Native Americans Prior to 1492
The Native Americans throughout North America had a number of similarities. Each group or nation spoke the same language, and almost all were organized around an extended clan or family. They usually descended from one individual. Each group had a series of leaders, in some cased the leaders inherited their rolls in others they were elected.
The Native Americans traded extensivelyamong the different tribes. This allowed different tribes to specialize in different products and trade with tribes that were located far away.
Native Americans believed in the power of the spirits. The spirits were found in nature. Their religious leaders were called Shamans. Native Americans believed that people should live in harmony with nature. They did not believe that people should own land rather the land belonged to everyone.
There were a number of distinct groups of Native Americans:
The Plateau Native Americans lived in the area between the Cascade Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. The area had many large Rivers and was the main source of food and travel. The area was cold in the winter and to protect them the Natives build homes that were partly underground, Approximately 20 groups lived in this area. More on Plateau Native Americans
The Great Basin
The Great Basins is located in what includes all of Nevada and Utah, most of western Colorado. It was the home of the Shoshone, Paiute and Ute’s Indians. It was a land that was hot and dry. Those that lived there were called “diggers” since they were forced to dig for most of their food. More on Great Basin Native Americans
The Natives of the Southwest were divided into two groups some were hunter-gathers and some were farmers. The Pueblos were the best known of the natives of the area. They were skilled farmers and grew many crops. The Pueblos used irrigations canals to bring water for their farming. The Apache and Navajo entered the southwest around 1500 and were hunter-gatherers. More on Native Americans of the Southwest
The Southeast was the most populated of all the regions of North America. It was home to the Cherokee, Creek Choctaw, Seminole, and Natchez. Many of the natives of the southeast hunted buffalo deer and other animals. The majority of the Native Americans of the Southeast were farmers. More on the Native Americans of the Southeast