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Native Americans
Native Americans: The Plains Area (Grades 4 to 6)



Native Americans: The Plains Area (Grades 4 to 6)
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.16

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    entertainment, nomadic, traditional, therefore, shaggy, social, originally, grazed, rawhide, treaty, setting, portable, sacred, chant, hump, settled
     content words:    Plains Area, North America, Mississippi River, Rocky Mountains, Native Americans, Grass Dance, Native American, Sun Dance, Plains Indians


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Native Americans: The Plains Area
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     The Plains Area of North America stretches from the Canadian border to Texas. Its grasslands are located between the Mississippi River and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It covers 2,000 miles. In 1800, there were 150,000 people and 60 million buffalo in the Plains Area.
 
2     A small portion of the Native Americans here were sedentary tribes. They settled along river valleys and became farmers. They lived in permanent villages of dome-shaped earth lodges surrounded by earthen walls. The earth lodges protected the people from the intense summer heat and the bitter winter cold. These tribes raised corn, squash, and beans. Women cooked food around a fire in the lodge.
 
3     Most of the Native Americans in this area, however, were constantly on the move. They were the nomadic tribes. They traveled about with a dog-drawn travois. A travois is a frame of two long spruce poles covered with rawhide and fixed to a saddle on an animal. It carried the tribe's household goods. The men walked ahead in small groups with their weapons always ready. The mothers carried the babies on their backs. The holy woman, a religious leader, performed rituals, which the Native Americans believed would bring success to the hunters.
 
4     The nomadic tribes lived their lives following the buffalo (or bison). The buffalo had a huge, shaggy head, a thick shoulder hump, and short legs. It was big and brown. It could be as much as six feet tall. It weighed ten times more than the average man. It grazed on grass peacefully but it was known to stampede suddenly as well.
 
5     The men would hunt the buffalo several ways. Alone, a hunter might disguise himself as a wolf and get close enough to shoot it with a bow and arrow. When several hunters were together, though, they would force large numbers of them into enclosures or round them up by setting fires. They also stampeded hundreds of buffalo off cliffs. When the Spanish introduced the horse to this area in the 18th century, it really improved the hunting of the buffalo.

Paragraphs 6 to 12:
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