English Across the Curriculum
Native Americans concentrated on the important things in life: getting food, making clothes and building houses.
Indians ate many different kinds of food. Those who lived on the plains of the Central United States ate the meat of buffalo. The Pueblos of the south-western part lived on corn, beans and squash. Natives in Alaska and Canada were fishers and hunted deer and other wild animals in the forests. Most of them ate berries and collected nuts.
Cornbread was very popular among Native Americans
Many Native Americans married at an early age – girls between 13 and 15, boys between 15 and 20. In some Indian tribes, parents chose husbands and wives for their children. Some Indian tribes allowed men to have more than one wife. After a man died his wife often lived with his brother's family.
Most Indian families were small because many children died at birth or at an early age. When boys got older they were tested for their strength and bravery. Many had to live alone in the wilderness for a long time.
Native American family in the 19th century
Many Indians made clothes from animal skins and furs. Buffalo skin and rabbit fur were especially popular. They also used bird feathers to decorate their heads.
Indians of the tropical regions only wore simple skirts. Some tribes wore no clothes at all.
Indians built many different types of homes because they lived in different climates and didn't have the same building materials. Some groups built large houses with many rooms where many families could stay together, others had small dwellings in which only very few people lived.
The Inuit of Canada built snow houses during the winter and in summer they lived in tents made of animal hides.
In some parts of America, Indians built wigwams that were covered with leaves. Some tribes built houses into the earth that they covered with leaves and grass.
Teepee made of animal skin
Brick houses of the Pueblo tribe in the southwestern US
Indians also painted their pottery with colourful patterns. Some made wall paintings of important ceremonies or everyday life.