and a multitude of smaller hunted animals. When Europeans came to Louisiana, they noted that the Natchez in particular practiced the "Communal surround." Upon sighting a deer, about a hundred men formed an open crescent. They drove the deer from side to side until it dropped to the ground exhausted.

Dancing and music were often a part of these tribal sporting events, as well as feasts and religious ceremonies. With music in the background,the Indians performed as groups, pairs, and individuals. An ample food supply, temperate climate, and absence of wars contributed to a large, healthy population. It has been estimated that when Europeans first came to California, the native population was probably close to 300,000, which meant 13 percent of the indigenous people in North America.


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Environment - social and cultural conditions affecting the nature of an individual

Utilize - to find a profitable or practical use

Lifestyle - style of living

Society - social relationships

Construct - to build

Stalk - To go through in search of prey


Books on the Native American Environment

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Links to other sites on the Native American Environment

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Native American Housing Types http://www.kstrom.net/isk/maps/houses/
Native American Interactive Sites http://www.mrsdell.org/nativeamericans/
Indian Tribes Word Search http://www.surfnetkids.com/games/

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